of the LA Eastside
The Big Jewish Boyle Heights and City Terrace Urban Hike
Sunday, January 26, 2020
On this months tour we will be exploring more historical Jewish religious and Yiddish cultural sites of the Los Angeles Eastside. Many of my guests love my lengthier walking tours. You have asked for a more extensive and intensive tour, to see some lesser known sites; so this tour will be about 3.5-miles circuit in total. Are you ready?
On this walking-tour led by Latino-Jewish resident historian Shmuel Gonzales (the "Barrio Boychik"), we will see some amazing sites throughout the larger community. These sites we will be focusing on will not just be the religious Jewish history of Boyle Heights, we will even be exploring the old labor and leftist political sites of the Yiddishists in the hills of City Terrace.
Here are some of the historical sites and topics we will be exploring:
We are going to uncover the chassidic history of the neighborhood. Visiting the site of Congregation Ohel Moshe – the Soto Street Shul of Rebbe Moshe Shmuel Rottenberg, the Kosonier Rebbe; the first chassidic rebbe to settle permanently in Los Angeles. We will further discuss the surprising history of chassidim in Los Angeles.
We will swing past the old sites of Congregation Bnei Israel (the Houston Street Shul) in Boyle Heights and Congregation Bnei Zion in City Terrace. Today the shuls are active churches.
We will even make a quick visit to old Congregation Bnei Jacob (the Fairmount Street Shul) which is the most intact of the old synagogues of the neighborhood; today the site a Latino “Israelite” evangelical church. We will quickly touch on the unique experience some Latino evangelicals are having with exploring and trying to embrace the Jewish roots of their faith.
The Soto-Michigan Jewish Community Center in Boyle Heights – which later became the fondly remembered All Nations Community Center; an arts related community center. We will discuss the role of community centers have played in this community in the past, and how important they will be in a better future.
We will even visit the Menorah Center in City Terrace – Jewish community center in the hills, also home to the Hebrew school of Rabbi Moses Tolchinsky, “Mr T.” Later sold to the Salesian Boys and Girls Club.
The Yiddish schools of the Jewish People Fraternal Order of the International Workers Order (JPFO-IWO) – we will discuss how many congregations and Yiddish schools operated from homes and storefronts in the neighborhood. And also discuss the influential role the JPFO-IWO played providing Yiddish cultural programming in the community, and how it became a prime example of how several Jewish institutions which were shut down as a result of the anti-communist Red Scare era. We will further discuss the history of the Yiddishist political communist and anarchists in Boyle Heights and City Terrace.
And we will also briefly see many more important Jewish and Yiddishist sites as we walk along the way!
On this special tour we will discuss the layered spiritual and cultural heritage of our local sites. We will see some examples of how some of these old Jewish sites have found new life serving the Latino community. We will also discuss the challenges locals are facing in preserving the character of these historical sites which are precious to Latinos and Jews alike.
We will be walking about 1.7 miles from Boyle Heights to City Terrace, and back for a total circuit of 3.4 miles. (NOTE: You will also have the option of a jump-off point to return back by MTA bus from our furthest site on City Terrace Drive for people who are interested, I can help provide instructions for your return; just in case you’re worried about getting too tired.)
We will be meeting in front of the Breed Street Shul – Congregation Talmud Torah, at 11:45am in order to start our talk and walking tour promptly at 12-noon. This special tour will take about 3 hours to walk round trip.
There is limited street parking in the neighborhood. I recommend the city parking lot just north of Avenida Cesar Chavez off of Breed Street, located on the east side of the street. I also highly recommend people taking Metro Gold Line to our event, exiting at Soto Station just one block east of our location.
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!