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Volume 2, Number 30
Volume 2, Number 130
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Friday-Saturday, May 30-31, 2008

Yael Bugin in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Israel: Kfar Aza resident to Hamas: We are here!

Cynthia Citron in Los Angeles: Ford, Lebouef and Spielberg team up for another hilarious Indiana Jones adventure

Carol Davis in San Diego: Zeji Ozeri starts San Diego Jewish Art Festival off with a zesty Israel tribute

Ulla Hadar in Ibim, Israel: Students have village of own in Ibim

Donald H. Harrison in San Diego: WIZO dinner, JAFI director provide perspectives on North American Jewry

Sheila Orysiek in San Diego: Chapter Ten in the serialization of her novel, Reluctant Martyr

Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem: Olmert probe may trigger government crisis

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History: What was the Jewish community news in 1946? Who were the newsmakers? Our archives answer these questions in daily installments

Upcoming Events: Want to know about exciting upcoming events? San Diego Jewish World now stacks event advertisements in chronological order, below: June 3, 5, 6, 7, 8

The Week in Review
This week's stories from San Diego Jewish World





Tuesday, June 3 Guardians Golf & Tennis Tournament

Thursday, June 5 Tifereth Israel's 'Girls Night Out'

Friday-Saturday, June 6-7 JFS~Judaism on the Wild Side

Sunday, June 8 Temple Solel~Tikkun Leil Shavuot


Olmert probe may trigger government crisis

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM—We are in a period of political chaos. It may end quickly, or drag on for months.

An American fund raiser has testified that he provided to Ehud Olmert numerous envelopes over the course of 15 years. Olmert preferred cash. He also enjoys Cuban cigars, gifts of expensive fountain pens and watches, first class air travel, and expensive hotel suites. The prime minister and his shrinking group of supporters are saying that all was legal in the framework of campaign contributions, and expenses for overseas travel. His claims of taking nothing for personal use seem weaker by the day. Even if Olmert has not broken any laws, there is a stench of hedonism.

Observers say that the fund raiser has contradicted himself, and is not telling the whole truth. He may sense traps that will have him charged with bribery, money laundering, or tax evasion. Prosecutors of Israel and perhaps the United States are paying attention to what he is saying.

Commentators who claim access to the police or prosecutor say that stronger witnesses have been heard, and will tell their story in court if it gets that far.

Olmert remains in power. He has the authority to fire any ministers who ratchet up their accusations. Defense minister Ehud Barak insists that Olmert resign or suspend himself. Barak has not explicitly threatened to pull the Labor Party out of the government coalition. Cynics say that Barak is concerned that a national election will not give his party enough seats to provide him with anything better—or as good—as the position he currently holds. Foreign minister Tsipi Livni has spoken amorphously about morality. Other ministers who are members of Olmert's own party have said that they would compete with Livni for party leadership if Olmert leaves office, but they have not yet attacked the prime minister in public.

Palestinians, Syrians, Americans, and others worry that international negotiations may have to wait on the internal crisis. If there are open windows of opportunity, they may close before anything tangible occurs. Some say that the windows are not really open. They are pleased that Olmert does not have the political backing to make far reaching concessions to Palestinians or Syrians who are bluffing about their willingness to live at peace alongside the Jews.

It could all end by the time this message reaches your computer. The law provides opportunities for a suspension of an elected official while the legal process goes forward. Political allies who remain close to the prime minister may tell him that it is all over, and to make the best deal he can in exchange for a resignation. The prosecutor may not feel confident enough about the evidence to indict. If that comes, it would require the prime minister to resign. Currently Olmert is speaking about his certainty of being proved innocent. Much of the public is tired of numerous investigations, some ongoing, and others ended on account of evidence that is not sufficient for a conviction. What we are hearing now may be sufficient.

For those who have no tolerance for uncertainty, pay attention to another country.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

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KFAR AZA AND THE GAZA STRIP—Photograph shot by paraglider Jimmy Kaddoshim, who
later was killed by mortar fire while sitting in his garden, shows Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the
foreground and Hamas-controlled Gaza in the background


Kfar Aza resident to Hamas: We are here!

By Yael Bugin

Editor's Note: The following letter, which appeared in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv, was written by an Israeli citizen living in the area of the Negev surrounding Gaza. Her open letter was written to Mahmud A-Zaar, a minister in the Palestinian Hamas government. Ulla Hadar, Sha'ar Hanegev bureau chief of San Diego Jewish World, obtained reprint permission from the writer, Yael Bugin

KFAR AZA, Israel—A personal (and bit different) response to Mahmud A-Zaar:

Hello to you Doctor A-zaar. I hope you don’t mind if I call you Mahmud… we haven’t met in person, but we are neighbors, you and I, you in Gaza and me in Kfar Aza - yes that kibbutz.

