Volume 3, Number 59
"There's a Jewish story everywhere"

Today's Postings:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

{Click on a link to jump to the corresponding story. Or, you may scroll leisurely through our report}

Coalition-building, Katsav show Israel's seamier aspects ... by Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem
Bibi has not announced the details of his new government. He is keeping himself as well as the rest of us on the edge of our chairs. Commentators are saying that he is not happy with what it coming down. READ MORE

Hillary visits Middle East; sky still in place ... by Barry Rubin in Herzliya, Israel
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Middle East and the sky didn't "cave in." Two very large groups spun the story to the contrary. READ MORE

Crying with one eye; laughing with the other .. by Rabbi Dow Marmur in Jerusalem
The biblical book of Esther is a fictional story about a perennial aspect of diaspora existence. It tells of how a vulnerable minority (the Jews) is at great risk in a country not its own (Persia), because its prime minister (Haman) doesn’t like one of them (Mordecai) and makes arrangements to exterminate them all. READ MORE

Who are the Donmeh: true believers, Jewish heretics or untrustworthy Moslem converts? ... by Irwin Berg in Istanbul, Turkey
Today, if they wish to be identified at all, they call themselves "Sabbateans." They are the descendants of Jews who converted to Islam in the 17th Century to follow the example of their messiah, Sabbatai Zevi; at that time they called themselves Ma'aminim, True Believers.

The Jews Down Under... A roundup of Australian Jewish news by Garry Fabian in Melbourne

Marrickville's condemnation of Israel in Gaza War causes outrage READ MORE

Pressure on Australia's foreign minister to say NO to Durban II READ MORE

Council cancels anti-Israel exhibit READ MORE

Call for Chevra Kadisha accountability to the communityREAD MORE


San Diegan dies of cancer on her 9th wedding anniversary ... from Mark Wang in Taipei, Taiwan READ MORE

Seeking families of Latvian Jews ... from Victoria Shaldova in Riga, Latvia READ MORE

Writer takes issue with NYT's Roger Cohen on Middle East ... from Dr. Norman Mann in San

Successful women tell forum their tips for living ... by Natasha Josefowitz in La Jolla, California
At a conference on women and success, I was asked to be part of a panel of women who had achieved measurable success in their lives.

Nazis had more compassion for a worm than for Jews ... book review by David Strom in San Diego
As we have often heard, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” And when it comes to saving Jewish lives in Warsaw, Poland during the Holocaust, it is beyond strange. It is miraculous.READ MORE

October 31, 1952; Southwestern Jewish Press:

Jewish Center Group Holds Annual Meeting Nov. 16READ MORE

No Time to Sleep {Editorial} READ MORE

Community Currents by Albert Hutler READ MORE

We continue our examination of Jewish entertainers

Eddie Cantor in Kid Millions VIEW VIDEO

Fanny Brice sings "It's Gorgeous to be Graceful" in Be Yourself VIEW VIDEO

George Burns and Gracie Allen cut the rug VIEW VIDEO

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Jewish Family Service: College Avenue Older Adult Center sets model seder, concert at Beth Jacob Congregation site READ MORE

Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School: Learning About Tree Ecosystem in Hebrew at Soille Hebrew Day READ MORE


America's Vacation Center
Balloon Utopia
Carol Ann Goldstein
Congregation Beth Israel
Jewish Family Service
Lawrence Family JCC
San Diego Community Colleges
San Diego Jewish Academy
San Diego Jewish Chamber
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
United Jewish Federation
XLNC-1 Radio


Our columnist Natasha Josefowitz, who has a column in today's edition, gives a humorous lecture on aging and retirement for UCSD's Institute for Continued Learning.

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

PLEASE HELP US POLICE THIS SITE: If you see anything on this site that obviously is not in keeping with our mission of providing Jewish news and commentary, please message us at editor@sandiegojewishworld.com, so that we can fix the probem. Unfortunately, large sites like ours can be subjected to tampering by outsiders. Thank you!



Coalition-building, Katsav show Israel's seamier aspects

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM—Bibi has not announced the details of his new government. He is keeping himself as well as the rest of us on the edge of our chairs. Commentators are saying that he is not happy with what it coming down. Neither are a lot of ordinary folks. There are parallels with the experiences of our American friends, just exiting from eight years with George Bush and Dick Cheney, while religious fundamentalists led the cheers.

When you think of Bush think of Bibi. Both talk in simple and attractive sentences, perhaps too simple to be real.

When you think of Cheney think of Avigdor Lieberman: powers not too far from the throne, viewed with fear and trembling. Lieberman may be a foreign minister persona non grata in Egypt on account of a recent comment that Husni Mubarak took as a personal insult. Egypt may not look like much other than crowds and poverty from New York and Los Angeles, but here it is weightier.

Lieberman's trips to Europe and the US will not be festive. He's a settler living in the occupied territories, who says unpleasant things about Israeli Arabs usually protected by the umbrella of political correctness. Lieberman is also the subject of an ongoing police investigation about slippery finances, and he is insisting on a hand in the selection of ministers who will deal with the judiciary and police.

When you think of religious fundamentalism, think SHAS. It will be the third largest party in Bibi's coalition. It demands financial support of large families and religious academies, plus opposition to homosexuality, intermarriage, and the sale of pork. SHAS's clashes with Lieberman on intermarriage and pork, as well as the police inquiry into Lieberman should give Bibi some concern.

At least three of the parties Bibi wants in his coalition are demanding control of the Housing Ministry. SHAS wants to build apartments for young Sephardi ultra-Orthodox couples, Torah Judaism wants to build apartments for young Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox couples, and National Unity wants to build in the occupied territories.

Bibi cannot say "No" to many parties and still have a coalition that will win the support required in the Knesset. And the more

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he offers ministerial seats and policy concessions to the smaller parties he needs to join the coalition, the more he is angering members of his own party. He recruited distinguished individuals to run on Likud's ticket. Now he will leave some of them with no rewards, and also shut out veteran Likud Knesset members who want goodies he is giving to others.

Meanwhile, Israel's former president will be indicted on charges of rape and sexual harassment.

It has taken a couple of years for the legal authorities to reach this decision. The public is not privy to all the details, but we hear that prosecutors are concerned about the gap of years between the alleged incidents and the complaints, as well as the capacity of those complaining to stand up to cross examination. Some of the women who initiated complaints continued to work for Katsav, and maintained cordial relationships with him, after the incidents are said to have occurred. One of the women tried blackmail. The prosecutors are not including her case in the ticket.

Katsav may turn out to be his own worst enemy. He lost his temper at a press conference, shown in a clip that has played time and again. Prominent among his defenders is a brother, whose own assertions are stained by a charge against him of sexual harassment.

Another issue straining our emotions is Gilad Shalit, the Israeli corporal seized two and one-half years ago and held in Gaza without benefit of any visits by the Red Cross or Red Crescent, and certainly not by the Magan David Adom (Red Star of David). His parents and grandfather are camped out across the street from the prime minister's residence, hoping to pressure the present government into concessions during its last days that might obtain Gilad's release. The family is hosting a continuing line of dignitaries and ordinary citizens who support its campaign. Close by is another demonstration, mounted by family members of individuals killed by terrorists, who oppose freeing murderers in order to obtain Shalit's release. Yet some of those willing to pay the price of releasing Shalit are other family members of terror victims.

It is doubtful that there will be a neat, or early resolution for any of these issues.

If Bibi succeeds in forming a government, it will have a thin cushion above an absolute majority of the Knesset. The process of creating his coalition is angering Knesset members of his own party. It may be they who make the life of his government nasty, brutish, and short.

No one should expect Moshe Katsav's trial to finish is less than a year. Pro- and anti-Katsavniks are filling the media with their stories of flawed witnesses and a flawed ex-president. Israel has no juries. The initial trial will be before three judges. Their professionalism may protect them from some of the emotions, but senior justices are already complaining about trying in court a case tried time and again in public.

The recent destruction of Gaza, and Israel's continue blockade may be appropriate or excessive punishment for rocket attacks, but it has not produced the freedom of one Israeli captive. Neither has it stopped the rocket attacks. Gazans as a whole will continue to suffer for what some of them continue to do. And Shalit may continue to suffer the misfortune of being caught in a conflict larger than him.

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


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Hillary visits Middle East; sky still in place

By Barry Rubin

HERZLIYA, Israel—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Middle East and the sky didn't "cave in."

Two very large groups spun the story to the contrary: the purveyors of the conventional wisdom on the region (that is, academics, media, and other opinion-makers) who were speaking out of wishful thinking that the number-one item on the Obama Administration's agenda is to bash Israel, and those opposed to that government who fears this outcome.

Yet the virtually identical narrative of the two rival sides
paid little attention to the reality of the new administration, its situation or thinking, its priorities or direction. Here for example is how the New York Times described the visit in a March 5 editorial: "Whatever the eventual composition of a new, and presumably more hawkish, government after Israel's last election, Mrs. Clinton made clear that America's compelling interest lies in a two-state solution anchored by a broad regional peace. She advanced that interest by announcing diplomatic re-engagement with Syria and
strong American support for the Palestinian Authority
president, Mahmoud Abbas."

The implication is that these were somehow anti-Israel, or at least against an Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister. In fact, these positions don't at all phase Israel and presumably Netanyahu. Here is a brief primer on the Obama administration and the region:

—Since this was Clinton's first visit it was aimed at becoming familiar with the current issues and attitudes.

—The administration knows that the government in Israel is still in formation. Therefore, at present it is impossible to do
anything in policy terms.

—The U.S. government, or at least most of its high officials, know that given the situation— they'd say on both sides; I;d say
on the Palestinian side—no real progress will be made
this year on Israel-Palestinian negotiations toward a
comprehensive solution.

--While aware of the unlikelihood of success, they want to show they are doing a lot. Hence, there will be many visits, reports, and chat but little in the way of serious initiatives or energetic campaigns.

—The administration's main priority is the domestic economic
situation and other changes at home. Inasmuch as it is
concerned with the Middle East, the main emphasis is on Iraq,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, not Arab-Israeli or
Israeli-Palestinian issues.

—Clinton has no doubts about the extremist and anti-American dimensions of Hamas and Hizballah. She and the administration have no intention to deal with these groups. On any return by Hamas to joint activity with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Clinton said that the United States would only deal with Hamas if it accepted the peace process framework, something Hamas will never do.

—The secretary of state reaffirmed a tough position on Iran. There will be engagement but the focus will be on finding out

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Iran's intentions and to press it to stop its nuclear weapons' program. In this framework, little is likely to change in U.S.-Iran relations. Tehran knows this which is why it is focusing attacks on President Obama.

—While Clinton is pursuing engagement with Syria, she sent two tough envoys to Damascus who will not be fooled by Syrian games. The Syrian government knows this and its bullying tactics and arrogant words are likely to make things worse between the two countries. In addition, Clinton promised the moderate Lebanese forees continued U.S. support. Moreover, for better or worse, most Israeli leaders favor talks with Syria. This is not because they think they will succeed in negotiating a comprehensive deal. Rather, it's because they want to give Syria an incentive to hold Hizballah back from attacking and be less aggressive if Israel ever attacks Iranian nuclear

—The United States withdrew from the Durban-2 anti-Israel fest.

—Despite some bad choices, pragmatic professionals have generally been appointed. This does not mean there are no problems but the outcome is, so far, better than might have been expected. The reasons are a combination of recognizing reality, extremist behavior by regional enemies, and good appointments to key positions in Washington, especially that of Clinton herself. The negative side includes some significant points but less immediate in terms of U.S.-Israel relations:

—The administration is pouring money into the Gaza Strip which, despite its good intentions, will end up bolstering the Hamas regime there. If the day comes when Israel feels another ground operation is needed to protect itself from Gaza, the administration might oppose it.

—The new U.S. government seeks engagement with Iran. Even
if this does not bring U.S. concessions, Tehran will gain
enough time to obtain nuclear weapons. And, again, how would
the administration respond if Israel felt military action
would be necessary to protect itself?

—The one issue where U.S. policy might press Israel is on settlement expansion but there are ways to handle this. Dismantling outposts might defuse the issue as might slowing construction or building only among existing buildings.

—The emphasis on being popular rather than being respected and defending allies. At times, it seems as if the war on terrorism has been replaced by a war on anything that might offend enemies.Most dangerous of all, however, are two potentially huge problems that have not yet manifested themselves.First is failure to recognize coming crises. Few in Washington see how an Islamist government is consolidating control, steering the country closer to Iran than to America. Fewer still are ready to do something to ensure Lebanon's government doesn't soon fall under Iranian, Syrian, and Hizballah control. Second is a legitimate doubt on the administration's ability to manage a serious crisis in the region, given its tendency to renounce force and overlook the tools and concepts of realpolitik.

The Obama administration should be closely watched and constantly evaluated. As with every government, its policies and views should not be assumed on the basis of public statements or stereotyped expectations.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at IDC Herzliya
and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Truth About Syria.

