Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The Founders: The Story of the City of Hope
By Bonnie Rogers
Copyright© Bonnie Rogers April 2003. All rights reserved
|The City of Hope is the story of people,
mostly Eastern Europeans, who came to America seeking social justice and
to California seeking health. There was no cure for tuberculosis, but the
sunshine might make it better. The journeys of those who founded the
Jewish Consumptive Relief Association in Los Angeles began a continent
Pete Kahn, as his friends called him (his Hebrew name was Naphtali Peretz), was an extraordinary personality. He was a tall Jew, with the appearance of a Western farmer or explorer for California oil. He had been a farmer, an orchard farmer who planted large tracts of California desert in the Imperial Valley. He was a Russian Socialist-revolutionary with a history of czarist prison terms, and a fighter for radicalism, American style. He lived his life in four languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian and English. He was one of the pioneers of what is today the second largest Jewish community in the United States.
His love of Jewish learning was absorbed in his home, at his father's table, as a son of the Rabbi of Kiev, a recognized scholar in the Rabbinical world of Russia in the 1870s and 80s. While still a youth, he left his father's home to join the ranks of the revolutionary movement. He led a student demonstration in Kiev in response to the dramatic suicide of the Russian freedom fighter, Vetrowa, who burned herself to death in the Petropavlowska Fortress. When arrested together with the other students, he made such a speech about his beliefs in freedom for Russia that older revolutionaries printed his talk in secret and distributed copies to students in other cities. He was sent away to do hard labor. After escaping from prison, he wandered incognito from town to town on foot, sleeping in cemeteries and spending days learning in Jewish study halls.
At the turn of the century one could find Peter Kahn's name alongside accounts of other major revolutionaries. First one finds him in Switzerland with Osef, then in London where he becomes curator of the library of the anarchist thinker, Peter Kropotkin. He came to the United States with Dr. Chaim Zhitlowsky and "Babushka" Yekaterina Breshkovskaya in 1904. Peter Kahn occupied himself with raising money and buying weapons to send to revolutionaries in Russia. Because of illness in his family, he had to leave for California's climate. But climate was all California had to offer the sick at that time. Pete started working the fields of Imperial Valley, became a grower himself and eventually owned an extremely successful produce company, bringing fresh fruits and vegetable from the hot fields in the interior valley to the tables of Los Angeles. But he also brought his political activism with him.
Fannie Jaffe was born the second eldest in a well-to-do family in Borosna, Russia. Her father was in the grain export business with his brothers. The Jaffes lived well, in a large and luxurious home with several servants and a cook. But there were pogroms. When her grandmother went out to get medicine for a sick child she was raped by a gang of Cossacks, never regained her sanity and died years later in a state asylum. There were business reverses and Fannie' s father was swindled out of his fortune. Someone set fire to their house and it burned to the ground. A compassionate landlord saved them during a riot by painting crosses on their rented home. There was malaria and Fannie, especially, couldn't seem to shake it.
Finally, the family sold what it could, packed the meager items left and boarded a train for Germany. They used up all their money in Hamburg trying to get a ship to take them to a new country, to America, where Jews had opportunity. The Jaffes found their "opportunity in Philadelphia--tuberculosis and death for the father, a tiny grocery business for the wife to support her family, and back-breaking work for Fannie in a sweatshop making vests when she was only twelve years old.
But Fannie found other opportunities in Philadelphia. She could work with the union organizers, even lead a strike. She could go to school after her 12 to 16-hour days in the factory and she could marry her long-time sweetheart, Ben Sharlip. She could also fall prey to the scourge which killed her father. In an effort to "solve her health problem her union offered her another opportunity: train tickets west for herself and Ben. They took them, landing in the downtown area of Los Angeles. It was winter, and the mud in the soggy town only added to the Sharlips' misery. They soon settled in Boyle Heights, where the drainage was better and Fannie could open her own little grocery store while Ben sold tobacco products in his own shop downtown. Ben would get frantic when his wife took in the sick, fed them, found them places to stay. He could never come to terms with Fannie' s need to "pay back for the health she found in California. He just had to go along with it.
