Hawaii Jew-au for Aloha State birthday


From the frozen chosen to the ukelele few-kelele, JTA has your need-to-know Jewish history of the Aloha State, which joined the union as the 50th state on August 21, 1959.

Home to the happiest (Jewish) person in America — and a Jewish immediate-past governor — here’s a timeline of great Jewish Hawaii history post-statehood:


  • 1968 – Yeshiva University Yiddish professor to help Hawaiians overcome language differences.
  • 1979 – Hawaii’s Jews send ‘passover Alohas’ to Soviet refusniks.
  • 1979 – Captain Allen Shapiro becomes first Jewish commanding naval officer of Pearl Harbor naval station.
  • 1979 – Hawaii Jewish Welfare Fund to authorizes special fund-raising appeal to help ‘boat people.
  • 1980 – Hawaiian Jewish voters OK’d for absentee ballots on Yom Kippur election.
  • 1981 – James Rice files special JTA report from Honolulu called The Jews of Hawaii. "To this observer, it seems clear that the geographic isolation from the mainland and from the mainstream of the American Jewish community — even during the jet age — is a major factor hampering the community’s efforts to develop."
  • 1985 – Congregation Beth Sholom in Kona using Torah that belonged to a Czech town whose Jewish community was completely exterminated.
  • 1990 – Without a communal mikvah in Hawaii, JTA writes that the Honolulu Chabad rabbi’s wife instead uses the Pacific for ritual immersion.
  • 1992 – Shaloha restaurant opens, believed to be the first kosher eatery on the islands.
  • 1996 – As Hawaii debates legalizing same-sex marriage, the Reform movement "overwhelmingly" decides to support gay civil unions.
  • 1998 – A Jewish resident of Hawaii is profiled in a story about online matchmaking.
  • 1999 – Honolulu family profiled in JTA in-depth series about multiracial adoptions in the Jewish community.
  • 1999 – Reigning 39-year-old Mrs. Hawaii is a former co-president of Hadassah.
  • 2002 – Profile of Jewish Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle. Lingle is elected Hawaii’s first republican governor in 40 years.
  • 2004 – Lingle fools reporters by using a "meeting" with Israel PM Ehud Barak as cover for a secret visit to Iraq. Later that year, Lingle actually visits Israel.
  • 2004 – Profile of Kol Echad, Maui’s only synagogue.
  • 2005 – Lingle offers prayers at gravesite of the last Lubavitcher rebbe.
  • 2006 – Bruno Keith, a Hawaii resident one of the oldest surviving member of the Shanghai ghetto, returns for a reunion in China.
  • 2006 – Hawaii airports include menorah displays for first time.

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