Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Project Tags

Top Surnames

view all

Profiles

  • William Wolf Lake (1859 - 1909)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Jan 25 2018, 4:40:34 UTC

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

Washington's Jewish Heritage, by Craig Degginger

Who are the Jews of Washington state? First off, there are about 40,000 of us. We say "about," because the precise numbers are a bit sketchy. The last major demographic study conducted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, in 1990, showed there were an estimated 30,000 Jews in the greater Seattle area. Since then, there has been a continuing influx of newcomers, and that number is believed to have swelled to approximately 35,000. Add to that the estimated 5,000 Jews in the rest of the state, and we come to the number of "about" 40,000. But who was Jew number one? The first Jews, generally of German descent, settled in the Tacoma and Olympia area about the same time as the future State of Washington achieved territorial status in 1853. Although Washington state has never had a Jewish governor, Washington territory did in 1870, with the appointment of Edward Salomon. The first Jewish organization, the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Puget Sound, was founded in Olympia in 1873, and the Jewish cemetery in that city dates to that time. The first permanent Jewish settlers arrived in the village of Seattle in the 1860s, and by 1885 there were perhaps 100 Jewish families. Bailey Gatzert, the city's only Jewish mayor, was elected in 1876.

Many of Seattle's Eastern European Jews peddled wares, collected junk, worked as tailors or jewelers or owned second-hand stores. Jews had also migrated to Eastern Washington by this time. The town of Marcus, Washington was named for Jewish merchant B. Marcus Oppenheimer. The first High Holy Day services were held in Spokane in 1885. Jews from Poland and Russia made up the next wave of migration to Washington, fleeing poverty and violent anti-Semitism between 1880 and World War I. Sending for more relatives to join them in a new land, they made up the bulk of Seattle's 4,500 Jews in 1910. The first synagogue in Seattle was Ohaveth Sholum (Lovers of Peace), begun in 1889, but internal disputes over religious practices led to its downfall in 1896. Traditional Orthodox Jews founded Bikur Cholim Congregation, and Reform Jews founded Temple De Hirsch. The first Sephardic Jews-those who came from Turkey and the Isle of Rhodes and who spoke a unique language called Ladino-landed in Seattle in 1902. Expelled from Spain in 1492, now they fled the Ottoman Empire. The early Sephardim peddled fish and fruit. They joined their Ashkenazi brethren in living in the Yesler Way Cherry Street neighborhood of central Seattle. The Turkish Jews founded Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation and the Jews of Rhodes began Congregation Ezra Bessaroth. Seattle now has the third largest concentration of Sephardim in the United States, numbering about 14 percent of the total Jewish population. It remains a strong, cohesive community. Rabbi Solomon Maimon, who served Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation for 40 years, was the first Sephardic rabbi ordained in the United States. Seattle has produced more Sephardic rabbis than any other American city. Jews built small communities throughout the state during this time, including synagogues in Aberdeen, Bellingham, Centralia, Everett, Spokane and Tacoma.

Until after World War II, the Yesler-Cherry Street neighborhood served as the center of Seattle Jewish culture. A half dozen synagogues, the Talmud Torah school, and other organizational buildings were located here. An estimated 85 percent of the city's Jews lived in the area. But interestingly, the Sephardim and Ashkenazim often didn't mix socially despite living in the same neighborhood, occasionally aiming mild epithets at each other. In those days, intermarriage not only meant a union between Jew and gentile, but also between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. The old neighborhood began to break up after 1950, as the Seattle Jewish community began branching out to neighborhoods away from the inner city. The three Orthodox synagogues--Bikur Cholim (which later merged with Machzikay Hadath Congregation), Sephardic Bikur Holim, and Ezra Bessaroth--relocated to Seward Park. Herzl Congregation moved to Mercer Island and merged with a fledgling Bellevue congregation to become Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation. Temple Beth Am, Reform, was founded in the North End along with Conservative Congregation Beth Shalom. Temple B'nai Torah was founded on Mercer Island, and now plans a move to larger quarters in Bellevue. Only Temple De Hirsch remained in the Central Area, but it too merged with another Bellevue congregation to become Temple De Hirsch Sinai, with sanctuaries on both sides of Lake Washington.

The growth in the community has led to some growing pains; nearly every Seattle-area synagogue listed in this guide is either running out of space or planning some kind of expansion in the next few years. Day schools are experiencing record enrollments. Experts say the booming increase in the state's Jewish population will continue, with more than 10,000 Jews expected to move to Washington in the next 20 years.

(Some material in this article is reprinted from “Coat of Many Colors, The History of Seattle's Jewish Community,” by Howard Droker, 1983.)

Source: http://www.jgsws.org/jewishhistory.php