Table of Contents

PETER M. KAHN, 1878-1952

(Written by his grand daughter)

 Judy Kahn Gorman

All Rights Reserved. Do not copy photographs.without permission

Los Angeles 1930's

Rabbi Jacob Kohn, of Sinai Temple, said it well at the funeral: "The father of the city has died." 1

Deborah Dash Moore in To the Golden Cities says "Kahn was considered one of the most erudite members of the Jewish community and an intellectual with a life-long record on behalf of Jewish education." 2

Peter M. Kahn was born in the city of Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine, in czarist Russia. Early in his youth he saw the misery and suffering of the Jewish people, so he became a political activist in the struggle for human freedom. He was imprisoned for his revolutionary activities, and he escaped and made his way to America in 1904.



Peter Mark and Nadia Friedman Kahn. 

Newly weds:1903 - Kiev (Ukraine)

 He settled in Los Angeles in 1907, where he and his wife, Nadia, raised their three children, Pete, Lillian, and Genie. Over 40 family members–grandchildren, great grandchildren, still live in the Los Angeles area, plus many cousins.
Peter and Nadia Kahn with Genie (Regina) age 1, Lillian age 4, and Peter Jr. age 7. Los Angeles 1911.  

Peter M. Kahn devoted himself to the betterment of the oppressed and to the help of the needy. He rapidly became one of the leaders of the Los Angeles Jewish community and was nationally known for his intellect, integrity, and leadership qualities. People said that Peter M. Kahn spent more time at meetings than he did in business. They could not imagine a meeting of Jews in Los Angeles without the presence of "Pete", as they affectionately called him. He was at the forefront of Jewish educational and philanthropic endeavors, locally and nationally, including:

• Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, Founder and Chairman of the Board

• University of Judaism, Founder; Chairman of the Board of Governors at the time of his death

• Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education, Chairman and major organizer, Budget Chairman at time of his death (see To the Golden Cities, Deborah Dash Moore, p.62, pp. 79-81;124-126).

• City of Hope (formerly Jewish Consumptive Relief Association) Founder and member of the Board of Directors

• Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, (former Home for Incurables) Founder and first President

• Jewish Community Council (now Federation), Founder and Board member for many years

• Jewish Home for the Aged, Board member, House, Purchasing, Admission, Finance committees

• Yiddish Folk School, Founder, First one in Los Angeles, 1912

• Los Angeles Jewish Academy, Founder of first Jewish Day School in Los Angeles, 1940’s

• American Association for Jewish Education, Western States Region, Founder

• Hebrew Free Loan Association, Chairman, helping Jewish immigrants get started

• American Jewish Congress, Chairman of the Committee on Economic Discrimination

• Histadrut Campaign Labor Zionists, Chairman of the Executive Board in Los Angeles, promoting the foundation of the State of Israel

• YIVO National Board member

• Many other organizations and activities. Most of these organizations are still functioning today.

Peter M. Kahn’s career started out by being a fruit picker, then a fruit peddler, and in time he became a fruit and vegetable grower and broker. H. Lang writes: "The labor movement in the American west in the years 1908-1912 was going through a period of great instability, with acts of terror by employers and workers alike. Naturally you find the name of Peter Kahn on the side of the workers. California workers were attacked at their meetings and suffered terrible persecution by "vigilante" groups. Peter Kahn helped form self-defense units..... He was equally active on behalf of American Indians in their fight against the exploitation by white landowners in the California and Arizona deserts.......Experts on California agriculture even believe that were it not for his contribution in the development of the area [Imperial Valley], California would not now be the biggest producer and marketer of dates and the low growing fruits of the cantaloupe family..."



1.    The Forward, January 12, 1952.

2.    (p. 124)

3.     The Forward, January 12, 1952.




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