Volume 3, Number 110
"There's a Jewish story everywhere"

Today's Postings:

Monday, May 11, 2009

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

U.S. must factor possibility that Israel will feel forced to take independent action against Iran ... by Ira Sharkansky in Jerusalem
To continue with my argument that the United States does not hold all the cards, and that even tiny Israel has a few: READ MORE

Six of the most compelling issues facing Israel today ... by Rabbi Dow Mamur in Jerusalem
Between December 22, 2008, when we arrived in Israel, and today, I’ve written over 80 pieces that I’ve inflicted on many of you. They amount to some 50 000 words, virtually all about the current situation in Israel. I’m almost embarrassed. READ MORE


Rami Kleinstein in concert at Lawrence Family JCC May 14 READ MORE, VIEW VIDEO

Congregation Dor Hadash slates talk by Linda Robinson on living with HIV READ MORE

Media Watch READ MORE

Jews by choice, intermarried families panel subjects at Tifereth Israel READ MORE

Sandi Masori of Balloon Utopia shows how to make a balloon elephant

Watch our Bible come together with Biblical names and modern images

Justice, a key to salvation, Isaiah 56:1 SEE IMAGE


Bringing together bipolar world of arts and management ... by Sheila Orysiek in San Diego
Michael M. Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, brings together the bi-polar world of arts and management and judging from his book enjoys every minute of it.

In one of best fiction works, Roth looked at Jewish identity ... by Gail Feinstein Forman in San Diego
Nathan Zuckerman, the protagonist in Philip Roth’s acclaimed 1988 novel, The Counterlife, describes his being a Jew as “a Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness, without a temple or an army or even a pistol, a Jew clearly without a home, just the object itself, like a glass or an apple.”


I'm Still Here ... by Laura Simon
Prologue READ MORE

March 6, 1953; Southwestern Jewish Press

Jolly 16 Join Philharmonic Society READ MORE
Temple Sisterhood Plans For May Ball READ MORE
Council Sponsors Globe Theatre Party READ MORE
Calendar READ MORE

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B’nai B’rith Lasker Lodge READ MORE
Poale Zion READ MORE
Beth Jacob Sisterhood READ MORE
Red Rug Rolled Out for B. B. Dist. Leader READ MORE
J. W. V. Sponsors Bingo Party

We continue our examination of Jewish entertainers

Kevin Kline in "I Love You to Death" with Phoebe Cates VIEW VIDEO
Michael Lembeck in "One Day At A Time" opener {unrelated GE commercial follows} VIEW VIDEO
Richard Kline hosts "To Tell The Truth"VIEW VIDEO
Eugene Levy in "The Man" with Samuel L. Jackson VIEW VIDEO


We are utterly delighted to be welcoming Laura Simon, 103, to our group of writers and contributors. We are certain that you will enjoy the memoirs of this San Diego resident, whose book, I'm Still Here,
was published at the time of her 100th birthday!


America's Vacation Center
Balloon Utopia
Congregation Beth Israel
Jewish Community Foundation
Jewish Family Service
Lawrence Family JCC
Math Is Easy
San Diego Community Colleges
San Diego Jewish Chamber
Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School
Therapy in Motion Inc.
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
United Jewish Federation
XLNC-1 Radio


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!




U.S. must factor possibility that Israel will feel
forced to take independent action against Iran

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM-- To continue with my argument that the United States does not hold all the cards, and that even tiny Israel has a few:

Friends have noted that Israel/Palestine is not at the top of the Obama agenda. More important are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, as well as still evolving economic issues.

I hope so.

However, American comments about Israel/Palestine are the center of things here.

Going back 2,500 years, Babylon's destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of Judeans was at the center of Jewish experience. It resulted in the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, Nehemiah and Ezra that continue to be important in Jewish learning and rituals today. For the Babylonians, however, the events were routine maneuvers to punish rebellious peoples on the borders of their empire.

The parallel dissonance is how Americans and Israelis view the issue of Iran, and the inclination of some Americans to couple it with Israeli actions like removing settlements and pursuing negotiations toward the creation of a Palestinian state.

Americans should not view Israel as a weak supplicant comparable to ancient Judea.

Currently there are active debates comparing the Iranian threat and the Holocaust. One cannot predict the outcome, but there are experts in security, usually on the left, who have generally promoted accommodation rather than military action, now saying that the threat is intolerable.

Imperfect intelligence and timing make the issue critical. While President Obama wants to talk with the Iranians, Israelis are concerned that Iran is too close to the accomplishment of its nuclear program, and has indicated that it will not be talked down from its intentions. Couple that with frequent Iranian comments about the illegitimacy of Israel, that it can and should be destroyed. The result is serious tinder.

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I do not perceive that Israel is on the verge of an attack against Iran. We are flooded with discussions of the pluses and minuses, and it appears that the minuses are in the lead. However, it is close, might change, and we will not know the outcome until we hear it on the radio.

