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Bloom's Brooms

[whitespace] Sweeping materializations of a pioneer who kept the faith

By Cecily Barnes

The descendent of pioneers, Max Bloom at 81 years old still brokers stocks at Prudential Securities in downtown San Jose. His grandfather, Meyer Bloom, left Poland at age 16 in 1863 to evade military service and landed in San Jose four years later with a wagon full of brooms.

"His brother had a factory of brooms in San Francisco," says Max Bloom Jr. from his downtown San Jose office. "He took a bunch of brooms and a wagon and came to San Jose, and apparently slept in the wagon. It must have been an Indian summer. He was selling brooms--Bloom's brooms."

Once in San Jose, Meyer Bloom became active with Bickur Cholim, married his wife, Lottie, and started up a men's clothing store on S. First Street. In 1904, Mayer and Lottie's three sons replaced the clothing shop with a shoe store. Two of the brothers left San Jose soon after, and Max Bloom Sr. remained to expand the shoe business. He, too, was active in the temple and passed the shoe business down to his son, stockbroker Max Bloom Jr., who later sold it. Like his father and grandfather, Max Bloom Jr. is a member of San Jose Rotary and temple Emanu-El.

"As the downtown died and San Jose went through an entire change from agriculture to first industrial and then high-tech, a new population became the business leadership," says Mayor Susan Hammer's husband, Phil, whose family came to San Jose in 1925. "A number of us, however, like Max Bloom and myself, have remained very active in the cultural community."

But the businesses that matter today are not the ones owned by old Jewish families. They are those created by people who moved to the area in the last 20 to 50 years.

"They weren't major movers and shakers in this valley. They just came here to live and establish their roots in a new land," historian Stephen Kinsey says. "But they helped in general to make the roots of this valley--they helped in general to make it grow and mature into what it is today."

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From the March 12-18, 1998 issue of Metro.

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