Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jewish Americans in the Pacific NW

Jewish Americans in the Columbia River Basin - Historical Overview The 1,200-mile long Columbia River drains a 259,000-square-mile basin that includes territory in seven states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) and one Canadian province. The Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive project spotlights a variety of people who have migrated to this part of the Pacific Northwest over the past two hundred years.

Oregon Public Broadcasting: A Timeline of Jewish history in Oregon, 1850–1950 Excerpt: "In 1849, Jacob Goldsmith and Lewis May are the first Jewish settlers in Portland. (They were) Bavarian-born Jews who. . . operated a general merchandise story on Front Ave. . . The California Gold Rush spurred much of the Jewish movement from the East Coast, Midwest and California to Oregon. Jewish merchants moved west to profit from storekeeping in mining towns. When one gold camp or town dried up, Jews moved on to the next, and so made their way to Oregon. . . In the 1880s Eastern European Jews immigrate to Oregon. A rift between already-established German Jews of Portland, and more Orthodox Eastern European Jews changes the Jewish community."

Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon: Oregon Jewish History The site provides brief history of Portland's Jewish centers and organizations as well as a bit of oral history.

Oregon Jewish Museum The Oregon Jewish Museum houses the largest collection of the history of the Jewish experience in Oregon. It includes archival documents, photographs, sound and video recordings, books, and artifacts. The collection illustrates the history of individuals, families, and organizations that encompass the Jewish community of Oregon from its earliest history in 1850 to the present. A small sampling of photos of artifacts available on the website.

HistoryLink: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History Enter key word "Jewish" into Advanced Search.

Washington State Jewish Society's mission is to "promote interest in and knowledge of the life, history, and culture of the Jewish people both of the State of Washington and of other parts of the world." The site includes a Washington state Jewish history timeline and links to the Jewish Archives which "document the fascinating history of Jews and Jewish communities in Washington State, beginning with the first settlers in 1853. The early pioneers were German-speaking Jews from Central Europe who were followed in the 1880s by a second wave of immigrants, Ashkenazic Jews from Eastern Europe. Starting in 1902, yet a third wave of immigrants to the area, Sephardic Jews from Turkey, Greece and the Isle of Rhodes brought with them their own distinct culture and language. Since World War I Seattle has had the largest percentage of Sephardim compared to the total Jewish population of any U.S. city."

Jewish children at Sunday School, February 1898 - Image credit: Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive

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