Oregon Jewish History: South Portland


Neighborhood House



Nearly all Jews arriving from Eastern Europe settled in South Portland at the edge of the central city.  There were few Jews living in South Portland before the influx of immigrants after the turn of the century, but within twenty years, the Jewish population of the area had mushroomed to over six thousand people.   Neighborhood House,  was the center of Jewish activity and offered the immigrants English classes, a clubhouse, sewing classes, and regular lectures and discussion groups (1).


Oral History 

Oregon Jewish Oral History was a project led by Shirley Tanzer in 1975.  The archives are kept at the Oregon Jewish Museum.  This sampling tells the stories of Jews that settled in South Portland at the turn of the century.  Because of the archives age and condition this is displayed in image rather than text format.

Gertrude Feves: This is the story of the life of a woman of Russian parents who came to Portland via Colorado and Baker, Oregon.  There are some very valuable recollections of Neighborhood House and its functions and Jewish life in Portland.

Bessie Harris: lived across the street from Neighborhood House.  She describes growing up in the neighborhood.


National Council of Jewish Women 

The officers of the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society founded the Portland Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women 1896.   This was established to provide help and education to the Immigrants in South Portland.   They were leaders in establishing Neighborhood House in 1905.  


National Council of Jewish Woman 1910
From left: Mrs. L. Altman, Mrs. Ben Selling, Mrs. Alex Bernstein, Mrs. Julius Lippitt, Mrs. Rose Selling, Mrs. S.M. Blumauerer, Mrs. Max Hirsch, Mrs. Isaac Swett.  Photo Courtesy, JHSO.


Jewish Shelter Home
975 Corbett Street
Portland, OR
Jewish Shelter Home

The Jewish Shelter Home was established in 1920.  Typically, children were admitted because parents were separated, had recently died, or were too ill or poor to care for them.  The Shelter Home was merged with the Jewish Service Association in 1947 to form the present Portland Jewish Family and Child Service(1).


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(1) Steven Lowenstein, The Jews of Oregon 1850-1950 (Portland, OR: Jewish Historical Society of Oregon, 1987).