Emanu El, once the only Jewish congregation in San Bernardino, moved east to Redlands last December, leaving one of the biggest cities in California with no center for organized Judaism.
The controversial move, after more than a century in San Bernardino, is the exclamation point to decades of eastward migration by the city’s Jewish community. A look across the horizon behind the lot, Kohn says, tells the community’s story.
Following the 10 Freeway west, one sees San Bernardino. According to local historians, the first Jews to settle in Southern California arrived in San Bernardino on a wagon train in the mid-19th century along with a group of Mormons. Over the decades, the community flourished. The city’s central library is even named after a former rabbi at Emanu El.
Tracking the freeway east, one comes to Redlands and other small neighboring cities. As jobs evaporated and crime worsened in San Bernardino, many professionals, among them many members of the city’s Jewish community, moved east.