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Crying with one eye; laughing with the other

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM—The biblical book of Esther is a fictional story about a perennial aspect of diaspora existence. It tells of how a vulnerable minority (the Jews) is at great risk in a country not its own (Persia), because its prime minister (Haman) doesn’t like one of them (Mordecai) and makes arrangements to exterminate them all. [In Nazi Germany when Jews wanted to speak about Hitler under the noses of the Gestapo, they spoke about Haman.]

The Jews in the story survive because of the intercession of a prominent member of the king’s harem (Esther), who through her own cunning and with the help of her kinsman Mordecai averts the tragedy. The book indulges in the fantasy of members of minority groups that one day they’ll get the upper hand, killing their persecutor and taking his place as leaders in the land. The story ends with Mordecai replacing Haman.
Another expression of internal diaspora self-defense is that the sad tale of the book not only has a happy ending but the telling itself is laced with humorous asides illustrating the conduct of the inept and inebriated king (Ahasuerus). [The persecuted not being able to confront their persecutors make fun of them behind their backs.]
Everything about the Book of Esther stands in stark contrast to the ethos of the State of Israel. Here, Jewish dignity and Jewish sovereignty have replaced subterfuge and subservience. Yet it’s in Israel that the festival for which the book forms the background (Purim) is celebrated with gusto and energy like nowhere else in the world. Here Jews take to the streets and let their hair down.

[Jerusalem being a walled city, like the capital of ancient Persia (Shushan) where the story is set, started its
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celebration Tuesday evening; the rest of the country, as indeed the diaspora, celebrated Monday night and Tuesday.]

Because the Book of Esther is set in the country we now know as Iran, the festival of Purim has become more topical than perhaps ever before. In view of the rhetoric of Iran’s president, Israel is in his line of fire. Yet, though the book is read in traditional settings, its message doesn’t resonate. For here nobody thinks of appeasing Iran or hoping for some inexplicable miracle through the intervention of a pretty Jewish girl.
Though there are speculations that the growing economic pressure on Iran, due to sanctions and the general downturn in the global economy, may lead to the regime imploding, the most current euphemism is that “Israel has put all the options about dealing with Iran on the table.” That’s presumably a way of saying that military action by Israel hasn’t been ruled out.
The issue is, of course, whether this would be prudent and realistic. Some say that Israel may have no alternative once the nuclear threat becomes real. Others have hopes in the softly-softly approach that seems to be the preference of President Obama.
The festival of Purim marks carnival time in Israel. The fact that I’m even mentioning dark clouds is a reflection of another Jewish characteristic, normally associated with diaspora life that we haven’t been able to free ourselves from: laughing with one eye and crying with the other. That’s how tradition has always read the Book of Esther and that’s how we still seem to think of it.
Though we’re not blind to the dangers that surround us we’re also open to the pleasures that invite us to act frivolously.

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Who are the Donmeh: true believers, Jewish
heretics or untrustworthy Moslem converts?

By Irwin M. Berg, (c) 2008-2009
Reprinted from Kulanu

ISTANBUL, Turkey—Today, if they wish to be identified at all, they call themselves "Sabbateans." They are the descendants of Jews who converted to Islam in the 17th Century to follow the example of their messiah, Sabbatai Zevi; at that time they called themselves Ma'aminim, True Believers.

The Jews called them Minim, Heretics. The Turks have always called them Donmeh, a term for an untrustworthy convert.

In 1666 Zevi sailed from his home town of Izmir for Istanbul. He led his followers to believe that he would inaugurate the messianic era by replacing the Sultan. Instead, when Sultan Mehmet IV gave him the choice between death and conversion to Islam, Zevi chose to convert.

Although outwardly he professed to be a devout Moslem, to his close followers he preached a melange of Jewish, Islamic and distinctively Sabbatean rites. He died in exile in Ulcini, Montenegro, in 1676.

What were the conditions that would permit pious Jews of Spanish descent living in the Ottoman Empire to honor Zevi's mission to such an extent that they would follow their messiah into Islam? Two hundred families were known to have done so in 1666 and an additional 300 in 1683 -- seven years after Zevi's death.

This is a complex subject. A simplified answer is that belief can be so intense that nothing -- no matter how contrary to expectations -- can defeat or weaken it. Some historians explain Sabbateanism by emphasizing the travails of Spanish Jews with forced conversions and expulsion which brought them to the Ottoman Empire. Yet Sabbateanism also spread into Ashkenazic
Eastern Europe, where a group of them, under the leadership of Jacob Frank, converted to Christianity.
For approximately 250 years Salonica, Greece, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912, was the center of Sabbateanism. After the population exchange of 1924, that center moved to Istanbul.
The Sabbateans outwardly practiced and professed Islam; inwardly, they observed a Sabbatean faith which contained mixed elements of Orthodox Judaism, Kabbalistic and Sufi mysticism, and customs and beliefs of their own. Among their singular beliefs were that their messiah, Sabbatai Zevi, did not die but was in hiding and would return; that with the arrival of the messiah they were no longer subject to the laws of the Torah; and that to conquer evil they must experience it.

In time the Sabbateans divided into three sects -- the Kapandjis, the Karakashis, and the Yakubis. By the end of the 19th Century, their religious zeal began to wane, and they became increasingly secular and increasingly identified with Turkish nationalism and culture.

Many thought to be Donmeh descendants became wealthy and obtained high positions in the Ottoman Empire and later in the Republic of Turkey. Today, one original characteristic remains: to the extent that they are able to do so, they hide their origins. No one knows how many Turks can trace their ancestry to the Donmeh, although estimates range from 20,000 to 50,000. There is also evidence that, although they are no longer a religious community, some still maintain contact with each other through private, social activities.

This reluctance to advertise their origins has a sound basis.
There is a segment of Islamists who believe that the Donmeh are secretly Jews; and with help from professing Jews, they control the Turkish government and society. From the establishment of the secular Republic of Turkey in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, there has been a conflict between the secularists and the Islamists over the nature of the State. In the course of this 86-year struggle, many have come to believe that the Donmeh are the main obstacle to the creation of an Islamist state.

During my visit here, I had the good fortune to make contact with a Sabbatean descendant. I shall call him Hassan. Hassan is a Kapandji. He allowed me to interview him and to write this article so long as I did not use his real name or otherwise identify him.

Hassan was quite emphatic about contradicting some of what has
been written about the Donmeh. He denied that any of the Sabbatean sects engaged in antinomian deviations including wife-swapping -- accusations that have been accepted by reputable scholars. He also asserted that Sabbateanism is not completely dead but still had adherents among "a couple of thousand of the Karakashis." Lastly, he denied that Sabbateanism was affected by Islam except to mask their inner Sabbatean faith, "especially in Sabbatai Zevi's times."

