Friday, March 29, 2013

The Forgotten Jewish Gravestones of East Los Angeles

Another fascinating piece, at the Los Angeles Times, "Jewish dead lie forgotten in East L.A. graves":
The Eastside neighborhoods of East L.A. and Boyle Heights have long served as an archive of Los Angeles’ multicultural history — Ellis Islands for transplants from the East and across the Pacific — and in more recent years, from Mexico.

Nowhere is this more evident than in their graveyards.

On 3rd Street off Eastern Avenue, there's the pristine Serbian Cemetery. On the 1st Street side of that graveyard is the Chinese Cemetery. The sprawling Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights is the final home of some of the most familiar family names in Los Angeles history, including the Lankershims and the Van Nuyses.

On Whittier Boulevard in East L.A., Home of Peace is a large Jewish cemetery with Roman columns and beautiful mausoleums for noted rabbis. Among the well-known buried there are two of the Three Stooges — Curly and Shemp Howard, and Jack Warner, the film executive who co-founded Warner Bros.

Earlier this year, Eddie Goldstein, perhaps the last Jew to be born and live in Boyle Heights his whole life, was buried at Home of Peace.

And then there's Mount Zion, a graveyard with a hard-luck history.

It was opened in 1916 by a burial society dedicated to provide free burials for poor Jews. Where other cemeteries featured vast expanses of trimmed grass, handsome columns and statuary, Mount Zion was mostly concrete and dirt.

The cemetery rarely made the news, for good or bad, but in 1932 it did when a Hyman Bobroff, age 50, shot himself in the head inside Mount Zion. A second bullet pierced his heart, apparently the result of a reflexive movement of his gun hand after the first pierced his skull.

A year before, the cemetery hosted the funeral for a murdered "alcohol broker."

"No big shots were at the funeral," it was reported in the Los Angeles Times, "although a number of lesser lights from the underworld appeared both at the undertaking parlors and the cemetery."
RTWT. There's a map, plus lots of pictures.