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

Isidor Nathan Choynski

Isadore Choynski WS26/3781

Isidor Choynski, #WS26/3781

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P


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.


San Francisco

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 on the inner life of San Francisco and West Coast Jewish communities at the time.

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, and president of both the Jewish Literary Association and Chevra B’rith Shalome.


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

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 our Harriet Ashim Choynski exhibit.]

Isidor and Harriet had five children.

Their son, Joseph Choynskibecame a nationally famed professional heavyweight boxer.

Choynski the Boxer

Joseph “Joe” Choynski the Boxer















Isidor Nathan Choynski passed away in 1899.

Harriet Choynski died in 1927


  • Robert Singerman, “San Francisco Journalism of I. N. Choynski, Part 1,” Western States Jewish History 29/2.
  • Robert Singerman, “San Francisco Journalism of I. N. Choynski, Part 2,” Western States Jewish History 29/3.
  • Robert Singerman, “San Francisco Journalism of I. N. Choynski, Part 3,” Western States Jewish History 29/4.
  • “Wayward Etchings: I. N. Choynski Visits Southern California, 1881,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 11/2.
  • “Isidor N.Choynski & Rabbi Julius Eckman: Two Letters to Harriet Choynski,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 7/1.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Isidor Nathan Choynski,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.
  • William M. Kramer, “I. N. Choynski: What’s in a Name? 1885,” Western States Jewish History 42/2&3.