The false allegation of sexual promiscuity among the Donmeh has two origins, according to Hassan. It came about as a result of an equality between the sexes practiced by the Sabbateans, which offended both Jews and Moslems. These allegations were also used as a club by the rabbis to prevent Jews from marrying Sabbateans.

Unsure whether Jewish law contravened their status as Jews, the Jewish religious authorities used the suspicion of Sabbatean offspring being mamzerim (bastards) to apply Jewish law so that Jews were prohibited from marrying Sabbateans.

Hassan invited me to his home, where I met his father. Both Hassan and his father identified with the Jewish people. Hassan spoke about the forced conversions, Inquisitions, pogroms, and the Holocaust, which reduced "our" numbers and the need to bring back to the Jewish nation whatever "sparks" of Jewishness still exist and "wherever they may be found."

He told of his great-grandmother who bought matzoh from a Jewish bakery before Passover. Hassan's father recited an instance

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when some Turkish students with whom he was friendly unfairly criticized their professor because he was Jewish.

He expressed the wish that he could have defended the Jewish
professor but feared that doing so might have led to the discovery that he was a Donmeh.

Secrecy intruded even into my conversation with Hassan's
father. We were talking about prominent Turks who were rumored to be Donmeh. He was about to mention a name when, upon a signal from Hassan, his father abruptly changed the topic of the conversation.

The most illuminating part of the day that I spent with Hassan
was our visit to the Bulbulderesi Cemetery in Uskudar, which lies in the Asian side of Istanbul. It is a cemetery where the Kapandjis andthe Karakashis are buried. The name of the cemetery means "Stream of Nightingales." This name refers to a Sabbatean legend that theMessiah would reappear when he heard the singing of the nightingales.

Hassan told us that the Kapandjis are buried nearer to the entrance and along the lower slopes of the cemetery and the Karakashis further up the hill. The Yakubis are buried in the Macka Cemetery on the European side of Istanbul. (I would not have given the names of the Donmeh cemeteries had they not been common knowledge).

Without Hassan, I could not have entered the Bulbuderisi Cemetery. There is a guard at the entrance, and the place is constantly patrolled. Although we were not challenged at the gate, two men inside making rounds questioned Hassan. After he identified himself as a Kapandji with relatives buried within the cemetery's bounds, they left us and continued their rounds. This security is not misplaced. Moslems knowing that the cemetery contains the remains of Donmeh, occasionally enter and deface the stones. They particularly object to pictures of the deceased on the stones since it is not a Moslem custom to place pictures on tombstones.

Except for the occasional photographs, the inscriptions are typical of Moslem tombstone inscriptions. Although in Turkish, those erected after 1928 are in Latin script and those before 1928 are in Arabic script. (As part of his effort to modernize and secularize Turkey, Ataturk , who ruled Turkey from 1919 to 1938, changed the manner in which Turkish is written). The names are also typical Turkish names.

The bottom line on most stones reads Ruhuna Fatiha. Hassan was unable to explain the phrase to me. I later learned that it was a reference to a chapter of the Koran dealing with death and customarilyappears on Moslem tombstones.

Although time would not allow a visual inspection of the hundredsof tombstones in the Bulbulderesi Cemetery, two that I sawwere remarkable. One read "I hid it; I didn't disclose it; my worries Ikept secret until I was laid to rest." Could the secret kept unto deathbe one's Donmeh identity, Sabbatean faith?

Even more remarkable was the stone of Semsi Efendi. It read thathe was the teacher of Ataturk. Semsi Efendi (1852-1917) was a Kapandjiwho established two progressive schools in Salonica. One ofthe students in his schools was Ataturk, the hero of the battle of Gallipoli and the founder of the Turkish Republic. Whether Ataturk attended a Donmeh school because it was progressive or because he was a Donmeh has been a matter of considerable speculation among those who oppose a secular state.

In writing this article I am beholden to Reuven Alpert's Caught in the Crack: Encounters with the Jewish Muslims of Turkey. Alpert has deep roots in Lubavich Hasidism. He describes the "shockwaves" among the Lubavichers by the death in 1994 of their rabbi, Menachim Mendel Schneerson. Before his death, most of his followers were convinced that he was the messiah. Some of his followers could not accept that their messiah died before his mission was fulfilled. These followers deny his death and await his second coming, just as the Christians await the second coming of Jesus and the Sabbateans once awaited -- and a small portion of the Karakashis may still await -- the second coming of Sabbatai Zevi.

Berg, a New York City attorney, visits Jewish communities throughout the world. His article originally appeared in the Winter 2008 edition of Kulanu, a newsletter keeping far flung Jewish communities in touch.

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Jews Down Under ... a roundup of Australia's Jewish news

Marrickville's condemnation of Israel in Gaza War causes outrage

By Garry Fabian

SYDNEY - Marrickville Council's decision to approve a motion condemning Israel's recent actions in Gaza, and calling on the Australian Government to ban the sharing of military
intelligence with Israel, has sparked protests from Jewish leaders and groups.

On February 19, Marrickville Council ( a Sydney municipal area) voted 9-3 in favour of the motion that condemned Israel's December war in Gaza and its alleged "use of internationally banned weapons containing phosphorus".

The council, which has a sister-city relationship with the West Bank city of Bethlehem, also called on Israel "to withdraw from all settlements in the occupied territories, share water resources equitably with the Palestinians and negotiate with the [Palestinian] elected government".

Greens Councillor Cathy Peters, who proposed the motion, stated she felt the council had an obligation to speak out against "the continued oppression of the Palestinian people."

"When it comes down to humanitarian issues, it's important for everyone to speak out," she said, adding that the issue was "close to her heart" because her father was a Jewish refugee from Berlin who fled Berlin in 1938.

"[My father] has suffered in Germany the sort of repression that has been foisted upon the Palestinians for the past 50 years," she said.

Peters admitted she didn't feel the need to consult with Jewish groups beforehand because "there's been adequate information about it in the press".

Meanwhile, Jewish leaders and community groups have slammed the council's stance.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said: "Marrickville's motion is full of inaccuracies, uncritically accepting assertions, which have been exposed as Hamas propaganda, levelling charges against Israel for which no
foundation in fact or international law has been established, and ignoring realities on the ground."

He added that it is unfortunate the council has continued its "unbalanced approach" to this conflict -- almost two years after it decided to enter into the controversial sister-city
relationship with Bethlehem.

Woollahra Councillor Anthony Boskovitz expressed
similar concerns, calling it "despicable" that a
local council would even consider taking such action.

