Jews in the Los Ange­les Mosaic

Karen S. Wil­son, ed.
  • Review
By – December 10, 2013

Jews in the Los Ange­les Mosa­ic, edit­ed by Karen S. Wil­son, reflects on the mutu­al influ­ence of Los Ange­les and its Jew­ish popula­tion since the 1800s. Each of the six chap­ters has an essay top­ic relat­ing to LA Jew­ish life: the evo­lu­tion of Jews in LA, the his­to­ry of LA Jews, as well as the Jew­ish influ­ence on labor unions, movies, music, and women in pol­i­tics. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the essays read more like a text­book, with in-depth detail and too many sta­tis­tics. How­ev­er, what enrich­es the book are the exten­sive illus­tra­tions, over fifty in total.

The ques­tion that must be asked is, would this book appeal to any­one not con­nect­ed to Los Ange­les? Indeed, there is some­thing here for all inter­ests. The first essay delves into how the Los Ange­les Jews sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact­ed the trans­for­ma­tion of Los Ange­les from a ranch­ing town to an eco­nom­i­cal­ly and reli­giously diverse urban city. The next essay ex­amines the Yid­dish cul­ture,” and the intense per­son­al and ide­o­log­i­cal ten­sions that divid­ed the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, from Com­mu­nists to Zion­ists. The essay on films looks at how the film­mak­ers would steer away from or include their Jew­ish cul­ture, and let Jews be Jews on the screen.” The piece on Jew­ish women in LA pol­i­tics was the most inter­est­ing essay, as the author com­pared Ros­alind Wiener Wyman, a lib­er­al Demo­c­rat who was influ­en­tial in bring­ing the Dodgers to LA; Bob­bi Fiedler, a Rea­gan Repub­li­can, who was a leader in the anti-bus­ing move­ment; and Jack­ie Gold­berg, a Six­ties left­ist who was involved in shap­ing LA’s pub­lic edu­ca­tion. The last essay exam­ines how the mul­ti­cul­tur­al aspect of Los Ange­les influ­enced Jew­ish musi­cians. It draws upon the exam­ple of Herb Albert for orches­trat­ing Latin music into his brass play­ing and song writing.

Jews in the Los Ange­les Mosa­ic sum­ma­rizes the impact of the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty on the evo­lu­tion of Los Ange­les and shows how the city, with its mul­ti-eth­ic pop­u­la­tion, mold­ed its Jew­ish res­i­dents. Index, notes, sug­gest­ed readings.

Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and Q and A’s for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press. She has had the plea­sure to inter­view best­selling authors from many dif­fer­ent genres.

Discussion Questions