Jewish Urban History in Comparative Perspective: Jewish Buenos Aires and Jewish Los Angeles

It is the city’s central role in the history and imagination of the modern Jew that attracted a group of innovative junior scholars to a symposium at UCLA in February 2009 on “Jewish Urban History in the Americas: A Comparative Look at Jewish Buenos Aries and Jewish Los Angeles.” The papers from that meeting focused on the cultural, political, and institutional life of two major and relatively co-terminous Jewish urban centers in the Americas whose histories are relatively under-investigated. Often dwelling in the shadow of New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires hosted—and continue to host--rich and diverse Jewish cultural ecologies in their own right. The task of the presenters was to shed full light on these ecologies, and thereby elevate the study of LA and BA to a stature that befits their importance. Now included in this volume, they offer novel perspectives on a wide range of activity in the two Jewish urban centers: from a guild of Jewish prostitutes to a bagel bakers’ union, from architectural norms in BA to a new institution of Jewish learning in LA. It is the source of considerable pride that Perush is able to bring the work of a cohort of such cutting-edge scholars to public attention. It is our hope that this set of intersecting papers will serve as stimulus to further work on Jewish urban history, from Baghdad and Salonika to Boston and San Francisco. With that goal in mind, please do send your feedback and responses to the articles; in so doing, you will be continuing the noble tradition of dynamic and informed commentary that Perush aims to perpetuate