Should Israel attack, Iran counter attack, and Israel escalate, it will be a different Middle East. The weaponry involved may produce a different world.

President Obama and his advisors, along with all their American cheerleaders, must take account of these possibilities.

Somewhat below the intensity of this issue is that of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Americans in high positions say that withdrawing them, or at least freezing their growth, is essential in order to attain peace between Israel and Palestine, and help solve problems elsewhere in the Middle East.

I do not perceive that major changes with respect to settlements are on Israel's agenda. The experience of withdrawing from Gaza was not encouraging, as Americans should know. Furthermore, there is little indication that West Bank Palestinians are ready to make positive responses, such as altering their demands about refugees, and considering ideas about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount that Israelis can accept.

The game continues. Any side thinking it has all the important cards will find itself with fewer accomplishments than it expects.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew Universiy

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Six of the most compelling issues facing Israel today

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM—Between December 22, 2008, when we arrived in Israel, and today, I’ve written over 80 pieces that I’ve inflicted on many of you. They amount to some 50 000 words, virtually all about the current situation in Israel. I’m almost embarrassed.
My excuse is that this has been a momentous period in the country’s history: the Gaza war; a new government; a new US administration; investigations into the comings and goings of politicians suspected of financial or sexual misbehavior; the economic meltdown; and, of course, the drama of the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit.
I write in an effort to formulate my own thoughts on what’s happening around me, but I’m happy to share the reflections with others. Recipients have been very generous in their responses. Thus in the course of these months a number of people asked to be added to my list. Having been alerted to it by previous recipients, they now wanted to be among them. The pieces are also said to appear on four websites in four countries. It’s flattering to have one’s doodles considered by some to be more than doodles.
You won’t be hearing from me in the next few months, for we hope to spend them in Canada. Though I’ll still have opinions about Israel, I won’t feel that I know what’s really going on when I’m not there. The time ahead is likely to be crucial for Israel. Here are some of the issues that are bound to make headlines. I’ll observe from afar:
*The relationship with the United States. It’ll be very different from what it was in the Bush-Sharon/Olmert days. I’m among those who believe that increased US pressure may help Israeli politicians to face facts and at least appear to promote peace.

*The Palestinians, like the Israelis, are bound to be the beneficiaries. Netanyahu and Lieberman are right that little has been achieved in the past. They imply that they can deliver
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more in the future. Once they tone down the rhetoric and Lieberman controls his bluster, they might. That’s what President Peres seems to have been saying.
*Iran. Part of the relationship with the US will determine whether or not Israel will attack Iran to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons, or at least delay the inevitable. I hope that Obama will find a better way than war, but that’s not certain. The days of Israel’s Six Day War triumph and the Entebbe bravado have long passed.

*The economy. Some say that Israel is in a better position than other countries to weather the storm. The Thatcherism that characterized Netanyahu’s previous government is defunct. Has he modified his economic dogmatism as he’s said to have changed in his political intransigence? Will he narrow the appalling gap between rich and poor?
*Corruption and its consequences. Will Lieberman be charged by the police with financial irregularities and therefore have to leave the government? Will that kill the present coalition and force a new election? If by then Olmert will have been cleared of police charges and of cancer, he may run again for the leadership of Kadima.  
*The Labor Party. Ehud Barak’s high-minded ambition to protect the country as its Minister of Defense is breaking up the party he still leads. End of an era?
The primary reasons for my mixed feelings about leaving Israel, even for a time: not being near the family here and not being in Jerusalem. It’ll be hard, even though we’ve come to enjoy living in two worlds. When asked where I really want to be, I paraphrase and answer frivolously: “In Jerusalem, of course – when I’m in Toronto.”  

Editor's Note: Our hope is that Rabbi Marmur will still find time in Toronto to write about Jewish affairs, even if they are not focused on "the situation" in Israel. There are many other topics on which we all benefit from the rabbi's thoughts.

Marmur divides his time between Toronto, where he is rabbi emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple, and Jerusalem, where he is a freelance writer and commentator. Rabbi Marmur's email is marmurd@sandiegojewishworld.com

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Items for us? Please send them to editor@sandiegojewishworld.com

Rami Kleinstein in concert at Lawrence Family JCC May 14

LA JOLLA, California (Press Release)--Rami Kleinstein, one of Israel’s most renowned pop superstars, will be touring the US on May 2009,with a concert scheduled at the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla at 8 p.m., Thursday, May 14.

Kleinstein & The Piano is an intimate performance featuring a selection of original songs from Rami’s enormous personal repertoire. Rami, a native New Yorker, aptly and cleverly weaves his songs together with rich anecdotes laced with a poignant, delicate humor, that give the audience insight into Rami’s life as well as tidbits of Israeli history. Rami’s piano playing is stellar, as is his soulful and captivating voice. This is a one-of-a-kind performance not to be missed!