I heard your last speech, where you "congratulated" us on our 60th independence day, a little late though, and I thought someone should answer your idiotic boastful words. I don’t know if you will read or even want to know, probably not - because to my understanding the Hamas leadership usually doesn't like letting facts spoil what you want to hear…

Still - yes, over at our side a member of the kibbutz was killed from a series of mortar bombings that your friends launched. Indeed, a death of a friend within the hours of peace before Sabbath, that was hard, even very hard. I admit we are aching, I admit we cried and probably will continue to cry, I admit that parents of small children worry for their children's lives. Some of these emotions have been shown on the Israeli media, on various channels. But that is just the way we are, and it is good that we are like that. That is how people look like - aching, cowering, talking… but don’t worry about us Mahmud. We are still standing and will continue to stand on.

We have been here on the border for years, with the friends from Sderot, Nir Am and more. Some of us dreamed and believed that there was someone to talk to on the other side, that peace might be close.
I guess we were wrong. I guess the Palestinians have still failed to elect a leader from among themselves who would really look out for his people, someone who could look for another path so we would not have to return to the path of death and pain.

If you look at the recent decades, you can see a sequence of identical thinking and a clear way of action with every single man who has defined himself as a Palestinian leader. He will systematically go against the interests of his people, against all human logic— like a four year old child acting with annoying stubbornness. That’s the way it was in 1929, with the mufti; that’s the way it was during the Arabic rebellion in the 1930's, with the same mufti, that’s the way it was on Nov. 29, 1947 when the U.N General Assembly served a country on a platter to the Palestinian people, despite the actions of its leaders… always a stupidly stubborn "No"!

The fireworks that lit up the skies of Israel a week ago reminded that a Jewish country, based on the same decision of the General Assembly, has been standing here for 60 years. However on the Palestinian side the leadership - probably you the Hamas - stand by your decision: to bring more death, more pain, more suffering, not to allow children to be happy, to teach them to hate, to send them to die, to kill themselves…

I know you're waiting for us to crack first, that you are convinced that you see fractures in the human wall. Don't count on that. We are an old and stubborn nation. If you could see the sparks of nationality in the Palestinian people for the first time 90 years ago, when they talked about an identity connected to Syria; for us 90 years is a small column in our existence. We were here with the Philistines - which you resemble in your name. They are long gone, vanished centuries ago, but we haven’t nor are we likely to.

I don’t know if you are interested in archeology, but you must have heard about the mosaic floor of the ancient synagogue in Gaza. On the floor there, there is a picture of King David (the brave redhead) playing the harp to calm wild carnivores. It has been there since the sixth century. And to ensure that all that lay eyes on the beautiful mosaic would know who the person in it is, there on the side it is written in clear Hebrew letters "David." Yes, in the same square letters in which my letter is now written. By the way, this is our new Hebrew writing. And we can still read and understand the old one too. But back to the point - that is just a small reminder that we were here many years before the prophet Muhammad went on the Hijra.

We were here and we came back; we don’t have another home. For centuries in exile we remembered this land and this home and we came back to it.

That will be all for now - we are here and don’t plan on leaving; we will keep and stay strong; we will retain our humanity. We will mourn the dead; we will hug the wonderful widows and children tight. We shall cry but remember to smile, to laugh. We will let different voices talk, speak their minds and describe the fear and weakness. All of that with the clear declaration – We are here!

TWO VIEWS—Garden paths and 100 apartments housing four students each typify Ibim


Students have village of own in Ibim

By Ulla Hadar                         

IBIM, Israel— This student village situated in the Sha'ar Hanegev municipality next door to the city of Sderot, has since 1992 been operated by the immigration and absorption department of the  Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).

The village represented Israel's first attempt to absorb young immigrant students and try to integrate them with a local community and a college.

cbiAs many as 400 students may be accommodated in 100 apartments.  The village also includes a professional staff consisting of a director, social worker, counselor, a cultural director, a house mother and the maintenance staff.

The students are provided with low-cost accommodations and their day-to-day needs are provided by a dining room, a clubhouse, computer room, a synagogue, a grocery store, a launderette and sports facilities including an exercise room.

They also may take advantage of field trips, movies and sport activities. The town of Sderot serves as their urban center, with students going there to shop, bank or just spend leisure time.   The more familiar immigrants become with the rhythms of Israeli life, the easier is their process of absorption into Israeli life.

The village offers a variety of programs:

►Beginners level Hebrew Ulpan - A five month intensive initial Hebrew studies program for young adults 17-35 years during their first year in Israel. Couples without children are also eligible.

