Early Member of SCJS He Attended First Conference

A bookshelf takes up a whole wall of the room History books occupy most of the available space and a large portion of them are California History books One shelf contains early first editions dating back to the late eighteenth century Here is an eyewitness account of the American Revolution published in 1806; next to it a biography of Father Serra published more than 150 years ago On another shelf there is a large collection of Life magazines dating back to the first issue in 1936 Across the top of the bookshelf are cardboard containers holding the writings of Bob Hattem I am in Bob’s office

As I enter the room he is at his computer on the internet downloading and printing an article about Jews in colonial America And this is how I had expected to find him For the many years that I have known him I have been impressed with his passion for history I have accompanied him to conferences on California history Los Angeles history archival material preservation and of course to conferences of the Society for CryptoJudaic Studies

Bob became aware of SCJS more than fifteenth years ago He was in New Mexico for a conference of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society There he met Stan Hordes and Gloria Trujillo who were at that time organizing the society He joined and attended the first conference in Taos in 1991 He suggested that SCJS start a newsletter and he became its first editor The publication was at first called simply The Newsletter of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies After a few issues someone suggested that we adopt the name used by Arturo Carlos Barros Basto in the publication that he initiated in the 1920s: HaLapid

Bob describes the contents of “that first issue of the newsletter Winter 1993 Volume I No1News of the New Mexico Conference News about Future Meetings a Spotlight on New Mexico Secret Jews Seville Has A Major Archive For CryptoJews CryptoJews In Spain Today by Arthur Benveniste and other ancillary items”

Bob was born in Los Angeles in 1919 He is from a family with a long history of activism with Sephardim His grandparents were from Kuskunjuk across the Bosporus from Istanbul His family were among the founders of the Sephardic Community of Los Angeles now known as Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel his grandfather being treasurer in the early years and his father being President in 1929 Bob himself was a member of the board and the founding editor of El Shofar the organizational newsletter He edited the publication for six years before leaving it to become founding temple archivist/historian a position that he still holds

I asked about his interest in history “It began when I was in the ninth grade at Audabon Junior High One of the assignments we were given was to write an autobiography of yourself and that got me started as I remembered the interesting things that happened to me up to that time and I remembered downtown LA the plaza and many things that are gone forever”

He continues: “During my lifetime I have been active in many historical societies I was a President as well as the Editor of the newsletter of the Native Sons of the Golden West Santa Monica Parlor; Editor and past Vice President of the Los Angeles City Historical Society; Editor of the Associated Historical Societies of Los Angeles; founding Editor of the Department of California Jewish War Veterans newsletter; founding Editor of the Association of American Jewish Friends of Turkey Newsletter”

Bob adds that he “has been a member of the San Diego Historical Society Santa Barbara Historical Society Monterey Historical California Historical Society Southern California Historical Society and Los Californianos an historical genealogical group for which I received two awards for outstanding service to the organization History is my passion!”

During World War II the army sent Bob to Syracuse University to study for the Army Specialized Training Program Later he was sent to Missouri to train for the Signal Corps He met his future wife on a weekend pass When they first met he told her “I want to marry you” Three weeks later they were married It lasted 43 years until her passing They have one son Michael who has also been a member of the board and vice President of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel Bob’s granddaughter Sarah is a fifth generation member of the synagogue

Now in his mid 80s Bob has had to curtail his activities His health has prevented him from attending the last few conferences of SCJS but his interest in the society continues I still rely on him to help put mailing labels and postage stamps on the quarterly mailings of HaLapid The society is deeply appreciative of his work as founding editor of this publication and in his continued support of SCJS

Great work Bob!