Fannie had vivid memories of those days. "Many terrible reports came to my notice," she said. "One young man who had TB was found dead in a chicken coup! Another TB (victim) said his last goodbye with a hemorrhage on Spring Street. One young man pawned his topcoat to buy a revolver and had the courage to blow his brains out. What is this? Are we living in a wilderness? "
Isadore Levitt was a born reformer whose creed was "to thine own self be true." He believed that his own happiness depended upon the well-being of others, and he devoted the major portion of his useful life to this end. As a youth in Russia before the turn of the century, Isidore was drafted into the Army. To a Jew, going into the Army in those days usually meant short rations, exposure, hardship and derision. That Isidore was able to serve as secretary for four years to a Captain and a Lt. Colonel was an indication that he was a most intelligent and personable man. During his entire military career he devoted his attentions toward the overthrow of the brutal czarist regime. During the Japanese-Russian war, he disagreed with the Army authorities and was forced to leave.
He went to London in 1904, where he stayed a few weeks, hoping to return to his native land--provided the (Russian) revolution was successful. It failed, so he sailed for the United States, arriving in 1905. He lived in New York for four years, then spent six months at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 1909, he came to Los Angeles, where he acquired two things--his wife, Esther, and his laundry route. He was successful at both ventures.
In the days when the idea for a tuberculosis sanatorium for Jews was but a dream in the minds of a few idealists, Isidore was the owner of a laundry route. Frequently, he would pick up tuberculosis patients along with the laundry and take them to his friend, Dr. Leo Blass, for treatments. He readily perceived that there was an acute need for a sanatorium to house these unfortunates. Friends said, "many men in a similar position would have looked sad, clucked a few sympathetic sounds, and then forgotten about it. But not Isidore Levitt. He became active in a campaign to build the much-needed hospital. In fact, he was treasurer of the first affair given by Branch 443 of the Workman's Circle on behalf of what is now the City of Hope
Another journey began in 1883 in Kremenchug, in the state of Poltava, Russia, when a son was born to a local merchant, Israel Shapiro, and his wife Pessya (Evensky). The new baby was a direct descendant of the Tosafot Yomtov. His parents named him Aaron and expected great things from him. He was an outstanding student, attending both Cheddar and a Russian school in Kremenchug. Aaron was never very big for his age, only reaching five feet, five inches tall as a grown man, but he was big in his opinions. He organized the first Workers' Zionist Organization in Charkov, after his family moved there, when he was 15 years old.
Aaron' s opinions got him in trouble at an early age, too. He was not allowed to take the university entry examinations at Charkov because of his political views. And when he organized a self-defense for Jews at Charkov, he was arrested (along with his younger brother Chaim) by the czarist government and thrown in jail. Both Shapiro brothers were sentenced to death. The disastrous war between Russia and Japan had one happy effect, however. The Shapiro brothers, along with all the other prisoners, were released in 1904. Aaron knew his life was still in jeopardy so, at 21, he set off for New York. Chaim would follow him two years later.
In New York Aaron found even more than he bargained for. He found he could continue his education while peddling newspapers for a living. He found a movement he could believe in - the Workmen' s Circle. And he found love, even if at first it was one-sided.
The Workmen's Circle was an organization of Jewish workers which grew out of the desperate needs of New York' s sweatshop workers in 1892. By 1900 the group had achieved a state charter under the insurance laws of New York. It provided members with aid in their times of need, especially in case of sickness. It would provide them with decent burials in case of death and offer some major help to their dependents. It also afforded them some genuine fellowship, lessening the loneliness of their lives in their new land.
