Volume 2, Nu

mber 30
Volume 2, Number 234

"There's a Jewish story everywhere"

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Editor's Note: There will be no edition tomorrow, Tuesday, September 30, due to the Rosh Hashanah holiday. A new edition will be posted for Wednesday, October 1. San Diego Jewish World would like to wish all its readers a Shana Tova. May you all be inscribed for a year of health, happiness and prosperity!

Today's Postings

Monday, September 29, 2008

{Click an underlined headline in this area to jump to the corresponding story. Or, you may scroll leisurely through our report}


U.S election more a spectacle for voters than an opportunity to deliberate by Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem

Tracking one's family through the Shoah by Peter Garas in Canberra, Australia


Une-Taneh-Tokef: Chant of awesome import during High Holy Day services by Cantor Sheldon Merel, with an audio clip of him chanting this prayer, followed by "Kvakarat"


The Magic Circle—A glimpse of Eden by Sheila Orysiek in San Diego

Your baby is off to college, but you can't stop wishing that s/he was still at home by Marsha Sutton in San Diego


Back Back Back is not where reviewer plans to go, at least not anytime soon by Carol Davis in San Diego

All that Chazz dazzles at the Ruskin by Cynthia Citron in Santa Monica, California


--February 24, 1950: Fund Workers Get Set For Annual Drive
--February 24, 1950: Christian Committee Presents Program
--February 24, 1950: Famous Singing Teacher in San Diego
--February 24, 1950: Baranov Elected Chairman of Del Mar Charities


Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Students use all of their senses to experience the traditions of Rosh Hashanah


This week's stories on San Diego Jewish World:Sunday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday


Want to know about exciting upcoming events? As a service to readers, San Diego Jewish World flags most event advertisements by date. Sept. 28-Oct 5, Sept. 29-Oct. 9


Each day's issue may be dedicated by readers—or by the publisher—in other people's honor or memory. Past dedications may be found at the bottom of the index for the "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" page.


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U.S election more a spectacle for voters than an opportunity to deliberate

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM—You think that it is an American election that is providing headlines throughout the world?

Think again.

Many of us are as dependent as the Americans on who is chosen. It is not just that part of the debate about what Americans call foreign policy: who will sit atop the pyramid of advisors and operators who aspire to change things in places they hardly understand, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, and Israel/Palestine. The other part of the debate about managing the American economy also affects paychecks and work opportunities in places as far afield as the high-tech laboratories of Israel and India, and all those contractors and sub-contractors in China and other places that make the clothes, medicines, electronic gadgets, and car parts that Americans have to buy in order to keep the money flowing.

It is important for Americans to continue going into debt in order to keep the economic heart of the world beating. Americans, perhaps with overseas advice and contributions, must also manage that heart so that it does not get clogged by allowing people to acquire homes they cannot afford, or financial wizards to fool themselves and others into thinking they can profit from the extravaganza.

More than two weeks of exposing myself to American mass media convinced me that a careful analysis could find wisdom being bantered, and perhaps a decent governmental mechanism to discuss the options and make a decision. Most of the time, however, it is too much a spectacle focusing on the issue of the moment with nothing more profound than luck determining who is perceived to have the best ideas, and whether a benefit for one or another interest or another gets adopted as public policy.

Whole days are spent on the crisis of the moment, whether it is a storm, the search for a solution to what is called the greatest economic crisis since World War II, what bank is failing today and which will fall tomorrow, whether there is about to be a debate between the candidates, or later who is thought to have won the debate.

Occasionally a bit of world news gets time on CNN, but it may have to be more dramatic than the sex life of an American politician or murder in a small town no one can locate on the map.

My own award for the dumbest snippet was a comment by Barack Obama ridiculing a one-liner of John McCain about a national commission to probe the sources of the financial meltdown and to propose remedies. Obama called it the oldest solution in the book: appointing a committee.

Of course it is an old solution. But if Obama had sought to understand and contribute to state and national legislatures instead of using his time there to run for yet a higher office, he would have learned that it is via committees that those bodies sort through the claims and opportunities. If he gets to the highest office of all, we can hope that he will use the power to do something for the people of America and the world, and not just for himself.

Before any of you accuse me of meddling in a partisan fashion, I will balance my comments by moaning about the prospects for all of us if the former mayor of Wasilla becomes the most powerful person. She is certainly attractive, and appealing when talking about her family. She may be smart, but what does she know about geography or public policy?

