Jewish Immigrants

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Jewish Immigrants

Washington State’s first Jews, most from Germany, settled in the Tacoma/Olympia area in the mid 1800s. Although the state of Washington has never had a Jewish governor, the territory of Washington did, with the appointment of Edward S. Salomon in 1870. The first permanent Jewish settlers arrived in the village of Seattle in the 1860s. By 1885 there were about 100 Jewish families in Seattle. Many peddled wares, worked as tailors or owned second-hand stores. Jews from Poland and Russia made up the next wave of migration, fleeing anti-Semitism and poverty, between 1880 and WWI.

In 1902, the first of Seattle’s Sephardic Jews (of Spanish and Mediterranean origin) arrived from the Greek Isle of Rhodes in 1904. By 1930, Seattle was second only to New York in the Sephardic population in the U.S. Seattle has produced more Sephardic rabbis than any other city. Sephardic Jews have an especially rich history here, with names such as Benaroya, Alhadeff and Piha active in business, philanthropy and cultural causes.

Seattle Jewish community member Sarah Schwabacher with daughters Jeanie Rosenbaum and Mina Eckstein in 1917.