Aaron threw himself into Workmen' s Circle activities with a vengeance. Here he could see realized the social justice - not charity - which he had sought in Russia. He was a philosopher and a poet, writing poetry in Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish and English. But he toiled at his newspaper route and rented a room from his new friends the Kraus' who had a news stand in the city. Jennie Bernstein Kraus took on most of the chores with the news stand, with what ever help her small daughter Rose and even younger son Ed could give, because of her husband' s growing disability with the white plague--tuberculosis. Aaron helped any way he could, growing more and more attached to the little family he had joined.
By 1908, Mr. Kraus was worse and Jennie decided to move her family to Denver where there was a Jewish hospital which might help him. The Workmen' s Circle provided the funds for the move. Aaron helped them pack and saw them off on the train, or so Jennie thought. Actually, he secretly boarded in another car, abandoning his life in New York and following his love. As Aaron' s son told the story years later, "My father was a hot head and Jennie Kraus was beautiful. En route she found out that Aaron was on the train and she was furious, felt it was totally disrespectful. She insisted when they got to Denver, that Aaron go straight on to Los Angeles. He told her something about wanting to visit with a sick poet in Denver who wrote in Hebrew (which was considered pretty elegant), but she saw to it that he didn't stay long. When her husband' s health continued to deteriorate, the Kraus' couldn't set up housekeeping in Denver as they had planned. He couldn't go into the sanatorium there. Jennie moved him to Los Angeles, with little Rose and Ed in tow. She sold newspapers in Los Angeles, just as she had done in New York. Aaron was already doing the same.
Speaking of his father' s death many years later, Ed Kraus said, "He died of tuberculosis in 1908 in the Los Angeles County Hospital without even a bed to sleep on. Their beds were filled so he slept on the floor. It was my father' s friends--Chaim and Aaron Shapiro--who four years later helped organize the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association. Ed Kraus served on the City of Hope Board of Directors from 1952 until 1972.
Aaron was also deeply involved with the Workmen' s Circle in Los Angeles which had been started by 27 workers in 1905. It was already known as "the Red Cross of the Labor Movement. Pete Kahn had been a member since he joined Workmen' s Circle 248 in November of 1907. Isidore Levitt was a member, too, along with Barnett Cohen and Sam Cook. There were many needs to be met in the Jewish community in Los Angeles, and several organizations to address them. After all, there were an estimated 14,000 Jews in Los Angeles by 1907. (Some 20 years later there would be more than 70,000.) They had all come from somewhere...just when and how and why was one of the significant migrations in the human story.
In Russia particularly, the Jews had faced an increasingly difficult world. By the mid-1800s, most lived within the Pale of Settlement, a belt stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic, separating Poland and the western frontier from Great Russia and the east. It was Catherine II idea in 1791 to prevent the Jews in the west from spreading into central Russia. The Pale not only told the Jews where they could live, it made them easy targets for whatever persecutions dreamed up by whichever Czar who happened to be sitting on the throne.
The first pogrom came in 1881 shortly after the assassination of Emperor Alexander II. It served to divert the attentions of the Russian people from dissatisfactions of their own with current political leadership and their own living conditions into race hatred. Between 1881 and 1910, Jews were attacked in some 600 Russian cities and villages, with thousands killed or wounded and property damage estimated at more than 50 million rubles.
One weapon with which the Jew could effectively fight was his feet. He and his family could leave Russia and seek their fortunes elsewhere. And seek they did. In 1840 more than 92 percent of the world' s Jews lived in just six countries Russia, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Austria and Germany. More than half of these lived in Russia. But how they lived in these countries differed vastly. Unlike their German counterparts, the Russian Jew was not encouraged to participate in the growing industrialization taking place in the Western world. He was often illiterate and without modern skills. Nor was he allowed to own any of the land he might till. In any pyramid of European Jewry, the Russian Jew formed the base. There were more of him, and he was truly on the bottom. In 1880, the Russian Jews were by far the most numerous, the poorest, and the most sealed off from the rest of the world.
