Individual Jews first came to what is known today as the State of Indiana in the early years of the 19th century. Jacob Hays, who moved to Cahokia (now situated in Illinois) in 1822 was a tax collector and “Indian agent” for Fort Wayne, IN. Attorney Samuel Judah, a friend of famed Kentuckian Henry Clay, moved to Vincennes, IN, in 1818, ultimately serving in the state legislature from 1827-1840, Speaker of the 25th General Assembly and served as U.S. District Attorney from 1830-1833. The Gumberts family came to Evansville, IN, in 1837, followed by Isaac Heiman in 1838 and his brother in 1848. In 1842, Adam Gimbel moved his family to Vincennes. In the early 1850s, the Kuhn brothers, who established the investment firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Co., had moved to Lafayette, IN.

Indiana’s first Jewish congregation, Achdut V’Shalom, was opened in Fort Wayne in 1848. A year later, Indiana’s second synagogue opened in Lafayette, followed by a synagogue in Evansville in 1853. The first synagogue building was erected in 1865. By the turn of the 20th century, synagogues were situated in Indianapolis, Ligonier, Peru, Goshen, Terre Haute and Logansport.

Since that time, Jewish communities emerged in Indianapolis (estimated population 10,000); and in northwest Indiana cities of Gary, Hammon, Munster and Merrillville; South Bend; Fort Wayne and Evansville.

The Indiana Jewish Historical Society, housed at the Indiana History Center in Indianapolis, was created in 1972 as a repository for Indiana’s Jewish history. Jews have held office throughout Indiana serving as U.S. Attorneys, judges, mayors and state representatives.

Indiana became the second state in the United States to pass anti-BDS legislation on April 30, 2015. As of 2017, 17,345 Jews lived in the Hoosier state.

On December 11, 1816, Indiana became the 19th state of the Union.

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