Hebrew Garden

1160 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44108
T. Ashburton Tripp
Dedication Date:
Sponsoring Organization:

The Jewish Community Federation

History & Design:

The Hebrew Cultural Garden was the first to be built and dedicated after the Shakespeare Garden (and after the city determined that it would have a Cleveland Cultural Gardens). In effect, it signaled the more formal beginnings of the Gardens.

It was originally conceived as a monument to the Zionist movement and the vision of Leo Weidenthal (founder of the Shakespeare Garden and publisher of the Jewish News at the time).

The pink Georgia Eweh marble fountain is the centerpiece of the Hebrew Cultural Garden. The bowl sits on seven pillars referred to in the Hebrew holy texts. The text is a quote from Proverbs: “Wisdom hath built herself a house; she hath hewn her out of seven pillars”.

A popular explanation or commentary on the text suggests that the first sentence refers to God’s creating the world, with the second sentence referring to the seven days of creation.

Directly south of the fountain is the Musicians’ Garden, which is in the shape of a lyre or small harp, framed by a sidewalk. A Sept. 10, 1937 article, Wisdom’s House Dwells in Hebrew Cultural Garden, states that “the triangular pillar at the south end bore a plaque on its north face honoring Jacques Halevy, author of the opera ‘The Jewess’, Giacomo Meyerbeer, composer of the opera ‘L’Africana’, and Karl Goldmark, author of ‘Queen of Sheba’.”

The central architectural feature of the Garden is a hexagonal Star of David, which gives shape to the landscape. At four of the six points are memorials to the Hebrew philosophers Moses Maimonides, Baruch Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, and Archad Ha’am.

A round bronze plaque is attached to an elevated boulder in the northern section of the garden. The plaque bears Emma Lazarus’ poem for the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Underwritten by the Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations and dedicated on June 14, 1949, the plaque is located adjacent to a boulder with Lazarus’ likeness on it.

The first Jews to make their home in Cleveland were from Unsleben, Bavaria. In 1840 there were 20 families alongside 20 single males living in the city.

Jews settled in Cleveland during two “eras”: The German Era (1837-1900) and The East European Era (1870-1942).

By 1880 there were 3,500 Jews living in Cleveland. This number increased dramatically over the next generation.By 1925, about 85,000 Jews lived in the city.

Initially, Jewish settlements were established near the Central Market east of the Cuyahoga River. As the community grew, they moved farther and farther east, first to Glenville and the Mt. Pleasant/Kinsman districts.

Following World War II the Jewish community moved into Cleveland Heights and other eastern suburbs. At the turn of the 20th century, only a small number of Jews remained on the west side. In 1910 they formed a congregation which later became known as the West Side Jewish Center.

On the east side, the area between Coventry and South Green Roads in Cleveland Heights became the heart of the Jewish community. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the focal point was Taylor Rd., which witnessed the greatest concentration of Jewish institutions in Cleveland’s history. Later decades have seen many Jews moving even further east, most recently to Beachwood and Pepper Pike.

-From the Cleveland Historical project of Cleveland State University.