OAKLAND, city located on the east shore of San Francisco Bay, California. The 1969 metropolitan Jewish population (including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties) of Oakland was 18,000. It is estimated that the 2005 metropolitan Jewish population (including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties) of the East Bay was 60–80,000.
The first Jewish organization was the Oakland Hebrew Benevolent Society (1862), which owned a cemetery and served the religious and cultural needs of the Jewish community until the founding of the First Hebrew Congregation (now Temple Sinai) in 1875. These two organizations merged in 1881. The Oakland lodge of B'nai B'rith was founded in 1875 and many local relief societies followed. The Jewish population of the city in 1880 was 227, with 68 in the suburbs. Congregation Beth Jacob, Orthodox, was founded by Eastern Europeans in 1887 and Temple Beth Abraham, Conservative, by Hungarians in 1907. The Jewish Welfare Federation of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties was organized in 1918 and the Oakland Jewish Center was built in 1958.
The Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay has its main office in Oakland and an auxiliary office in Walnut Creek. The East Bay Jewish community covers a two-county area (Contra Costa and Alameda) and is comprised of both urban as well as suburban areas, including the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Fremont, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, and Pleasanton. The East Bay is an active Jewish community. There are now four synagogues in Oakland (one Reform, one Conservative, one Orthodox, and one Renewal), as well as four in Berkeley and 17 in the surrounding areas. Many of the congregations maintain religious schools. There are three day schools, 12 Jewish pre-schools, and a successful Midrasha program (grades 8–12) that offers weekly educational classes as well as retreats. The Center for Jewish Living and Learning of the Jewish Community Federation coordinates the four Midrashot, special education programs, Holocaust education as well as professional development for both the congregational and early childhood educators. The Jewish Community Federation sponsors a Volunteer Action Center, an Israel Center that runs the largest Federation-based teen trip to Israel each summer, and an active Young Leadership Division. The Federation also supports Building Jewish Bridges, that helps interfaith couples find their place in the Jewish community.
The East Bay Jewish community maintains a mikveh, kosher butcher and bakery shops, a synagogue council, a home for seniors and local chapters of the national Jewish organizations. Most of the Jews are in the professions or in mercantile activity. The East Bay Jewish population participates in the social and cultural life of the region and is especially active in social action/Tikun Olam issues as well as those that address educational and environmental concerns. The Jewish community is noted for the good relations between the different religious movements as well for its diversity of population, which includes Jews of different racial and religious backgrounds. To the north of Oakland is Berkeley, containing the main campus of the University of California, which has a Hillel Foundation and many distinguished Jews on the faculty and an important Judaic Studies Program including such scholars as Robert *Alter and Daniel *Boyarin. Also located in Berkeley is the Judah L. Magnes Memorial Museum, which was organized in 1961, and the headquarters of Lehrhaus Judaica, the Bay Area's largest adult school for Jewish studies.
[Riva Gambert (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.