Jewish Histories in Multiethnic Boyle Heights

About This Exhibit

Exhibit Credits

Chief Curator and Author: Caroline Luce, Ph.D.
Caroline Luce is the Associate Director of the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and the Chief Digital Curator of Mapping Jewish L.A. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA with a focus on immigration, labor, and working-class culture in the American west and is working on a book manuscript entitled Yiddish in the Land of Sunshine: Jewish Radicalism, Labor, and Culture in Los Angeles, 1900-1950. To learn more about Dr. Luce's work, visit

Designer: David Wu
A UCLA alumnus, David Wu joined the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies in 2007 and is currently the Digital Projects & Marketing Coordinator. Serving as the graphic designer for both print and web materials, Wu is also responsible for both design and technical aspects of Mapping Jewish L.A. including the maintenance of the website and design elements in digital exhibits.

Illustrator: Eric Sheslow (aka Shez)
The custom-designed art featured in this exhibit was created by Eric Sheslow (aka Shez). Learn about his history-based cartooning project, ShezGlyphs, and his graphic novel in progress at his website, or purchase his art at his ShezGlyphs etsy shop.

Editor: Katy Van de Putte

Support Staff
Vivian Holenbeck, Reina Chung, Chelsea White, Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Contributing Artists and Authors Include:

Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez is a Lecturer in Chicana/o Studies and Theatre at California State University, Northridge, and a Ph.D. candidate in the school of Theatre and Performance Studies at UCLA. He attended school in Boyle Heights and researches historiographical examples of positive cross cultural collaborations in southern California. His latest article “Playing Hopscotch on Dangerous Ground” will be featured in the fall 2021 issue of the Cambridge Opera Journal.

Jonathan Banfill is a recent graduate of UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education. He is currently Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

Shmuel Gonzalez (aka the Barrio Boychik) is a community organizer, activist, historian, and spiritual leader on the eastside of Los Angeles. He works in collaboration with the Studio for Southern California History, the Boyle heights Historical Society, and the Pico Union Project, and is the founder of the Boyle Heights History Studios, a grassroots co-op community center, museum, and audio/video studio. He also serves as lay leader in Jewish education and sacred Hebrew ritual at congregation Beth Shalom of Whittier and for the Boyle Heights Chavurah, the only active Jewish community in Boyle Heights today. Learn more at

Maxwell Greenberg is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies at UCLA and the forthcoming postdoctoral fellow (2021-22) in the Department of Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Maxwell thinks, writes and teaches about border regions as sites of race, class and gender-making, and is finishing a dissertation entitled, Jews on the Border: Entrepreneurship and Colonization between the US and Mexico.

Kristen Hayashi is Director of Collections Management & Access and Curator at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. She is a public historian with experience ranging from collections and curatorial work in museums to board leadership for the Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) and Asian Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation (APIAHiP). Her interest in the intersection of historic preservation and Japanese American history led her to write historic landmark designations at the local and federal levels for the former Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of California, Riverside and a B.A. in American Studies from Occidental College.

Albert Kochaphum works at UCLA’s Institute for Digital Research and Education and works as the Campus GIS Coordinator. His most recent work is the HateCrimeMap with the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA, which visualizes the rise in hate crimes after the 2016 election and against Asian-Americans during Covid-19. He advocates for using maps for social change and is passionate about sustainable transportation.

Rachel Trombetta provided research and images for the pages about the Home of Peace and Jewish Cemeteries in East Los Angeles created for her Master's Thesis, "Beit Olam: A Home Everlasting - Jewish Cemeteries of East Los Angeles," USC, 2018.

About This Exhibit

This exhibit was made possible by a generous gift from Alan D. Leve, who was raised on St. Louis Street in Boyle Heights. Committed to ensuring that scholars and students will not forget the history and significance of the neighborhood that is so dear to him, Mr. Leve donated funds to create the Hinda and Jacob Schonfeld Boyle Heights Collection, a research and teaching archive of artifacts and materials related to Boyle Heights. Named in honor of his Romanian grandparents who moved to Boyle Heights in 1925, the Schonfeld Boyle Heights Collection will become a physical archive at the UCLA Library and hosts public history programs, including lectures, exhibitions, tours and courses addressing the history of Jewish Los Angeles. If you are interested in donating materials to the Schonfeld Boyle Heights Collection, contact us at

The first of these public history programs was an exhibition called "From Brooklyn Avenue to César Chávez: Jewish Histories in Multiethnic Boyle Heights," launched November 6, 2016 at UCLA's Royce Hall. The exhibition has since been installed at the Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights and portions of the exhibition were also displayed in City Hall as part of Los Angeles' first Jewish American Heritage Month celebration in 2017.