Known as one of Israel’s greatest pop/rock composers and performers, Rami Kleinstein has often been compared to Elton John. Like Elton John, Rami is known for his beautiful love songs, soothing voice and delicate piano-playing. Rami has had a very prolific career as both a composer and performer. In 1997, Rami produced his sixth album entitled “Everything you Want” which reached triple platinum after only ten days. Rami was lauded for his singing, composing and arranging. This success was no surprise as Rami had already been elected Israeli Radio and Television’s “Singer of the Year” in 1995 after his “Apples and Dates” album reached triple platinum.

Apart from being a triple platinum and gold album award winner, Rami is also known for composing and arranging music for other singers, most notably the Israeli superstar, Rita. Since 1985, Rami has been successfully composing, arranging and accompanying Rita. Rita’s electric voice and Rami’s brilliant compositions have earned them many triple platinum albums. Rami was born in New York in 1962 and moved to Israel with his family in 1970. As a child, he studied piano and classical music with the famous Israeli music teachers, the Berenbaums.

The preceding was provided by the San Diego Jewish Music Festival

Following is a You Tube video of Rami Kleinstein singing in Hebrew, "The Winds of War."

Dor Hadash slates talk by Linda Robinson on living with HIV

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)—Dr. Linda Robinson, Associate Professor of Nursing at San Diego State University, will be the guest speaker at the 2nd Friday Community Roundtable at Congregation Dor Hadash on June 12, 2009 at 7:30pm. Dr. Robinson holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a masters in nursing from Penn and abachelor's degree from the University of Rochester. She will bespeaking on the topic of "Living With HIV." Dr. Robinson has doneextensive research on this topic and has published many articles in avariety of journals such as the Journal of Palliative Care, Nursing Research, and the Journal of Nursing Education.

Congregation Dor Hadash at 4858 Ronson Court in the Kearny Msa area is San Diego's only Reconstructionist Congregation. Founded in 1983, Dor Hadash (New Generation) offers its members a full spectrum of ritual, educational and cultural opportunities. Congregation Dor Hadash is a diverse community of life-long learners, defining Judaism as an evolving religious civilization.
More information: (858) 268-3674

Media Watch

Four generations of a single family watched the Star Trek movie together in La Mesa, California, on Sunday, and their snap reviews were mixed. Sam Zeiden, 90, thought the story a bit too convoluted and choppy. His son-in-law Don Harrison, 63, thought it lacked the cerebral content of the original Star Trek series, substituting lots of action and special effects for the ethical and moral dilemmas faced by the original Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Don's daughter Sandi Masori, 36, said she wished the movie were in more vivid color; "it was too dark." Her son, Shor, 8, was by far the most appreciative. "It had everything a kid could want," he asserted. "It had lots of action and some humor."

Called a "reboot' of the old Star Trek series because some of the biographies of the main characters were changed by means of the anomolies created by time travel, the creators of this Star Trek may be far more interested in Shor's reaction than in those of any of his forebearers. He's the one that may keep coming back and back for sequels in the new Star Trek universe. On one thing all members of the family--from the 8-year-old to the 90-year-old--agreed upon: it was nice seeing Leonard Nimoy reprising the Spock role. He has been a sentimental favorite ever since he created the "live long and prosper" greeting with a gesture patterned after the split-fingered priestly benediction of Judaism.

The Los Angeles Times features in its Sunday edition an exhibition at the Skirball Museum that focuses on the early age of comic books. Geoff Boucher's article tells the story of Jerry Robinson, who was an illustrator for the Batman comic book series and came up with the look of the Joker character. Here is the link.

Ian Campbell, general director of the San Diego Opera, says in the current economy four productions, rather than five, per season is preferable. In the upcoming season, one of the productions will be Nabucco, Guiseppi Verdi's imaginative production based on the times following the destruction of the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzer imprisoned the Jews in Babylon. Marcus Overton's story was in Sunday's edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Here's the link.

Scott Silverman, founding director of Second Chance in San Diego, is the subject of a feature article in the May-June 2009 issue of Addiction Professional magazine. Here's a link

Jews by choice, intermarried: panel subjects at Tifereth Israel

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)—The face of synagogues has altered through the years. Today, our congregations are filled with increasing numbers of converts and intermarried families with supportive non-Jewish spouses. Very often it is the convert or even the non-Jewish spouse who demonstrates more interest and commitment to the synagogue and Judaism than those who were born and raised as Jews

Shavuot commemorates the Israelites receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai forty-nine days after the Israelites left Egypt. On Shavuot eve, it is customary to stay up all night studying to commemorate the Israelites staying up all night in anticipation of receiving the Torah. During Shavuot morning services we read the Book of Ruth. Following the deaths of their husbands, Ruth, a Moabite, clings to

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her mother-in-law Naomi and refuses to abandon her. It is then that Ruth utters the words that have made her the model Jew by Choice.

