Orange County Jew: A Memoir
About the Book
When Martin Brower moved his family from heavily Jewish Los Angeles to barely Jewish Orange County, California, in 1974, his Los Angeles friends were amazed at his bravery and his foolishness. Orange County was considered anti-Semitic and lacking in culture.
However, during the years following World War II, Orange County was transformed from a small rural community with citrus groves, row crops and cattle -- first into a bedroom community for neighboring Los Angeles County and then into a dynamic urban empire.
As the County’s population and employment base exploded, Orange County’s Jewish population grew from a small enclave of Jewish shopkeepers into a vibrant Jewish community in excess of 100,000. To the surprise of many, Orange County now boasts one of the leading centers of Jewish life in the nation, complete with 30 synagogues, a grand new Jewish Community Center, one of the nation’s largest Jewish day schools and one of its finest homes for the aging.
In his book “Orange County Jew: A Memoir,” Brower superimposes the growth of the Jewish community over the amazing development of Orange County itself, and uses as a framework the personal story of his own 36 years as a resident of Orange County and as a player among its major real estate development companies and its entrepreneurial leaders.
About the Author
Martin Aaron Brower is a Los Angeles born-and-raised journalist and public relations professional who moved with his family to Orange County, California in 1974 after joining the County’s largest land development firm, The Irvine Company, as director of public relations in 1973.
In his position with The Irvine Company and later as editor and publisher of Orange County Report, a monthly newsletter he founded; as a newspaper columnist, book and magazine writer about Orange County; and as a public relations consultant for The Koll Company, another major real estate development firm; Brower became closely involved with the emergence of Orange County as a major urban center.
During these nearly four decades, Brower also became integrally involved with the Orange County Jewish community as it grew from a recently rural County once-considered anti-Semitic, into one of the nation’s largest Jewish concentrations with a population in excess of 100,000 and some of the finest Jewish institutions in the nation. He and his family have been honored by several Jewish organizations.
A graduate of UCLA where he was editor-in-chief of the UCLA Daily Bruin, Brower lives in the Orange County city of Newport Beach with his wife Tamar. They have four grown children and three grandchildren. Three of their four children live in Orange County, and the fourth lives in adjacent Los Angeles County.
Brower continues his writing as a columnist for Orange County’s Coast magazine and as the volunteer managing editor of Pointe of View, the external publication of Heritage Pointe, the Jewish home for the aging in Orange County.