The Hebrew word “Shalom” has several definitions. Spoken most often as a greeting, the word also can mean peace, security, integrity, ingenuity, prosperity and fulfillment.

The Hebrew word “Sefarad” translates as Spain, where communities of Jews lived until the 15th century.

In the early-20th century, Spanish Jews, known as sefardíes, began leaving their adopted homelands of Turkey and the Greek island of Rhodes in order to escape religious persecution, political turmoil or military conscription. Many of them resettled in the northwest corner of the United States to begin a new adventure in a young town called Seattle.

The Sephardic immigrants of Seattle started businesses to meet the commercial demands of a growing city and to serve the unique needs of the Jewish community. They sold a variety of goods, including fish, produce, meat, candies, pastries, flowers, jewelry and curtains. They operated grocery stores, print shops and shoe repair shops.

This exhibit features the triumphant stories of those immigrant families and the community they formed. Sephardic Jews continue to enhance the economic and cultural fabric of Seattle while endeavoring to embody the values behind the versatile word that greets you here today: Shalom!