►SELAH (a Hebrew acronym for  Students immigrating before their parents)  was created as a part of JAFI's policy to promote aliyah from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) in 1996. It is designed for 16-year-olds who already have completed their secondary education in the FSU.  Most of the young people in this program are minors. The goal of this program is to enable the students to reach a level of Hebrew sufficient for them to continue studying at colleges and universities.  This program lasts 10 months, whereafter most of the students enlist in the Israel Defense Force. At the end of their service the majority of the students return to their studies.

►NET IBIM is similar to SELAH and is primarily for young South  American immigrants (Brazil,  Chile, Uruguay, Argentina …) The program has a 6-month Hebrew ulpan and preparation for further study or for enlisting in the army. Multi media studies at the Sapir College in Sderot were added to this program in 2006.

►KEDMA Aleph is a 12-month program for single Ethiopian immigrants between the ages of 17-27. The students learn Hebrew, computer skills, mathematics and  English.  The program also includes Jewish studies and preparation for conversion to Judaism.
In the KEDMA Beit or OFEK program, 31 seniors from the village have already graduated. This program gives students a chance to study towards graduation and then to continue higher academic studies during or after the army service.
Ibim also offers dorms for students who need a place to live while studying at the Sapir College. They are allowed to stay the whole term of their studies as long as they live up to the educational demands of the college.
Some older Israeli students have living quarters in the village. These students have finished their army service and are volunteering four hours per week tutoring other students in Hebrew, English, mathematics, and computers, or helping in cultural programming.
In 1998, the United Jewish Federation of San Diego adopted the Ibim Student Village and has been contributing $750,000 annually for the welfare and daily Iives of the residents in the village.

Considerable care has gone into landscaping and other beautification projects of the village, contributing to the feeling of belonging imparted to the residents. In a beautiful corner of one of the gardens, a memorial has been created for Marla Bennett of San Diego (may her soul rest in peace).  She was killed in a July 2002 terror attack at the Hebrew University of Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.

"On cultural or memorial days or other social events our students participate with the whole Sha'ar Hanegev community," the village’s director Soni Zinger commented. Also, "the students always participate when the different delegations from San Diego arrive to visit the village"

Whereas some of the senior students work in factories in Sderot or in different restaurants in the region, "most of our students are absorbed in their studies and have no time for work,” Zinger said. “Their main goal for now is to study.

During longer holiday periods, “we try to provide them with temporary work like jobs at hotels in Eilat and the Dead Sea, and also temporary work can be found in our area…  Language is a hurdle for the students and this a reason why working in the (nearby) kibbutzim seems to be less available."

Because many of the students in Ibim are the same age that Israelis serve in the IDF, there are not many opportunities for social interaction with the surrounding kibbutzim, Zinger said.

 "The soldiers are only arriving home in the weekends on short visits,” she said.

However,  Israeli students who study at the Sapir College and live in the Ibim Village have regular communication with the new immigrants.  “We tend to invite different youth organizations and National Service Youth Groups to social parties like Purim and Chanukah to celebrate together with our inhabitants," she said.

Until now, there has not been a specific program to help the students settle in the Sha'ar Hanegev area after they finish studying.  Many students have returned to the area after finishing their army service to pursue their studies at Sapir College or the Ben Gurion University

“There are plans to start a program that will help the students to settle in the area,” Zinger said.

In spite of the tense security situation with regular Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza, not one student has left the Ibim Student Village. Job availability rather than security seems to be the biggest deterrent to permanent settlement by the students in this region.

A committee from the municipality of Sha’ar Hanegev is formulating  a plan for the young people to make it  more attractive for them to stay in the region, Zinger said. "Ibim Village (and Sha'ar Hanegev) is the first home these young people have in Israel and they feel very connected to here even as they continue along their path,” she said.

Harrison, editor and publisher of San Diego Jewish World, may be reached at


Zeji Ozeri starts San Diego Jewish Art Festival off with a zesty Israel tribute

By Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO—It’s hard to imagine that Israel is turning sixty this year. I remember being a camper at Camp Young Judea in New Hampshire that first summer of the formation of the State.

Later on in my life, I joined the Young Zionist Movement at Boston University while a student there. I made my second home at The Zionist House somewhere around the Beacon Hill area (I forget the address now). Life was exciting and adventurous then. I was even ready to sign up to fight in whatever war was happening when I was in my late teens.

My life’s ambition was to go to Israel to work, live, fight, learn. Then, as they say, “life got in the way” of those lofty ambitions and as fate would have it I met my husband and the rest is history, until about twenty-one years ago when my oldest daughter met and married an Israeli. It was my and my husbands’ first trip to Israel, not the last by any means, and I fell in love with this ancient country steeped in history and tradition and begging to be appreciated and accepted by the world community.

That’s why I found last Tuesday's opening night celebration of the 15th Annual Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, “Israel at Sixty” starring Zeji Ozeri and his band so haimish and encompassing.

