Seattle: Home to Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft – and Torah

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08 Mar 2017

If you enjoy a nice cup of (kosher) coffee, you’re in luck: Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, the main base of Amazon and Microsoft, and home of the modern-day tech boom, is also home to a significant Jewish community. With over 70,000 Jews, there are hundreds of Orthodox families who enjoy the laid-back and neighborly nature of Seattle’s Jewish community.

Find out more about Seattle at the OU Jewish Communities Fair on April 30

Ari Hoffman, a native of Westchester, NY, married a fifth-generation Seattle resident and moved to his wife’s hometown in 2004 and has become one of its most enthusiastic spokespeople.

“Seattle is the most hospitable, caring and compassionate Jewish community,” Hoffman enthused. “Even while the community is growing so rapidly, everyone takes care of one another. There’s something for everyone here in terms of Jewish observance levels, precisely because so many people have joined our ranks.”
While there were only three Orthodox shuls (one Ashkenazic, two Sephardic) and one high school when Hoffman moved to town, there are now seven synagogues, numerous day schools, and a co-ed and girls’ high schools. A boys’ yeshiva high school is set to open in fall 2018. Jewish resources are plentiful—and so are the jobs.

“Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, Facebook, Starbucks, Nordstroms, and REI all have major corporate offices in Seattle, and there’s just this insane job market with opportunities everywhere,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman also highlighted the city’s natural beauty, with an abundance of gorgeous mountain scenery and lakeside views. “Despite what you hear, it doesn’t just constantly rain here,” he says wryly. “Seattle is full of crunchy granola types who embrace exercise and clean living. I’m not even a health nut and yet I bike 18 miles a day and go waterskiing in the summer. It’s like going to camp all day.”

Hoffman’s wife, Jessica, also testifies to the community’s rapid growth since her childhood. “More than half of children who attends my kids’ day school are from families who aren’t originally from Seattle,” she said. “That tells you something.”

“The families who have moved here don’t just come for jobs,” said Jessica, “but because Seattle is an incredibly warm and welcoming place to live. There’s no pressure to live in a certain type of house, drive a certain car or observe Judaism in only one fashion. You can be who you are, and everyone accepts you. That’s an immensely attractive quality in a Jewish community.”

Check out more Torah communities outside the metropolitan area at our biannual Communities Fair on April 30!

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.