Tikun Leil Shavuot at Tifereth Israel Synagogue on Thursday, May 28, will include back to back panels at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. devoted to the stories of some Jews by Choice and supportive non-Jewish spouses. They will share their thoughts about Judaism and the Jewish community, the challenges they have faced, and how they perceive they have been accepted into our community.

A Shavuot cheesecake buffet will follow the two panels. The evening will conclude with a study of classical Jewish texts, led by Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, about Judaism’s historical attitude towards those who wish to join our community.

Preceding was submitted by Tifereth Israel Synagogue

Sandi Masori of Balloon Utopia:
How to make a balloon elephant

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The Bible in Pop Culture: Justice, a key to salvation

Isaiah 56:1

Thus said Hashem: Observe justice and perform righteousness, for My salvation is soon to come and My righteousness to be revealed.

John E. Finley photographed this storefront on April 23, 2009 in South Bay Galleria in Torrance, California

Please share your photo showing a biblical reference in pop culture Please send your jpg photo for posting to editor@sandiegojewishheritage.com. If possible, please send it at 72dpi resolution and 400 pixels wide. Please include the name of the photographer, the date and place the photo was taken, and any other relevant caption information.

For our growing "Pop Bible" collection please see
Bible in pop culture index

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Bringing together bipolar world of arts and management

The Art of the Turnaround; Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations, by Michael M. Kaiser, Brandeis University Press, 2008

By Sheila Orysiek

SAN DIEGO—Michael M. Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, brings together the bi-polar world of arts and management and judging from his book enjoys every minute of it. Enthusiasm for his work and the challenge of designing management techniques to save art - bringing the two halves of that world together - bounce off every page.

He begins by presenting a no-nonsense appraisal of the problem at hand, the Ten Rules he has formulated and his success in turning debt-ridden, often squabbling organizations into success stories.

The problem:  an arts organization is an entity with a limited capability to shave expenses by either downsizing (an orchestra must maintain a certain number of musicians) or limiting programming (people won’t buy a ticket to an obviously meager production).  At the same time there is a finite number of tickets which can be sold – a theater has a definite number of seats. 

Kaiser lists The Ten Rules and then in several clear paragraphs expands on each.  

Someone Must Lead – Arts organizations tend to splinter along the fault line between artistic direction and business management – each often blaming the other.  A leader must be chosen to represent the entire entity.

The Leader Must Have a Plan – Leading without a plan isn’t leadership.  A mission must be defined and then a roadmap produced to accomplish that goal.

You Cannot Save Your Way to Health – while savings such as judicious use of supplies and time is a good thing – cutting into the quality of the product is counterproductive.  Without a quality product there is nothing to sell.

Focus on Today, Tomorrow, Not Yesterday – while it is necessary to work at reducing past debt, it is the future cash flow and plans for the future that is the answer.

Extend Your Programming Calendar – think ahead long term.  This engages the interest of others in supporting the organization.

Marketing is More than Brochures and Advertisements – Kaiser divides marketing into two streams:  marketing an upcoming event and marketing the institution as a whole.  This brings together both short term and long term planning and needs.

Kaiser further divides marketing by event into “informational” and “missionary.”  The Nutcracker is such a well known ballet it needs little explanation except basic information such as times and dates.  However, a less well known or new production would need much more descriptive information using more words and images.

There Must be Only One Spokesman and the Message Must be Positive – disparate voices present disparate messages often at odds with one another and are counter productive.  This gives off a confusing picture of a confused organization.  Generally speaking, people like to be associated with success.  Presenting the organization as always on the brink of financial disaster is a dismal prospect.  Positive messages, a positive long term view is much more alluring to the prospective donor.  A single spokesman controls the message.

Fund Raising Must Focus on the Larger Donor but Don’t Aim Too High – While the million dollar donor is a dream come true – it is too often a dream – don’t count on it.  A steady stream of mid level donors is a much more attainable goal. It is the mid level donor who is likely to give repeatedly and thus is the organization’s life blood. 

Selling something is better than begging.  Offering benefits to donors is an easier sell than asking for money with no immediate return. (PBS does this by giving DVD’s etc., based on various tiers of contributions.)  Board members are more likely to approach a potential donor if they can offer something in return.  Another productive approach is to use a large donation as a challenge grant.  This generates excitement as well as fostering a positive fund raising image.

The Board Must Allow Itself to be Restructured – new people can bring in new resources and contacts. 


Long term Board members might induce an atmosphere of stagnation. Additions to the Board should be made in small groups of 2-3 at a time.  A single new member tends to take on the attributes of existing members.  All new members should be thoroughly oriented about responsibilities and expectations before actually joining the Board.

The staff leadership must be marketed to the Board.  Too often the Board sees the staff as the “opposition.”  If the Board has confidence in the staff leadership they will be excited and stay involved.

The Organization Must Have the Discipline to Follow Each of These Rules – rules on paper are worthless. 

