Author's Corner

Jewish Homegrown History: Ten Intimate Accounts

Jewish Homegrown History:
Immigration, Identity and Intermarriage
Skirball Cultural Center
March 29 - September 2, 2012


Boyle Heights was an early enclave of Jewish life in Los Angeles that introduced a broad mix of other ethnicities, including Latinos and Japanese Americans. The children of first generation immigrants, who often spoke Yiddish or Spanish at home, as students they all spoke the same language in school and made friends with each other. These cross-cultural friendships defined their outlook on the world, which stayed with them, even after they had moved to other parts of Los Angeles.

Why I Write. What I Write. Who I Write For.

When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher, Miss Finley, picked up the piece of family lore I'd written, read it, beamed, "That's good," and told me to take it right down to the principal. One of the worst behaved in class, I'd never been sent to the principal before for having done something "good."  From then until I graduated from junior high, I wrote plays, poems, lyrics for songs.  When allowed or invited by the teacher, I did impromptu skits, comic take-offs on the friction at home or in my father's shoe store.  I never mentioned these family exposés at home -- my mother would have had a fit.

Ray Frank Litman (1861-1948)

Teacher, Journalist and Orator
Harriet Rochlin

Excerpted from
"Lalapaloozas: Nine Extraordinary Western Jewish Women"
Published in the Fall/Winter issue of the
Gilcrease Journal, Vol. XII, Issue 2

Jews on the Western Frontier: An Overview, pt. 2

by Harriet and Fred Rochlin
from Arizona Highways, September 1985

Mary Ann Magnin (1848-1943): Single-handedly fashioned the firm of I. Magnin into a lavish shopping establishment.Mary Ann Magnin (1848-1943): Single-handedly fashioned the firm of I. Magnin into a lavish shopping establishment.

Jews on the Western Frontier: An Overview, pt. 1

by Harriet & Fred Rochlin
from Arizona Highways, September 1985

Fred Rochlin

b. November 4, 1923 Nogales
d. June 22, 2002 Los Angeles

Architect, artist, photographer,
monologist, memoirist and
collector of Western Jewish Americana

Excerpts from On Her Way Home


by Harriet Rochlin
Third Novel in the Desert Dwellers trilogy

The Earps: Josie and Wyatt's 47-Year Odyssey

In Tombstone in 1881, a historic shootout set the life course of an adventurous Jewish San Franciscan. Her name was Josie or Sadie, and the battle was the historic gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Twenty and single, she was in love with one of its key figures. Their story, as recounted in I Married Wyatt Earp: Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, collected and edited by Glenn G. Boyer, gave western storytellers a spirited new heroine, and Earp biographers fresh facts to dispute.

Isaac Bashevis Singer in Los Angeles

In 1978, Isaac Bashevis Singer, renowned Yiddish storyteller and international lecturer, was named winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Shortly after Singer returned from Stockholm, the Los Angeles Times ran my story of our brief encounters. I post the story here to share this gifted writer's fascination with Jews everywhere, including the American West. It was my husband who introduced me to Singer's work, and then Singer himself into our household. One evening near the end of 1962, Fred arrived home with "A Treasury of Yiddish Stories," an anthology collected by Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg.

Harriet Rochlin interviewing Isaac Bashevis SingerHarriet Rochlin interviewing Isaac Bashevis Singer