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Shalom, Hawaii: A Jewish Culture Guide

With its tropical locale, stunning vistas at every turn, rich Jewish community and friendly locals, Hawaii is certainly worth the trip.

By: Sarah Bauder
Published: September 17th, 2013 in Culture » Society » News

And we’re off, to anywhere and everywhere, as we say ‘Shalom’ every week to different global travel destination. World cities, provincial towns, and even the most unassuming of suburbs are infused with Jewish history and culture, some of which is waiting to be discovered.

For the pious follower, the curious traveler, or the intrepid adventurer, we’ll unearth the best of what to do and where to go. Be it an emerging subculture, a historical landmark, or simply a triumph of art in any form, Jewish experiences are found around the world; and likely as well in your backyard.

It may be in the destination, the journey, or the company, but there is much to uncover and celebrate near and far, so hurry up and get going.

Shalom, Hawaii


When one hears Hawaii mentioned, immediately certain images come to mind. What many don’t realize, is there is a well-established Jewish community established on the 50th state of the Union. When and how Jews first found themselves on the Sandwich Islands (the name Captain James Cook gave to the present Hawaiian Islands in the 1770’s) is a matter of mystery.

The first mention of a Jew in connection with said islands came in 1798 when a sailor on the whaling ship, Neptune, recorded in the ship’s log that a Hawaiian king boarded the vessel with a Jewish cook in tow. Nothing is known of this enigmatic individual, save for the mention of his religious affiliation.

From the 1840’s onwards, Jewish merchants began arriving, and subsequently establishing themselves on the Hawaiian Islands. The last reigning king of the kingdom of Hawaii, King David Kalākaua was given a Torah and Pointer for safekeeping by his soothsayer, one Elias Abraham Rosenberg of San Francisco, in 1887. The “King Kalākaua Torah”, is now in possession of Temple Emanu-El (Reform) in Honolulu, and is kept for display purposes only.


Temple Emanu-El

The Jewish community was first organized in 1901, with the creation of the Hebrew Benevolent Society. Likewise, a Jewish cemetery was also established. In 1938, the Honolulu Jewish Community was created. A year later, a Jewish Community Center was erected, and likewise, served as the city’s first permanent synagogue. Over the next several decades, synagogues were established throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Related articles: Shalom, Hawaii, Jewish Culture Guide, Big Island, Maui, Synagogue, Shul, Chabad, Israel, History, Travel, Tourism, Vacation, Tropical
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