Hyam Zvee Sneersohn: The First Chassid Rabbi in Los Angeles, 1870

Rabbi Hyam Zvee Sneersohn

Values Codes I-H-E-L-P


Rabbi Sneersohn was born in Russia and migrated to Jerusalem, in 1840.

In 1869, Rabbi Sneersohn arrived in New York on a lecture tour.

His tour took him to Washington where he was introduced to Ulysses S. Grant, shortly after Grant’s Presidential Inauguration.

During the next 18 months Rabbi Sneersohn toured the United States giving lectures.

In San Francisco he lectured at Congregation Emanu-El


Rabbi Sneerson, a great grandson of Shneor Zalman,  the founder of Chabad Chasidism, arrived in Los Angeles in late July, 1870.

He stayed at the Bella Union Hotel.

Bella Union Hotel, 1865

Bella Union Hotel, 1865

He gave two lectures to the community on August 11 and 16.Rabbi Sneersohn's Lecture Announcement, Los Angeles Daily Star, August 5, 1870, WS V8#3


This Jewish traveler, a great-grandson of Shneor Zalman, the founder of the Chabad movement of Hasidism, remained in Los Angeles just long enough to be counted in the 1870 United States Census. [page 94]

“This distinguished scholar and traveler . . . was received with the courtesy and attention due to his position, as has been the case whenever he has traveled throughout the United States.”

–The Los Angeles Star


This page might be considered by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It’s true.


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

  • Jews in the 1870 Census of Los Angeles, by Norton B. Stern, Western States Jewish History: 38/3/4.
  • A Pre-Israel Diplomat on an American Mission, 1869-1870; by Norton Stern & William Kramer, 8/3

* Photo of the Bella Union Hotel thanks to the Water & Power Associates


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