The cities of Oakland and Berkeley often end up in the shadow of glamorous San Francisco. Both have lively Jewish communities dating back to the 1860s. Fred Isaac, archivist at Oakland’s Temple Sinai, the oldest synagogue in the East Bay, has created a photographic history of the communities in these two cities. Oakland’s community is older. Its members purchased land for Home of Eternity Cemetery in 1865 and founded First Hebrew Congregation in 1870. Berkeley’s community developed a bit later, as Jew moved north to the home of the University of California. Using archival photographs from the Western Jewish History Center at the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley, Mr. Isaac shows readers how the communities grew. He also tells the story of the early leaders and the institutions they formed. The book continues into the present with information about new synagogue buildings, kosher restaurants and food stores, and community leaders. Robert Alter, Michael Chabon, and Marcia Falk are a few of the illustrious members of this community. An index would have been helpful, but the book is still a useful addition to local history collections in academic, public, and synagogue libraries.
Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland Public Library, Oakland, CA;
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA