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Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author
Khesbn (Reckoning), page 1 of 31
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The Editors: "An Accounting - Not a Summation"

"An Accounting -- Not a Summation" 
Editors' introduction to Khesbn (The Reckoning), vol. 1 (1946): 5-6.
Translated by Mark L. Smith.
[Translator's note: words underlined were written in English, but with Yiddish letters.]

A complete accounting would imply — a summation, and that is not our intent. The editors know this, and you, the reader, will also probably notice it.
And it is good that we are giving only an accounting and not a summation. We still have time. The Los Angeles Jewish community is still very young. It began to grow quickly only in the beginning of the century. Originally, the Jewish settlement by the Pacific was just a sort of mecca for tubercular patients, asthmatics, and other sick people. In the beginning of the century, when you arrived in Los Angeles people would whisper in your ear: someone of yours is God-forbid . . . . People suspected that you came here for the warmer, easier and milder air, and not for the difficult economic conditions that prevailed in Los Angeles. Only after the First World War did Jewish immigration turn to the Pacific Coast with the intention of settling here and actually doing business. The newcomer tried to achieve thirty or even forty percent of the income he had earned in the “East,” just to be in California. In those years, the Jewish needle industry first became well established here: institutions were founded, and Jewish cultural institutions began to flourish. In the last ten-fifteen years, Jewish life in Los Angeles has raised itself up and become self supporting. The institutions have grown like mushrooms after a rain: everything new, fresh, and still not deeply rooted. But — all signs point to a healthy, normal and growing Jewish life.
Yet all of this does not explain why we, the publishers of this work, are not able to give a fuller picture of local Jewish life. The causes are very simple: we cannot find enough willing writers here in the city who can assemble for us the complete materials that would be needed to make the accounting more comprehensive. Thus, we are lacking an article on Jewish workers, an article on local religious institutions and charitable organizations. There was no one to take on the task of seeking out and preparing the historical materials. And the Jewish community is, after all, still young . . . .
Today we are providing a new item for the accounting of Jewish life in Los Angeles: the newly built home of the “Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club,” which is fully paid for. Without debts and without the “mortgages” — and on the day when our culture organization celebrated its twentieth year of existence. And we are not the only organization that can boast of such an achievement. On Soto Street, for more than a few decades already, there has existed the Folk-hoyz [People’s House] where the Farband shul [People’s Order School] is located. On East St. Louis — the Vladek Center, with the Arbeter ring shul [Workmen’s Circle school]; in City Terrace — the [Louis] Upright Folk-hoyz with its fine Farband shul, and, recently, the Zionist labor movement bought a beautiful structure that cost more than $100,000, a building that has perhaps no equal in the country.
The accounting grows, and the summation is still far off. Let us hope that a year from now we will be able to provide you a complete accounting.    

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