Tell most visitors that L.A. Jewish history dates back before the Gold Rush, or that Southern California is home to the second-largest Jewish community in the world outside of Israel, and they usually look at you in astonishment.
One Berel Bienstock, a leading European Yiddish stage actor, had rather limited spoken English abilities. As long as his lip movements approximated the printed dialogue on the screen, Bienstock was not too concerned with diction, and so he was confident he'd soon land a job in the "flickers."
A new star was born when the mogul wrote down the actor's name: Sean Ferguson.
In 1854, 30 self-described "Israelites of this city" founded the Hebrew Benevolent Society to serve their religious,social and philanthropic needs. Not only was the society the city'sfirst Jewish organization, but it was also the first charitable groupof any kind in Los Angeles.