Historical Tours and Lectures

Home of Peace Cemetery Tour with Barrio Boychik

Home of Peace Cemetery Tour
East Los Angeles
Sunday, April 22, 2018

In East Los Angeles sits the oldest Jewish cemetery serving the city and county of Los Angeles. Originally founded around Chavez Ravine in 1854, the cemetery relocated to its current location in 1901. And for generations it was the most important Jewish burial site in Southern California. Today it is still active, and remains just as grand and lovely.

We will be talking about the epic history of this site. And also celebrate the lives of some of the most interesting people who are interred here. Here are just a few things we will see and discuss this day:

  • The pioneer burial section. The relocated graves of early Los Angeles Jews going back all the way to the mid-1800s. We will learn the story of why and how these graves were relocated, and how this site became chosen as the new resting place for our dearly departed.
  • The Byzantine/Moorish style chapel and mausoleum. One of the first Jewish mausoleums in the country.
  • We will discuss traditional orthodox burial and modern Jewish burial; both of which can be seen at this cemetery.
  • We will visit the great tombs of Hollywood mogul families, the Warners of Warner Bros. and the Mayers of MGM Studios, and other studio families.
  • We will see the often decorated graves of much loved actors; including Curly and Shemp Howard, two of the infamous Three Stooges.
  • We will see the burial sites of our famous rabbis and cantors who rest here.
  • We will talk about Jewish groups who are often under discussed; Sephardic Jews, crypto-Jews and even the fascinating history of the sect of Russian Subbotnik converts to Judaism who are also buried here.

On this tour we will be discussing the story of an ever changing Los Angeles and it how it expanded eastward. And how the Jewish people came to rest in peace here, even before a thriving Jewish community once came to live in this area. And further discuss how this site has remained in the hearts of Jewish families even after they migrating all over the southland.

This is one of the most beloved of local sites, by Jewish and Latino families alike… indeed, by everyone who loves the history of East Los Angeles. Join me on this special, heart warming tour!

Children aged 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 shmuel.gonzales@outlook.com, as spaces are limited.

We will be limiting this group to a maximum of 20 participants, and will certainly fill-up quickly. So please sign up today!


“Lost Cemeteries of Los Angeles” Walking-Tour
Downtown Los Angeles
Sunday, May 06, 2018

Los Angeles has a terrible history of willfully forgetting the past, and this is most ghastly demonstrated in the way the dead of early Los Angeles history have been displaced in the name of progress as the city expanded.

We will be exploring the sites and stories of the four original cemeteries of Los Angeles which were in some cases relocated, in other cases just built right over.

  • The Campo Santo at the Placita Church; the once forgotten Catholic burial site of many indigenous people and early immigrants
  • Fort Moore Hill; the forgotten original Protestant burial site, the first non-Catholic cemeteries
  • Old Jewish Cemetery; the lost original Jewish cemetery near Chavez Ravine, near the site of Dodger Stadium
  • Old Calvary Cemetery; the old Catholic cemetery, and its former chapel site that has also become important to the historic community of Little Italy

We will be exploring these sites with a special emphasis of the often untold multi-cultural history of early Los Angeles.

This is an entirely walking tour, the entire circuit is about 3 miles that will take us from the Los Angeles Plaza up to the old Cemetery Ravine – near Chavez Ravine, just down the hill from Dodger Stadium – and back.

Ticket cost : $20 + Eventbrite fee. Children 13 and under are free, please contact me to add them at my guest list at shmuel.gonzales@outlook.com.

We will be limiting this group to a maximum of 20 participants, and will once again fill-up quickly. So please sign up today!


“Jewish Boyle Heights: Memories of Brooklyn Ave.” Walking-Tour
Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles
Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights has long been the crucible of the American immigrant, working-class experience. At one time people of dozens of nationalities and languages called this neighborhood home, and Boyle Heights was once the largest Jewish community west of Chicago. And Brooklyn Ave – today’s Avenida Cesar Chavez – was it’s main shopping corridor and thoroughfare.

We will visiting just a few vital sites that tell the story of the area’s Jewish history:

  • The Breed Street Shul – we will start our tour in front of the grand synagogue that was once the most respected Jewish house of worship on the west coast. It was one of more than 30 Jewish houses of worship in the neighborhood. We will also see the location of the first Jewish religious education institutions in Los Angeles.
  • The original location of Canter’s Deli, as well as the location of other local Jewish bakeries and delis; where pickel and herring barrels once tempted each passerby.
  • We will also see the original location various other Jewish business and institutions which are now located in other parts of Los Angeles.
  • The Old Mount Sinai Clinic – learn about the early history of the two hospitals on the eastside, that would one day become today’s Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.
  • The former site of the Russian Turkish Baths.
  • Jewish labor socialist organizing locations: Including the Jewish Labor Committee, Workmen’s Circle, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, as well as local anarchist and communist headquarters.

*Note: We will not be going inside of the Breed Street Shul, but instead focusing on the community surrounding this site.

In this tour we will be retelling the story of how such a diverse immigrant community came together here in the first half of the 20th century. We will also discuss the great social challenges this community historically faced, and the movements that established. We will also discuss the forces of displacement which have historically changed the landscape of the community around us. All in order to understand the heritage of the community, as well as appreciate the challenges which are again being faced by this changing community today.

Ticket cost : $20 + Eventbrite fee. Children 13 and under are free, please contact me to add them to my guest list. For Boyle Heights residents, educators, and community activists, I will be offering a few spots on my guest list once again; please contact me at shmuel.gonzales@outlook.com, as spaces are limited.

We will be limiting this group to a maximum of 20 participants, and will once again fill-up quickly. So please sign up today!

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