It is not likely that any nation's politics approaches the quality of a university seminar. Or perhaps it is not too many university seminars that approach the intellectual level of a nation's politics. After spending 45 years studying politics in the better universities of several countries, I cannot decide whether the greatest minds, or the greatest clowns, are to be found on campus, in the mass media, or in the offices of government. Skepticism and even cynicism are appropriate defenses that must be employed while exposing oneself and one's children to governments, media, and the universities.

No doubt that people living in countries affected by the United States-- and that is just about all of them-- have a right to express themselves about American candidates. The right to vote is something else. The United Nations is not a good example for international government. No matter how outsiders would judge Americans, residents of the world hardly seem better positioned to select the people who will sit in the White House and Congress.

Israelis do not "cross their fingers." It is too Christian. We "hold our fingers," and hope for the best.

Sharkansy is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University. HE may be contacted at msira@mscc.huji.ac.il


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MON., SEPT. 29-THURS., OCT. 9 Congregation Beth Israel High Holiday Services

beth israel

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Une-Taneh-Tokef: Chant of awesome import during High Holy Day services
To hear Cantor Merel chant Une-Taneh-Tokef, please click here
Please click here to hear Kvakarat, which immediately follows

By Cantor Sheldon Merel

SAN DIEGO—Jewish  music  is the heart and soul of worship,  and brings  deeper meaning to our prayers, especially on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  Like Kol Nidre, the singing of une-taneh tokef during the morning services, has also captured the hearts of Jews for centuries. 

I invite you to hear the prayer, as I sang it during my years with Congregation Beth Israel.    The prayer is traced back to the martyrdom of Rabbi Amon during the 12th century, and depicts Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as days of heavenly judgment, the central theme of the Holy Days.

Its words, although old, are still relevent in a world, filled with hurricanes, tornados, and the search for freedom and peace.

This is a capsule of its words, Let us proclaim the sacred power of this day, as we behold you as judge and witness, recording our secret thoughts and acts.  The angels in heaven are seized with fear and trembling, as they proclaim, behold the day of judgement!  It is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.

In spite of warning of doom, however, “uneh-taneh  tokef “concludes with hope.  Hope that we can influence our fate, and change the course of our lives through  repentance, prayer and the practice of good deeds.

Many composers have tried to capture the drama and intensity of these words, but I believe the  compositions by Max Janowski , and Max Helfman, both  renowned composers , have achieved special  distinction.   I have consequently combined the two settings, beginning with Janowski's, and ending with k’va-karat by Helfman.   It is a fine blend of similar styles and drama, both written for cantor, choir and organ. 

In k’va-karat, (the concluding verses of the uneh-taneh- tokef), Max Helfman created a tender pastoral sound for the opening words: As the shepherd seeks out the flock, and makes the sheep pass under the staff, so do You, o Lord, muster and number, and consider every soul, setting the bounds of every creature’s life, and decreeing its destiny.

As the music ends with the haunting, et g’zar  di-nam, (decreeing man’s destiny)., the powerful voices of cantor and choir resound through the synagogue, and bring a dramatic finale to the une-ta-neh tokef” prayer.  
Shana tovah tika-teyvu, may you and your dear ones be inscribed in the book of life!

Merel is cantor emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel. His Uneh-Taneh-Tokef is one of the chants he expects to place on a forthcoming CD, Chants of a Lifetime. He may be contacted at merels@sandiegojewishworld.com

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The Magic Circle—A glimpse of Eden

By Sheila Orysiek

SAN DIEGO — Have you ever wondered what the Garden of Eden in Genesis was like?  Where each creature could feel at peace with the others?  Where innocence reigned until it was interrupted by reality?  I once had a glimpse of such a dream.

The Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park is a place where mystery, majesty, beauty and tragedy are intertwined.   In summer the air is soft and clean; crushed pine needles cover the earth releasing a pungent scent to the wind.  A multitude of animals - while not always visible - scamper about carrying on their business.  Sun set and sun rise, millennium after millennium, storms, fires and people: the forest witnesses it all.   Rank on rank the giant trees stand and watch the centuries pass.  They seem impervious to time.