Normally I don’t drool over a ‘rock’ band (even though my grandson is in one). I’m too old to have all those electrical currents that are plugged into the instruments rattling in my brain. This was different! It was Israeli music and I knew most of the tunes.

Ozeri (pictured at right) “is one of San Diego’s most important and well- loved Jewish educators having more than twenty years of experience teaching music and sharing his knowledge about Jewish tradition with children and young adults" in Jewish communities in California, Mexico and Israel, according to the proram notes.

That’s a mouthful, but after spending two and half hours one night with him at the Lyceum Space, I am a believer.

The program was co sponsored by A Culture of Peace, among others, of which Ozeri is a co-founder. The band is made up of Ozeri, Seth Blumberg on guitar, Armando Cepeda on bass, Craig Parks on Guitar, Daniel Feldman on percussion and Mottie Brugel, vocals. From the first Eretz Zavat Chalav v'Devash (Land of Milk and Honey) to the closing song that Zeji wrote “Light Against the Nations” (which I purchased, I liked it so much) to spread the word of peace through music, I was thoroughly engrossed, even participating in the singalongs.  It was truly a musical celebration of 60 year of Israel’s existence.

With the use of slides, group participation and the wonderful music and conversation between musicians and audience, I can assure you that a good time was had by all. In fact in his opening remarks Ozeri promised, “Give us an hour and we’ll water your roots." He certainly did that and more.  His promise was to take us on a history trip through music, even though he made a few stops along the way; it was enlightening to learn about this amazing young man whose first language is Spanish. Having been born in Mexico of a Mexican mother and Israeli father, he chooses to sing in Hebrew, his father’s native tongue, as a tribute to his Father. Don’t think that didn’t choke me up. He refers to himself as the Spanish Yemenite Israeli.

On the way in to the theatre, I smelled some delicious aromas floating up to the upper lobby. Sure enough, they were making and selling falafel. I commented to a friend that a Jewish function wouldn’t be a Jewish function without the smell of food being prepared. How well we know each other. Inside the theatre is a photo exhibit of Israeli Art you might want to catch as well.

If the rest of the Festival is this much fun, count me in.

See you at the theatre.

Davis is a San Diego-based theatre critic


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Ford, Lebouef and Spielberg team up for another hilarious Indiana Jones adventure

By Cynthia Citron

LOS ANGELES— Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is totally hilarious fun!  Its plot has holes as wide as the chasms that Indie and his friends continually fall into.  And it leads you down cobweb-strewn passageways that only lead to other cobweb-strewn passageways.  You never know where you are or how you got there.  But nevertheless, it sucks you in as surely as the quicksand that nearly swallows our hero.

Steven Spielberg, that master purveyor of fantasy, has outdone himself this time—not with fantasy, but with improbable adventure.  People swinging through trees to drop precisely into the vacant seat of a speeding vehicle.  A platoon of evil Russian soldiers shooting at Indie everywhere he goes, and never hitting him once.  A map filled with hieroglyphs from a long-dead language whose riddle Indie solves in about 10 seconds.

Indie, of course, is the incomparable Harrison Ford, now a little long in the tooth, but still with that irrepressible twinkle in his eye.  And, as  he acknowledges as this spectacularly physical adventure begins, “This is not as easy as it used to be.”

In this one, Indie has the help of a greaser side-kick (it’s 1957, after all) played by Shia LaBoeuf.  He enters the scene on his motorcycle to deliver a message from his step-father, Indie’s archaeological mentor, Professor Ox Oxley, played by an insanely babbling John Hurt.  Oxley has gone mad, apparently, by staring into the eye sockets of the crystal skull.  But Indie is hot on his trail, following him to Peru and the figures incised in the desert at Nazca, which turn out to have nothing at all to do with the plot.  There are many other red herrings as well: all the caves and subterranean passageways are filled with skeletons, except when they aren’t skeletons, but suddenly returned-to-life Mayans or Incas.

And then there are the Russian soldiers.  Why Russian, you ask?  Well, as I said, it’s 1957.  Who else is available to menace Indiana Jones?  They are led by an evil Russian psychic named Irina Spalko, played by a white-faced Cate Blanchett.  She keeps getting sidetracked and lost, only to turn up in the next scene ahead of Indie and his search party.  Oh, did I mention what they’re all searching for?  Nothing less than the legendary city of gold, El Dorado.  Although Shia LaBoeuf, named Mutt, is initially looking for his mother, who disappeared while looking for Professor Oxley.  His mother, when found, turns out to be Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), Indie’s love interest from previous adventures.

