Autry National Center

jlam_lg

Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic

GENERAL INFO / BACKGROUND

Location/Dates:

The Autry in Griffith Park: George Montgomery Gallery
May 10, 2013–January 5, 2014

 

"[An] excellent panoramic view of L.A.’s Jewish history."

The Jewish Forward

"Arguably the most ambitious attempt to encapsulate [L.A.'s] vibrant [Jewish] history."

Jewish Journal

Explore how a growing Jewish community settled, prospered, and helped shape the economy, politics, and culture of a city—and how the diversity and dynamism of Los Angeles have transformed the local Jewish community for the past 160 years.

This groundbreaking exhibition is the story of neighborhoods like Boyle Heights and Fairfax, people like Billy Wilder, Max Factor, and Frank Gehry, and lynchpin industries like the movies and suburban land development. See how Jews helped change the region by recruiting the Brooklyn Dodgers, inventing the Barbie doll, and joining other Angelenos in electing the city’s first African American mayor.

Featuring more than 150 stories, documents, objects, and images of family, community, and society, Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic highlights how the history of Jews in Los Angeles is at once familiar—one of the many in the cultural mosaic of the city—and unique.

A companion publication is now available in the Autry Store and through UC Press.

Explore how a growing Jewish community settled, prospered, and helped shape the economy, politics, and culture of a city—and how the diversity and dynamism of Los Angeles have transformed the local Jewish community for the past 160 years.

This groundbreaking exhibition is the story of neighborhoods like Boyle Heights and Fairfax, people like Billy Wilder, Max Factor, and Frank Gehry, and lynchpin industries like the movies and suburban land development. See how Jews helped change the region by recruiting the Brooklyn Dodgers, inventing the Barbie doll, and joining other Angelenos in electing the city’s first African American mayor.

Featuring more than 150 stories, documents, objects, and images of family, community, and society, Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic highlights how the history of Jews in Los Angeles is at once familiar—one of the many in the cultural mosaic of the city—and unique.

A companion publication is now available in the Autry Store and through UC Press.


Please let us know what you think!

The history of Jews in Los Angeles is at once familiar and unique—familiar as a story of the growth of an American metropolis, and unique because Jews have been both at the center and the margins of the events that shaped contemporary Los Angeles. Through stories of families, communities, and society, we invite visitors to see how the history of Jews in this place is familiar and understand why it is unique.

Please let us know what you think. Send your responses to the questions below to jlamanswers@theautry.org.

Where does your unique story fit in the Los Angeles mosaic?

Where have you been?

Will L.A. become a melting pot or a salad bowl?

Where are we going?

Will your grandchildren speak more than one language?

Can't we all just get along?

Want to see what people said? Click here.


Where does your unique story fit in the Los Angeles mosaic?

My parents were immigrants from Germany. My father came to Los Angeles in 1941 after a stint as an elevator operator in Gottshalks Department Store in Fresno. He had a furniture store on Van Nuys Blvd for 51 years. Over time he built the business from a used furniture store selling to farmers -- as the area was agricultural -- into a thriving multi-store enterprise selling high-end domestic and imported furniture and home decoration accessories. He retired in 1991 and passed away in 2005. My mother immigrated with her parents from Nuremburg in 1938, and thought Los Angeles was paradise because there were no brown-shirts or swastikas. She lived on Olympic Blvd. and atended LA High School and passed away in 2001.

Where have you been?

Born in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in LA. Raised in Van Nuys. Now living in France.

Will L.A. become a melting pot or a salad bowl?

Both.

Where are we going?

We are going where America is going, just getting there a little faster.

Will your grandchildren speak more than one language?

My children already speak English, French and Spanish. Plus my son speaks German.

Can't we all just get along?

Absolutely yes. We must first beautify the city by putting all overhead wires underground and banishing telephone poles. Getting rid of billboards would also help.


Where does your unique story it in the Los Angeles mosaic?

My dad, Leonard Hirsch, son of Romanian-Jewish immigrantsm first came to L.A. around 1939 from St. Paul, MN, to work for my uncle, a root beer distributor. After returning from World War 2, he married my mother, Bernice Wexler, daughter of a Lithuanian-Jewish mother and an American-Jewish father whose parents came from Russia, in Minneapolis Dec. 29, 1945, then they came out and settled in No. Hollywood to raise 3 daughters. He owned a children's furniture factory for 40 years in Glendale, then near Los Feliz. Since most of my dad's brothers and sisters also lived out here, my grandfather came out, too and lived with my aunt and uncle until he moved to the L.A. Jewish Home in Boyle Heights.

Where have you been?

I was born in Burbank, raised in No. Hollywood and Van Nuys. I've been to Minneapolis and St. Paul to visit relatives, Memphis, New Orleans, the Washington, DC, area, where my sister & her family and my daughter live, New York, France, Italy, and Spain.

Will L.A. become a melting pot or a salad bowl?

It is and, I hope, remains a salad bowl, with many flavors from around the world, tossed together with English, but never losing its individual original tastes.

Will your grandchildren speak more than one language?

I hope so. In addition to English, I speak French and Spanish, and my children speak a little Hebrew.

Can’t we all just get along?

I certainly hope so.


THIS EXHIBITION IS SPONSORED BY:

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