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Shalom L.A.

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By Robin Keats

Published Apr 1, 2013 8:00 AM


art

Bill Phillips behind the counter of his store on Brooklyn Avenue in Boyle Heights, then a Jewish neighborhood, circa 1950.

What do French stoneware from the 19th century, the camera used for the first feature-length movie filmed entirely in Hollywood, aerial photos of Lakewood and a miniature etching bearing the words "war is unhealthy for children and other living things" have in common? They all tell the 150-year story of Jewish life in Los Angeles. Today, more than 600,000 Jews live in the region, the fourth-largest Jewish community in the world.

From May 10 to Jan. 5, 2014, these artifacts and about 150 others will be on display in Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic, an exhibit at the Autry Museum. UCLA's Karen Wilson, who is also head curator for the "Mapping Jewish L.A." project for UCLA's Center for Jewish Studies, is the exhibit curator. "The exhibition's origins date back almost a decade," says David Myers, chair of UCLA's history department, "when [UCLA history professor and executive director of the Institute for the Study of the American West, Autry National Center] Stephen Aron and I taught a seminar on the history of Jews in L.A."

According to Wilson, the French stoneware belonged to the Newmark-Lazard family, who came here in the early 1850s when the city's Jewish population numbered less than 80. The camera, from the Lasky Feature Play Company, dates back to 1913 and filmed The Squaw Man. The pictures of the 1950s Levittown-like construction of Lakewood depict a community of 17,500 homes built by Jews (including Mark Taper) on land once occupied by a town that forbade them to live there.

The etching by Jewish artist Lorraine Schneider was created in 1966 and is an iconographic reminder of the Vietnam War era.

Also set for display at the Autry is a giant scroll with more than 1,000 signatures, including Judy Garland's, that Max Factor gathered during a huge party celebrating his Hollywood cosmetics studio and factory, and a section of column, circa the 1890s, from the first L.A. congregation's synagogue downtown.

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