Celebrating Orange County's Jewish History

Dalia Taft, archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society highlights images from the archives every month. Her columns are also featured in JLife magazine. To view earlier articles, contact Dalia at History@JFFS.org.

The Goldschmidt House of San Clemente

In the 1920s, the land that is now the town of San Clemente was owned by German Jewish immigrants (and brothers) Herman and Max Goldschmidt. Their LA liquor business, Goldschmidt Bros., was highly successful, and they had purchased the land in 1906 in order to plant vineyards. The venture fa…

Doc Paskowitz, Jewish Father of Surfing

Born in 1921 in Texas to a Russian Jewish family, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz was a Stanford educated physician who left the practice of medicine in 1956 to go to Israel for a year, where he lived with the Bedouins and introduced surfing to the young Jewish state. Upon his return, Paskowitz e…

Art Gronsky, Owner of the Balboa Pavilion

Arthur (Art) Gronsky was born Sept. 25, 1920 in South Pasadena to Roy and Ida Gronsky (nee Weingart), who had both been born in Texas to Eastern European Jewish immigrants. When he was eight, the family of seven moved to a beach house on the Balboa Peninsula, and it was here that Gronsky beg…

First Bris in Anaheim – in 1876

It was common practice in the late 1800s and early 1900s for Orange County and LA newspapers to announce Jewish life cycle and social events. Examples include Joseph Goldsmith’s bar mitzvah (Santa Ana, Sept. 13, 1892), Adelle Mendelson’s wedding (San Juan Capistrano, March 5, 1895), Stan…

Maxie Dorf, “King of Balboa”

Maxie Dorf, one of the giants of Swing, was widely acclaimed as the "King of Balboa." Born in New York in 1921 to Joseph and Rose (Greenberg) Dorf, he moved with his family to Los Angeles four years later. At the young age of 17 he became part of the legendary "Big Four" swing dance troupe, …