2016 Exhibition Credits
Curators: Caroline Luce and Todd Presner
Design: Jenna Kush, Justin Scoltock, David Wu, and the team at Olson Visuals
Staff: Vivian Holenbeck, Reina Chung, Chelsea White

This Digital Exhibition expands upon that physical exhibition. It features archival materials, family keepsakes, and photographs that have been shared with the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies by individuals and community members who, in the wake of the exhibition and inspired by Mr. Leve's example, wanted to contribute to the preservation of the neighborhood's history. These donated items are featured in the Hinda and Jacob Schonfeld Digital Library and throughout the other pages. If you are interested in contributing to the Schonfeld digital library, contact us at
This exhibition also would not have been possible without previous efforts to document and preserve Boyle Heights' history led by the Southern California Jewish Historical Society and the Japanese American National Museum. Launched in tandem with efforts to save the Breed Street Shul from demolition, their efforts—including photo collection and memory-sharing events, as well as an extensive oral history project—yielded an assortment of archival materials and historical scholarship. "Jewish Histories in Multiethnic Boyle Heights" draws from this reservoir of information and adds new elements to it, making that robust body of material more accessible and available through an easy-to-explore virtual space. We do so at a moment when gentrification, displacement, and the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the loss of elders whose memories and histories have not yet been formally documented, making the preservation of the neighborhood's history all the more urgent. Our hope is that by enhancing public understanding of Boyle Heights' past, this digital exhibit will support and facilitate preservation efforts already underway and encourage new ways of thinking about Boyle Heights' present and its future.

The Leve Center is grateful for the contributions of the following exhibition collaborators and community partners:

Boyle Heights Historical Society, Boyle Heights History Studios, Breed Street Shul Project, Canter’s Deli, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Getty Research Institute, Home of Peace Cemetery, Japanese American National Museum, Libros Schmibros, Japanese Language School Unified System (Kyodo System), John F. Kennedy Memorial Library Special Collections and Archives at California State University Los Angeles, Los Angeles Jewish Home, Los Angeles Public Library, Libros Schmibros, Oviatt Library Department of Special Collections and Archives at California State University Northridge, Southern California Arbeter Ring/Worker's Circle, Southern California Jewish Historical Society, Southern California Library, Theodore Roosevelt High School, UC Humanities Research Institute, UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, UCLA Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies, UCLA Department of History, UCLA Labor Center, UCLA Special Collections, USC Digital Library, Water and Power Associates, Western States Jewish History, The Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, and Yiddishkayt.

The Leve Center is grateful to the following individuals for their collaboration and support:

Frank Acevado, Steven Aron, Avishay Artsy, Neelanjana Banerjee, Teresa Barnett, Angelica Becerra, Tomas Benitez, Marla Berns, Janelle Bossett, Jacqueline Canter, Marc Canter, Reina Chung, Laura and Larry Cohen, Roxana Dueñas, Michael Emmerich, David Epstein, Lewis Erenberg, Clare Fester, Leo Frumkin, Joel Garcia, Richard George, Ben Gertner, David Theo Goldberg, Beth Greene, Genie Guerard, Hershl Hartman, Reem Hanna-Harwell, Toby Higbie, David Hirsch, Don Hodes, Jen Hofer, Abraham Hoffman, Vivian Holenbeck, Michael Holland, Ellen Jarosz, Colleen Jaurretche, Ruth Judkowitz, Betsy Kalin, Jenn Kinney, David Kipen, Mark Kligman, Miriam Koral, Alan D. Leve, Aaron Levinson, Jonathan Liang, Renee Longstreet, Joanne Marks, Mariela Martinez, Valerie Matsumoto, Matthew Mori, Sarah Murphy, David Myers, Suedine Nakano, Marissa Nuncio, Octavio Olvera, Rob Adler Peckerar, Bruce Phillips, Mary Enid Pinkerson, Carmelita Ramirez-Sanchez, Verónica Reyes, Christina Rice, Nancy Roberaccio, Oscar Rothenberg, Koji Sakai, Abel Salas, Gaspar-Rivera Salgado, George J. Sánchez, Stephen Sass, David C. Schaberg, Dena Levine Schechter, Hope Shaw, Adam Somers, Saba Soomekh, Paul Spitizzeri, Michael Stone, Gladys Sturman, Masami Tanaka, Elina Tilipman, Erna Toback, Art and Victoria Torres, Michele Wesling, Margaret Wetherbee, Chelsea White, Karen Wilson, Jessica Wolf, Kent Wong, Zev Yaroslavsky, Diana Ybarra, David K. Yoo, Lauren Zuchowski, and many more who have shared stories and memories with us.

How to Use This Site

The drop-down menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen provides several ways to explore this digital exhibit. We recommend you start by reading the illustrated essay "Urban Space and the Making of a Neighborhood" which provides an overview of the neighborhood's history. Through a series of linked pages, the path traces the intersections of race-making and place-making in Boyle Heights between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, using Jewish history as a lens to capture a range of historical processes and transformations across different racial and ethnic groups. The illustrated Timeline, created by Caroline Luce and David Wu for the 2016 exhibition, provides a similar chronological overview that places happenings in the neighborhood in the context of broader world-historical events. You can also navigate through the material geographically using the "Mapping Jewish Histories in Boyle Heights" path, which enables you to drill down on specific spaces and places in the neighborhood and peel back the layers of their histories.

The Hinda and Jacob Schonfeld Digital Archive gives you access to the historical photographs, maps, and documents featured throughout the site. These materials have been generously donated by individuals and organizations throughout Southern California who are included among our community partners. If you are interested in contributing additional materials to the Schonfeld digital library, please contact All of these navigation options are also available on the website homepage, accessible through the link below or the drop-down menu at the top of the page. Use the Index feature to access a complete list of pages in the site.
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