Ralph Greenhood: Revived San Bernardino Jewish Community

Ralph (Rudolph) Greenhood

Ralph Greenhood

Ralph Greenhood

Values Codes I – H – E – P


Ralph Greenhood was born in 1868 in Niedersetten, Wurtemberg, Germany.


Along the way

Ralph Greenhood arrived in America in 1888, at the age of 20.

He clerked in dry goods store in Pennsylvania.

He was naturalized in 1896.


Los Angeles

Greenhood’s wife, Fanny, suffered from asthma.

They came to Southern California in 1903 to ease her symptoms, settling in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, where Ralph opened a rubber stamp and small printing shop.


San Bernardino

In 1912, again for health reasons, the Greenhoods moved to San Bernardino.

There, Ralph established the San Bernardino Rubber Stamp and Printing Co.



By this time, the once thriving Jewish Community of San Bernardino was greatly diminished.

Jews congregated for High Holy Days in a rented hall, and occasionally formed a minyan (prayer quorum) as needed.

Fanny Greenhood complained that she could not raise her children in a community without an organized Jewish life.

Ralph Greenhood surveyed what was left of the old Jewish community.

The Home of Eternity Cemetery still functioned, and there was a sum of money set aside for a yet-to-be-built synagogue.

Greenhood Family, 1906 WS1580

Greenhood family, 1906, #WS1580

Paradise Lodge #237 of B’nai B’rith was the most active Jewish group.

Greenhood, who was a member of Los Angeles Lodge #487 B’nai B’rith, joined San Bernardino’s Paradise Lodge.

He enlisted loge members to fund a Sabbath School for the Jewish children.

The first session had 18 children.

The school became the focal point of a new, cooperating Jewish Community, and Ralph taught the children a variety of subjects.

The Sabbath School also put on social gatherings, picnics, and plays, bringing together the Jewish families of the community.

A community Passover Seder in 1917 attracted 150 adults and children in the dining hall of the Eagles Lodge.


Congregation Emanu El

Building on the success of the Sabbath School and the Seder, Ralph Greenhood tasked himself with reigniting communal interest in a synagogue.

A building fund had already been established in 1891, and Greenhood gathered pledges for another $10,000.

In 1921, construction started on Congregation Emanu El.

High Holy Day services were held in the unfinished building that fall, and the formal dedication was held a few months later.

For many years, Ralph Greenhood was also chairman of the Home of Eternity Cemetery, responsible for burials, maintenance, and fundraising.

Congregation Emanu El, San Bernardino/Redlands, current building, 2017


Ralph Greenhood was active in Paradise Lodge #237 of B’nai B’rith, and served as its president in 1920.

He also helped form the women’s Paradise Auxiliary #14. He mentored the group for eight years, until he was told he was not needed any more.


Fanny Greenhood WS1582

Fanny Greenhood, #WS1582


Fanny Gusky was born in Wieruszow, Poland, in 1872, and came to Buffalo, New York, in 1890.

Ralph and Fanny were married in Buffalo in 1894.

Ralph and Fanny had five children.


Ralph Greenhood passed away in 1941.

Fanny Greenhood died in 1963.

“Ralph Greenhood, more than any one individual, is responsible for keeping the faith which discouraging conditions almost entirely extinguished in others.  His unquenchable optimism kept the Sabbath School alive and spurred on to renewed effort every lagging community enterprise.” 

– Los Angeles Star


  • Dorothy Neumann, “Greenhoods of San Bernardino,” Western States Historical Quarterly 15/3.