Other Jewish communities such as those flourishing in Germany and their many cousins in the United States, viewed the Russian Jews with a mixture of apprehension, shame and disdain. They looked "funny' with their untrimmed beards and side curls, their black caftans and white socks. They spoke Yiddish (or jargon, as it was called in Russia) and manifested a fortress mentality. They huddled in ghettos and resisted most cultural activities from the world around them. Their mere presence was a source of embarrassment to the more assimilated German Jews and the German Jews who had shifted their lives to the United States some decades earlier. But still they came. They sought freedom. What many found was tuberculosis.
For many years, most of those who settled along the eastern seaboard in the United States' great metropolitan centers went through a wrenching process of social transformation. The craftsmen, the small shopkeepers, tradesmen and the sprinkling of professionals and intellectuals were all compressed into a fairly uniform society of manual laborers by the sweatshop, although the term had not yet been coined. (That was left to a French doctor who "discovered, in 1912, that tuberculosis was "caused by sweat, hence the term sweatshop.)
If you were an immigrant, if you were a Jew, you took your work where you could find it. This harsh urban school of Americanization converted the distinct cultural groups from Russia, Poland, Galicia and Romania into a single, downtrodden mass of workers something unprecedented in modern Jewish society. Out of this economic warfare waged by the eastern Jewish shop workers in New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago emerged a group seething with uplifting and progressive ideas. Led by self-educated workers or transplanted young socialist leaders, the struggles of these workers led to the formation and rise of militant and socially-minded trades unions. It also led to the City of Hope.
It is difficult to paint a picture of the universal horror of this disease. Tuberculosis has been a major scourge of mankind from the dawn of history. Tubercular mummies have been found in the tombs of Egypt. The Greek' s word for it meant "to shrivel up and waste away. While there is little reference to the disease in Biblical writings or accounts by other country folk, there are frequent references throughout history from all who lived in the cities. Tuberculosis is a disease of city dwellers. It is also a disease of the poor.
The name "tuberculosis comes from the shape of the microorganism which causes it, the rod-like tubercles by which the pathologist identifies the disease under the microscope. Final proof that the disease was caused by a particular microorganism, the tubercle bacillus, was provided by the famous scientist Robert Koch in 1882." But it did not take a famous scientist to tell poor people they could catch it from each other. They knew. They just did not know how and did not know when. By the time symptoms were evident, the disease had already been passed along to family members and coworkers.
While tuberculosis can strike various parts of the body, in the United States about 90 percent is of the lung variety. "simple cough or sneeze can send multitudes of the bacterium flying through the air seeking a new host. The simple act of hand-shaking can pass along enough of the microorganisms to infect a friend.
This fear did not hold back a tailor named Sam Cook. He lived in a small hotel near 12th and Central, sharing the residence with his wife Ida' s Polish-born brother Max. Sam (Cooklinsky) first fled to England to avoid serving in the Russian Army. Both young men had come to Los Angeles via New York and St. Louis where they both worked at the World' s Fair. Sam had to leave his wife and baby daughter Eva behind in Russia, until he could obtain the proper visas to bring them over. In Los Angeles, Sam opened his own tailor shop where he designed and made uniforms; Max, who had been a wig maker for the Imperial Ballet in Russia, continued his trade and expanded into a new line of work--cosmetics. They both were to find substantial success serving the budding movie industry - Sam Cook making the many costumes and uniforms needed by the silent picture casts, Max Factor with the wigs and light-proof creme-based make-up he devised for the stars.
Sam' s wife and daughter were still in Russia, waiting for Sam to obtain the required passports and to earn enough from his tailoring business to bring them over. So he had enough room in his side of the hotel (or rooming house) to take in lodgers. In 1912 one was a young man whose TB had ravaged his body to the degree that work was out of the question. But how could he support himself? Where would the money come from? Not finding ready answers to these questions, the young tailor from St. Louis tidied his room, wrote a note to Sam giving his landlord his pocket watch and a silver thimble to compensate for the trouble he was about to cause, took poison and died.
