Jewish Boyle Heights
Memories of Brooklyn Ave.
December 22, 2019
The Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights has long been the crucible of the American immigrant, working-class experience. At one time people of dozens of nationalities and languages called this neighborhood home, and Boyle Heights was once the largest Jewish community west of Chicago. And Brooklyn Ave – today's Avenida Cesar Chavez – was it's main shopping corridor and thoroughfare.
On this walking-tour led by Latino-Jewish resident historian Shmuel Gonzales (the "Barrio Boychik") we will be visiting just a few vital sites that tell the story of the area’s Jewish history:
The Breed Street Shul – we will start our tour in front of the grand synagogue that was once the most respected Jewish house of worship on the west coast. It was one of more than 30 Jewish houses of worship in the neighborhood. We will also see the location of the first Jewish religious education institutions in Los Angeles.
The original location of Canter’s Deli, as well as the location of other local Jewish bakeries and delis; where pickle and herring barrels once tempted each passerby.
We will also see the original location various other Jewish business and institutions which are now located in other parts of Los Angeles.
The Old Mount Sinai Clinic – learn about the early history of the two hospitals on the eastside, that would one day become today’s Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.
The former site of the Monte Carlo Russian Turkish Baths.
Jewish labor socialist organizing locations: Including the Jewish Labor Committee, Workmen’s Circle, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, as well as local anarchist and communist headquarters.
The founding location of the Community Service Organization (CSO), we will learn how Jewish and Mexican local progressives helped built a multi-racial coalition and training-ground out of which the first generation of Mexican-American political and civil rights leaders would emerge.
*Note: We will not be going inside of the Breed Street Shul, but instead focusing on the community surrounding this site.
In this tour we will be retelling the story of how such a diverse immigrant community came together here in the first half of the 20th century. We will also discuss the great social challenges this community historically faced, and the movements they established. We will also discuss the forces of displacement which have historically changed the landscape of the community around us. All in order to understand the heritage of the community, as well as appreciate the challenges which are again being faced by this changing community today.
This is my basic introduction to the history of history of Jewish Boyle Heights, with a special focus on the historic alliances and partnerships established here between the Jewish and Mexican American people in this very community.
This is a wonderful event for the whole family to learn about the history of old Jewish Los Angeles!
We will be meeting in front of the Breed Street Shul – Congregation Talmud Torah, at 11:45 a.m. in order to start our talk and walking tour promptly at 12-noon.
PARKING: There is limited street parking in the neighborhood. I recommend the city-run toll parking lot (682) just north of Avenida Cesar Chavez off of Breed Street, located on the east side of the street.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: I also highly recommend people taking Metro Gold Line to our event, exiting at Soto Station and walking just one block west and one block north to our meeting location. You can connect to the Metro Gold Line from the Metro Red and Purple Lines at Union Station
Children 13 and under are free, please contact me to add them to my guest list. For current Boyle Heights educators and community activists, I will be offering a few spots on my guest list once again; please contact me at , as spaces are limited.
This will be a small and intimate tour group, and it will once again fill-up quickly. So please sign up today!