Simon J. Bronner is a distinguished professor of American studies and folklore at the Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg and the coauthor of Steelton. The images in Greater Harrisburg's Jewish Community come mainly from the Historical Society of Dauphin County and the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg. The Javitch Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania provided funding for the project.
Greater Harrisburg's Jewish Communityby Simon J. Bronner
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The Jewish community of Greater Harrisburg became established after 1825, mostly by German immigrants who took up peddling and clothing trades. They were attracted inland from East Coast cities to Harrisburg, the growing upriver hub of trade that became Pennsylvania's state capital in 1812. The community grew to 600 residents by the end of the 19th century and drew attention for a level of civic engagement well beyond that of comparably sized settlements. Immigration from eastern Europe in the early 20th century contributed to a tenfold increase of the Jewish population and a changing ethnic and commercial profile. In the years that followed, the community added an impressive range of institutions and continued to have a reputation for activism. Emerging as the hub of Jewish life in central Pennsylvania, the community produced internationally renowned figures in Jewish affairs, business, and arts.
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