Joseph Newmark: Early Los Angeles Pioneer, Uncle of Harris Newmark, Unofficial Rabbi of Early Los Angeles

Joseph Newmark  

Joseph Newmark, early unofficial Rabbi of Los Angeles.

Values Code: I-H-E-L-P


Joseph Newmark was born at Ritterberg-Neumark, Prussia, in 1799.

In 1818, at 19 years of age, he was a trained schochet (ritual slaughterer) and was married to his first wife.

Together they had two children before her early death.


Early Life in America

Mr. & Mrs. Newmark arrived in New York City, in 1824.

There he was a founder of B’nai Jeshurum, the first Ashkenazic Congregation in the city.

It was known as the Elm Street Synagogue.

Joseph Newmark became a Mason, in 1831 and a U.S. Citizen, in 1834.

Into the Wild West

Joseph & Rosa Newmark & Mrs. Leon Loeb (nee Newmark).

After extensive travel in the mid-West Joseph Newmark settled in San Francisco, in 1852.

His family left New York, in 1852, and traveled around the Horn to San Francisco.

The trip was well documented by their 14 year old son, Meyer.

Not doing too well, Newmark moved South to Los Angeles, in 1854, where he went into business with his nephews, Joseph P. Newmark and Harris Newmark, and with  Maurice Kremer.

The company was known as Newmark, Kremer & Co. – a wholesale and retail dry goods business.

Newmark Family and Los Angeles Family Connections

Joseph Newmark  had married his second wife, Rosa, in 1835.

Together they had six children. Matilda, Meyer, Edward, and Sarah – who married her cousin Harris Newmark, Harriet – who married Eugene Meyer – and Caroline – who married Solomon Lazard

In this way, the Newmark Family became related to the core of the early Jewish pioneers of Los Angeles.

Joseph Newmark in the Jewish Community

Joseph Newmark

Joseph Newmark became the lay Rabbi of Los Angeles as well as its schochet until 1862 when he was instrumental in bringing Rabbi Abraham Wolfe Edleman from San Francisco to lead Congregation B’nai B’rith (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple).

Joseph Newmark was the Vice President of the Congregation.

Joseph Newmark was also a founder of the Hebrew Benevolent Society – the first chartered charity organization in Los Angeles.

Its major early accomplishment was the creation of the Jewish cemetery in Chavez Ravine.

Joseph Newmark  had the honor of performing the first Jewish wedding in California, in 1852, between a Mr. & Mrs. Newman.

He also officiated at the weddings of all his children.


Joseph Newmark led a full life and passed away in Los Angeles, in 1881 or 1883.

There seems to be two different dates claimed.


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

  • Newmark, Joseph; A Leading Jewish Businessman of Pioneer California; 1799-1833?; San Francisco; 1967; Unknown author, copied by Norton Stern; 41/3
  • Newmarks and Meybergs; Interview with Mrs. Marco Newmark; LA; Norton Stern; 41/3


Newmark Picture Gallery


Joseph & Rosa Newmark & Family


More Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers

For more Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers click here for the Table of Contents.

Some, but not all of the Los Angeles Pioneers, can be reached by clicking on their name on the list near the upper right of this page.