Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s most vibrant neighborhoods, thanks in no small part to its history of diversity and inclusivity, which helped it become a hot spot for arts, dining, and nightlife. It’s perhaps best known as the heart of the city’s LGBTQ community, but there are plenty of reasons to argue “the Hill” is also the center of Jewish life in Seattle.
Seattle has seen a Jewish food boom in the past year or so, and much of it has centered on Capitol Hill. Joining Eltana on 12th Avenue, the neighborhood’s established purveyor of Montreal-style bagels, hole-in-the-wall Westman’s Bagel and Coffee on Madison serves bagels, lox, and schmears that appease even the fussiest East Coast transplants. Seattleites’ prayers for a traditional Jewish deli were answered in late summer, when Dingfelder’s Delicatessen opened on the corner of Pine and 14th. Aviv Hummus Bar, on 15th, offers an authentic taste of Israel, serving hearty bowls of the creamy dish with a variety of toppings as well as street-food favorites like falafel and “cheeps,” aka shawarma-spiced fries. Middle Eastern fare is also the focus at acclaimed Mamnoon. Hit the walk-up window on Melrose Avenue for grab-and-go Aleppo pepper-spiced frites or za’atar man’oushe. Better yet, take a seat at the communal table and enjoy a craft cocktail. Kosher diners won’t want to overlook The Summit — between downtown and the hospitals on First Hill — whose dairy café offers the best lunch deals in town.
The largest Reform congregation in the Northwest, Temple De Hirsch Sinai offers a robust schedule of worship, education, and social opportunities for all ages. The temple also regularly features guest scholars, like the annual Keller Lecture, as well as Hebrew classes and Sunday Study — mini courses on topics like well-being, parenting, and current affairs. Capitol Hill’s Orthodox offerings include the Capitol Hill Minyan and the new Chabad Capitol Hill. Shabbat services at Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue incorporate meditation, chanting, singing, Kabbalistic interpretations of the week’s Torah portion, and a potluck oneg to follow. Adult education opportunities include the Bet Alef Learning Institute, and they also offer family learning and a b’nai mitzvah program. Since 1980, Tikvah Chadashah has held services and events for the GLBT community, and not far from Capitol Hill is Kadima Reconstructionist Community, a progressive congregation in Madrona that promotes social justice and inclusivity, including a “Gaymara” queer Talmud class. Shabbat school offers education to babies through high schoolers, with b’nai mitzvah prep and chugim (electives).
Seattle Hebrew Academy, a Modern Orthodox day school, offers comprehensive education for early childhood through 8th grade in a stately building among the pines of Interlaken. Students are exposed to Jewish values and practices in an environment that encourages social-emotional growth.
In addition to some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and boutiques, Capitol Hill has a strong arts scene. The monthly Capitol Hill Art Walk draws lively crowds with special events at galleries and local businesses. Film buffs can check out independent flicks and events at the historic SIFF Cinema Egyptian and the Northwest Film Forum. Lit lovers can pick up their next read while pacing the creaky hardwood floors at the Elliott Bay Book Company, and writers of all levels find a home at Hugo House, a community center that offers classes and workshops. Looking for a Jewish parenting class or a volunteer gig? Jewish Family Service is at your service. Although it’s among Seattle’s most densely populated neighborhoods, Capitol Hill still has plenty of green space. The 48-acre Volunteer Park features formal gardens, walking paths, a pond, a children’s play area, and an amazing view of the Seattle skyline. It’s also home to a Victorian-style conservatory with thousands of species of bromeliads, palms, succulents, and more on display, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum, which is due to reopen in 2019 after renovations. Right in the heart of the neighborhood, Cal Anderson Park is the perfect spot to enjoy a sunny day and some of the city’s best people-watching.