Leopold M. Loeb: Organist & Choir Director of Congregation B’nai B’rith, Los Angeles, c. 1887-1895

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Leopold M. Loeb

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Leopold M. Loeb was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1849.

He immigrated to New York in 1866 and became a naturalized citizen in 1877.

Loeb made his living as a music teacher in Toledo before moving the family to Los Angeles in the 1880s.

Los Angeles

The first record of Leopold M. Loeb’s residence in Los Angeles is in the City Directory of 1887, which lists him as a music teacher.

He was a popular teacher of children and adults, and his pupils affectionately called him “Professor.”

Shortly after his arrival in Los Angeles, Leopold M. Loeb was hired as organist of Congregation B’nai B’rith, then under the leadership of Rabbi Emanuel Schreiber, the second Rabbi of Los Angeles’ original synagogue.

Rabbi Emanuel Schreiber #WS0804

Rabbi Schreiber introduced a number of reforms to the congregation, which caused a rift between an “Orthodox” core and more liberal members.

Loeb was put in charge of a hired Gentile choir, which sang repertoire in line with American Reform temples of that time.

Congregation B'nai B'rith, where Leopold Loeb served as Organist & choir director, Vintage Postcard.

Congregation B’nai B’rith, where Leopold Loeb served as Organist & Choir Director, Vintage Postcard.

Rabbi Schreiber left B’nai B’rith in 1889. His replacement was Rabbi Abraham Blum, a French-born Rabbi late of Galveston, Texas.

Rabbi Blum brought further reforms to the congregation, including the introduction of a cornet in place of the shofar.

 

Several of the “Orthodox” members left, placing financial strains on a congregation already reeling from an economic depression in the city.

Rabbi Abraham Blum #WS1011

Lack of funds forced the dismissal of Loeb and the choir in 1893.

Leopold M. Loeb returned as organist and choirmaster in 1894, evidently with the encouragement of Rabbi Blum.

However, he resigned in protest the following year, and also gave up teaching music.

He became proprietor of the Pacific Installment Company.

In 1894 the temple board decided that Rabbi Blum should leave “gracefully” after the High Holidays. When the time came, he refused and was acrimoniously let go in 1895. Precisely why his job was terminated is not clear. The board was apparently upset that he had applied to be a French teacher at a Los Angeles high school. Others complained that his worldly manner was not befitting a rabbi.

Leopold M. Loeb and Rabbi Blum made newspaper headlines in 1895.

Tensions between the men ran high, with Loeb blaming Rabbi Blum for ending his career at Congregation B’nai B’rith. Loeb was allegedly behind rumors that Blum had procured an “immoral watch,” which “concealed in the cases and revealed by the touch of a spring being the figure of a man and another of a woman, both nude, and vile in their suggestiveness.” [Los Angeles Herald, Sept. 12, 1895] The situation led the men to fisticuffs on a city sidewalk.

Family

In 1878, Leopold M. Loeb married Emma Redelia Tripp and settled in Toledo, Ohio.

Their daughter, Matilda, was born in 1879.

 

Leopold Loeb passed away in 1911 at the age of 62.

He was laid to rest at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.

 

Acknowledgement

This exhibit is indebted to the research of  Cantor Jonathan Friedmann.

Cantor Friedmann’s Music Blog is at: http://thinkingonmusic.wordpress.com/

A picture of Leopold Loeb would be greatly appreciated.

 

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