"I find it hard to fathom that such a motion could be approved and that the community would not be furious at the lack of attention to the crumbling infrastructure in their area," he said.

"[Councillor Peters] should concentrate on her constituency and allow the federal politicians to deal with issues of a foreign nature."

Inner West Chavurah, a Jewish network based in Sydney's inner west, called the motion "divisive".

"It inflames the feelings of victimhood on both sides that cause the problem in the first place," a spokeswoman said.

She said the Marrickville Council could take a few lessons from neighbouring Leichhardt Council, which scrapped its plans last year to establish a sister-city relationship with Hebron, after holding talks with Jewish leaders.

Pressure on Australia's foreign minister to say NO to Durban II

CANBERRA- Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is under immense pressure to announce Australia's withdrawal from the Durban Review Conference (also known as Durban II).

Earlier this week, representatives from the US Department of State said the United States would not attend the conference, which is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

The US has joined Israel and Canada in pulling out.

Some European countries have also indicated they
are considering not attending the conference in Geneva. Both Opposition MPs and Jewish leaders implored Smith to follow suit.

"The agenda of the Durban II conference is warped beyond redemption," Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson said.

"Australia's international diplomacy should combat bigotry, and not legitimate (make legitimate) anti-Semitism."

Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, both called on Australia to follow the US.

"The world's leading democratic nations must now speak with one voice to make it clear that any document that emerges from this tainted conference lacks their support and is utterly
devoid of moral authority," Goot said.

"Particularly in view of the recent decision by the US

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administration ... we think it's appropriate for the Australian Government to make the same decision," Chester added.The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) also requested Australia's withdrawal

AIJAC chair Mark Leibler said it is understandable that Australia wanted to wait and see, but "as the US Government noted on Friday, in withdrawing from participation in the process, the current draft outcome document for the
conference is simply 'not salvageable'".

"In the interests of that vital struggle, the only principled and constructive step Australia can now take is to withdraw from the Durban II process -- unless and until the current
politicised draft outcome document is thrown out
and the process commences again from the beginning."

Robert Goot, also vice-president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), sent Smith a recent WJC resolution that noted "there is every reason to believe that the worst elements from the [first Durban] conference declaration may be included or even accentuated."

Council cancels anti-Israel exhibit

MELBOURNE- The City of Melbourne has removed a
public art display from a walkway near the main
railway station amid concerns that it is unjustly critical of Israel.

The display created by controversial artist Van Thanh Rudd, a nephew of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, features a rock supposedly thrown at Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldiers in the West Bank.

The work suggests that Veolia, the parent company of public transport operator Connex, is being protected by the IDF as it conducts "illegal operations" in the disputed territories.

The exhibition went on display a few days ago in a subway leading to the railway station, but was removed by council officers after complaints from a passer-by and the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission. (ADC)

"Council has not approved the specific artwork in question and did not have prior knowledge of its installation" City of Melbourne CEO Dr Kathy Alexander said" Council intends to review the controversial art work in line with its Protocol
on Artworks and establish a review panel that will provide a recommendation on further action". (The group staging the artwork received a grant of $25,000 from the City Council last year).

ADC chairman Tony Levy questioned the judgment of the councils public Art Department. " We have no objection to art just as we have no objection to fair comment and criticism. But creating some sort of icon out of a weapon is deeply
offensive....characterising Israel in this way is having a direct effect on the way Jews in Australia are treated. Anti-Semitic attacks are increasing and there is a direct correlation
between Israel being treated as an international pariah and Jews being victimised here" Levy said.

Call for Chevra Kadisha accountability to the community

MELBOURNE - Community leaders have called on the
Melbourne Chevra Kadisha to be more accountable to the community it serves.

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Klugwant, president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV), said that while the Chevra Kadisha had taken some stops to be open to the community, things are not perfect.

"The lack lof facilities at Lyndhurst ( a new Jewish cemetery recently opened on the urban fringes of Melbourne) is extremely unfortunate" Klugwant said.

However he said that the Chevra Kadisha has agreed that when a shtiebel is built at Lyndhurst, it will consult with the RCV on its design. Rabbi Klugwant's comments followed an
accusation in the Jewish community that the Chevra Kadisha is a closed organisation and it has let lapse a planning application for facilities at the new cemetery.

Myer Herzberg, presidnet of the Melbourne Chevra Kadisha confirmed that an application for rezoning had been made to the municipality where the cemetery is situated, but the application was not for the express permission to build a shtiebel.

"The actual building of the shtibel is not approved. We have to get permission to put a shtiebel in and they are very sensitive, because they want it to blend in and it's farmland, so we
are through that" Hezrberg said.,

However, Jewish Community Council president John
Searle who has been trying to contact Herzberg without luck did not accept the excuse.

"I am still receiving complaints and I regard the stonewalling we're receiving from the Chevra as still unacceptable. It is time they realised that they need to be accountable to the community".

A Department of Human Services (DHS) spokesperson said the operation of cemeteries is left to the individual trust, The legislation which governs cemeteries and burials, does not require the installation of facilities, such as shelters or public toilets for mourners.

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A Jewish forum: Letters to the editor Send yours to editor@sandiegojewishworld.com

San Diegan dies of cancer on
her 9th wedding anniversary

Editor, San Diego Jewish World:

I'm sorry to tell you that Yi-li has left this world today. Her mother and I were with her this morning. It was very calm, she just stopped breathing. I didn't know what had happened at first. I had just been singing her a song. She had been sleeping even deeper the last few days. I didn't really expect this day to actually come.

Her whole family in Taipei is here. They have some detailed rituals in Taiwanese custom. Right now there are many people praying over her for eight hours. Then we will move to another place where we will pray for one week. Then we will take her to her family's cemetery.

It's our anniversary today, March 10. We've been married for exactly 9 years.

Mark Wang
Taipei, Taiwan

San Diego Jewish World extends its deepest condolences to Mark and to his and Yi Li Gao's family and friends. On Sunday, March 8, some of her friends in San Diego participated in the Lungevity march in her behalf. Our news account of the event ran on Monday.

Seeking families of Latvian Jews

San Diego Jewish World

My name is Victoria Shaldova, I am an executive director of Jewish community "Shamir", Riga, Latvia.

Activity of "Shamir" is aimed to commemorating the memory of Latvian Jews. The most significant project of us is Latvian Jewish Encyclopedia, which gathers information about all the Jews, connected to Latvia. It will be a memorial for the Latvian Jews, which do not exist now. We have gathered already more than 2 500 biographic and thematic entries and it is a half of the proposed amount. It covers the period of time from 1561 to 1991.