As much as I’ve revealed about this film, I have not been a spoiler here.  There are a million different subplots going on, and while some of them might scare a six-year-old, anyone older than that will just wind up giggling.  The authors of the screenplay, George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson, and Philip Kaufman, have run wild with the action and the characters, and Yanush Kaminski has provided some stunning cinematography.  Kaminski, who has worked on most of Steven Spielberg’s best films (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, and others) will probably be able to add this picture to his long list of award-winning productions.

And you can be sure it isn’t over yet.  The Indiana Jones franchise is alive and well, although in the next outing Harrison Ford will undoubtedly take the role of elder statesman---the new Sean Connery figure, to mentor Shia LaBoeuf’s revitalized Henry “Indiana” Jones the Third.

And in case you're wondering why this review is running in San Diego Jewish World, it's because Steven Spielberg, Shia LaBoeuf, and Harrison Ford are all Jewish.  Well, actually, Shia and Harrison are each half-Jewish, but as Adam Sandler would say, "Together, they make one hellofa Jew!"  And who can quarrel with that?

Editor's Note: This is the tenth chapter in our serialization of Reluctant Martyr, a historical novel by our columnist Sheila Orysiek. It is based on the experiences of her aunt. In each Friday-Saturday edition of San Diego Jewish World, we will run another installment of the 21-chapter book until its conclusion. We thank Sheila for granting us first publication rights to her book. Comments to the author are welcome at

Chapters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Reluctant Martyr—Chapter Ten

The news from Europe grew much worse.  Madness seemed to have overtaken mankind and the world was rushing ahead at full speed toward an abyss.  New immigrants arrived in America as they fled for their lives; more people looked for less available work.  A cousin wrote frantically to Uncle Joseph from Czechoslovakia as he tried to save his son, Irek.  This cousin and his wife were elderly and not yet fully convinced that all was lost but they wanted to send their seventeen year old son.  Joseph as usual responded to the emergency.

After he had communicated with the local immigration authorities to no avail, Joseph took a train to New York.  Three days were spent waiting in one office after another, hour after hour, and then he was told his efforts were in vain.  The quota for immigration from Czechoslovakia was filled and the waiting list was long.  Despondent, Joseph came home to Philadelphia, but it would not leave his mind.  He fell asleep thinking of this situation; surely there must be a solution.  And, shortly thereafter he found it.  He rushed back to New York and explained to the immigration authorities that though this boy was a resident of Czechoslovakia, he had been born in Russia and was still a Russian citizen.  The quota for Russian immigrants had not been filled.  Irek’s father was a medical doctor and his mother a chemist and there was no problem paying for the passage tickets and so Irek was soon on his way.

Aunt Nora was not to be moved in her refusal to take in another of her husband’s immigrant relatives and she felt a seventeen year old boy would be especially tiresome.  “Let him stay with Sharona,” she told her husband. “I already have a son to raise.  I’m too busy right now.  Every day I am busy.  And I don’t want a stranger living in my house.”

“It’s already crowded at Sharona’s and besides he’s not a stranger!  He’s my cousin’s son,” Uncle Joseph replied.

“Well, he’s related even more to her than to us!”

“Nora, that doesn’t make sense.”

“I don’t care!  I don’t want him!  Right now I’m going to take a nap, you’re making me tired.”  And she stamped off.

As crowded as Hannah’s house was, it never occurred to her to refuse and Irek was welcomed.  He slept on the sofa at night and roamed the streets during the day looking for work.  He was a serious boy and longed for his parents; their safety was uppermost in his mind.  Even more than the rest of the family, he had a wonderful facility for language and soon easily mastered English.  He was a sensitive individual and quickly realized the austere circumstances in Hannah’s household.  The portions of food on the plates were smaller than ever.

After Joseph’s efforts to get Irek safely in America he resolved to deal with the other problem; the financial crisis in the house on State Street.  The incident at the Seder supper involving the cost of Etah’s glasses was the first hint Joseph had that Jahn’s business had suffered so severely.  Early one evening in July, on a typical steamy summer day in Philadelphia, he rode the trolley to Yarosh’s house.  No one in the family had ever been there before.  Yarosh even as a child had always maintained a physical and emotional distance from the family.  It was almost a quiet scorn.  His parents had noted early his reluctance to share or to consider himself a part of the family.  While he had worked hard to acquire his financial security, he never considered that others, too, worked hard but were not so fortunate.  Whatever initial feelings of generosity Yarosh might have, he would quickly stifle until they died.

The house was on a quiet street of row homes, with big front porches and plots of grass.  Yarosh and Sofia had lived there about a year and were not renters; they owned this house.  He was surprised to see his uncle but welcomed him in; they had just finished supper.  There were three bedrooms upstairs, a large parlor, dining room and kitchen, about three times the size of the Hannah's house on State Street.  It was even bigger than Uncle Joseph’s own house.  Inside it was tastefully furnished, carpets on the floor, draperies about the windows and a plethora of bric-a-brac.  There was a feeling of comfort everywhere. Yarosh led his uncle into the kitchen and they sat over a glass of tea at the kitchen table.  Sofia smiled, said hello, poured the tea and left to go upstairs.

