A Sephardic Portland Walking Tour – Sept. 7

A Sephardic Portland Walking Tour is offered Sept. 7 in conjunction with the “Vida Sefaradi:  A Century of Sephardic Life in Portland” exhibit currently on display at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.

On Sept. 7, from 11 am to 12:30 pm, enjoy a Sephardic-focused walking tour of South Portland including a behind the scenes look at Portland’s Sephardic synagogue, Congregation Ahavath Achim. 
The tour will begin on the campus of Portland State University at Shattuck Elementary, one of several buildings now repurposed for PSU, then venture through what was once the heart of the Sephardic neighborhood.  Along the way, learn about the people and places that contribute to the rich history of Portland’s Sephardic community, including the site of the original 1930 synagogue. 
As you walk, you’ll hear from the tour guides about the city’s first urban renewal projects of the early 1960s, which irreparably changed the physical, social and cultural landscape of the neighborhood. Reaching Lair Hill Park and Neighborhood House (now an active Waldorf School), finish out with a guided tour of architect John Storrs’ iconic “beehive” shaped synagogue at Congregation Ahavath Achim.

“Vida Sefaradi: A Century of Sephardic Life in Portland” was created to highlight the significance of Sephardic life in Portland. Sephardic Jews descend from Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Many of them settled in Jewish communities throughout the Ottoman Empire and along the Mediterranean Sea. They lived peaceably there for centuries, until the lure of better opportunities brought some Sephardic Jews to the United States. Portland’s Sephardic community traces its origins to a small group of young men who immigrated first to Seattle from the Isle of Rhodes and Turkey and came to Portland around 1910. The stories of these first arrivals form a backdrop in which to explore the history and culture of Sephardic Jewry as it relates to Portland’s Jewish community. The exhibit explores the historical, cultural, social and spiritual traditions of this small but fascinating community and examines its place as an integral part of the larger Jewish and general communities. 

Vida Sefaradi will run through Oct. 19 at the OJMCHE, 1953 NW Kearney St., Portland. An exhibit catalog, documentary film and website accompany the exhibit.  Professor Laura Leibman, Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College has guided the content development for the catalog. Ivonne Saed, a communications specialist is overseeing the production of the catalog and the work of the documentary firm Gravitational Creations. Sura Rubenstein is the exhibit’s guest curator.

Tour tickets are: General Public: $12; OJMCHE and Ahavath Achim Members: $10; Students: $5. Exhibit hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10:30 am-4 pm; Friday 10:30 am-3 pm; and Saturday and Sunday noon-4 pm. Admission is Adults: $6, Students/Seniors: $4; members free. More information on the exhibit or tour, is available from ojmche.org, info@ojmche.org or 503-226-3600.

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