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San Gabriel-Pomona Valleys

SAN GABRIEL-POMONA VALLEYS, California. The estimated 30,000–40,000 Jews of San Gabriel–Pomona Valley in the early 21st century are spread over a significant distance with a low density of Jews in any given community. Beginning in East Los Angeles, the area covers East Los Angeles south to Whittier, east through the Pomona Valley, west of the borders of Fontanta, and includes Ontario, Alta Loma, and Pasadena. The area spans three counties: Los Angeles County, Western San Bernardino County, and a small slice of northern Orange County (including La Habra and La Puente).

Some older parts of the Los Angeles Jewish community are found within the San Gabriel Valley though the much more numerous Jewish migration from East Los Angeles was to the San Fernando Valley. The most visible Jewish institution in the community is the synagogue, primarily Conservative and Reform. There is no mainstream Orthodox presence, though Chabad is found in Pasadena and in the Inland Empire.

Pasadena is the home of one of the communities' day schools, the Weizmann Day School, which is housed at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, a Conservative Synagogue. The Atid Hebrew Academy is in West Covina and is housed on the grounds of Temple Ami Shalom.

The Pasadena community has a large number of scientists employed by Cal Tech and JPL, which led the space probe to Mars. The Pomona Valley Jewish community has a large number of academics employed at the Claremont Colleges and the universities that ring the valleys. There is no Jewish Community Center, perhaps because of the distances involved and the traffic patterns of Los Angeles, so that the Federation offers programs and services somewhat like a Jewish Community Center without a major community building. Among its activities are the Festival in the Park, a Jewish Counseling Referral Network, two day camps at two locations, and a successful annual Jewish book festival.

Federation activities include the Senior Van program that brings together isolated seniors and senior groups, the Camp Gan Shalom (summer day camp) for area children, community-building programs such as the Jewish Festival, Women's Forum, Women's Business and Professionals' Association, Lunchtime Jewish Learning, and the Jewish Book Festival.

The community offers direct support to Jewish schools through its Jewish Education Consultant, Principal's Council, Special Education Consultant, Teacher In-Service programs, and direct cash grants to area schools. There are a Jewish Family Resource Service, a local counseling referral program, and scholarships for participants in organizational Israel experiences, as well as a Shabbaton program for area children. The Jewish Community News is a monthly newspaper devoted to local Jewish activity and national and international news of Jewish interest.

There is a Conservative synagogue in Montebello, Temple B'nai Emet, and in Pasadena, Congregation B'nai Torah. Pomona has a Reform synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, that houses a pre-school. Ontario features a Conservative synagogue, Temple Sholom. The Chabad of the Inland is located in Rancho Cucamonga. West Covina also has a Conservative congregation, Temple Ami Shalom, and Whittier has a Conservative synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom. The Reconstructionist Havurah in Whittier pioneered the use of Havurot within the congregation long before they became fashionable in other sections of the country, and they have now sustained themselves and continued for a generation. Congregation Shaarei Torah in Arcadia, a Conservative congregation, also houses a Jewish pre-school called B'nai Simcha. There is also a Reform temple, B'nai David, in Temple City. Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock is a Conservative congregation. Sinai Temple of Glendale, a Reform congregation, became affiliated with the San Gabriel-Pomona Valleys Federation. Adat Re'im in the Pomona Valley has just been constituted.

There are a string of hospitals along the foothills of the Valley including *City of Hope, which is now a non-sectarian hospital but well aware of its Jewish roots, and thus the area has attracted Jewish physicians and Jews in allied medical professions. Some parts of the Jewish community are old – at least by California standards – once rooted in the Jewish community of Los Angeles areas such as Monterey Park and Montebello. Others have developed in the post-war migration to California and in the string of Jewish communities throughout Southern California.

Some areas were settled by Jewish chicken farmers; there was an area of egg farming and chicken farming in the valley. Over time the land became more valuable than the farms, and several would-be farmers found themselves prosperous real estate developers.

Because of the vastly increasing cost of housing and the shortage of housing in the Los Angeles area, the Jewish community of Los Angeles is moving westward into the western outreaches of the San Fernando Valley and eastward into the Pomona Valley-San Bernardino area. As young families mature, one suspects that there will be a growing need for Jewish institutions, Jewish education, and synagogues to meet an expanding population.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.