Ten months of the year piles of snow cover the land and small animals burrow into it for warmth.  As the year turns the snow slowly releases its water which falls over the sheer faces of the rocks, showering into streams, filling rivers. The water would complete its rush to the sea were it not captured for use by people like me.  I use this watery wealth, though I live far away in an alien cityscape.  For many years I visited the mountains and forest where the water is born - but only in the summer.  The wisps of snow still lying in the shadows of rocks and on the mountain peaks are remnants of a winter past and a reminder of a winter coming.

In one particularly special place - in a place of special places - the mystique is multiplied.  A woodland trail winds through the trees in a circular orbit, in and out of luminous glades and gloomy shadows.  As the sun glides overhead it picks out each tall tree one by one in a cone of light changing the red bark to glorious gold.  But in the heart of the magic circle is devastation.  The huge bodies of dead trees fold one atop the other; splintered - they seem to hang from the sky.  Sheared strips of bark form loops from one fallen giant to another.  And in the very center of the devastation - the heart of the magic circle formed by the fallen giants - thick piles of wood dust carpets the beaten earth.  It is a striking contrast of chaotic destruction surrounded by orderly beauty.

However, it was not always so.  The tumbled trees in the midst of the circle had once stood tall and strong. People sat at the foot of the trees; in a picnic grove. One lovely day a mighty tree fell and its death throe could be heard over great distances.  The ground trembled, and as the giant died it brought down seven of its huge fellows.  Every creature stopped and listened - people miles away heard and knew that giants were dying.  As the trees came down so suddenly, in such rapid succession, one fell upon a young woman sitting at a picnic table and snuffed out her life.  And so, the potent magic of the circle increased - it now included tragedy as well as beauty.

I often walked this circular forest path and my progress was announced for all to heed by the whistles of the jays and the sharp cries of the squirrels.  I was a stranger and they knew it and announced my presence to all the forest inhabitants.  While entranced with the wild flowers and glorious trees, it was the ruination in the center of the circle which awed me. 

Though people used this part of the forest as a picnic grove, nature wanted a meadow and so a tiny spring had undermined a of the Giant Sequoia which its shallow root system couldn’t resist.  Walking alongside one of the seven downed trees I eventually found the crushed picnic table where the woman died.  Though the tragedy had occurred twenty years before, the freshness of the scarred trees, shielded by their thick coat of red bark, made it look as if it had all occurred that morning.  The piles of sawdust - created when the trees brushed against one another, were fresh, too. 

It will take a thousand years before the giant tree trunks subsume into the earth from which they were born; a testimony to the sturdiness of this particular design of the Creator.  But while every one of His designs has a set of assets to sustain life, there is also a bill to be paid and in the Giant Sequoia, that debt is its lack of a tap root and only a shallow root support.

I climbed over and under the fallen behemoths (each wide enough to support a truck) until I came to the very core, where the tree trunks crisscrossed, forming an inner circle.  Once inside I was walled in by the logs and the ground beneath my feet was thick with sawdust.  I was both captured and captivated.

On succeeding visits I brought a book and thought to read, but in reality I would sit mesmerized by the splintered, shattered trees around me.  The sun was warm as I sat on the soft downy dust and was hidden from the rest of the world; the giant tree trunks were piled far above my head.  I listened to the forest, but except for the woodpecker knocking on his door, or the chirp of a squirrel, I heard only my own heart and blood racing about inside of me. 

Then one day as I sat in the core of that magic circle reading my book, I felt a presence.  No, there hadn’t been any sound, but now someone else was also inside this secret retreat.  I could feel - knew - that large eyes were looking at me, and very close bye.  Slowly I raised my head and found myself reflected in the brown eyes of a doe.  She was only an arm’s distance away.  I held my breath.  We looked at each other.  I had been surprised but of course she was not.  Her nostrils flared gently to capture my scent and then miraculously she bent her knees and settled silkily down on the piles of soft saw dust covering the earthen floor.  She lowered her head and rested.  I was in Eden.

I dared not move and I could scarcely believe that I was part of this wonder.  Her body was firm and slim; every line a delight to behold.  How beautifully G-D had made her!   She was the jewel in the setting of the forest and had honored me with her presence and her trust.  We sat thus for a time which seemed so long then and yet was all too short. 

Suddenly she lifted her delicate head,  her ears pricked smartly forward and with a liquid bound she flew up and over the nearest tree trunk and was gone.  I was stunned.   How had I frightened her?  A short time later I heard a slight metallic clinking.  I climbed up and peered over one of the fallen trees and there coming up the forest trail was a man with his dog on a leash.  Of course, the doe had no knowledge of leashed dogs.  She only knew she was the dog’s natural prey.  This was her home; a leashed dog was an intruder.

