Isidor Nathan Choynski: Foremost Pioneer Jewish Journalist of Early San Francisco

Isidor Nathan Choynski

Isadore Choynski WS26/3781

Isidor Choynski, #WS26/3781

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Isidor Nathan Choynski was born in Prussian-occupied Poland in the town of Graudenz, in 1834.

He came to American, in 1849, and to California, in 1854.





Isidor Choynski worked as a reporter for newspapers in San Jose and San Francisco.

After a brief time in the Gold Country, he established his Antiquarian Book Store at 34 Geary Street in San Francisco and also did some publishing.

His efforts in Jewish journalism began, in 1859, as a reporter and business agent for Rabbi Julius Eckman’s The Weekly Gleaner.

His account in this paper and in the American Israelite are among the most insightful reports we have on the inner life of San Francisco and the West Coast Jewish communities.


Hats On or Off?

At a special meeting in the Temple Emanuel, held on Sunday last, the all-absorbing subject of “hat on or off” was the order of the day, and after much sparring and looking-glass fighting, the baldheads carried their point, and the members will hereafter be obliged to sit uncovered during services at the Temple.

The pious old members manifest a little hot blood at this innovation, but then they will have to grin and bear it and make up for their so called sacrilege by giving a little charity, which covers not only a multitude of sins but every bare-head in every temple in the land.

Isador Choynski, The American Israelite, November 22, 1881



Isidor Choynski was an active member of Congregation Sherith Israel, President of the Jewish Literary Association, and of the Chevra B’rith Shalome.



In 1874 and 1875, Choynski was President of District Grand Lodge No. 4, B’nai B’rith.

Isidor Choynski is also credited with starting the first B’nai B’rith Lodges in Southern California

He was also Master of Progress Masonic Lodge.




Isidor Choynski married Harriet Ashim in 1862. [Click here for Harriet Ashim Choynski’s Exhibit]

Five children were born to them.

Choynski the Boxer

Joseph “Joe” Choynski the Boxer

Their son, Joseph Choynski, became a nationally famed professional heavyweight boxer.





Isidor Nathan Choynski passed away in 1899.

Harriet Choynski died in 1927





More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Choynski, I. N.; San Francisco Journalism of I. N. Choynski; Part 1; San Francisco; Singerman, Robert; 29/2
  • Choynski, I. N.; San Francisco Journalism of I.N. Choynski; Part 2; San Francisco; Singerman, Robert; 29/3
  • Choynski, I. N.; San Francisco Journalism of I.N. Choynski; Part 3; San Francisco; Singerman, Robert; 29/4
  • Choynski, I. N.; Wayward Etchings: I. N. Choynski Visits Southern California; 1881; Southern California; Choynski, I. N.; 11/2
  • Choynski, Isidor N. & Eckman; Rabbi Julius; Two Letters to Harriet Choynski; San Francisco; Choynski, Isidor N. & Eckman; Rabbi Julius; 7/1
  • Choynski, Isidor Nathan, Pioneer Jews of San Francisco, Part One, A-L, Norton Stern, 41/1
  • Choynsky, I.N.; What’s in a Name?; 1885; Rabbi William M. Kramer; 42/2-3

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