A Curtain Factory and Seattle’s Sephardi Legacy

In 1930, Rachel and Raphael Capeluto—Jewish immigrants from the island of Rhodes—founded the Seattle Curtain Manufacturing Company, which was to play a major role in the local Sephardi community, then as now one of the largest in the U.S. Their factory, having ceased operation some time ago, was sold last year, and recently demolished. As Hannah Pressman writes, it was located in a neighborhood known as the Kosher Canyon, which was “the original commercial and religious heart of Seattle’s Jewish community.”

Between the 1920s and the 1960s, this vibrant corridor of kosher butchers, bakers, and grocery stores offered everything from special Purim candies to arroz molido, the finely ground rice used to make sutlach, a sweet rice pudding beloved by the many Ottoman Jewish immigrants who resided nearby. On Rosh Hashanah kids would synagogue-hop among the different houses of worship lining East Fir Street, before the two Sephardi synagogues moved south to the neighborhood of Seward Park and nestled near the shores of Lake Washington.

During its long lifespan, Seattle Curtain—known to the community simply as “the factory”—witnessed [many changes] in Seattle’s Jewish orientation points, yet the company’s founding principles remained the same: work hard, treat employees like family, honor your religion, and give back.

The business’s Jewish identity was always integral to its operation: the factory closed for Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, and workers exchanged Ladino expressions on the floor. . . . In addition to curtains, [it] created wraparound vinyl coverings for the sukkah walls at local residences and synagogues.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewish History, Capitalism, Seattle, Sephardim

 

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy