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San Jose

SAN JOSE, city in California, 40 miles S. of San Francisco, with a Jewish population of 40,000 in 2005. San Jose was the first capital of California (1849–51). Ten men organized the Jewish community of San Jose in 1861 as the Bickur Cholim Society. By 1869 the membership, made up primarily of merchants, was 35 from San Jose and the vicinity. The Jewish population in 1880 was 265. Until 1953 Congregation Bickur Cholim, now Temple Emanu-El (after a fire in 1848), was the only synagogue. Although its ritual was Reform, separate services were conducted on the High Holidays to accommodate the Orthodox members.

Congregation Sinai, today conservative, was organized in 1953, while Conservative Congregation Beth David, Saratoga, began in 1962.

In the early 21st century there were over two dozen Jewish organizations in Santa Clara Valley, 16 being synagogues with their own religious schools. There were an additional four synagogues in Monterey County. Nearby there is also Beth Torah in Fremont (Alameda County) and various synagogues along the Peninsula, from Palo Alto to Burlingame, which have a working relationship with the San Francisco Jewish Federation, as does the Hillel at Stanford University. Hillel of Silicon Valley serves San Jose State and Santa Clara Universities plus Evergreen, Mission, San Jose City, De Anza, Foothill, and West Valley Community Colleges.

In 2005 the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley (the name changed from Jewish Federation of Greater San Jose in September, 2004) celebrated its 75th anniversary and later moved into the new Gloria and Ken Levy Family Campus on August 1, 2005. This facility houses the Yavneh Day School, Jewish Family Service, the Addison Penzak JCC and the San Jose Federation. Some additional key autonomous organizations include the JCRC, Jewish Education Council, Jewish Community News, Jewish Community Preschool, the Jewish Community Chaplain Program, and three cemeteries. Also within the immediate vicinity are Jewish educational institutions from preschool through high school.

The presence of national defense contractors and scientific and engineering firms brought many highly educated Jews to the area beginning in 1950. This process has intensified during the high tech boom, which has influenced Jewish existence in Santa Clara Valley in all aspects of life, and many individuals established their own prosperous firms.


Temple Emanu-El Centennial Anniversary 18611961 (1961); Statistics of the Jews of the United States (1880); Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley: A Community Celebration of the Federation's 75th Anniversary (2005)

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.