The International Order of B’nai B’rith in Early Los Angeles – 1874

B’nai B’rith Lodges in Los Angeles


The International Order of B’nai B’rith was founded in New York, in 1843.

In 1874, Isidor N. Choynski, a well-known newspaper writer and book dealer, visited Los Angeles from San Francisco to help found the first B’nai B’rith Lodge – Orange Lodge #224.

Samuel Prager was its first president.

Samuel Prager, 1st president of the first B’nai B’rith Lodge in Los Angeles

The following year, Rabbi Abraham Edelman was elected as its second president.

Membership grew to about 35 members at that time.

The members discussed the possibility of funding a Jewish hospital, but nothing materialized.

Aside for the social aspects of the Lodge, little else happened.

Rabbi Abraham Edelman, 2nd president of first B’nai B’rith Lodge in Los Angeles

Semi-Tropic Lodge

In 1883, a younger group of Jews founded the Semi-Tropic Lodge.

M. A. Hamberger was elected president.
Membership reached about 35 members, but again, not much happened.

Moses A. Hamburger, #WS2177

Lodge #487

In 1899, the senior members of the two B’nai B’rith Lodges decided to merge and create another Lodge – Lodge #487.

It was to be a Jewish organization where “Jews could meet Jews” and for “Jewish companionship.”

Whereas most early B’nai B’rith Lodges had been made up mostly of “German” Jews, the members of Lodge #487 agreed to reach out to Jews of Eastern European descent.

The mission was to focus on charity works and to mount a defense against anti-Semitism, where necessary.

Membership reached 172 by 1905.

By 1910, there were 365 members, and membership grew to 500 in 1913.

By 1924, the Lodge boasted 2,000 members, making it the largest B’nai B’rith Lodge in the country.


The B’nai B’rith Lodge Hall

In 1903, a past-President, S. G. Marshutz, built and leased to the Lodge a new and beautiful modern fraternal hall, with a club room, well-lit Lodge room, card room, reading room, kitchen, billiard room, and large library.

The Lodge Hall was located at 521 West Pico Boulevard.

Sigfried Marshutz

Jewish Orphans

In 1906, B’nai B’rith Lodge #487  took interest in creating a home for Jewish Orphans.

Two years later their project came to life as they incorporated the Jewish Orphans Home of Southern California, which eventually morphed into today’s Vista del Mar.

[Click here to visit the Vista del Mar exhibit.]

Alfred Stern Mansion, the first Jewish Orphans Home in Los Angeles


  • Max Vorspan and Lloyd P. Gartner, History of the Jews of Los Angeles (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1970.