The Gold Rush enticed fortune seekers, including a wave of Jews from the East Coast seeking a better life. By 1870 more than 10% of San Francisco's population were Jews, the largest Jewish population outside New York City. They built community, synagogues, and became a powerful force in the building of the city.
Levi Strauss (1829 to 1902), one of the most prominent Jewish businessmen of his time, made durable clothes for miners and created both a lasting legacy and an iconic American company. When you're in San Francisco visit the plaza named after him at 1160 Battery Street in the Embarcadero (just across from Fog City Diner), before you visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Here we present a visitor's guide to Jewish San Francisco.
As they say themselves, the Contemporary Jewish Museum museum has been connecting art, people, and ideas since 1984
The 63,000 square foot institution opened in a prime location around the corner from SF-MOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). Stay for a pastrami sandwich in the Wise Sons Deli found on site. The museum is closed on the first day of Passover, July 4, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and News Year's Day. The Museum is open on December 25.
William Haas was a great-nephew of Levi Strauss who made his fortune in the grocery business before building a lavish Queen-Anne-style Victorian mansion. Completed in 1886, it features elaborate wooden gables and a corner tower. The Haas-Lilienthal House also gives insight into the upper-middle-class Jewish tastes of the time. Tours are given a few days a week.
This annual event, held every summer, was the first Jewish film festival in the world. More than 35,000 filmgoers gather to see 120 screenings and attend events throughout the Bay Area. It's organized by The Jewish Film Institute with a goal to introduce audiences to Jewish stories and life.
Screenings are held at the Castro Theatre, the CineArts Theatre in Palo Alto, the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, the Roda Theatre in Berkeley, and the Landmark Piedmont Theater in Oakland.
In 1984, world-renowned sculptor and artist George Segal (1924 – 2000) installed his powerful Holocaust Memorial depicting emaciated bodies in a concentration camp. Controversial at the time, it continues to stir emotions. The memorial is a target for vandalism with graffiti and painted swastikas. To Segal, this was a reminder that antisemitism still exists. 34th Ave & Clement St, Lincoln Park.
A philanthropic agency whose work is guided by the Jewish values of kehilla (community), tzedakah (giving with just intention), and tikkun olam (repairing the world). Just what the world needs now, more than ever!
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