OJMCHE has an outstanding and extensive photograph collection dating from the 1860s through today. These images visually document Jewish experience in Oregon. The ongoing digitization and cataloging of photographs is central to OJMCHE’s mission to make these images available to researchers.

Children eating at the Jewish Shelter Home

c. 1925

The Jewish Shelter Home was established in 1920 to care for children whose parents were unable to care for them. The Shelter Home was heavily supported by the Jewish community through the Federated Jewish Societies and especially by Jeanette Hirsch Meier who provided much of the original funding. On her eighty-first birthday in 1924, she retired the entire remaining mortgage for the building. The Jewish Shelter Home was intended to be not only a home but a welcoming Jewish environment for children in need. The home merged with the Jewish Service Association in 1947 to create the Portland Jewish Family and Child Service, which provides counseling for families, children, adolescents and the aged; homemaker services; family life education groups; immigrant resettlement assistance and emergency financial aid.

Jewish Family and Child Service Collection OJM 2

Flood at Meier & Frank Building, Portland


In early June of 1894 the waters of the Willamette River rose to 33.5 feet and flooded 250 square blocks of the city. Store owners sold merchandise from second-floor windows or moved their sales floors to boats floating on the city’s streets.

OJM 03270

Tom Stern’s 4th Street Garage

c. 1925

From the oral history interview with Tom’s son Jerry Stern: “[My dad] opened the third garage in the city of Portland. In those days, very few houses had private garages. So people who did have automobiles would store them in my father’s garage. He stored 40 or 50 automobiles. There was a mechanic on-site. At the curb there was a gas pump. There was a bench in front of the garage and an office right behind the bench. The Jewish people of South Portland who did have automobiles would all come and go from my father’s garage. They were always in the office. It was a place where they could schmooze. Or they could sit on the bench in front. It was like the country store.”

Oregon Jewish Businesses Collection OJM 61

Weil’s Dept. Store Window, Hillsboro, Oregon


Nathan Weil and his sons Ruben, Samuel, Morris, and Jacob founded Weil’s Dept. Store in Hillsboro in 1913. It was Oregon’s largest department store for many years. Weil’s opened branches in Forest Grove and Corvallis. During its 52 years in operation, members of the Weil family managed the business.

Oregon Jewish Business Collection OJM 3408

Elementary English Class at Neighborhood House


The Neighborhood House was Portland’s settlement house. Founded in 1905 by the National Council of Jewish Women, it had the task of assisting new immigrants along the path toward citizenship. Immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italy, who lived in the small South Portland neighborhood came in the evening to study English, learn a trade, and prepare for citizenship tests.

National Council of Jewish Women, Portland Section Collectio OJM 128

Advertising photo for La Pointe’s in Klamath Falls, Oregon


Curt and Else Lion arrived at the port of Los Angeles in 1937 with their young daughters, refugees from Nazi Germany. Curt came by train to Eugene, Oregon. Although he bore a letter of introduction for Kaufman Bros., jobs were limited due to the Depression. A well-timed major snowstorm stopped Curt’s return train in Klamath Falls. Stuck overnight by the blizzard, he walked to the Chamber of Commerce to ask if there were any business opportunities. La Pointe's, in the same block, fit the need. Then and there Curt bought the small 20' x 50' foot store outright for $5000. Eventually he opened stores in stores in Salem, Medford and Corvallis.

Oregon Jewish Business Collection OJM 3411

Home of Sigmund Sichel


Sigmund Sichel arrived in Portland from Bavaria in 1873 to join his uncle Solomon Hirsch, who was already established here. Sichel became an citizen and politician, serving in the Oregon State Senate from 1904-1908. He was very involved in civic activities and urban renoavation projects. With his friend Ben Selling, Sichel worked with the Industrial Removal Office at the turn of the century to relocate 858 Eastern European Jews to Oregon. He was also one of the signatories creating the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith (the ADL) in 1913.

