HomeMARCH 2024Orange County’s Jewish History- Mount Olive – Orange County’s First Jewish Cemetery

Orange County’s Jewish History- Mount Olive – Orange County’s First Jewish Cemetery

Mount Olive Certificate of Dedication, April 8, 1956

The first attempt to create a Jewish cemetery in Orange County goes back to 1877, when California Jewish pioneers Louis Wartenberg, Gustav Davis, Joseph Fisher, Morris Mendelson, and H. Cohn formed the Anaheim Hebrew Cemetery Association. However, no place of burial ended up being created and most Jews were interred in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. Until 1956, when the Long Beach District Board of Rabbis (which included Orange County) contacted Harbor Rest Memorial Park, in what was then Santa Ana, about opening up a Jewish section. The Flanigan family, who founded Harbor Rest, agreed, and thus the Mount Olive Jewish Cemetery came to be. The official dedication took place on April 8, 1956, making what is now known as Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive Memorial Park (now in Costa Mesa) the first Jewish cemetery in Orange County. Several synagogues have since dedicated their own areas in Mt. Olive, including Beth David, Beth Emet, Beth Jacob, Beth Sholom, Beth Tikvah, B’nai Israel, and Chabad. The only other Orange County cemetery with Jewish sections is Pacific View Mortuary in Corona Del Mar. Both Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive and Pacific View have a Shomer (watcher), a Tahara (purification) room, and a ritual washing area for Jews to use when leaving a cemetery, all of which are necessary for a traditional Jewish burial. It may have taken 79 years, but our Jewish community can now rest easy!

Dalia Taft, archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society, highlights images from the archives every month. For more information, please visit https://www.jccoc.org/pages/oc-jewish-historical-society. You can also contact Dalia at daliat@jccoc.org or at (949) 435-3400, ext. 360. The Orange County Jewish Historical Society is a program of the Merage Jewish Community Center and is funded by the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here