Eden was no longer Eden.

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Soille Hebrew Day students use all of their senses
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Your baby is off to college, but you can't stop wishing that s/he was still at home

By Marsha Sutton

SAN DIEGO—It feels like someone just cut off my arm.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but it’s tough and anyone who’s gone through it can vouch for my sincerity: Having your child leave home for college can be a painful transition that taxes the emotions of even the most stalwart among us.

It’s like a part of me is gone forever. Our family unit is permanently altered. The house seems quiet, and bigger than before. There is empty space everywhere except the refrigerator which is now fully stocked. Food lasts longer, and laundry is more manageable.

There’s an energy that’s missing, a void that has a physical component to it. Our boisterous son’s abrupt absence leaves behind a cavernous emptiness.

I think what I’ll miss most is the trivia, being a part of his daily life – because it’s not so much the major events that bind people together. It’s the small things, the odds and ends that make up our panoply of experiences and memories.

The hardest part was when I said goodbye and hugged him tightly. He smiled and wiped away my tears and told me not to worry, that he would be just fine. There he is, comforting me. Role reversal.

We’ve all heard about empty-nest syndrome for years, and we think we are prepared when it happens. But no one really is until the time comes when that baby of yours, that former infant you once cradled in your arms, becomes an adult and heads off for a life somewhere apart from you.

It’s now a young adult standing – towering? – before you, the one you remember as a toddler, the one who trundled off to kindergarten that first day with a smile and a small backpack and a flutter of excitement, the one who blew out candles at birthday parties and wasn’t embarrassed to hold your hand in public.

Tempering the anguish is, oddly, elation. The joy we feel that our son has begun college, with his whole future before him, is immeasurable. He’s been successfully launched, and his need for us in familiar parental roles is all but finished. 

This is what’s supposed to happen; everything is proceeding just as we had hoped. College is going to be great; he loves everything about it; it’s perfect for him. We are confident of that.

So why can’t we shake the blues? We struggle with the loss, and sadness overcomes our younger son at odd moments. He misses his older brother desperately.

So, embodying a living contradiction, we find ourselves trying to muddle through this period of intense joy without bursting into tears of despair at the thought of our blissfully happy college-going son.

What’s up with this?

Lori Rappaport, local clinical psychologist who specializes in child and family issues, normalizes these swirling moods.

“It is sad,” she said. “There’s a definite shift in the family. You feel like the cement that held it together is gone. As wonderful as it is – you can be thrilled for your child, they can have gotten into a great college, they can be ecstatically happy – there’s still loss there and it’s still sad and you still need to grieve. Parents think they should be happy … [but] sending your child off is a loss.”

Rappaport validated my conflicting emotions, saying, “Often, you’ve done exactly what you’ve been expected to do, except it sometimes doesn’t feel all that phenomenal because you miss them. Your own mortality comes into play. It is one of life’s losses. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, but there is sadness there and people need to recognize that. That’s okay – that’s normal.”

So how to cope?

“You have to recognize and separate out what your feelings are from what’s best for your child,” Rappaport advised. “It’s okay to say, I miss you and it’s not the same without you and I miss our conversations and I look forward to seeing you when you come back.”

But when you start to share the funk by telling your child how lonely you are and how difficult it is to cope, the child becomes anxious, she said. There’s a distinct difference between letting them know they’re missed and communicating the extent of your melancholy.

When you tell them that you miss spending time together, that’s good because you’re sharing that you value who they are as a person, Rappaport said. But when you relate that you’re miserable and can’t seem to pull yourself together, then you’re really sharing your own depression. That’s when it’s not about the child any longer – it becomes about you, the parent, she said.

As hard as it may be for some parents, it can be equally challenging for college-bound kids who have difficulty adjusting to life away from home.

“Sometimes we’re too quick to say, ‘Well, just come home,’” Rappaport said. “[We should] allow them to be homesick, recognize that it’s a big transition, and just support them and help them figure out a way to cope and give it time. 

“As parents we don’t want to see our kids anxious. We want to make them feel better. We feel like we need to do something, and the only thing we can think of is just to make it stop which is come back or come home.”

She said the problem seems to be worse with kids who attend college closer to home.

