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 Codes 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.


Along the way . . . 

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

There, he was a founder of B’nai Jeshurun, 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.

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

After extensive travels in the Midwest, 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.


Los Angeles

In poor health, Joseph 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.

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

Together they had six children: Matilda, Meyer, Edward, Sarah, Caroline, and Matilda.

Sarah married her cousin, Harris Newmark; Harriet married Eugene Meyerand Caroline married Solomon Lazard.

Thus, Newmark Family became related to the core of the early Jewish pioneers of Los Angeles.


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 Edelman from San Francisco to lead Congregation B’nai B’rith (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple).

Newmark was the Vice President of the Congregation.

He was also a founder of the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the first chartered charity organization in Los Angeles.

The Society’s major early accomplishment was the creation of the Jewish cemetery in Chavez Ravine.

In 1852, Newmark had the honor of performing the first Jewish wedding in California 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.


  • “Joseph Newmark: A Leading Jewish Businessman of Pioneer California,” 1799-1833?,” Western States Jewish History 41/3. [Unknown author, copied by Norton B. Stern.]
  • Norton B. Stern, “The Meyerbergs and the Newmarks,” Western States Jewish History 41/3.

Joseph & Rosa Newmark & Family