Now we are looking for Jews originally from Latvia, but living abroad. All the information about Latvian Jews (i.e. biographies, photos, family stories) is appreciated.

Do you have such information in your archives? Could you spread the information about encyclopedia among the members of your society or publish it on your web-site? it will be very helpful for the project.

Victoria Shaldova
Riga, Latvia

Writer takes issue with NYT's Roger Cohen on Middle East

Editor, San Diego Jewish World:

A recent acceptance of the Hezbollah in Lebanon by England regarding it as a legitimate partner in the quest for a Mid East peace has encouraged Roger Cohen of the New York Times to become a major critic of Israel.

He goes on to enter a long litany of arguments blaming Israel for the lack of progress in a peace program including that he is ashamed of Israel’s action in the Gaza War because of the lack of proportionality in Israel’s operations. He seems to call for Israel’s opening up a dialogue with Hamas and also Hezbollah and urges the US to take the same tack in spite of the universal knowledge that both of these terror organizations have called for and vowed to eliminate Israel from the Middle East.

Cohen argues that just because Hamas won a fair election that it shows the spirit of democracy and should be accepted. Would he have accepted Hitler’s or Communist “free” elections as democratic victories? Cohen should not forget that Israel returned Sinai, Gaza, Jordanian and much Although these women and one man may not be representative, being particularly successful and prominent, they all spoke of the values that drive our society and our particular culture. All have been and are role models for

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those who want to achieve success in their lives whatever definition is given to that word. It can be no more than being satisfied with one’s life as it is to no less than being the first or the best at whatever one chooses.

The choice is ours, always was, is, and will be.of the West Bank to Arab control. Let Cohen compare the civil progress of Singapore which is slightly larger than Gaza making it a world class nation as Palestinians wasted fifty (50) years with their brothers trying through bloody wars to drive Israel into the Med.

Of course he forgets conveniently that after Oslo Israel gave Palestinians 30,000 rifles to establish order. Wouldn’t that show Israel was in favor of peace?

Sure Israel has made some mistakes but think of this mini nation surrounded by sworn enemies, wouldn’t that be cause for apprehension? I am convinced that if the Palestinians took the road to non violence in their behavior towards Israel that they would have had statehood years ago. Cohen attacks the walling in of Arab cities forgetting that when there were no walls there were suicide bombers and that when a real peace comes the walls will go.

Cohen.. seems to pick Israel as aggressor when the world sees Arab against Arab murderous willful violence. Is it because he sees al Qaeda and the Taliban as legitimate resistance movements? Read a bit of history, Roger, and you will understand the Mid East muddle much better.

Dr. Norman Mann
San Diego


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DOING IT BETTER Link to Natasha's video

Successful women tell forum their tips for living

By Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.

LA JOLLA, California—At a conference on women and success, I was asked to be part of a panel of women who had achieved measurable success in their lives.

That in itself could be worthwhile, but what caught my interest was that each of us was to describe what motivated us in the past, as different from the present, and what we envisage for ourselves in the next decade.

This kind of exercise is always a challenge—it makes us reflect on who we were, are and will be. A good exercise for you too, Dear Reader: i.e., how you have changed, are changing and plan to change—or not. The women were diverse: a professional athlete, a lawyer, a researcher, an author and artist, a travel editor, a philanthropist, and me, an author and retired professor of business. The lone man, a former professor of economics, was to end it all by reflecting on the significance of success from a man’s perspective.

So what were some of the women’s themes?

“If it can be done, I can do it:” “everything is possible;" “finding a support system;" “meeting other women as role models:' “finding a passion;" “know yourself:' “loving what one does;" “being self-sufficient;" “investing time in yourself:" “a world consciousness and helping the poor and the ill of the world.”

My own early mission was to empower women and enlighten men—now it is to empower women my age to not only accept, but celebrate their wrinkles and grey hair and use their wisdom to empower other women. There will be inevitable losses—physical and mental—illness, and death of family members, but it is how we react to and cope with and overcome the bumps and the tragedies we get in our lives that matter. “Resilience” is the important word, and one can be helped by being part of a  community. In other words, find friends, find activities, find help.

Who will I be in the next decade? An old crone—my motto: been there, done that, doing it better—bright-eyed and bushy tailed. My coping mechanisms: humor and translating bad experiences into learning ones for myself and others, always reaching out. The definition of success changes throughout the decades, and the mission changes, but the impetus to keep discovering what lies around the next bend in the road is always there—enthusiasm for the next adventure does not diminish, be it a move to a new community, learning a new language or dealing with a new illness, all are challenges to be met head on. Celebrate the victories of always being able to move on.

There were common themes: risk taking is important, being able to recover from loss. Not being crushed by events, believing that fate is in our own hands, seizing opportunities, finding inspiration, passion—the overwhelming theme was that the choice is always ours. When it was the one man’s turn—his themes were different—in the past, his job was to be a provider for his family of a wife and four children.

Passion or even interesting work was not a priority as it was for the women, making a living was. Surprisingly the women did not talk about children, but the one man did, saying he was not an available father, leaving for work early and returning late. Now in his eighties he is becoming more reflective, content to read, and deepen his relationships with his family.

Hearing their stories, it is interesting to note that women have always reached out and continue to do so in their later years, sharing problems, being there for each other, as men tend to withdraw into themselves—or seek the companionship of other men to talk politics and books.

Josefowitz's column also appears in La Jolla Village Voice

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College Avenue Older Adult Center sets model seder, concert at Beth Jacob Congregation site

Learning About Tree Ecosystem
in Hebrew at Soille Hebrew Day

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Nazis had more compassion for a worm than for Jews

The Zookeeper's Wife By Diane Ackerman. Illustrated. 368 pages. $24.95. W. W. Norton & Company.