It was Sam who found an American flag in his store and dispatched a pair of his helpers to go door-to-door among the local merchants soliciting money to be tossed on the flag between them to cover the decedent' s funeral expenses. It was one of several such "incidents which spurred Sam and his Workmen' s Circle friends to further action.
Aaron Shapiro had his personal reasons for wanting to provide a place for tuberculosis sufferers. Jennie had wanted to bring her husband to Los Angeles to live but there was no place to care for him. She had appealed to Aaron to do something before it was too late. He tried. It was ironic that his successful efforts to establish a sanatorium for Jews with tuberculosis came too late for Mr. Kraus, but served Jennie' s daughter Rose who was treated at the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association' s Sanatorium in Duarte before she died there from TB in 1922.
In his account, Paul Dembitzer, written 20 years after the founding of the JCRA, described the situation this way:"The first organization to take steps in the matter was the original local branch of the Workman' s Circle No.248. This group was already taking care of many of its own members who had contracted consumption. The number of people so supported increased to such an extent that further and immediate measures were necessary. Under the initiative of Barnett Cohen, a distinguished leader of the radical Jews and father of the idea of a sanatorium for tuberculars, the matter was discussed among the members of the Circle which resulted in the appointment of a committee instructed to contact other organizations in the city with the view of interesting them in a sanatorium project.
A letter dated September 25, 1912, was drafted by Cohen and Boris Flatte and sent to all who might be interested. At the meeting just three days later the National Jewish Consumptive Relief Association of Southern California was formed. On September 28, 1912, the meeting which was to end with the formation of the National Jewish Consumptive Relief Association of Southern California, was called to order.
Mark Carter, an early leader who joined the JCRA in 1923, recounted the organization' s beginnings: "From the beginning, however, the few men and women who laid the groundwork of the 'Sanatorium,' accepted as their banner and their motto the words of Pasteur: "We do not ask what country you come from, or what is your religion. We say, 'You are sick. You belong to us. We will make you well.' "
"From the very outset, these pioneers laid down other planks which pay for care and treatment. Treatment would be free to all. No discrimination would be tolerated. A patient would be admitted without any question of race or creed. Further, the word and the thought of 'charity' was forbidden. Each patient, man or women, boy or girl, would never suffer any loss of dignity either through an act of omission or commission. Personalization of care, as opposed to 'institutionalization,' was to be the hallmark of every nurse and doctor who entered the employ of the JCRA.
"With these high-minded and noble aspirations, with the banner > Free, National and Non-Sectarian' flying, the JCRA pioneers launched their dream. Their preamble was simple. Possessed of a treasury, the group now needed a constitution and by-laws. Three young lawyers Chaim Shapiro, Elias Rosenkranz and J. Allen Frankel volunteered to draft the document. Again and again in later years, their names were to appear in the minutes and public activities of the City of Hope.
The preamble read: "We, Jewish men and women, do hereby band ourselves together and organize for the purpose of raising funds and establishing suitable quarters for the aid, cure and comfort of our bothers and sisters afflicted with tuberculosis. For fear that this might be interpreted too literally, a subsequent paragraph was added. It emphasized the necessity for "helping all persons afflicted with tuberculosis that apply to this Association for admittance into the Sanatorium, or otherwise.
In the latter part of October 1912 the new JCRA held a mass meeting at Hamburger' s Arrow Theatre and found such a large and enthusiastic gathering as to result in the addition of some 100 new members who, perceiving the significance of the undertaking, wholeheartedly joined the embryo organization and contributed a sum of $128, the first amount collected for the projected sanatorium.
The new Jewish Consumptive Relief Association choose a committee to draw up a complete form of organization, and on that first committee were: Ben (Barnett) Cohen, chairman; Boris Flatte, treasurer; Al Levey, secretary; with Dr. M. Jacobson, Dr. Z. Levine, D. Bonoff, George Iberson, J. Rosenkranz and Aaron Shapiro.