“It’s easy [to come home often] when you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re missing your family, you haven’t really made friends yet,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to jump in the car and come home than it is to stick it out on campus.

“In those beginning times, it’s really hard to make new friends and put yourself out there, especially if you were the kind of kid who was the high school star, who had lots of friends, who was really connected. For those kids, it’s really tough to be a little fish, to start all over again. For kids who were ready to leave and looking for new experiences and weren’t so tied in to high school as being the greatest time of their lives, it’s often a little easier.”

She advises parents to encourage their children to stay on campus and not visit home so often. “In those early months, if you allow your kids to come home, and they come home often, they’re missing those first couple of weeks … when kids make relationships. So what happens is they come home and they feel more isolated and it’s a vicious cycle.”

Rappaport suggests that parents apply the same rules they used when they dropped off their clingy youngsters at school for the first time.

“You don’t say, ‘I’m going to the movies with your little brother while you’re in kindergarten.’ You want to tell them, ‘I’m going home to clean the floor.’ It’s kind of the same thing in college. If you have a homesick kid, don’t tell them what a great weekend you had. Or what they’re missing. They don’t want to know that their family’s going on great vacations, especially if they’re struggling and having a hard time.”

Most of us know not to redecorate their rooms the minute they leave. But identifying that fine line between telling them we miss them and relating the depths of our despair is not always easy.

It’s much harder if there are siblings involved who feel suddenly alone and want continuous contact with their missing brother or sister. This puts a strain on the college kids who are trying to adjust to life on their own, without the added pressure of siblings back home who can’t cope without them.

Rappaport said family dynamics also come into play. Divorce situations, custody battles, tension in the house, last child to leave, first child to leave – all these inter-personal relationships make this life-changing experience unique for each college student and their families.

As parents, we hang on every phone call, every text message, every email. Communication, important before, is now a frenzied “drop everything” moment.

But all too often, Rappaport warns, they’ll call when they have a problem and need advice or emotional support. Afterwards, they often let go of the issue, resolve it quickly, or push it aside for later. Meanwhile, we are left with the residue and the impression that they are having serious problems. We continue to worry, and they’ve let it go long ago.

In the throes of this angst, it may be hard to remember the sage words of our son’s college advisers: “They’ll call you when they’re down, and they’ll call their friends when they’re up.” 

Even though this transition should be about them and not us, it still marks an important milestone for parents. It means our job is done, we are getting older, we are entering a new stage of life.

We miss them terribly, but it’s not just the child we miss. It’s the days of raising that child.

It’s remembering what we as parents were like when they were 2, 10 or 16. It’s remembering how we grew in maturity along with them. It’s remembering the changes our children produced in us, and seeing the evolution of who we have become as we tackled the challenges along the way.

Who we are today has been molded in large part by having them in our lives. And who will we be without them? Impossible to tell, except it will be different. Of that, I’m certain.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Carmel Valley News. Sutton, an active member of the Jewish community, owns College Essay Services, a company that tutors high school students in how to write essays for college applications and other important purposes. Sutton may be reached via her company website.


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Back Back Back is not where reviewer plans to go, at least not anytime soon

By Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO--My late husband, Gerry loved the game of baseball. Growing up in Boston, where the Boston Red Sox is a culture not a game, he would dust off his baseball statistics every spring, and on a dime’s notice, he could quote chapter and verse, everything about each player on the team from Lord knows when to that season. That would also include any player who might have been traded to another team.

We, in Boston, all waited with baited breath to see if our beloved and cherished Red Sox could pull a win out of the World Series hat. Unfortunately, year after year we were all reduced to repeating our same mantra, “Wait until next year”. You might remember the curse of the Bambino? We believed it. Sadly, Gerry died before The Sox won the World Series in 2004 that ended an 86-year old curse.

While I participated in the wink-wink of will we win or not, I now have a different take on baseball in particular and professional sports in general. The history, the numbers, the trading, the shenanigans that take place on and off the field and in the locker rooms that oft times makes its way to the front pages of the sports section, or in the case of the steroid scandal that rocked that industry several years ago, (to the front pages), my attitude is, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

Over the years partly because of lack of interest, or inclination or just plain closing one’s eyes to the situation, in cleaning up any of these sports, my thinking has taken a one hundred and eighty degree turn.  Professional athletes, in my humble opinion, are over rated, overpaid, over protected, over pimped and overly revered by the press and city officials who can’t seem to give them enough of what they already have an abundance of, money. Accountability is on the short list.

