Orange County’s Jewish History

0217historyTake a group of expert vintners, throw in a few solid businessmen, add a physician and one master tailor, and you have the makings of quite the party. In 1881, Anaheim’s “Committee for Masquerades” organized the invitation-only St. Valentine’s Day Masquerade Ball, to be held at Kroeger’s Hall, THE place to be in Anaheim at the time. To be invited was an honor; to be on one of the organizing committees was a sign of true respect. Two of the committee members, Morris Mendelson and Fred Hartung, were Jewish, demonstrating the inclusion and acceptance of Jews in Anaheim’s daily and civic life. Hartung, who had owned a large weaving business in Germany, moved to Anaheim with his wife and nine children in the 1860s and opened a large winery. Mendelson was a tailor and merchant; in 1874 he and a few others held the first official Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in Orange County, and his son’s bris was front page news in 1878. Clearly, Anaheim’s Jewish population was “of undoubted respectability.”

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