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Central New York’s Jewish community traces its roots to the first significant period of Jewish immigration to the United States between 1847 and 1870. Though small, this early community supported much of the infrastructure necessary to an engaged religious life. By 1897, after a major influx of Jews to Utica from Eastern Europe, the community hired its first ordained rabbi. A vibrant Jewish life, with kosher restaurants and religious schools, followed.
Today, the Utica Jewish Community sustains three congregations, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. The city’s Jewish Community Center has an active membership and programs many cultural events. These include book groups, political round-tables, a yearly Holocaust memorial lecture, and religious festivals such as a Purim carnival.
The Utica College reading series has hosted several Jewish American writers, among them Curt Leviant, Daniel Asa Rose, and Ruth Knafo Setton.
The definitive historical work on this central New York community is The Jewish Community of Utica, New York, 1847-1948, by Rabbi S. Joshua Kohn. The work is excerpted and updated in Ethnic Utica, edited by Jim Pula.