As I was sitting through the Old Globe’s Playwright-In- Residence Itamar Moses’ new play Back, Back, Back, which deals with the steroid ‘situation’, I couldn’t muster a bone in my body to rally around any of the three actors on stage who were supposed to be a representation of some of those players who were struggling with whatever athletes or baseball players struggle with, be they rookie jitters, overlooked statistics, end of career depression, placing blame for the effects (of) or appearing before a Senate investigation into the widespread use of steroids.

Nor did I find any of what they had to say, and they said a lot of it, that earth shattering.  I kept asking myself throughout the ninety-minute intermission-less play if there was a story here? Or, was I having fun yet? In the press release humor was mentioned a few times in relation to the play, as was taking responsibility for one’s actions.  I found neither. 

Moses, who scored a coup by being named Playwright –In –Residence (it’s an 18 month residency) at the Old Globe, has the opportunity and luxury of developing and writing new plays and having the Old Globe mount them. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him and this is his premiere piece.  In his play, The Four of Us, which won the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best New Play in 2007 at the Globe; he chose his own industry, playwriting, competition, friendship and trust as his theme.

He also wrote Yellowjackets, a play about his days as a student in high school in Berkeley around 1994. According to a review of the premiere of Yellowjackets at the Berkeley Rep. it’s smart, political, contentious, relentless and confusing. It did however get three stars from the reviewer Chad Jones. It was also noted that the main character, Avi who was Jewish was the playwright himself. Moses said, “There are elements of truth in the fiction.”

This world premiere deals with the steroid scandal in baseball.

Back Back Back, has three characters in it: Kent (Brendan Griffin), Raul (Joaquin Perez-Campbell and Adam (Nick Mills), none of whom looks like a major league player. They are definitely not on steroids! The action takes place in the weight room, locker room, and dugout at batting practice (Lee Savage). This is not an easy task given the fact that the Cassius Carter is no longer and the plays scheduled for that venue are being held in what’s being called The Globe’s Arena Stage at the San Diego Museum of Art’s James S. Copley Auditorium. This is my first time in this arena.

It’s a comfortable and adequate location right in Balboa Park in close proximity to the Old Globe, but I imagine that set designers must have to work around the basics like the permanent carpet on what is the stage. As part of the set design, a scoreboard is mounted on opposite walls of the theatre (Shawn Sagady designed the projections) depicting each (inning) year and/or passing season and/or strides forward (for lack of a better word) the three men made (or not) in their lives leading up to the Senate hearings. 

Director Davis McCallum might have chosen actors with a little more physical prowess not only to be credible but to be the studs these players were building themselves up to be, especially since at least two of them admitted to be taking injections and popping pills. They never do mention the ‘S’ word they dance around it. 

The name of Barry Bonds is bantered about but unmentioned are Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Roger (give me a break) Clemens, who, along with Jose Canseco’s tell-all book, made headlines for a while. Some say that the character of Raul is based on Canseco.   I never did figure out who the other two characters were.

In 2005 during the Senate hearings, 79% of those interviewed said they believed ‘steroids played some role in the record breaking performances by high-profile players.’ It makes Pete Rose’s betting against his own team in 1989 look like ‘bush league’.

Moses’ writing has that unfinished sentence quality about it as if we might have insight into what the actors are going to say to each even though they don’t say it. It’s like listening to a conversation in staccato and there is a lot of that going on in those ninety minutes. We might, forbid, hear them admitting to something they’ve done, so they talk in code. Most likely there is more truth than fiction surrounding this tactic.

The story line does move from the eighties to the present, and if you LOVE the game of baseball, can get into the lives of these three men and followed the baseball steroid scandal, this might be your lucky play. Frankly, one of my all time favorite baseball plays is Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting about baseball great Jackie Robinson and Dodger general manager Branch Rickey and an historic meeting that took place in 1949. 

Whether it be the actors, the play or the writing that had me stranded in left field, it’s hard to say, but a combination of all of the above might fit the bill.  Moses’ “Back, Back, Back” might have a life of its own somewhere in great baseball universe just not mine.

Back Back Back continues through Oct. 26th at the James S. Copley Auditorium.

See you at the theatre.



