Image: Levi Hastings

 

Edward Selig Salomon, a European immigrant who settled in Chicago, became a Civil War hero when he assumed command of his regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg. Legend has it two horses were shot out from under him, but he fought on for three days. “He was the only soldier at Gettysburg who did not dodge when Lee’s guns thundered,” Maj. Gen Carl Schurz recounted. “He stood up, smoked his cigar and faced the cannon balls with the sangfroid of a Saladin.” President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Salomon governor of Washington Territory, where he served for two years before retreating to San Francisco.

B’nai B’rith Lodge #342 formed in Seattle in 1883 — before any religious congregations. Membership provided a way for Jews to find Jewish services when they moved to a new town. The organization established an insurance policy awarding widows of deceased members $30 toward funeral expenses and a stipend of $1 a week for the rest of their lives. Each child would also receive a stipend, and male children would be taught a trade.

Ultimately famous for her life in the Parisian literary world, her cannabis brownies, and her relationship with Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas spent her teen years on First Hill in a home with views of the Puget Sound and the Olympics. Her father, Ferdinand, helped run the first department store in the state. Although Toklas converted to Catholicism and was buried in France alongside Stein, her afterlife may not have gone as planned. Her ghost is said to haunt Seattle’s Hotel Sorrento, and brave fans can attempt to visit her in room 408 — the corner of the building where her family home may have stood. 

Thought Seattle had just one Jewish newspaper? In fact, early on it had four — just not quite at the same time. In 1906, Seattle’s first weekly Jewish newspaper, The Advance, launched, but it only lasted a year. From October 1915 to October 1919, The Jewish Voice of the Pacific Coast was published weekly and cost five cents per copy, or a dollar per year. Then on March 6, 1924, Herman Horowitz published the first Jewish Transcript. The Jewish Chronicle opened in March 1932, because the Transcript was “too Zionist.” The Chronicle folded quickly, and the Transcript managed to hang on for 83 more years, until 2015.

Scottish-born B. Marcus Priteca came to Seattle in 1909 for reasons that aren’t clear, but he ended up making his mark on the West Coast. Many of Seattle’s Jewish buildings were designed by the Jewish architect, including the old Seattle Talmud Torah, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, and the current Sephardic Bikur Holim. Priteca designed a number of other prominent structures, such as the former Longacres Racetrack in Renton. A modest man, Priteca said that one of his few claims to fame was that he was entitled to wear a Scottish kilt, and he liked to recall that he was arrested almost immediately in Seattle for smoking on a public street.

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