After discussing each of the above succinctly and yet in enough detail to convey understanding, Kaiser then goes on to illustrate how he put The Rules into practice – learning along the way - in the organizations he has “turned around.”  Each was successively larger and more complex than the one before it, beginning with the Kansas City Ballet and then on to Alvin Ailey American Dance Foundation, American Ballet Theatre, Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, London) to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, of which he is now president. 

A book such as this could have easily become a dull textbook for the initiated but Kaiser’s sense of humor and bottom line technique makes it eminently readable.  While he is not abashed in relating his successes, he also tells of his personal learning process which is of itself instructive. There is an “art” to bringing health to the arts just as the magic on stage is based on an underlying structure.

There is a chapter on each of the organizations he has “turned around” detailing some of the problems, stresses, successes and failures he experienced.  Some of it is personal, some of it situational.  Anyone familiar with the performing arts will recognize many names and remember the various events – now seen from the other side.

Kaiser’s wealthy fund (pun intended) of knowledge can be applied to other institutions such as a synagogue or a museum (he has been an advisor to the Jewish Museum) which are also engaged in offering an intangible. Too often management, marketing and fund raising are seen as necessary chores rather than a dynamic – even exciting – road to success.

Orysiek is a freelance writer based in San Diego. Her email: orysiek@sandiegojewishworld.com Kaiser recently was interviewed by San Diego Jewish World's Cynthia Citron in connection with a seminar he gave in San Diego for arts executives.

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In one of best fiction works, Roth looked at Jewish identity

By Gail Feinstein Forman

SAN DIEGO--Nathan Zuckerman, the protagonist in Philip Roth’s acclaimed 1988 novel, The Counterlife, describes his being a Jew as “a Jew without Jews, without Judaism, without Zionism, without Jewishness, without a temple or an army or even a pistol, a Jew clearly without a home, just the object itself, like a glass or an apple.”

Though a search for Jewish identity permeates the book, this compelling read is also a reflective treatise on another aspect of personal identity - the individual personas we create to continually reinvent ourselves and then present to the rest of the world.

Roth would have us believe that our imagination can liberate us from any disadvantage, including physical impairment. Nathan remarked that “We can pretend to be anything we want. All it takes is imagination.”

The reader is treated to a roller coaster ride of intrigue, insight, and humor amidst the pathos of parallel lives that intersect at the place where dreams are made.

The novels main protagonists, Nathan Zuckerman, the writer and older brother, and Henry, the dentist and younger brother, are often pitted against each other, each denigrating the life the other has made for himself. 

In middle age, their lives converge, and they face the same predicament. Both men require bypass surgery or face life-long impotence.They both choose surgery.

But Roth creates two separate possible post-surgical outcomes for each man-one the “reality” - the life lived with longing, but never fulfilled.

The second, what he refers to as the “counterlife,” a scenario in which all your dreams come true.

In Henry’s first story, Nathan is at Henry’s funeral, as he did not survive the surgery.  He bemoans Henry’s meaningless affairs with his dental assistants and the tragedy of a life seemingly “unlived.”

In Henry’s second scenario, his “counterlife,” he survives the surgery, leaves his wife and two daughters, and makes aliyah to Israel.

Henry writes to Nathan that he has finally found both happiness and his Jewishness. He believes Israel is the only place for him to live.

Nathan travels to Israel to persuade Henry to return home to his family. Though Henry refuses to leave, the trip to Israel provides the launching pad for Roth’s discussion of crucial issues in Jewish identity, and a few hilarious encounters along the way.

Roth depicts a wide array of Israeli characters, e.g., the pistol- toting nationalist Israeli ever on the ready for an Arab attack, the assimilated Jew who doesn’t think much about Judaism, and the Orthodox Jew.

Roth uses these individuals to demonstrate a rigidity in outlook about the “correct” way to live as a Jew, each arguing defiantly that his own chosen path is the only right one.

No value judgments are made here. Roth only elaborates and reports through detailed, intimate dialogues.

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As for Nathan’s real and imagined lives, he makes it through one surgery but doesn’t come through the second one-or so we think at first.

In Nathan’s “real” story, he is a writer in England who is in love with a non-Jewish, beautiful, charming, married Englishwoman in the above apartment.

They begin an affair, but due to Nathan’s impotency, they affair cannot be consummated. Like his brother Henry, he lives a life unfulfilled-a life “of quiet desperation.”

However, in his “counterlife”, he is strong and virile. He is married to the Englishwoman who lived upstairs. She is pregnant with his child and they live in their newly- built home in Gloucester, England.

But in addition to the experiences Nathan has in his impotent life and “counterlife” while living in England, he also offers up a scathing attack on “polite” English anti-Semitism and responds to it with memorable outbursts and visceral rage.

As the characters careen between their “real” and “imagined lives,” you keep asking yourself which “counterlife” story is the “true” one?

