Long Beach

views updated May 23 2018


LONG BEACH , U.S. city in California, located south of Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast (on the Los Angeles and Orange County border). The first Jewish family came to Long Beach in 1898 and since then the community has grown and prospered, reaching a population of 18,000 in 2001.

In 1898 Samuel Heller visited the city, liked its potential, and stayed to engage in real estate development. When the city introduced a municipal produce market in 1913, a number of Jewish produce men moved to Long Beach to operate stalls. By 1915 the population included 25 Jewish families. The first permanent Jewish organization was established after World War i with the chartering of B'nai B'rith Lodge 870 with 33 members. In 1922 the Community Building Association was established. It was dissolved in 1923 and reconstituted as a Reform congregation, Temple Israel, with Julius Liebert as its first full-time rabbi. In 1924 Temple Sinai (Conservative) was established with Lazar Friedland as its rabbi. Rabbis of Temple Israel included Harvey Franklin (1930), Elliot Grafman (1938), and Wolli Kaelter (1955). Temple Sinai had Jacob Friedman (1929), Shalom Ravetch (1935), and Sidney Guthman (1959). Jewish Welfare Fund campaigns began in 1929. In 1945 a Jewish Federation was established. A Jewish community center was organized in 1948; its first center building was dedicated in 1960. In 1952, with 6,300 Jews in the rapidly growing city, a second Conservative congregation was formed with Maurice Schwartz as rabbi, followed in 1962 by Rabbi Joseph Miller.

In 1960, when the first Jewish Community Center was dedicated, Long Beach was a quiet, conservative, small city and Orange County was a vast, fragrant orange grove. Today, Long Beach/West Orange County is an exciting 21st-century city with a World Trade Center, prominent hotels, and a revitalized downtown with a fine Cultural Arts Center and a convention center. International jazz concerts and local arts festivals have replaced the annual Iowa picnic and the Pike amusement park (Long Beach was once dubbed "Iowa by the sea"). Once rural, West Orange County now contains impressive suburban neighborhoods and pre-eminent commercial centers. At the edge of the Pacific Rim, Long Beach/West Orange County has become an exciting place to live and the changes have also affected the Jewish community. Increasing numbers of professionals and corporate executives with their families are moving there. At both ends of the age continuum the population is growing. Recognizing the need to meet the growing needs of the Jewish community, a campaign to build a new Jewish Community Campus was launched in the 1990s and on March 20, 1999, the Federation's Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Jewish Community Campus was dedicated. The over 80,000-square-foot Campus is home to the Barbara and Ray Alpert Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach … West Orange County, Jewish Family and Children's Service, Jewish Federation Foundation, and Hillel. The Hebrew Academy, also served by the Jewish Federation, is located in the Westminster/Huntington Beach area.

The Campus contains a beautiful Early Childhood Education Wing, gym, pool, state of the art health and fitness center, library, cafe, dance studio, auditorium, gift shop, art gallery, and meeting and office space that is available to the entire community.

The estimated Jewish population is approximately 20–25 thousand persons. They reside in the Greater Long Beach area (out of a total population of approximately 500,000), which includes the neighboring communities of Rossmor, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Lakewood.

Jewish communal life in the Greater Long Beach area is thriving and consists of congregations of all denominations. Current congregations include P'nai Or (Renewal); Temple Israel, Temple Beth David, and Temple Ner Tamid (Reform); Temple Beth Shalom, Temple Beth Zion-Sinai, and Congregation Sholom of Leisure World (Conservative); Congregation Lubavitch, Chabad of Cypress, Ahavas Yisrael, and Shul by the Shore (Orthodox); and Adat Chaverim (Traditional). The synagogues and agencies have formed a Kehillah Leadership Council, under the auspices of Federation, and meet every other month to discuss common issues and work together to build a vibrant, cohesive Jewish community.

[Sharon Kenigsberg (2nd ed.)]

Long Beach

views updated May 18 2018


LONG BEACH. Located in the southern portion of Los Angeles County, the 2000 census placed Long Beach's population at 461,522, making it the fifth largest city in California. Long famous as a tourist destination, the city has also become an important commercial hub, with the port of Long Beach handling more container traffic than any other U.S. harbor. The city was originally established in the 1880s as a beachside resort, but its economy quickly diversified. Improvements on its harbor, completed in 1924, facilitated the expansion of commerce and fishing. The 1920s also witnessed the discovery of land petroleum deposits in Long Beach and surrounding communities that made Long Beach a major center of oil production. Struck by a devastating earthquake in 1933, the city's economy quickly rebounded, thanks in part to the emerging aircraft industry. During World War II federal investments in aircraft production and the creation of the Long Beach Naval Shipyards further strengthened the economy. Military spending spurred by the Cold War sustained Long Beach's prosperity, with the McDonnell-Douglas Corporation becoming the city's largest employer. In the late twentieth century the oil industry waned and federal investments slackened, forcing the closure of the naval shipyards and causing a decline in aerospace employment. However, the city remains a major convention and tourism center and the growth of trade with Asia and Latin America has facilitated the port's commercial prosperity.


DeAtley, Richard. Long Beach: The Golden Shore, a History of the City and Port. Houston, Tex.: Pioneer Publications, 1988.

Malone, Myrtle D., ed. Long Beach: A 21st Century City by the Sea. Houston, Tex.: Pioneer Publications, 1997.

Daniel J.Johnson

See alsoPetroleum Industry .