My personal connection to our Jewish State of Israel began when I was a child. My Mom and my Grandmother would tell me the history & stories of our family roots. I always found it fascinating. And through that fascination, I have always felt a deep connection to Israel.
I would like to give you a brief background of my personal connection to Israel, which began with stories I was told of family members I was never fortunate enough to meet.
My Great, Great Grandfather, Mordechai Nathan Sachs was the Founding President of The Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights, California. The Breed Street Shul was the First Orthodox Synagogue west of Chicago in 1915. When Israel became an Independent Nation in 1948 after World War II, The Breed Street Shul held a solemn ceremony in honor of this Historical event and the new Flag of Israel was flown for the very first time in Los Angeles, California on that day, at the Breed Street Shul.
The City of Boyle Heights, which is located in East LA had the largest Jewish Community in Los Angeles from 1910 to 1950. This community was the center for everything Jewish. A thriving business community and close knit neighborhoods of Jews prevailed, with the Breed Street Shul at the heart and center of this community.
Sadly, after World War II, this tight knit Jewish community started to disperse throughout other areas of Los Angeles. My family moved away as well, but their businesses remained in Boyle Heights near the temple. Even though they moved to West Los Angeles and Santa Monica areas, my Grandmother always told me that her father and her grandfather remained extremely active in the Breed Street Shul congregation; attending Friday night & Saturday services throughout their entire lives. My Grandmother was always very proud of her family’s dedication and loyalty to Israel through their orchestration of community fundraisers for Bonds for Israel that were held at our families Synagogue.
The area of Boyle Heights throughout the years became predominately Hispanic and the Breed Street Shul in 1996 ceased services. The Shul was vacated due to structural issues and lack of congregants. The Shul became dilapidated with Graffiti and gang activity prevailing within the structure itself.
In the year 2001, the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California, designated the Breed Street Shul as a Historical Cultural Building and today it is on the National Register for Historical places.
The Shul was completely renovated and is now used for cultural community events, fundraisers, tours and celebrations.
The Breed Street Shul is a reminder of where the Jewish community first settled in Los Angeles and where the Jewish States of Israel’s Independence was first recognized in Southern California.
After moving to Santa Monica, California, my Great, Great Aunt Etta Sachs Stern and her husband Manny Stern founded Temple Beth Shalom, which is a conservative temple. Stories I have been told about my Great, Great Aunt Etta solidified my love of Israel. In short, my Aunt lived for Israel! For 30 years she was the President of her Hadassah organization in Santa Monica. She received national awards for her personal donations to the Hadassah Children’s Hospital in Israel and for her solicitation of financial donations, from large corporations in the Greater Los Angeles Area in support of the State of Israel and it’s infrastructure.
My Aunt was invited to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel Goldie Meir at her home in recognition for her unwavering support of Israel throughout her life. This was the start of a lifelong friendship with Golda Meir. My Aunt traveled many times to Israel alone and with her Hadassah Chapter to offer their support. Every visit to Israel, she would stay with Golda Meir.
There was nothing more important to my Aunt, then the Jewish State of Israel and how critical it was to secure and protect Israel’s existence on the world stage. Like my Aunt Etta, nothing is more important to me than Israel.