“This is a very nice place you have,” Joseph began.

“Thank you, Uncle.”

“Sofia looks well, how is she feeling?”

“She feels well.”

“And business?”

“Well, also.”  Yarosh’s surprise was changing to a feeling of foreboding.

“I thought I’d come here and have a talk with you. “  Joseph paused, “My, it’s hot.”  He took out a white handkerchief and mopped his brow while Yarosh remained silent.  Then Joseph continued, “I have been thinking about Jahn.  You know your sister’s husband has not been doing well.  His business has suffered terribly.  The shopkeepers can no longer afford a bookkeeper.  Things are not at all well in that house.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”  Yarosh’s feeling of foreboding deepened.

“You mentioned Sofia, and with the baby coming very soon, you’d be needing someone to work at your newsstand.  I was hoping....”

“I already have someone, Uncle.”

“Jahn’s a hard working man, and honest.  You know you could trust him.”

“I pay this man I have very little and he’s happy anyway.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to hire a relative.”

But Joseph persisted, “All these years Jahn has supported so many people....”

“I have a family to support too,” Yarosh said, “The baby is due very soon.”

Joseph gestured at the furnishings, “I don’t think you would suffer too much to help a little.”  He took out his handkerchief and mopped his brow again.  “After all, Yarosh, Jahn is supporting your own mother and your two sisters, and now Irek.”

‘I know, I know,” Yarosh grimaced.  “I’m familiar with the story.  Maybe things are not really that bad.”

Joseph’s voice rose in anger, “Would I ask you if I wasn’t sure?  I checked.  I know a lot of people.  Your mother and sisters are going to bed hungry!”  Then, Joseph spread his hands on the table in a conciliatory gesture.  “I didn’t come here to argue, just to ask you for your help.  Maybe you could split your worker’s hours and give some to Jahn.”

“I don’t know, Uncle, but I....I’ll think about it.”

Joseph could see there was nothing further to be gained and so wiping his face once more, he got up.  “Say good-bye to Sofia for me,” and he left.

Yarosh’s response to this plea was to invite Hannah, Sharona, Etah and Jahn over for supper.  It was the first time they had ever eaten at his house.  He did nothing else.


It has often been noted that in times of crisis people seem to have a need, a greater need than usual, for diversion.  During the Great Depression the movie industry reached even greater heights, producing one glorious extravaganza after another.  People with little money spent what they had and filled the theaters.  For a few cents they could enter a world of make believe and pretend they were part of it.  Then, coming out of the movie house late at night, the streets of their own neighborhood didn’t look quite so dreary in the dark.

Through the newsreels, in the movie house on Girard Avenue and in the newspapers, Irek was reminded of his parents’ dangerous situation in Czechoslovakia.  As young as he was, he was determined to do something.  He felt that time was running out and so after filling out the necessary papers he decided to accelerate the process and take them directly to immigration authorities in New York.  He calculated the cost of his trip carefully.  He could walk the ten blocks from State Street to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 30th Street, take the train to New York and then he would walk whatever distance it might be to the immigration office.  But, he needed $6.00 for the train fare, some food, and he didn’t have the money.

On a hot day in August he walked twelve city blocks to his cousin Yarosh’s newsstand at 52nd Street.  “Cousin Yarosh!” Irek called as he approached the newsstand.  “Are you well?  How’s Sofia?”

Yarosh was startled to see Irek and slightly put out.  “We are well, thank you.” he replied.

“I walked over to see is so hot today.  It is good you are under the elevated train, keeps you in the shade!”  Yarosh nodded in agreement.  Irek continued on not feeling very encouraged.  “I came to see you, Yarosh, I need some help.”

“What kind of help?”  Yarosh was in the midst of eating a sandwich for his lunch.  He didn’t like interruptions, especially uninvited family members.

“My parents you know are still in Czechoslovakia...”

“I know.”

“....their lives are more and more in danger....every day.  Anyway, I need to get them out of there and the immigration authorities keep losing the papers.  Well, I think it would be best for me to go to the New York immigration office before it is too late.  I have to do something.”  Yarosh kept eating his lunch, never looking at Irek as he spoke.  “I have no money and I’m living off of Hannah and Jahn and I can’t ask them.  Yarosh, I need $6.00.  Can you loan it to me?”

“$6.00?  Are you sure?”  Yarosh finally looked up.

“It’s for the train fare and some food. I’ll walk everywhere else I need to go.  I’ll pay you back.  I’ll work for you if you want me to.”