But as Roth reminds us in an interview, “we are all writing fictitious versions of our lives all the time-contradictory but mutually entangling stories, that, however subtly or grossly falsified, constitute our hold on reality and are the closest thing we have to the truth.”

If you left Philip Roth off with Portnoy’s Complaint, you owe him another look. The Counterlife is a good start.

Forman is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Her email is formang@sandiegojewishworld.com

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I'm still here ... Memoirs of Laura Simon, 103

Editor's Note: Today San Diego Jewish World begins the-every-Monday serialization of I'm Still Here by Laura Simon, a San Diego resident who is still going strong at 103. She wrote this book to mark her 100th birthday.

We will maintain a list of links to the installments of her story on Laura Simon's archive page, which can be accessed any day of the week through the "authors" pulldown tab below our masthead. Laura, who once painted canvases in vivid colors, today is legally blind, so she is unable to read e-mail. However, she says anyone who wishes to contact her may do so through the e-mail of her son, New York playwright Mayo Simon at mayosimon@aol.com

The book may be purchased via its publisher's website, www.montezumapublishing.com
or via Amazon or Barnes & Noble's websites.

I am a writer, although sometimes I have my doubts.

“Wow! You are a hundred years old? What’s your secret?”

I am not yet falling apart. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “All the world is a stage and we merely play all the parts.” And that’s what I’ve been doing, making my entrances, changing my costumes. Playacting helps me to survive until stark reality sets in.

Where am I going to go when the bulldozers start to knock down all the houses around me? I’ll be a hundred and two before the corporate offices are built across my patio; before I can enjoy the swimming pool, lectures and music in that
promised club house. That is, if I live through the dirt and debris, the trucks passing my door.

“You’ll make it, Laura, don’t think. Just keep to the writing scene.”

Knock, knock! There they are! My film makers for the documentary are here from Point Loma High School with their instructor – director of music, arts and film-making.

“You look just like an actress,” said Josh. (or was it Jacob?) Lots of laughter. I brace myself.

To play bits of my life I’m all dressed up in a gold knit turtle neck sweater and a long panel velvet forest green skirt.

“This is going to be fun,” said Tyler, opening the screen door and coming in with the filming equipment while the other two are pulling at the drapes.

“We need more light,” Josh is saying to the director. All are pitching in to shuffle my living room around.

“Don’t worry about the tea-set,” I said, trying to be happy. I’m about to be a celebrity. “Just worry about me.”

I’m so excited I can’t stand it. I’ve been making all my friends jealous. Why, I ask myself? Because I’ll have to move to a hotel or a care center?

“Now can I sit on that chair?” The actress in me taking over.

“Not too close to the painting behind her,” Larry the director said.

The students chime in. “It’s not,” Josh said. “Looks OK.”

“Looks good to me, Larry,” Jacob said.

“Let’s think about it,” Tyler said.

“We don’t want the woman in the painting to scream,” Larry said jokingly, helping to position me just right.

I hum to my paintings around the room. “Smile the while I kiss you sad adieu…”

“This is a lot of fun,” Tyler said.

How he works with the camera is a mystery to me.

“We really need more light.” Jacob, pulling at the drapery cords again.

“The drapes will fall down. They’ve been up on those patio windows a long time. Twenty years already, so be careful,” I warn them.

Sorry doesn’t fix anything, I thought, staring out at the hibiscus.

“When were you born? What was your childhood like?” Josh asked, fixing the mike.

“Naturally you’ll buy the book and find out.”

“Then we can get all our friends together and have a filming party,” Larry said.

“A real party is coming up,” I said, “my 100th birthday. Oh, I was born in 1905 – Thanksgiving. When Teddy Roosevelt was President. It’s in my book, I Am Still Here.”

The mike comes closer. The group all ears. “How I helped separate my mother and father in a courtroom when I was only six and a half years old. But I learned a lot about courts, lawyers, marriages and divorces.”

“So did you want to make your career as a lawyer?” Josh asked, the mike moving closer.

“No, and not as a wife either. I wanted to be an adventuress. I wanted to see the North Pole, the South Pole – quite exciting to practice it when chasing the bigger kids through streets and alleys, my first geography lessons. There was a world out there outside of Potomac Avenue.”

Are my film-makers listening? Tyler having problems with the camera? I talk louder. “But I did get married.”

“The camera’s working fine,” Josh said.

“It would be nice to get her friends all together for the party. What do you think? Is her chair in the right position?” Larry asks.

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“I don’t want to say anything,” I said, “but what about my adventures in ghost towns? In gold mines? What could people have against each other when panning for gold in a river? Deep in a valley that’s where I went.” Anxious to show off my sharp memory, a great grandmother. Those three film makers and director had their own interest for the moment – their equipment.
“We need new batteries, Larry,” one said.

“Right here.” Larry opened a box. “And this documentary will be having its premier at your 100th birthday party pretty soon. So don’t worry about it, Laura.”

Larry turning to his film makers, “And now do we have enough light? Drapes OK? And how about her?”