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All that Chazz dazzles at the Ruskin

By Cynthia Citron

SANTA MONICA—When Chazz Palminteri’s screenplay for Faithful, a brilliant psychological drama/comedy/twister, was made into a movie in 1996 it starred Cher, Ryan O’Neal, and Chazz himself, and was directed by one of the stars in the Jewish galaxy, Paul Mazursky, and produced by Robert DeNiro.  Not too shabby a lineup.  But that stellar production has nothing on the dazzling play version now being presented at Santa Monica’s extraordinary Ruskin Group Theatre.

Palminteri’s gripping script translates beautifully into a small, intense confrontation between a suicidal housewife, Margaret (played with no holds barred by Reamy Hall) and the hit man her husband has sent to kill her.  The hit man, Tony, is played sympathetically by the gorgeous John Collela, who really doesn’t want to kill her, but “has no choice” because he needs the money.

Under the tight direction of Mikey Myers, the Ruskin’s managing director, the conversation between the two principles veers from drama to comedy as they negotiate the murder while discussing the pros and cons of fidelity.   You’re faithful, Tony says, “when you’ve got more to lose than to gain.” 
Margaret, who has reached her suicidal state as a result of her husband’s continual infidelities throughout their 15-year marriage, comments, “You will do anything for someone you love---except love him again.”

The conversation between these two is so engrossing and the acting so perfect (and that’s not easy when you’re tied up in a chair, dressed in pajamas and no makeup), that you almost resent the intrusion of a third party, Jack, Margaret’s husband (played by an arrogant and nasty Jim Roof) who makes his entrance in the second act.  But he, in his slimy, posturing way, is as fine an actor as the other two, and he adds a fascinating new dimension to the action of the play.

The essence of his character is revealed in two brief comments: “There was greatness inside of me,” he says, “but I was the only one who knew it.”  And, in response to Margaret’s plaintive “Can’t a woman make a man happy?” he snarls, “Yeah, sure---one he can’t have.”

Tony, meanwhile, commandeers the scene by waving his gun around.  “The one with the gun makes the rules,” he says.

All this drama is carried out in a beautiful living room set designed by Siegfried Ackermann and Ryan Wilson, complete with original paintings by Scott Davis Jones, and enhanced by Kathi O’Donohue’s lighting design.

But the star is Chazz Palminteri’s marvelous script, which doesn’t flag for a moment.  And neither do the play’s awesome performers.  This one is definitely a must see!

Faithful will continue at the Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue, in Santa Monica, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 through November 16th.  Call (310) 397-3244 for tickets.

Sunday, September 28, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 233)

Obama, McCain debate Mid-East tactics
by Donald H. Harrison in San Diego

Rosh Hashanah Fair at Soille Hebrew Day orients pupils to tastes of High Holidays
by Donald H. Harrison in San Diego

Torah reading may be learned bit by bit by Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal in San Diego
A burial illustrating the power of prayer
by Rabbi Baruch Lederman in San Diego

A bissel sports trivia with Bruce Lowitt in Oldsmar, Florida

Hard to admire these catty, self-indulgent women, but Old Globe play is worthwhile by Carol Davis in San Diego

—February 10, 1950: Inside A.Z.A.by Leonard Naiman
—February 10, 1950: To San Diego Youth by Norman Holtzman
—February 10, 1950: Temple Beth Israel
—February 10, 1950: Congregation Beth Jacob
—February 10, 1950: Tifereth Israel Synaggogue
—February 10, 1950: Beth Jacob Ladies to Hold Purim Dinner

Jewish Family Service: Mental disorders are common in the Jewish community
Lawrence Family JCC: San Diego Jewish Music Festival Previews Israel Philharmonic Visit
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Yehoshua: Soille Hebrew Day Fourth Graders’ Superhero

Friday, September 26, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 232)

Former CIA Director James Woolsey urges major changes in U.S. energy use by Jim Lantry in San Diego

Sweet memories of the page of honey by Isaac Yetiv in La Jolla
So why does the Jewish new year come in the seventh,not the first, month? by Sara Appel-Lennon in San Diego
'We were naked,'
a poem by Sheila Orysiek in San Diego

Mille Feuille: Oh, how sweet it is! by Lynne Thrope in San Diego

—February 10, 1950: News of the Fox by John L. Kluchin
—February 10, 1950: Daughters of Israel
—February 10, 1950: JCRA by Anna B. Brooks
—February 10, 1950: San Diego Birdie Stodel B’nai B’rith No. 92
—February 10, 1950: Jr. Pioneer Women by Alma Yaruss

Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Rabbi Krohn’s Special Visit to Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Republican Jewish Coalition highlights quotes from Democrats in pro-McCain ads by
Suzanne Kurtz in Washington, D.C.

