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This is an umbrella project for all projects related to Jews from Tacoma, Washington.

Tacoma's Jewish History, by Deb Freedman

Tacoma's Jewish community began with a few merchant families in Steilacoom in the 1860s (Isaac & Seraphina Pincus and Hyman and Louisa Goodtime) and a few in Olympia (Julius Coleman and Morris Dobrin.) By the 1870s Meyer Kaufman, Louis Levin and Louis Wolff had opened saloons such as the Pacific Hotel in what became Old Tacoma. The families joined to form a cemetery in Olympia--the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Puget Sound. The first graves were those of Morris Dobrin's daughter Celia, Meyer Kaufman's brother-in-law Robert Fischer, and Isaac Pincus' baby daughter Minnie. 1878 marked the arrival of the first Gross brothers, David and Ellis. Their store on New Tacoma's Pacific Avenue grew and they sent back to Poland for brothers Morris and Abe. Later they would employ innovative techniques such as organizing departments over several floors, hiring a nurse to care for infants while mothers shopped, and opening a free kindergarten for children of low-income families. They had meteorological instruments installed atop their store and ran the weather forecast at the head of their daily newspaper ad. Their brick store on 9th and "C" was eventually torn down to build the Pantages Theatre. By the early 1880s Tacoma had won the county seat and the terminus of the railroad. The Jewish population grew quickly. The wedding reception of Louis Wallerstein and his bride at the Tacoma hotel in 1884 was "one of the most fashionable affairs of the season," according to the Tacoma Daily Ledger.

Within a few years Jewish merchants dominated the male-oriented businesses on Tacoma's Pacific Avenue--cigar and tobacco shops, men's clothing, shoes and boots, and alcohol. They sold dry goods and wet goods. Charles Langert was a major wholesaler of liquor throughout the state. Albert Weinberg ran the Monogram Saloon. Charles Reichenbach, Mentein Cohn, Sam Gottschalk, Sol Jacoby, the Isaacs brothers, and the Gross brothers all had dry goods and clothing stores within a few blocks of each other, all technically in competition with each other, and they all prospered. By 1889 Tacoma organized its own cemetery--the FIRST Hebrew Benevolent Society. The women formed a branch of the Judith Montefiore Society to educate the children, and the Harmony Club was established--a social club that housed young bachelors, hosted dances, and provided a hall for high holidays. In 1892 Congregation Beth Israel was incorporated and services were first held in the new temple on 10th and "I" in the fall of 1893.

As Tacoma's Orthodox community grew, the Chevra Talmud Torah was organized in 1908. The Chevra Kadisha cemetery was created in 1914. In 1924 Chevra Talmud Torah purchased land at South 4th and "I." The synagogue was dedicated in 1930, and the name was later changed to Sinai Temple. Under Rabbi Baruch Treiger the congregation joined the conservative movement in 1938. In 1960, under the guidance of Rabbi Richard Rosenthal, the two temples merged and formed Temple Beth El.