“I mean are you sure you need the money?”

“Yarosh, the lives of my mother and father are at stake. They are also your aunt and uncle.”

“I know, I know.  But how can you not have $6.00?  Maybe if you spent your money more wisely...or worked...”

“When I make a couple of dollars I have to spend it for trolley fare and sometimes I buy some food for the house because Jahn’s business is not doing well, you know.”

“I just think there must be some way you could get $6.00,” Yarosh insisted.

“I’m begging you, Yarosh, just a loan.”

People walked up to the stand and dropped money in the coin box for a newspaper.  The elevated train rattled deafeningly by overhead, trolleys came and went on the busy street.  The answer was “no.”  Yarosh did not really believe Irek truly need the money.  Irek walked the twelve locks back to Hannah’s house.  At supper that night, which was the usual meager affair, Irek told them of his wrenching experience.

“I went to see cousin Yarosh today,” he began as everyone looked up in surprise.  “I was hoping...well, I need to go to New York for my parents’ papers.”

“Why did you go to Yarosh?” Hannah asked.

“I was hoping he could help me.  The train fare and a bit of food, I think for $6.00, I could do it.”

“So?” Sharona wanted to know.

“I asked him for $6.00.”

“And what did he say?  What did my son say?”

“He doesn’t believe I need the money.  He just can’t imagine someone needs $6.00.  I explained all about my parents and the immigration papers and how I thought I could hurry things up a bit if I went to New York.  I begged him, Aunt Sharona, I begged him.”

“And what did he say?”

“No.  He just said no.  I waited for him to change his mind but he didn’t, so I walked home.”  The family was shocked but not surprised.

Jahn reached into his pocket and gave Irek $3.00.  Etah had fifty cents.  Sharona gave him all she had, but when it was all totaled up Irek was still fifteen cents short.  Sharona took her purse and dumped all of its contents out on the table.  An accumulation of items fell out, hair pins, scraps of paper, old receipts and eight cents.  Etah and Hannah did the same and they ended up with $6.01.  Irek, with tears in his eyes, took the money and left immediately.  But, the bureaucracy was too slow, the waiting lists too long and the fate of his parents was sealed.  Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia, crammed his parents into a cattle car, and gassed them.  Irek then did the only thing he could think of; when he turned eighteen he enlisted in the United States Army.  He never forgot nor forgave Yarosh, repeating this story to all who would listen and for the rest of his life not a day went by when he didn’t remember and mourn the death of his parents.

(c) 2008 Sheila Orysiek, who may be contacted at


Robinson-Rose House

Old Temple Beth Israel

Lawrence Family JCC

Editor's Note: We are reprinting news articles that appeared in back issues of various San Diego Jewish newspapers. You may access an index of the headlines of those articles by clicking here. You may also use the Google search program on our home page or on the headline index page to search for keywords or names.

Here's What I Think
From Southwestern Jewish Press, November 7, 1946, page 5

By Ray Solomon

For many months, and especially in the past few weeks, there has been a deep rumbling from the depths of the community for unified action...evidenced by the questions asked us constantly. 'Why don't we organize a Community Council?" "What is being done about a Community Center?" and "How about a general education program for the community at large?" The frequency of these queries prompts me to comment.

First to say—that San Diego has in the past few years had the staggering task of absorbing an influx of newcomers many times its former numer without being permitted the indulgences usually allowed adolescence in its emergence from the state of "childhood" to "manhood."

People from cities which had long passed the "trial and error" stage in communal growth, who expected to find a city patterned along the lines of their "home towns" found it difficult to adjust themselves.

To my mind, this adjustment period is passing and we can detect a change of attitude. I predict an era of unparalleled coordination ahead.

The other day one of our subscribers called the office—and asked if she might have five extra copies of the last issue of the Press. martha said, surely. Can I send you any particular clipping. (We save our paper that way, using one paper for several clippings). And the caller said, "if possible, I'd rather have the entire paper."

"You see, I came to San Diego severl months ago. I was told about your paper, and I subscribed to it immediately. I was very pleased with it, especially since the city I had come from, st. Louis, with a larger Jewish population than san Diego, did not have an anglo-Jewish publication. I sent my copy of the paper to friends in ST. Louis, and have sent them several issues since. This week, I would like more copie to send home. I've been trying to sell the idea of a paper to them."

Um—could that be opportunity!! knocking... "See You in St. Louis-Louie."

Giving Praise Where Praise Is Due
From Southwestern Jewish Press, November 7, 1946, page 5

By A.E. Rosenbloom
{A letter from El Paso dated October 23, 1946, to Rose Neuman of San Diego}

Dear Mrs. Neuman:

I have just returned from a visit to my father in law, Nathan Silver, who has been a resident of the Hebrew Home for the Aged at San Diego for the past two years.