Jews, Druse honor trailblazing soldier's memory near the border of Gaza by Ulla Hadar in Kibbutz Nir Am, Israel

Nice record: 48 of 48 SDJA seniors accepted to four -year-colleges by Donald H. Harrison in San Diego


Thursdays with the songs of Hal Wingard:
—#53, The San Diego Air Disaster
—#13, Yesterday
—#66, Time

How Jewish were the Beatles? by David Benkof in New York

—February 10, 1950: Evening Group Hadassah
—February 10, 1950: Pioneer Women (Negba Club)
—February 10, 1950: Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood
—February 10, 1950: San Diego Hebrew Home for the Aged
—February 10, 1950: Yo-Ma Co Club

San Diego Jewish Academy: L'Shanah Tovah from San Diego Jewish Academy
San Diego Jewish World: San Diego Jewish World tells its High Holy Day publishing schedule
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Soille Hebrew Day Kindergarteners Take The Taste Test

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 230)


'Israel's security is sacrosanct,' Obama tells 900 rabbis in conference call
by Eric Lynn and Dan Shapiro in Chicago   
Reversing the high dropout rate from schools priority for Ethiopian-Israelis by Donald H. Harrison in San Diego


The Jews Down Under, a roundup of Jewish news of Australia and New Zealand by Garry Fabian in Melbourne, Australia:

—Security spending for Jewish institutions in Australia varies from state to state
—Sydney Liberal leader has ties to Jewish community
—Jewish candidates make impact in local elections
—Toltz short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize
—Lobby group offers apology
—Australia Arava partnership begins to bloom
—Wheels in motion for Junior Maccabi Carnival
—Vandals Target Maccabi Tennis Centre
—New Zealand shul reopens with fanfare
—Moriah College Student wins junior journalism award


Mourned love found again in a book by Gail Feinstein Forman in San Diego


—February 10, 1950: Seattle Conference Elects Levenson
—February 10, 1950: Letters to the Editor from Mrs. Harold Garvin and A. Fisher
—February 10, 1950: Who’s New


Agency for Jewish Education: L'shanah tovah tikoteva
San Diego Jewish World: San Diego Jewish World begins weekly email service
San Diego Rabbinical Association: San Diego Rabbinical Association announces Kever Avot/ Imahot Services
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Oranges and maps at Solle San Diego Hebrew Day School

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 229)

Sarah and George compared, contrasted by J. Zel Lurie in Delray Beach, Florida
What Israelis learn from U.S. elections by Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem

Ahmadinejad protest planned in NYC on Thursday by a coalition of Jewish groups by Shoshana Bryen in Washington, D.C.

A standing O for the 'girls' in the office by Cynthia Citron in Los Angeles
Song 'Meeskite' is opposite of its name by Cantor Sheldon Merel in San Diego, with accompanying music.

—February 10, 1950: Dr. T.R. Jackman To Speak
—February 10, 1950: Fund To Borrow $75,000 for Critical UJA Position
—February 10, 1950: Mrs. Steinman Elected To Nat’l Board of U.S.N.A.
—February 10, 1950: Overseas News and Views by Maxwell Kaufman


Agency for Jewish Education: AJE to offer immersion classes in Hebrew beginning next month
Lawrence Family JCC: 2008 San Diego Jewish Book Fair to feature celebrity authors Henry Winkler, Jonathan Safran Foer, Martin Fletcher, Evan Handler and 40 other writers
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Soille Hebrew Day second graders learn about the mitzvah of tzedakah

Monday, September 22, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 228)

Down Syndrome: Advice for Sarah Palin by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith in Jerusalem
Obama strongly supports Israel by Howard Wayne in San Diego

Ariel University Center's U.S. fundraising chief had had colorful career path by Donald H. Harrison in San Diego
Impressions of an Ethiopian American tourist on his first trip to Israel by Kassahun Teffera in Rockville, Maryland

Why and how I observe the Shabbat by Sheila Orysiek in San Diego

—January 27, 1950: Temple Beth Israel
—January 27, 1950: Tifereth Israel Synagogue
—January 27, 1950: Beth Jacob

Link to previous editions


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