Ohaveth Sholem, the First Congregation of Seattle
In 1878, there were about 56 Jews in Seattle, Washington.
By 1889, several hundred lived there, prompting the formal development of a reform Jewish community.
In 1889, led by David Kaufman, Congregation Ohaveth Sholem was established.
The first president was Sigismund Aronson and the vice president was H. E. Levy.
In that year, s High Holiday services were held at Wickstrom’s Hall on the corner of Eighth and Columbia.
Louis Eisenbach, superintendent of the Tacoma Starch and Glucose Company, officiated using the Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise’s prayer book.
1889 was also the year that they purchased land for the Hills of Eternity Cemetery – 2.6 acres for $1,000.
The First Building — 1890
In 1890, for $8,500, Congregation Ohaveth Sholem purchased a building on the corner of Seneca and Eighth Avenue.
The plan to build a Moorish style synagogue by 1891 did not work out, but the congregation did receive a Sefer Torah, which David Kaufman purchased in New York.
Rabbi Aaron Brown was the first rabbi of Congregation Ohaveth Sholem.
By 1892, the congregation had 104 members and 65 students in their Sunday school.
The Second Building – 1892
In 1892, a new building was constructed in the Gothic style – similar to Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco – on First Hill. The building seated 750.
In 1893-1894, the Sunday school continued to grow and the Women’s Auxiliary developed elaborate programs for all to enjoy.
Rabbi Reuben Abrahamson joined the clergy.
In 1893, Congregation Ohaveth Sholem became a victim of the financial collapse plaguing the nation.
Financial difficulties led to Rabbi Abrahamson’s departure in 1896, followed by the selling of the synagogue to pay off the congregation’s creditors.
In 1899, Temple De Hirsch was established as a reform congregation to uphold the principles that Congregation Ohaveth Sholem was built on.
Also, the Ohaveth Sholem Cemetery (also called the Hills of Eternity), located on the north side of Queen Anne’s Hill, was maintained by the Jewish community.
The cemetery was kept up by the Seattle Hebrew Benevolent Association in 1895.
Temple De Hirsch purchased the cemetery in 1910.
Samantha Silver is our Curator for this Congregation Ohaveth Sholem Virtual Exhibit.