Sigmund Sichel Collection OJM 198

Ahavai Sholom Synagogue

c. 1910

This synagogue building on SW Park Avenue and Clay was built in 1904 to replace the small, wooden synagogue on SW 6th between Oak and Pine that had served the congregation from its founding in 1869. This building was replaced in 1952 with a much larger, brick synagogue at SW 13th and Market. It served various other purposes, including a gymnasium for Portland State University, until it was demolished in 1978.

Congregation Neveh Shalom Collection OJM 00243

Mt. Hood Soap Building

c. 1905

Mt. Hood Chemical Corporation became a Jewish owned business on June 21, 1901 when Philip Feldman, a 41 year-old immigrant grocer from Bavaria, purchased the Mt. Hood Soap and Soda Company, located at the corner of N.W. Fourth and Glisan. The bill of sale included the property plus fixtures, tools, machines, pots and boilers, stock books, accounts, all monies, horse and buggy, one wagon and goodwill.

When Feldman’s wife, Regina, asked him what he knew about making soap, Philip looked at his family and said, “nothing, but I have three sons who will learn.” Learn they did. Three Feldman sons – Joseph, Gustav (“Gus”), and Henry – helped their father transition a fledgling operation into a business still thriving more than one hundred years later.

Oregon Jewish Business Collection, Gift of Marcia Weiss OJM 03281

Raymond Rowe at a Military Passover Service, Okinawa


When the Oregon Jewish Museum mounted its first community-based exhibit in 2001 veterans from all branches of military service, from all eras, came forward to lend or donate their photographs, memorabilia, and to tell their stories. A Call to Serve; Oregon Jews in the Armed Services set a standard for exhibits that draw on community knowledge and collections to tell the story of the Oregon Jewish Experience.

OJM 06729

The Ramblers Donate a Bus to B’nai B’rith Summer Camp


The Ramblers was a social club founded in 1921 at the B’nai B’rith Building (renamed the the Jewish Community Center in 1938). The members aspired to embody middle class values. Their club name is an acronym for: Right, Ambition, Merit, Benevolence, Love, Energy, Religion, and Service. Known for combining a youthful spirit with community service, the Ramblers were an institution at the JCC for almost half a century.

Rambler Collection OJM 194

Groundbreaking for Ahavath Achim, SW Third & Sherman, Portland


The groundbreaking event for Ahavath Achim’s first synagogue was held on Erev Yom Kippur, Oct. 13, 1929. Ben Selling, a prominent Portland businessman and philanthropist, turned the first shovel of dirt.

Ahavath Achim Collection OJM 00593

Aftermath of the Beth Israel Fire


Temple Beth Israel’s second synagogue building, built in 1889 at SW 12th and Main Street, was destroyed by an arsonist’s fire in 1923. The neighboring churches reached out to the congregation by offering them space for services, meetings, and religious school classes until a new building could be built.

Congregation Beth Israel Collection OJM 713

Working Man’s Shoes


Harry Steinberg was born in Poland in 1905 and came to Portland with his family when he was 16 years old. “I learned the shoemaking trade in Europe, from my uncle and I came here to do the same thing.” After several years on Portland’s Skid Road, Harry opened his own shop in South Portland. His preference to repair loggers’ caulk boots instead of than ladies’ pumps, propelled him to return to the Burnside neighborhood. In 1934. He opened “Workingman’s Shoe Repairing” at 211 N.W. Couch St. Nicknamed “The Mayor of Couch Street,” Harry ran the shop until his death in 1983.

Oregon Jewish Business Collection OJM 3345

JCC Preschoolers celebrating Shabbat


Generations of Portland’s Jewish community received their educational starts at the Jewish Community Center’s preschool program. Here a group of youngsters enact a mock Shabbat dinner. If you recognize any of the children in this photograph, please let us know.

Mittleman Jewish Community Collection OJM3670