By David Strom

SAN DIEGO—As we have often heard, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” And when it comes to saving Jewish lives in Warsaw, Poland during the Holocaust, it is beyond strange. It is miraculous.
Jan and Antonina were zookeepers before and after the Holocaust. Jan, an avowed atheist, actively demonstrated his belief that murdering human beings was one of the worst human crimes. While this idea may have sprung from the Torah, his atheistic upbringing did not stop his worldly and humanistic understanding of the sanctity of all life, human as well as animal. Antonina, on the other hand, was a religious Catholic who took seriously the commandment “Thou shall not murder.” While the two came from seemingly different perspectives (one religious, the other atheist) they worked harmoniously and lovingly together to rescue human beings from certain death at the hands of the Nazi beasts.
Jan Zabinski and Antonina belonged to a European zookeeper society, prior to Hitler’s war. Their membership meant they knew some very influential German zookeepers, some of whom were ranking members of the Nazi party. Lutz Heck was in charge of the Berlin Zoo and he was friendly with the Zabinskis. During the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Lutz opened a “German Zoo.” The exhibit honored the wildlife of the country. “This bold patriotic display underscoring the importance of familiar animals, and that one needn’t go the ends of the earth to find species, conveyed a laudable message … He clearly wanted to please Nazi friends by contributing to the ideal of Germany’s master races.”
Lutz and his brother Heinz hoped and worked to resurrect “three pure-blooded, extinct species-the Neolithic horses known as forest tarpans, aurochsen (the wild cow progenitor of all European cattle breeds), and the European or ‘forest’ bison. As it happened. the biologically closest relatives to those animals thrived in Poland.
The war gave him the excuse to loot east European zoos and wilds for specimens. And he did. “Under the Third Reich, animals became noble, mythic, almost angelic-including humans, of course, but not Slavs, Gypsies, Catholics, or Jews. Although Mengele’s subjects could be operated on without any painkillers at all, a remarkable example of Nazi zoophilia is that a leading biologist was once punished for not giving worms enough anesthesia during an experiment.” (Emphasis not in the original.)
The Warsaw Zoo, under Jan’s direction, earned the deserved reputation of being innovative. Rather than keeping animals caged, like so many zoos of that day did, Jan tried to recreate the animals’ natural habitat and allowed them more open space in which to roam.
Hitler’s armies invaded Poland in September of 1939. The Nazi air force bombed, strafed and killed many people in Warsaw, Poland’s capital. Many of the zoo animals were killed in saturated bombing of the city. The Zambinskis stayed and tried to care for the animals that had survived. They eventually ended up caring for the zoo animals and some 300 hiding Warsaw Jews.
Feeding and caring for the animals was difficult, nearly impossible. Jan and Antonina worried about the survival of the animals and zoo. Zoo workers were killed. Animals that were murdered, confused, or that escaped and went missing were just one part of Jan and Antonina's problems. Where would they get the wherewithal to survive? Many Warsaw citizens did not let them down, however. These Polish citizens treasured their zoo. Routinely they brought whatever scraps of meat they could spare, fruits and vegetables from their gardens and offered it to the Zookeeper and his wife. They fed all living things.
Raising a child is hard for many in normal times. How much harder it was for Antonina whose son Ryszard was born just before the outbreak of WWII. Antonina wanted Rys to have as normal a childhood as possible, under conquered and war circumstance. Once the war commenced, being restricted to

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the grounds of the zoo, meant his friends were mainly animals, Antonina worried constantly about his adjustment to children his own age and his lost childhood. Rys quickly learned to adjust to the unusual times. He skillfully learned the “code” names of the people living in and on premises of his parents’ home. Humans had animal names and animals human names. If Antonina told him that the “lions” had to be fed. He knew who the “lions” were and he went about doing that chore. Jan and Antonina pressed upon him the importance and danger to all of them, if he talked about what was happening at the zoo. He learned to remain silent around adults he did not know.
Jan and Antonina were active in the Polish underground army. Jan, an officer, taught college level biology to Poles anxious to learn, even though if caught he could be severely punished. Not only did the two of them hide Jews on the grounds of the zoo, they also gave temporary haven to members of the underground Polish Army.  Often times their home was used like the “underground railroad” prior to the U.S.  Civil War, as a way station by frightened Jews until a more permanent and safer hiding place could be found. Antonina did not realize that Jan hid weapons on the property. As an officer in the underground he took chances that most would not take, such as hiding weapons next to the Nazi Army encampment at the zoo.
When the Warsaw Ghetto Jews rebelled, in April, 1943, Jan and Antonina were extremely busy rescuing ghetto fighters from certain death. Jan secretly went into the ghetto each day, while Antonina held the whole menagerie together and prepared the inhabitants for future arrivals. Antonina had to figure out where to safely put the new refugees. Where would she get the food needed to feed the arrivals? Antonina had to quickly assess the personalityof each new arrival. She did this to avoid conflicts and make life as normal as possible. The arrivals had to learn the rules of the hiding place very quickly or all would be in danger of getting caught. One of the simple things she taught them was to listen to the piano music she played. When a certain melody or song was played, it meant that Nazi officers were on the premises. They were to go to their designated hiding place and remain as quiet as possible. When another piece of music was played, it meant the danger was temporarily over.
In 1944, when the Soviet Army was at the gates of Warsaw, the Polish underground army revolted. They went “head to head” with the Nazi army. The leadership thought the Soviets would help them defeat the Nazis in the battle to retake the capital of Poland. They were mistaken. The Soviet leadership had a different agenda. They wanted the local leadership to fail. They wanted a Poland dependent upon its neighbor, the Soviet Union. During this struggle Jan was captured and taken prisoner.
Antonina did not know what happened to Jan. She knew that she was now the leader and the safety of three hundred or so humans depended upon her. Antonina had just had a baby, was exhausted by the daily physical and mental strains under which she lived, and now she had to worry about the fate of Jan. Was he alive or was he dead?
Diane Ackerman’s book raises a very important question: What does it mean to be an animal? Does their environment influence them? If so, how?
Fox Man (remember each person was given an animal name), one of the people who lived at the zoo, had a cat, Balbina. Every time Balbina had kittens, “Fox Man would snatch them from the basket and replace them with newborn foxes to nurse.” According to fox breeders, a female fox should only nurse a few pups at a time. Using Balbina as a wet nurse for the extra pups was a unique solution. “The first day was always the hardest for her,” Antonina noted, “She could swear she gave birth to kittens, but on the second day she knew it was only her imagination.” After “giving birth” to several broods of baby foxes, tiring and confusing as that was, “Balbina finally got used to their alien ways, and they became half-cat, she half-vixen.” Many of the other animals that lived within the household in close association with humans, also adjusted their “normal” ways to their new environment.
Diane Ackerman has written essays on nature and human nature. Her book Zookeeper’s Wife took much of the material directly from Antonina’s writing on the behavior of the household animals during WWII. The book reads like fiction but is even better than fiction because it is a true war story.

Strom, professor emeritus of education at San Diego State University, may be reached at stromd@sandiegojewishworld.com         

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  Adventures in San Diego Jewish History


Jewish Center Group Holds
Annual Meeting Nov. 16

Southwestern Jewish Press, October 31, 1952, page 1

Mr. Harry Mallen, chairman, announced that Mr. Julius Bisno, Executive Direcdtor of the Los Angeles Jewish Community Council, will be guest speaker at the Jewish Center annual meeting, at the Beth Jacob Center, on Sunday evening, November 16.  Mr. Bisno prior to his present position has served as director of the National B’nai B’rith Youth Organizations and has participated on many national and local youth advisory committees. 