Upon the adoption of a constitution and by-laws, the initial elections were held during December. The Messrs. B. Cohen (who was in the clothing business), Boris Flatte (a clerk at Hamburger' s--later May Company -Department Store), Dr. Moses Jacobson (a pharmacist who had his own drug store), Jacob Rosenkranz (a manufacturer' s agent), Henry Citrin (proprietor of the Bon Ton Store on South Broadway which sold suits, cloaks and millinery), H. D. Bonoff (a furrier), Dr. Leon Schulman, Dr. Henry Silverberg (a dentist), George Iberson (a salesman for Haas, Baruch & Company, wholesale grocers), Dr. M. E. Lane, Aaron Shapiro (who worked in newspaper circulation at that time), and the one woman, Dr. Kate Levy, were elected to the first board of directors. The first president of the sanatorium was Barnett Cohen, the first treasurer was Irving H. Hellman (an engineer and banker), and the first secretary, Al Levey.
Then, there were the auxiliaries. Or at least one. From the beginning the women engaged in saving, if they could, those suffering from tuberculosis. They banded together to get the job done. Let the men discuss, make the decisions, plan, address the problems. The women knew what to do. Get to work. Raise the money.
Before there was a plan on how to house any patients, the women were busy. The first meeting to explore the idea of providing a sanatorium for tuberculers was held in September of 1912, the first organizational meeting of the fledgling JCRA in October of that year. Almost before the year was out, not only had the Ladies' Star Auxiliary of the National Jewish Consumptive Association of Southern California organized, it had met three times, printed a thousand tickets to raffle off a silver mesh handbag, locket and chain, and found a regular place to meet. It was the beginning of what was to become a phenomenal commitment.
Just how the newly-formed JCRA was to go about establishing its mission was the subject for often heated debates. Whom would they serve? Where would they get the money? And where should a sanatorium be located?
Dr. Henry Silverberg, who led the most cautious faction in the budding JCRA, described those first months of the organization:"The builders of this institution were anxious, since they could not prevent the consumptive from coming here, to aid him in every possible manner and give him a chance for his life. Meetings were held twice monthly, and the actual work of constructing the institution began. Various committees were appointed at these meetings, each of which worked diligently and energetically, visiting all Jewish lodges and fraternities, and when the cause of the Sanatorium was intelligently explained to these various organizations, the response was immediate and favorable. The pledges made were so abundant that the temporary Board thought it advisable to call a meeting in one of the large halls of the city for the purpose of shaping the future policies of the contemplated sanatorium.
"In due time the organization was placed in the hands of a permanent Board of Directors, under the presidency of B. Cohen and a Constitution and By-Laws Committee was appointed and instructed to draft a constitution for the future sanatorium on the basic principles of justice and not charity. The Board immediately proceeded to incorporate under the laws of the State of California, and during the early part of May of 1913, the institution became a perfectly legal entity."
"Although the Board decided not to purchase any land until the treasury showed at least $25,000.00 to its credit, the immediate need of a sanatorium was so strongly impressed upon the Board by the pressure constantly being brought to bear on it by the unfortunates who needed the sanatorium treatment, and by the many pledgers who rightfully claimed that by the time the organization would be in a financial condition to build, these unfortunates would have passed into the Great Beyond, that accordingly a committee was appointed and instructed to find the most advantageous purchase within the means of the organization."
"After great hardship on the part of the Board, which gave generously of its time and means, an abandoned road house (minus its resident fancy ladies) situated 18 miles northeast of the City of Los Angeles was purchased. The parcel of land consisted of ten acres, and was bought for $5000.00."
It was just what the JCRA was looking for. In February 1913 the JCRA had sponsored a theater party in Philharmonic Auditorium. It yielded $2,400--the down payment on the ten acres of arid land in Duarte.