“I don’t want to say anything,” I said again, “I’ll keep quiet. But I think the chair should be near the window.”

They confer.

“There the light is too sharp,” Larry said. “Won’t show up right on the film.” So just don’t worry, Laura. They’ve already won awards for film-making. They know what they’re doing."

Watching Tyler and Jacob circle the coffee table about the room. “I give my OK.” Larry admiring the coffee table setting near the window.

“I think I’ll keep quiet for a change,” I said once more.

“Camera OK?” Larry asked, taking a hand at it.

“It’s in my book,” I said. “My experiences from Aspen, Colorado.”

They are too busy filming my paintings around the room to listen. “From the ghetto of Potomac Avenue to make my mark in the world.” To get their attention, “And so where are you
kids going to college?”

“He’s the senior,” one pointing jokingly to the other.

“With those boys,” Larry said, “I had the greatest year of teaching – over thirty years of it. This has been a great year for me. Tyler, the star teenager!”

More laughter. On and on. My monologue is unimpressive. They were more interested in the sketches and photos piled up on the dining room table.

“This wedding picture of you?” Jacob asks.

“No, my daughter. Here’s mine,” finding the bride with the crown veiling around her head. “Some eighty years ago,” I said, “Hardly any radio around yet. No TV. No washing machines. A nickel in a box telephone, no air travel until Lindbergh got in.”

Those kids, no older than my great grandsons.

“If the line is busy, we get our nickel back. The telephone collector with the little black satchel comes once a month and opens the nickel box. To dump the nickels on the kitchen table. We get a refund for the overload.”

 “It’s better if we put these pictures through the scanner,” Larry said. “Got a shopping bag, Laura? We’ll take all these pictures with us.”

“Goodbye, pictures,” I’m saying to myself as I helped to shove them all into a big bag. “Please don’t lose them.”

I was the great actress, sitting before this tape recorder writing this book. Playing all the parts and not really satisfied the way I covered up the real me, inside of me. I was myself, though, when talking to my son over the phone. “I can’t write this book, Mayo. It’ll kill me! I can’t dig up stuff that had been buried ages ago. Some things are best forgotten.”

“You have to, Mother, you have to write it.”

My husband used to say, “Don’t try to figure out what’s in somebody else’s mind, Laura, because you can’t do it.”

I could search through my own mind, though, driven by that past world hovering over me.

“Let’s go to the supermarket,” I said.

“OK,” Larry agreed. “So let’s drive over and do some filming in the supermarket as Laura shops.”

Making my entrance into the supermarket with my high school film makers following me, I was the star on the stage.

“Can you get me somebody to help me shop?” I ask the check-out girl, as I usually do. Her voice over the loudspeaker brings the manager.

“We’re making a great documentary,” though I can hardly believe it myself, “Laura Simon, Making Her Mark.”

“I’ll have to ask the office,” he replied.

As a graduate of Potomac Avenue I learned how to handle that look on his face.

“You’re the best grocery store in our neighborhood,” I said. “And your deli has the best cole slaw and artichoke salad.”

The manager turned away. The turn table on stage stopped, I came down to earth again. I am no longer the actress. My film makers are gone.

Opening the pages of I Am Still Here, I have to ask myself, “Why did I write this book?”

To see how I managed to live through all the negatives that came my way. All seven stages of life? as Shakespeare said. Up to 100 years in spite of all my antics? To show my descendants that they can do it, too? Now I don’t have to ask myself who I am. I know who I am.

Now I know the purpose of my life, “To continue the preciousness of life is to have hope in the face of adversity.”

Next Monday: Laura's centennial birthday celebration

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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History
With thanks to Gail Umeham for the transcription

Jolly 16 Join Philharmonic Society
Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 4

The Jolly 16 held a Purim Dinner for over 100 servicemen on Sunday, March 1, at the Temple Center.  The meal consisted of “meichals” that the boys usually don’t get away from home.
At a recent meeting at the home of Mrs. George Neumann all Jolly 16 members present became members of the Women’s Committee of the San Diego Philharmonic Society.

Temple Sisterhood
Plans For May Ball

Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 4

At a meeting held in the home of Mrs. Sam Siraton last week, plans were made for Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood to give a May 9th affair called the “Ditty-Bag Ball.”   The dance to be held in the Don Room of the El Cortez Hotel will feature both entertainment and the music of the Pauline Gleason Orchestra.
Mrs. Siraton, chairman for the ball, announced that this is a fund-raising project to obtain funds for the purchase of both ditty bags and items to be sent to servicemen overseas.  Assisting with plans are:  Mesdames Arthur Bloom, Charles Salik, M. Esterson.

Council Sponsors
Globe Theatre Party

Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 4

San Diego Section National Council of Jewish Women has taken over the Globe Theatre for March 10th for the sprightly comedy by Moss Hart, “Light Up The Sky.” This is an annual event for the San Diego Section and is eagerly anticipated by members and friends as a delightful evening in which to help the financing of their many philanthropic projects.