Featuring the entertainment will be the Los Angeles Jewish Centers Association, Halevi Chorus under the direction of Ben Pollock.  This chorus recently returned from Israel where it won top honors in a world wide choral festival.

Mr. Eli Levenson, president of the center, will preside and give the annual report of center activities.  Sidney Posin, center director, will present program plans “Looking toward the Future.”  At the business session the bylaws will be revised to enlarge the board membership and election will be held.  Refreshments will be served.

No Time to Sleep {Editorial}
Southwestern Jewish Press, October 31, 1952, page 2

The present general election offers some interesting and thought provoking challenges.  Not only in regard to the two major candidates presented by the Democratic and Republican parties but also in the 24 propositions (or Constitutional Amendments) and 6 or 7 amendments to the local charter.

As far as the candidates are concerned, we have two outstanding and personable men to choose from.  Both have many fine qualities of leadership and excellent backgrounds.  What one must look at, however, is not only the man, but the party and the platform.  Which in your opinion-- and we hope you have one by this time—will serve the best interests of the country as a whole?  As Al Smith used to say, “Look at the Record.”

As to the many propositions, you will find in this paper a somewhat hesitant “Guide to the Perplexed.”  The issues that are being most hotly contested are Propositions 2 and 3 (both have to do with schools), 10 and 11 (Chamber of Commerce, the perennial old age pension, and the McLain problem), and 13 (which Prop. 7 seems to cancel out and which does away with cross filing).

All the propositions take a great deal of reading and studying.  You should make some attempt to understand them.  Some of them are loaded with dynamite and others are tricky and are being pushed by well-heeled groups.

One member of our community (who is actively engaged in politics) said to me that he wished he could go to sleep and wake up on Novembe r5.  I assure you this is no time to go to sleep.  While you may slumber others are busy at work and Democracy will suffer from sleeping sickness.

Community Currents
By Albert Hutler, Director United Jewish Fund
Southwestern Jewish Press, October 31, 1952, page 2

Political Beat
Some of the material that comes across my desk through the mail is outside the routine job of the office.  Most of the material which we receive comes from organizations, institutions, and agencies which are in one way or another  beneficiaries of the Jewish Community in San Diego.  However, there is a great  deal of mail on matters relating only indirectly to any of the work carried on by the Federation or Fund.  Here are some in which you might be very interested.

Proposition 5 and 6
A memorandum issued by the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern California Branch, discussing Propositions 5 and 6 which will be on the November 4th  ballots as proposed

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amendments to the State Constitution.  A Bulletin calls my attention to the fact that these propositions would deny tax exemptions as well as public employment to any person or organization designated subversive by any administrative political body in Sacramento.  It further states that these propositions are steps toward the police state and violate the first amendment without adding anything to existing security measures.,  Other organizations opposing propositions 5 and 6 are the California AFL, CIO, Democratic Party, Federation of Young Democrats, Federation of Teachers, League of Women Voters ofr California, and the California Psychological Association.

Proposition 3

Another piece comes from the Public Relations Agency handling the campaign for Proposition 3 in answer to my statements about that proposition in last issue’s column.  They want me to tell you that California is the only state which does not have tax exemption for parochial schools.  Their letter, however, continues that exemptions from property taxes may be limited in several ways as I stated in my short article.  It is pointed out that in an editorial appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle the statement was made “the argument that the proposed exemption is a violation of the principle of the separation of church and state appears not to have had much weight in the 47 other states which in one form or another have granted the tax exemption now sought by Proposition 3.”

Crusade for Freedom

The Crusade for Freedom of which Henry Ford II is the chairman sends out a letter stating that “we must now demonstrate that our objective is world peace under God.”  They ask that during the period between November 11 and December 15 that every American send messages of friendship and hope behind the Iron Curtain, and that with each message a small gift be made to the Crusade for Freedom for the continuation and expansion of Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia.

Change of Coat?

It was quite a shock to many people attending the recent Hadassah Luncheon to find William Shearer of La Mesa as one of the speakers on behalf of the Republican Party.  I am informed by reliable sources that Shearer has changed some of his view points from the day he used to pass out Gerald K. Smith and Wesley Swift material on the State College Campus, and make obnoxious speeches before some of the Republican Women Groups, especially the one headed by Georgette MacCormack.  However, though he has changed some of his views, he still feels that Senator McCarthy of Wisconsin is one of the greatest living Americans.

The Truman Incident

Several months ago the chairmen of the National Committees of the Republican and Democratic parties promised that the candidates and workers of their parties would not resort to any appeals to racial and religious prejudice in the election campaign.  These promises have thus far been kept.

The American Jewish Committee has just sent out a memorandum in which I think you would be interested, and which I am therefore taking the liberty of quoting.

“When charges of bigotry are hurled during a campaign objectivity becomes forfeited to partisan and judgments become warped by political allegiance.  This occurred in connection with the statement made by President Truman in the message to the Jewish Welfare Board’s National leadership Mobilization for G.I. and Community Service.  President Truman’s exact words are important:  “Republican Candidate for the Presidency cannot escape responsibility for his endorsements.  He has had an attack of moral blindness, for today he is willing to accept the very practices that identify the so called master race although he took a leading part in liberating Europe from their domination.” 

It is highly important that this paragraph followed the discussion by the President of the McCarran-
Walter Immigration Bill in which he referred to senators who were among the main supporters of the law and who have been endorsed by General Eisenhower.  This paragraph most certainly belongs in that context.

As you no doubt know the President’s statement evoked a defense of General Eisenhower by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver followed by counterattack against Silver by Congressman Celler and others.  Catholic leaders issue no public statement on the subject.  There has been great temptation among Jewish groups to make further declaration which would enlarge the area of debate on this subject and thus make bigotry a major issued in the campaign.

It should be easier now to terminate this furor since President Truman, while repeating the statement and not withdrawing a word of it, clarified what he said and declared “I know that the Republican candidate for President is neither Anti-Jewish nor Anti-Catholic.”

“Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed "Adventures in San Diego Jewish History" series will be a daily feature until we run out of history.


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Jewish Internet Favorites

We continue our exploration of Jewish performers
To see index of previous videos, please click here

Eddie Cantor in Kid Millions

Fanny Brice sings "It's Gorgeous to be Graceful" in Be Yourself

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George Burns and Gracie Allen cut the rug

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DEDICATIONToday's edition of San Diego Jewish World is dedicate with happy birthday wishes to Sky Masori

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