Worrying about their piece of paradise did not engage the fledgling JCRA in the spring of 1913, however. They did not know why their land was a seeming desert surrounded by orchards and gardens. They didn't know they had bought a piece of the San Gabriel River Wash. It was May. The rainy season was over. It looked like a desert and deserts were dry, weren't they? Besides, there were other problems. And the opposition against them was strong and established.
When the newly-formed Jewish Consumptive Relief Association was signing its deeds in 1913 and promising payment of $5,000 for a desolate 10-acre site in rural Duarte, other important events were taking place in surrounding communities. Los Angeles citizens were expressing a growing concern with what kind of neighbors they might get from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce' s welcoming policy. Certainly, they didn't want some kinds of activities in their own back yards.
It wasn't just tuberculosis sanitariums which were considered undesirable by protesting neighbors. On June 9, 1913, an ordinance was proposed by the Supervisors which would prohibit the establishment and maintenance of rescue homes for fallen women in certain localities throughout the county. They voted on it at their next meeting. On June 12, a proposal entitled "An Ordinance Prohibiting the Maintenance of Certain Institutions in Certain Localities in the County of Los Angeles was presented, read, considered and adopted section by section "prohibiting houses of refuge". The vote adopting the ordinance was unanimous.
In September a petition asking that necessary steps be taken prohibiting establishment of cemeteries in certain territories in the county. At that same meeting, the County Council was ordered to prepare an Ordinance prohibiting the establishment and maintenance of crematories in locations where there are ten residences within a radius of one half mile, provided that this did not apply to territory within 150 feet of cemeteries already established. (The JCRA took due note of the "grandfathering of the crematories already in business.)
On December 20 came the action which set off the loudest alarm bells with the JCRA. Responding to increasing pressure from his San Gabriel Valley constituents, the Pasadena Supervisor proposed an ordinance regulating the establishment and operation of private sanatoriums, private hospitals and private institutions. On his motion, duly seconded and carried, the ordinance was referred to the County Council.
The JCRA sprang into action. Recalling the event Dr. Henry Silverberg said: "On the 8th of January of 1914, there appeared an article in the press, which stated that an ordinance had been drafted by the County Supervisors which read that no asylum or institution shall have the right to open its doors to the public unless such an institution shall have obtained the consent of 75% of its neighbors within a radius of one mile. We could not tell whether such an ordinance was aimed at the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association, but one thing we were certain, that should such an ordinance pass the Board of Supervisors, the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association will not be able to establish its sanatorium within the borders of Los Angeles County.
"For that reason, on January 11, 1914, to defeat this ordinance which threatened to extinguish the JCRA even before it had enjoyed a physical birth, a portable cottage was erected within 24 hours, on the grounds of the Sanatorium. One patient, a cook, an orderly and a few necessities of life were taken out to Duarte, and the opening of the institution was proclaimed to the world. Strange to say, the ordinance never came up for a third reading, as the law requires, when it became known that the institution was an admitted fact."
The very next day, January 12, 1914, a communication signed "Jewish Consumptive Relief Association of California" protesting against the adoption of the proposed ordinance regulating the establishment and operation of private sanatoriums, etc., was presented and read to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting. The Supervisors declined to respond to the JCRA plea until they heard from their attorney.
When they did, he advised them that the proposed ordinance, as drawn, would "be inoperative and void on account of being in conflict with Section 435 of the Penal Code" . (Since the State licensed such facilities, the proposed authority desired by the Supervisors had already been preempted by State jurisdiction.) Taking their attorney' s legal advice, the Supervisors quietly ordered the proposal be placed "on file and forgotten. The JCRA never learned that their swift response with a tent-house had been unnecessary.
