SACRAMENTO, capital of California, 90 miles N.E. of San Francisco in the Central Valley; Jewish population (2005) 25,000. Jewish settlement in Sacramento began in 1849 with the arrival of merchants who catered to the local trade and supplied goods for resale during the Gold Rush. One such merchant, David Lubin, opened a clothing store with his half brother, Harris Weinstock, in 1874, which became the Weinstock-Lubin department store (now all Macy's). By 1851, Orthodox Congregation B'nai Israel, composed of Germans and Poles, owned and occupied the first synagogue building in the state. The early rabbis of the congregation conducted services locally and in interior mining towns. The members of the community founded men's and ladies' Hebrew benevolent societies. The B'nai B'rith Lodge, organized in 1859, is the second oldest in California. In 1895 Congregation B'nai Israel became Reform. In 1916, 150 Jewish families lived in Sacramento. About 1912 East European Jews organized the Mosaic Law Congregation, which became Conservative in about 1947. In 2005 Jews were engaged in all occupations and professions, well integrated into the social, cultural, and political activities in the city. The State Legislature meets annually and has a number of Jewish members; many Jews are employed in the state civil service. The existence of many high tech companies provides jobs for both local Jewry and itinerant Israelis.
Jewish life is organized around the synagogues, which include Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Each congregation has a religious school, although the Jewish community high school, Yachad, is run by the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region. There is one Jewish day school, Shalom School; a Jewish social service agency, Jewish Family Service; and a Hillel for California State University, Sacramento, and the University of California, Davis. For the observant, there is a mikveh, a kosher store, and a number of kosher caterers. There is a Jewish cemetery, Home of Peace, in addition to designated areas in other cemeteries. In terms of cultural events, there is a Jewish film festival, Jewish food fair, and community-wide observances of Yom ha-Sho'ah, Hanukkah, Israel Independence Day, and other Jewish holidays. In addition to the Jewish Federation, there are local chapters of many national Jewish organizations.
In 1998, the Sacramento Jewish community experienced a major antisemitic attack when three area synagogues were firebombed in one night. As is customary in the United States, the general community turned out in full force and supported the Jewish community as more than 4,500 people attended a memorial gathering. The perpetrators were convicted and sentenced for their crimes, which included murdering a gay couple in addition to the arsons.
Prominent Jewish elected officials include former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin, former Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District members Peter Keat and Bill Slaton.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.