Three Old Jewish Cemeteries of East LA
The Orthodox Cemeteries
of East Los Angeles
Sunday, April 28, 2019
In this months cemetery tour we will be returning to East Los Angeles to explore three charming and lesser known Jewish burial sites on Downey Road located just behind Home of Peace Cemetery. These cemeteries are connected to old orthodox synagogues which once flourished in downtown Los Angeles at the start of the 20th century.
On this walking-tour led by Latino-Jewish resident historian Shmuel Gonzales (the "Barrio Boychik") we will be visiting the following burial grounds:
Beth Israel Cemetery – Founded by one of the most celebrated of the early orthodox synagogues of downtown Los Angeles, which once attracted visitors from all over to see it’s majestic onion domes. Here we will discuss the establishment of Orthodox Jewish institutions in Los Angeles with a mass influx of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. We will also see how this site became a favorite burial site for Jewish civic leaders; as well as a celebrated burial site for artists, musicians, and Yiddishits literati. It remains as an active and well-kept religious site.
Agudath Achim Cemetery - Founded by a congregation originally located in the historical South Central Los Angeles and which later relating to the West Adams District. This sacred burial site has become the resting place of several great orthodox Jewish rabbis and cantors; including the ohel of the Cleavlander Rebbe, making it the most important Chassidic pilgrimage site in Los Angeles. At this cemetery we will also get the thrilling chance to see an active genizah; a repository for ritual items and sacred books, for them to be kept and buried in respect.
Mount Zion Cemetery - At this cemetery we will talk about how these cemeteries were founded on land borrowed from the Masonic cemetery association. We will discuss how these cemeteries were founded, and then disturbingly abandoned. We will here discuss how this lovely cemetery has be vandalized and smashed up, and how it is being restored through community efforts. We will discuss the future for honoring the Jewish heritage of great Los Angeles, which is often forgotten here outside of the official city limits in unincorporated East Los Angeles.
These three old cemeteries are a wonder to behold. They even contain some of the most lovely tombstone portraits and artistic headstones to be found in any Jewish cemetery in Los Angeles; this site is absolutely picturesque.
This is going to be not just a look at old Jewish cemeteries, we will be honoring the congregations who founded them and their members who ultimately came to rest here. All the while discussing these burial sites and the institutions which founded them, as a means of understanding dynamic immigrant Jewish experience of Los Angeles during the booming years at the start of the 20th-century.
This will be especially interesting to those who have previously taken my "Lost Cemeteries of Los Angeles" or "Home of Peace Cemetery" walking-tours.
We will be meeting at the front gates of Beth Israel Cemetery at 10:15 a.m., in order to start out tour promptly at 10:30 a.m. There is plenty of street parking in their neighborhood.
For public transit riders: You can take the MTA bus 18 east from downtown and exit at Downey Road and head south. You can also take the MTA bus 62 exiting and Olympic and Downey Road north. For Metro rail, our location is also about a 1-mile away from the Maravilla Gold Line station, walking Third Street to Downey Road.
Tickets are $20 + Eventbrite fees. Children 13 and under are free, please contact me to add them to my guest list. For current Boyle Heights residents, educators, and community activists, I will be offering a few spots on my guest list once again; please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, as spaces are limited.
We will be limiting this group to a maximum of 20 participants, and is expected to fill up quickly. So please sign up today!