The initial struggles of the new "tent Sanatorium" were no secret. Cohen himself utilized the direct approach. "Friends, we have now thirteen patients in Duarte, he wrote in the B'nai B'rith Messenger. "There are many things that we need. We are not ashamed of our poverty. We are not ashamed to say that we are a poor organization., that we depend only on your kindness. Friends, many things are needed, and you can supply some. We need at least two dozen blankets! Who can donate them? We have used last month four hundred quarts of milk at a cost of $40.00. Would some one donate a cow which would give our patents fresh milk and save the cost considerably? "
The Second Annual Ball November 25, 1914, at the Shrine Auditorium was a smashing success, garnering approximately $1,500 in net revenue and attendance of more than 1,800 people. Even Cohen was amazed." Who would believe that a Jewish Society can run an affair in Shrine Auditorium? The JCRA has set the pace for it, and we are glad to see others follow. Who would say that the Jewish people can fill out a large theatre? How could we ascertain whether such a thing could be done or not? "
On December 13, the final activity of 1914 was scheduled--the formal dedication of the Sanatorium. There was no charge for that event "except that you are to pay your railroad fare which is 55 cents return (round trip)". Hundreds attended, most taking the Santa Fe Sanatorium Special, others motoring out Foothill Boulevard on their own. According to the account in the December 18 issue of the B'nai B'rith Messenger, "When the guests stepped out from the cars, they saw before them, the new rising little Town of Hope, known to you as the Sanatorium. The Ladies' Tents, the platform built especially for the occasion, and all other cottages and buildings were decorated with American and Jewish flags. The Mogen-David covered with American flags, on top of all the buildings. What a beautiful idea! What a great combination from the Jewish standpoint, for when and where had Judaism enjoyed greater liberty and opportunity than was accorded to them under this flag."
By the end of that first year of operation, the Sanatorium had 15 patients, its first resident physician, Dr. Clara Stone, and was encouraging visitors to come see what they called the Town of Hope. The Los Angeles Workmen' s Circle #248 had financed the building of the Sanatorium' s first all-wood cottage, and the national Workmen' s Circle organization had given the struggling facility it first national endorsement. In 1914, supporters in Los Angeles paid $2,200 in local dues, with another $1,400 in dues coming from outside the Los Angeles area. The Sanatorium was no longer an "Idea" . It was a reality.
From the Bínai Bírith Messenger
Oct. 11, 1912
The Southern California Jewish Consumptive Relief Association was organized Saturday evening, September 28th;, at a meeting called by Mr. B. Flatte in the Blanchard Symphony Hall.
About forty men and women attended, a large number of them medical doctors, and proceeded to business, electing the following Board of Directors: Mr. B. Cohen, chairman; Dr. Z. Levin, Dr. M. Jacobson, Messrs. D. Bonoff, Geo. Iberson, J. Rosenkranz and A. Shapiro. Mr. A. Levy, 515 Bulmiller Bldg., was elected Secretary, and Mr. B. Flatte, Treasurer.
Two hundred and seventy-eight dollars in cash was raised at this meeting, and two beds, completely equipped, donated by Mr. and Mrs. D. Bonoff.
Messrs. J. Rosenkranz, Chaim Shapiro and J.A. Frankel were appointed on a Committee to draft the Constitution and By-Laws.
Already a definite campaign plan has been adopted, and will be carried out by the Board of Directors.
The minimum membership dues are $3.00 per year, and it is hoped that every Jew in Los Angeles will apply to Mr. A. Levy, Secretary, 515, Bulmiller Bldg., for membership in this benevolent and much needed organization.
Mr. and Mrs. D. Bonoff; Harry Citrin; Mr. and Mrs. B. Cohen; Sam Cook; Boris Flatte; J. Allan Frankel; Irving H. Hellman; George and Rose Iberson; Dr. Moses Jacobson; Peter Kahn; Dr. M.E. Lane; Nathan Landfield; Dr. Z. Levin; Julius Levitt; Isidore Levitt; Al Levy;. Dr. Katharine (Kate) Levy; Elias Rosenkranz; Jacob Rosenkranz; Joseph A. Rosenkranz; Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Shapiro (nee Jennie Goldstein Kraus); Chaim Shapiro; Joseph Shapiro; Dr. Leon Shulman; Dr. Henry and Mrs. Mahnia Silverberg
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