The extreme northwestern state on the Pacific coast, United States of America; originally a part of Oregon, but admitted to the Union in 1889. The first Jewish pioneers probably went to Washington about 1860, either from Victoria, B. C., which then contained a large Jewish settlement, or from Portland, at that time the only prominent American settlement north of San Francisco, or from Walla Walla, the largest post on the frontier trail from the East to the North-Pacific coast during the Civil war.
Seattle, which early became the metropolis of the state, was first visited by Jews about 1862, when the wholesale grocery house of Schwabacher & Co. was opened in Walla Walla. The members and representatives of the firm frequently went to Seattle; and they started a branch there in 1869. The first regular congregation, called Oheves Sholom, was organized in 1887, and a plot for a cemetery was purchased two years later. A synagogue was built and dedicated in 1891, but was sold, and the Reform Congregation Temple de Hirsch was organized May 29, 1899, chiefly through the efforts of Leo Kohn. The foundation and first story of the new temple were finished and dedicated Sept. 13, 1901. R. Brown (now in San Francisco) and R. Abrahamson (now in Portland) were the officiating rabbis of Congregation Oheves Sholom, and Theo. F. Joseph has been the minister of Congregation Temple de Hirsch since its organization in 1899. In addition to the Reform congregation there is an Orthodox organization, Bickor Cholem, which was founded in 1892. L. Brooks is the ḥazzan and rabbi; and the congregation worships in a synagogue. The Seattle Hebrew Benevolent Society owns the Hills of Eternity Cemetery, where members of the Reform congregation are interred, while Orthodox Jews are buried in Oak Park Cemetery, the property of Bickor Cholem congregation. The following charitable and educational societies exist in Seattle: Seattle Hebrew Benevolent Society, Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society, Montefiore Society, Temple Auxiliary, Council of JewishWomen, and Sons of Zion. The Independent Order of B'nai B'rith is represented by two lodges, Seattle Lodge No. 342 (organized in 1883) and Hildesheimer Lodge No. 503 (organized in 1900). The Concordia Club, founded in 1903, is a flourishing social organization.
Next in size to the Jewish community of Seattle is that of Spokane, where the congregation Emanu-El, organized Sept. 28, 1890, now (1905) has a membership of about sixty. Rabbis E. Schreiber, A. Farber, and Jacob Bloch have officiated as ministers, and the present incumbent is Rabbi D. Levine. The communal societies are the Judith Montefiore Society (an auxiliary of the temple), the Ladies' Benevolent Society, and the Daughters of Israel (auxiliary of the semiorganized Orthodox community). Abraham Geiger Lodge No. 423, I.O.B.B., chartered in March, 1893, has about fifty members.
The Beth Israel congregation in Tacoma was organized in 1892 and completed its temple in 1893. The congregation, conservative in character, numbers about sixty-five members. There are several auxiliary societies, comprising the Lady Judith Montefiore Society, a section of the Council of Jewish Women, and the Hebrew Benevolent Society, which owns a large cemetery. A B'nai B'rith lodge formerly existed in the city, but the removal of many members resulted in the return of the charter to the grand lodge. Montague N. A. Cohen (now of Sacramento) was the minister of the congregation during the year 1903-4.
A few Jewish families that are not regularly organized into congregations live in Walla Walla, Olympia (a cemetery plot was bought in 1872), Ellensburg, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, South Bend, Everett, and Bellingham.
Among the eminent Jews of Washington have been Gen. Edward S. Solomon, who was sent by President Grant to be governor of the territory of Washington from 1870 to 1872, and Bailey Gatzert, who was one of the pioneers of Seattle, and for several years one of the most prominent men of the Pacific coast, being president of the firm of Schwabacher & Co. from 1888 to 1893, the year of his death, and also the presiding officer of the Gatzert-Schwabacher Land Co.
In a total population of about 750,000 (according to the most accurate estimate for the year 1905), the Jews of Washington number approximately 3,500.