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Established more than 100 years ago, Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath Congregation is Seattle’s oldest congregation. BCMH is the largest Ashkenazic Orthodox synagogue in the greater Seattle area. Congregation Bikur Cholim—Machzikay Hadath began with the founding of Chevra Bikur Cholim in 1891. The congregation moved to Seward Park in the early 1960s, and merged with Congregation Machzikay Hadath in 1971. On January 22, 1972, Congregation Bikur Cholim—Machzikay Hadath celebrated the official opening of its newly constructed Seward Park building with the bar mitzvah of a fourth generation member of the original Bikur Cholim.
Pictures of the Bikur Cholim synagogue and community life.
Cornerstone Laying Celebration
Front of the Bikur Cholim building
Inside the Bikur Cholim synagogue when empty
Wedding ceremony inside the Bikur Cholim synagogue
Picture from the women's balcony
Wedding party descending the front steps of the Bikur Cholim synagogue
The Bikur Cholim Now photo taken in front of the building that is now the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute features individuals who were members of Bikur Cholim along side members of Langston Hughes. Photo taken 08-15-2019 by Jean Sherrard for the Paul Dorpat Seattle Times Now & Then article published 09-29-2019.
Paul Dorpat has posted an expanded version of the article with lots of extras that can be seen at this link.
Now & Then Photo outside the former Bikur Cholim synagogue, now Langston Hughes Performing Arts InstituteStanding in the middle row are former and current members and their families of Bikur Cholim (L-R): Louis Treiger, Mordechai Treiger, Shoshana Goldberg, Karen Treiger, Sonny Gorasht, DOrothy Lederman, Howard Droker, Mel Genauer, Harris Klein, David Goren, Harry Goren, Terry Wirth, Eddie Fisher, Bruce Caplan, Martin Selig, Lisa Kranseler (WSJHS), Sara Mottaz (WSJHS), Ariella Margolese, Yosef Margolese, Nechama Margolese, Aliza Margolese, Ezra Genauer Tova Genauer, and Dani Genauer. At the end of the row are two persons who, together with the from and back rows, represent the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
Now & Then Photo outside the former Bikur Cholim synagogue, now Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Memories of Bikur Cholim shared by individuals as they gathered for the photoshoot for the Seattle Times Now & Then article. Interviews recorded by WSJHS.
Video features, in order of appearance, Terry Wirth, Harris Kline, Bruce Caplan, and Mel Genauer.
Memory submitted by Dorthy (Prottas) Lederman
I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old, I would walk to Shul on Sabbath and most of the holidays with my Grandpa Charles Miller and my Father Sam Prottas. We lived fairly close to 17th and Yesler, the location of Bikur Cholim. I was so proud to sit on the bima, on grandpa's lap, as he was the President of the congregation for many years. My father's family had front row seats in front of the bima. I also loved to sit with my mother, Rose Miller Prottas, in the balcony, where all women were required to sit, she also had front row seating.
Ater I was about 23 years old I also had to sit up there, as I was no longer considered a child. I met my first friends at synagogue and have remained friends for all these years. After Shabbat morning services there was usually a Kiddush or lunch. To this day I still won't eat pickled herring because the smell was so awful to me then. There was a grassy fenced yard belonging to the shul, where all the kids were allowed to play, as we couldn't sit so long inside. That was fun! When we were older we would walk the few blocks to the Herzl synagogue and the Sephardic synagogue, to socialize with kids outside the shuls.
Bikur Cholim had Sunday school classes which I attended for several years. At the end of the school year annually, the Sunday school had a picnic at Woodland Park which was fun and was a reward for our studies. One of the beset parts of Sunday school was after school my dad took me to Brenner's Bakery near the synagogue where we purchased all kinds of goodies for lunch such as bagels, lox and bakery items. Later I also attended The Seattle Talmud Torah for after school classes. The teachers were all men and in my memory, very mean, but perhaps they were simply strict. I was thrilled, when I turned 13, [and] I was able to quit.
One random memory on Yom Kippur when my friends and I walked to a neighborhood Drug Store we were puzzled, to see Jewish people, hat we knew, eating at the counter. We couldn't understand why they were eating on that day.
Bikur Cholim was always noted for having an outstanding cantor and choir whose chanting and singing would touch your emotions, and bring tears to the eyes.
Stop 8 of the Seattle Historic Sephardic Jewish Tour Map
Stop 8 of the Tour of Sephardic Seattle by Ike Azose