Washington’s Jews were dispersed throughout the city.
Unlike other Eastern cities, where Jews lived in concentrated immigrant neighborhoods, Washington’s Jews lived and worked throughout the city. Jewish enclaves sprang up along major thoroughfares lined with small businesses and rowhouses.
By the early 1910s, the more settled German-American Jews had begun moving north and west away from their downtown businesses, toward Cleveland Park and Forest Hills. More recent Yiddish-speaking immigrants lived “above the shop” in downtown neighborhoods. They later moved north to settle in neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park such as Petworth, Brightwood, and Crestwood.
Georgetown: Georgetown was a separate city when German-speaking Jews began settling along M Street, NW, during the Civil War. Wolf Nordlinger opened his clothing store in the 1870s, just across the street from brother Bernard’s shoe store. Here, in 1922, men shovel snow in front of Nordlinger’s store at 3109 M Street, NW.
Courtesy of Robin Nordlinger Leiman.
Nordlinger’s business cards
Courtesy of Robin Nordlinger Leiman.
Meyer and Lillie Levy moved to Georgetown from Southwest Washington around 1915. In the early 1930s, their son Sam opened a men’s clothing store. Shown here is his store (at left) at 3059 M Street in 1940. A leading merchant and real estate investor in the neighborhood, Sam Levy became known as “the mayor of Georgetown.”
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS, D.C., GEO, 3-4
4 ½ Street, Southwest: Jewish-owned businesses lined the cobblestone streets near 4 ½ Street, SW.
Harry Chidakel’s barbershop was on 7th Street, SW.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Charles and Edith Chidakel Pascal. 1998.14
Isaac and Cyril Levy, with their 12 children, opened Levy’s Busy Corner department store on 4 ½ Street in 1888.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Marilyn C. Cohen. 1987.07
Aaron Berkman’s grocery was at 3rd and G Streets, SW.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Esther McBride. 1996.57
Harry Wender (right) lived above his parents’ grocery store at 1305 4 ½ Street. He later led efforts to modernize and pave 4 ½ Street, and served as president of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations and chairman of the D.C. Recreation Board.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Dorothy Kornhauser. 2006.37
H Street, NE: Many Russian Jewish immigrants settled along H Street, NE, in the early 1900s.
Jacob and Esther Love owned a shoe repair shop at 1407 H Street, NE.
Daniel Gilbert ran a bike shop at 1370 H Street, NE.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Joseph and Rosalie Gilbert. 2004.25
Ezras Israel synagogue at 8th and I Streets, NE, anchored the tight-knit neighborhood.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Robert I. Silverman.
Cleveland Park: When Tina and Fred Gichner moved their family from 4 ½ Street, SW, to Cleveland Park in 1909, they were among the first Jewish families in that neighborhood. They are pictured here with their children outside their home at 3220 Highland Place, NW.
Front row, left to right: Bill, Tina, Fred, Joe, and Hanna Gichner. Back row, left to right: Jacob, Henry.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Susan G. Rosenthal. 2006.36
Petworth: For many, the Petworth neighborhood offered the prospect of owning their first home. In the 1920s, Morris Cafritz and other developers built thousands of rowhouses like those shown here in the 4500 block of 13th Street, NW. Jewish life centered around the neighborhood synagogue, Har Zion, on Georgia Avenue.
Courtesy of Library of Congress.
18th and Columbia Road: Many Jewish families lived on Lanier Place and the surrounding streets near 18th and Columbia Road, NW, in the 1920s. Chazan Moshe Yoelson moved to the neighborhood from 4 ½ Street, SW, when his son—entertainer Al Jolson—bought him a house at 1787 Lanier Place. Shown here are Jeanette Naiman (Danziger) and her niece Irma Naiman (Greenspoon), who lived next door to each other at 1747 and 1749 Lanier Place.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Lillian Kronstadt, 2005.22