J. The Jewish News of Northern California Announces 127 Years of San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish History Digitally Archived and Available Free to the Public 

1906 Earthquake, World War II, Harvey Milk, the Summer of Love and More

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- J. The Jewish News of Northern California today announced the launch of its digital archives, offering the public free online access to 127 years of San Francisco Bay Area history at jweekly.com/archives.

From the 1906 earthquake and fire, the arrival of Holocaust survivors, and heated debates over a future Jewish homeland in Palestine (a national battle that was centered in San Francisco), to the Summer of Love, the assassination of Harvey Milk, and more debates over the present State of Israel (a battle also centered in S.F.), J.’s online archives show how the Bay Area Jewish community has not only been a vital part of local history, but in many ways also has made that history.

First published in 1895 as the Emanu-El, this publication is a living chronicle of the only major Jewish community in the United States founded by German Reform Jews. Highly assimilated, religiously liberal, and financially secure, with names like Goldman, Hellman, Haas, Fleishhacker, and Zellerbach, the Jews of San Francisco participated in the building of their city in a way unlike that of any other American Jewish community. Their stories, and many others, are now available to the public, for free, online.

Highlights from J.’s digital archives include:

“No other primary source captures the full range of the forces that have shaped Jewish identity here from the turn of the nineteenth century. Our triumphs are vividly described. Our shortcomings can be found, too, with examples of bigotry, apathy, and scandal, said historian Fred Rosenbaum, author of the 2009 book “Cosmopolitans: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area” speaking about J.’s importance. 

J.’s digital archives are hosted at the National Library of Israel and at UC Riverside as part of the California Digital Newspaper Collection. The microfilmed newspapers were scanned and digitized by Digital Divide Data, a non-profit social enterprise that trains and employs low-income youth in Cambodia, Laos and Kenya to move them out of poverty. Funding was provided by local Jewish philanthropists who are stories in themselves – Doug Goldman, an heir to the Goldman philanthropic legacy and the Levi Strauss Company; and Fred Levin, whose great-grandfather Aaron Shenson was a well-known kosher butcher and Jewish philanthropist in the early 1900s.


Sue Fishkoff, J. Editor

Steve Gellman, J. Publisher

Mark Bernstein, J. Board Co-Chair