I want to take this opportunity to express to you, and through you to the officers and personnel at the Home, the deep appreciation of myself and my wife for the splendid care and attention given to Mr. Silver, and all the others at the home. I have had occasion to eat several meals at the home and I must say the food is excellent. I have also had occasion to visit other institutions of this character all over the United States. In no one of these institutions have I found such excellent food and good personal attention given the residents as in the Home in San Dieg. The place is clean and orderly, and the residents are treated with such consideration that it makes them feel completely at home. Personally, I know of no better place for any aged person who finds himself more or less alone or wherte death has broken his home.

Mrs. Rosenbloom and I are more than pleased with the conditions prevailing as regards her father, and we shall heartily recommend your institution to any one in need of such a home.

I think it's grand the way the Jewish people in San Diego stand behind this home, and endeavor to make it just the kind of a place any one should be proud to have their parents live in.

Mrs. Rosenbloom joins me in every good wish for you and for the Home.

{Editor's Note:} The letter printed here speaks most eloquently of the excellent management of the San Diego Hebrew Home for the Aged.

In operation less than two years, the Home is already being pointed to throughout the country as a fine example of this type of institution.

Opened after many years of intensive effort and planning, this endeavor has proven itself very successful, but now with the Home filled to capacity, and with many appilcants awaiting admittance, it has become necessary to provide larger quarters. For this purpose, a committee has been appointed, headed by Louis Steinman and Max Maisel, to find a suitable location for a Center for the Aged. Such a site has been found—a four-acre tract—in a very desirable section of the city. An option is being held on this property awaiting action of the zonng commission.

Plans are being drawn for the Center, which will accommodate twenty-five residents, with provisions to enlarge to fifty as the need develops.

This achievement should be an inspiration to all who have given so much of their time and funds to this enterprise, and must surely add impetus to all to continue in their work.

Our indexed "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" series will be a daily feature until we run out of history.

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Nancy Harrison
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(619) 265-0808


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Thursday, May 29, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 129)

Shoshana Bryen in Washington, D.C.: Israel-Syria deal wouldn't sweep away Iran
Donald H. Harrison in San Diego: Songwriter versifies about religion, food, loneliness—'whatever is happening'
David Strom in San Diego: The Jewish boy who became a Nazi mascot
Janet Tiger in San Diego: Naval Supply Center hosts Holocaust survivor at remembrance days observance
Adventures in San Diego Jewish History: What was the Jewish community news in 1946? Who were the newsmakers? Our archives answer these questions in daily installments

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 128)

Carol Davis in San Diego: Busy Salovey launches 15th Annual Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival 
Donald H. Harrison in San Diego: Jewish Agency for Israel, UJF weigh Ibim Student Village partnership's direction
Evelyn Kooperman in San Diego: San Diego Jewish Trivia: Football
Brian Schaefer in San Diego: A Jew contemplates his new right to marry
Adventures in San Diego Jewish History: What was the Jewish community news in 1946? Who were the newsmakers? Our archives answer these questions in daily installments

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 (vol. 2, No. 127)

Ulla Hadar in Kibbutz Ruhama, Israel: A baby owl gladdens Kibbutz Kfar Aza
Donald H. Harrison in San Diego: Rev. John Hagee and the American Jewish problem with Christian fundamentalists
Sheila Orysiek in San Diego: 'Another' finds and civilizes lonely man
Adventures in San Diego Jewish History: What was the Jewish community news in 1939 or 1940? Who were the newsmakers? Our archives answer these questions in daily installments

Monday, May 26, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 126)

Shoshana Bryen in Washington, D.C: Syria-Israel peace discussions strain their respective alliances with Iran, United States
Ulla Hadar in Kibbutz Ruhama, Israel: SDJA students visit Poland and Israel
Sheila Orysiek in San Diego: Loving photography in the service of dance
Adventures in San Diego Jewish History: What was the Jewish community news in 1939 or 1940? Who were the newsmakers? Our archives answer these questions in daily installments

Sunday, May 25, 2008 (Vol. 2, No. 125)

Ulla Hadar in Kibbutz Ruhama, Israel: Blammmm! A Kassam in my back garden?
Donald H. Harrison in San Diego: JACC theme: 'Keeping Israel on the map'
Rabbi Baruch Lederman in San Diego: Slain Torah scholar started as dishwasher
Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal in San Diego: 'Sanctified shekel' hints at money's purpose
Isaac Yetiv in La Jolla, California: 'If the shoe fits' ... Obama and appeasement
Adventures in San Diego Jewish History: What was the Jewish community news in 1922 or 1939? Who were the newsmakers? Our archives answer these questions in daily installments

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