Torah Ark from Adath Yeshurun SynagogueAbraham Shulkin (American, b. Russia, 1852-1918)
Sioux City, Iowa, United States, 1899
- Pinewood: hand-carved, openwork, stained, and painted
- 125 x 96 x 30 in. (317.5 x 243.8 x 76.2 cm)
- The Jewish Museum, New York
- Gift of the Jewish Federation of Sioux City, JM 48-56a-s
In the late 19th century, nearly five million Jews lived in czarist Russia, the largest concentration of Jews in the world at the time. Political oppression, government-condoned anti-Jewish riots (pogroms), and economic need prompted more than two million Jews to immigrate to the United States between 1880 and 1924. Most new arrivals settled in large urban centers in the Northeast, but some ventured farther west in search of opportunities in the new country. A number of Jewish immigrants, primarily from the small Russian town of Kapulie, reached Sioux City, Iowa, where a few German Jews had lived since the late 1850s, when the city had just been settled. By 1896, the Russian Jews had founded congregation Adath Yeshurun, erecting Sioux City’s first Orthodox synagogue soon after. The magnificent Torah ark carved by Abraham Shulkin is one of many interior furnishings made by members of the congregation.