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Earliest Published Story of Hanukkah in Los Angeles?

Hanukkah, Chanukah, Los Angeles Daily Herald, 1889

Image from Los Angeles Daily Herald, Dec. 22, 1889, at Newspapers.com. Click on image to view full article (large file).

The newspaper article above, titled "Hanukkah, A Short Treatise on the Hebrew Feast of Light," was published in the December 22, 1889, edition of the Los Angeles Daily Herald. The article describes the story behind the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. The writer was identified only by the initials "A.W.E." The Almanac believes this to have been Rabbi Abraham W. Edelman, who had served the congregation B’nai B’rith (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple) from its founding in Los Angeles in 1862. He was L.A.'s first rabbi and the city's Jewish spiritual leader until his death in 1907. Although Hannukah was likely celebrated in Los Angeles before 1889, Edelman's article was perhaps L.A.'s first published account of the story of Hanukkah.

Jews have been in Los Angeles since early in the city's American period. The 1851 census count in Los Angeles recorded eight Jewish residents. The first Jewish holiday celebration held in Los Angeles was reported to be Rosh Hashanah in 1851. Hanukkah was actually then considered a minor Jewish holiday and had been mostly celebrated quietly at home among family. The holiday gained more prominance among American Jews in the latter half of the 19th century. It offered a distinctly Jewish celebration in the face of growing American enthusiasm (and commercialization) for the celebration of Christmas.

Rabbi Abraham W. Edelman, Congregation B’nai B’rith, Los Angeles

Rabbi Abraham W. Edelman of congregation B’nai B’rith in Los Angeles, circa 1870s. Photo from Jewish Museum of the American West.

Also see:
-- First Public Hanukkah Menorah on the West Coast
-- Hanukkah Gift-Giving Goes Commercial
-- History of Hanukkah in Los Angeles, 1890s-1920s, Homestead Blog.