Remember the 8:30 curtain for “Light Up T”he Sky”—March 10—Globe theatre.  Call Mrs. D. Doctor, R-3669; Mrs. N. Roberts, T-8855, or Mrs. N. Benson, R-4503.

Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 4

8th—U.J.F. Mobilization Rally—Temple Beth Israel—8 p.m.
8th—Jewish Labor Committee Concert—Beth Jacob Center—8 p.m.
10th—Council of Jewish Women—Globe Theatre Party—8:30 p.m.
15th—J.W.V. Bingo Party—Beth Jacob Center—8 p.m.
24th—B. B. Samuel I. Fox Lodge Brotherhood Meeting—Open Forum—Beth Jacob 8 p.m.
29th—City of Hope Jr. Aux. Anniversary Card Party—North Park Lions club—Eve.

B’nai B’rith Lasker Lodge
Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 6

Lasker’s meeting of February 23rd, featured a travelogue and slide picture showing a trip made through Europe via bicycle. 

The bicyclist was Dr. Clifford I. Graves, La Jolla surgeon, author of one of the finest medical books to come out of World War II, “Front Line Surgeon,” and a hero of the war in his own right.

Dr. Milton Millman, our Program Director, promises to bring bigger and better programs than ever before.  We think that if this is accomplished, a return to full attendance is assured.  Let’s give the ‘Doc” a fighting chance to prove himself by coming to the next meeting.  Jack D. Israel, Grand Lodge President, will speak.

Ralph Feldman gave a report on “Father and Child Night” to be held on March 23rd.  The committee is working hard to make

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this an outstanding event.  Many volunteers are needed for small jobs on the committee.  A call to Ralph Feldman or Harry Wax would be appreciated.

Poale Zion
Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 6

At the last meeting the following chairmen and committees were appointed:  U.J.F. chairman, Mrs. Meir Barach; Cultural chairman, Leon Elkind; social chairman, Mrs. B. Mallen; Budget and Finance committee, I. Domnitz, B. Veitzer, D. Leopold, and R. Umansky.

All members are urged to attend the dinner being given on March 14 at Temple Center in honor of the B. Veitzers, as proceeds of this affair will be turned over to our Israel Labor Fund.

Beth Jacob Sisterhood
Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 6

Mrs. Bernard Godes, President, Beth Jacob Sisterhood, and Mrs. William Penn, General Chairman of recent Spring Festival, thank everyone who worked, attended, and helped make the 3rd Annual Spring Festival such a great success.  It is untiring efforts such as Dorothy Penn displayed, and everyone’s cooperation which makes working for Beth Jacob Sisterhood a pleasure.

Please be sure to attend the next regular meeting of Beth Jacob Sisterhood, a delicious luncheon being planned to be held Tuesday, March 24th, 12 noon, at Beth Jacob Center.  Mrs. Marvin Bobrof, program chairman promises an entertaining and stimulating afternoon.

Red Rug Rolled Out
for B. B. Dist. Leader

Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 6

S. D. Lasker Lodge and Samuel I. Fox Lodges of the B’nai B’rith will roll out the red carpet for the visit of Jack D. Israel, Grand President, District 4.

Brother Israel will speak before a joint session of the local Lodges on Monday evening, March 9th, at the Temple Beth Israel.  He is a dynamic speaker and an inspiring evening is in store for all.

San Diego’s distinguished guest has 32 years of active membership and service in Grand Lodge for Southern California.  During this period he has headed many committees covering most of the Lodge functions.

The officers of both local Lodges will meet with Brother Israel at dinner that evening prior to the meeting.

J. W. V. Sponsors Bingo Party
Southwestern Jewish Press March 6, 1953, page 6

An evening of fun and frolic is guaranteed all who attend the Bingo Party being sponsored jointly by the Jewish War Veterans Post No. 185 and the Auxiliary, on Sunday March 15th, at 8 p.m., at the Beth Jacob Center.

Come one, come all—bring your friends, relatives, even your mother-in-law, and join in the fun—admission is free—there will be prizes and prizes and more prizes.  Don’t forget the date—March 15th, 8:00 p.m. at the Beth Jacob Center.  All proceeds from this affair are needed to carry on our ever expanding Veterans programs.

“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 ...
featuring notable Jewish community members*
Visit our Jewish Internet Favorites index to find links to other videos

Kevin Kline in "I Love You to Death" with Phoebe Cates

Michael Lembeck in "One Day At A Time" opener {unrelated GE commercial follows}

Richard Kline hosts "To Tell The Truth"

Eugene Levy in "The Man" with Samuel L. Jackson

*As Jewish community members, we include those with at least one Jewish parent and those who have converted to Judaism


Issue Dedication: Today's issue of San Diego Jewish World is dedicated with happy birthday wishes to Dan Schaffer

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