Archive for January 9, 2010

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, February 19, 1954, Part III

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by Gail Umeham

San Diegans To Hear Dr. Philip L. Seman March 3
Southwestern Jewish Press February 19, 1954 Page 6

San Diego will have the privilege of hearing Dr. Philip L. Seman, who will speak on “300 Years of American Jewish Life” at the Jewish Community Center—3227 El Cajon Blvd., Wednesday evening, March 3rd—8:00 p.m.

Dr. Seman, now residing in Los Angeles, is an outstanding authority on Jewish Life in the United States and especially, Jewish Social Service.

In addition to the many articles regularly contributed to the Anglo Jewish Press, he has written for the following magazines:  Recreation, Religious Education, National Jewish Monthly, American Hebrew, and is at present Associate Editor of Youth Leader Digest.

His varied activities include past vice president of the National Conference of Social Work; past president, National Conference of Jewish Social Service; member of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection.  At present he is vice-president of B’nai B’rith Hillel Commission; honorary president of the Chicago Recreation Commission; on the Board of Governors of the West Coast University of Judaism; and chairman of the Audio-Visual Dept of the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education.  Dr. Seman has made a notable contribution in the development of the American Jewish Community during his more than 50 years of service and San Diego will be honored with his appearance.


T.F.I. Men’s Club Party Huge success
Southwestern Jewish Press February 19, 1954 Page 6

The hard times mask party and social given by the Tifereth Israel Men’s club Saturday, Feb. 13th, was well attended and greatly enjoyed by all who braved the weather.

The committee in charge composed of Si Rich, Moe Hershey, Zel Greenberg, Ben Levinson, Les Tokars, Al Young, Herman Tolchinsky, Arnold Goldstein , Barney Korey, Len Jacobs, Ray Toole, Joe Gibson, Rudy Hess, Dave Jacobs, Lew Richards, (Doc) Phomin, John Lobenstein, Bob Cheron, Sam Brenes, Mac Lichter, Jerry Weissman, Max Zemen, Joe Kader, Joe Spatz, Vic Weiss and Ben Mash, did an outstanding job in serving and entertaining the fine crowd.  One of the highlights of the evening was the side show that Bob (Bozo) Cheron put on.


Advertising—Its Role (Editorial)
 San Diego Jewish Press Feb 19, 1954, page 7

Advertising is the magic ingredient of the American way of life—the spark which keeps the U.S. standard of living the highest in the world.

This is the theme of Advertising Recognition Week which will be observed throughout the nation through Saturday to focus attention on the important part advertising plays in stimulating American business.

Advertising saves money.  Because it sells on a mass scale, advertising makes possible mass production, which means lower costs.  Advertising helps you live better; it introduces you to new products and because it makes business more competitive, it stimulates the development of many of these superior products.

Advertising creates jobs.  The increased demand for goods that advertising builds, and the mass production that results, leads to mass employment, faster promotions, higher pay levels.

Advertising helps the farmer sell his crops; the manufacturer sell his factory output, the merchant sell his wares, the technician sell his skill.  And because, with advertising, all these people sell more, each can afford to see his goods or services to you for less and still make a reasonable profit.

Advertising helps to keep the Jewish press a strong, vital force in the community.  Without the support of the business men through advertising a free press is impossible.

A Breath of Fresh Air (Editorial)

The visit of Mr. Philip Klutznick to San Diego should interest more than the relatively few people who heard him speak last week.  As head of the B’nai B’rith, he is in a position to speak with authority on many problems facing the Jewish Community in American.  His position has enable him to get on the inside of important conferences and express his opinion.

Fortunately for us, he is a temperate and thoughtful man who weighs his judgments seriously.  Mr. Klutznick is also a “positive Jew” and represents the young element in Jewry who have swung to Zionism in such large numbers in the past two decades.  He sees support of the state of Israel as a duty for all Jews as Americans.

His statement on the N.C.R.A.C. indicated that the A.D.L. and the American Jewish Committee have no intention of getting together.  This was a disappointment.  Our guess is that vested interests are too strongly entrenched and the two years spent on the McIver report were wasted.

He also took the occasion to denounce the American Council for Judaism in bitter terms but conceded that they had a right to their opinion.  This may come as a surprise to some in our community but several people here have been toying with the idea of forming such a group.

He also indicated that he found the Anglo-Jewish Press across the country in a deplorable state because of lack of community support.  The Jewish Press has not been able to keep the community informed as to the important issues because of financial restrictions.  (Many Jewish business men DO advertise and support the Jewish Press here but a great many do not.  VERY FEW could not spend some advertising money with the Jewish Press and thereby help make it a vital and informative organ n the community.)

Mr. Klutznick’s visit here, although very brief, was a breath of fresh air.  We hope that he will come back again soon and stay longer.

Community Currents

Southwestern Jewish Press February 19, 1954 Page 7

By Albert Hutler, Exec. Director United Jewish Fund

Philip Klutznick, Supreme Lodge President of the B’nai B’rith made a marvelous impression on our Jewish community leadership when he was here to address the leaders of our local B’nai B’rith.  He proved himself to be not only a fine American, but a great Jew.    There can be no doubt in the minds of anyone fortunate enough to attend the luncheon in his honor that he has brought a new, dynamic young leadership to national B’nai B’rith.  He showed a fine interest in many things including the question of immigration and I anticipate, from his questioning about the effects of the McCarren-Walters Bill in San Diego, that B’nai B’rith will take some leadership in the fight against discriminatory immigration laws.

Who’s Changed
Myron Fagan, the frustrated playwright, author and Hollywood script writer, was back in town after a three years lapse.  He spoke under mysterious auspices at a meeting chaired by a Mrs. Jo Poland at the Vasa clubhouse last Sunday.  He mouthed the usual tripe in his talk on Communism over Hollywood.

Three years ago, in December of 1950, when he spoke before less than a hundred people at Russ Auditorium, none of the newspapers in San Diego would give him one word of publicity on the grounds that he was a crackpot, a member of the lunatic fringe, and that when he said amounted to nothing.  This time, one of the newspapers continued that policy but another of our newspapers gave him several thousand dollars worth of publicity in a personal interview which was published on the first page of the second section.  This leads one to wonder whether Fagan has changed his stripes in a period of three years so that he now has become a reputable enough person to be given the kind of publicity he was given, or whether the newspaper has changed its stripes so that it is willing to publish an interview with a Fagan or a Gerald K. Smith or a Wesley Swift?

Center Advances
The Jewish Community Center program has been continually advancing and making excellent progress.  There is no question in the minds of many people in San Diego that the need is there, and that the need for a building that can well represent the Jewish community of San Diego will be met within the next year or two at the very most.  If you go to the Center on Thursday evenings, you will find 50 to 60 college and high school students participating in all kinds of activities under decent supervision.  If you go there three mornings a week, you’ll see one of the best cooperative nurseries in San Diego in operation.  On Wednesday nights, you’ll find a discussion group gathered there to discuss a topic of interest to Jewish people.  Once a month, you’ll find an excellent concert and forum series.  If you live out in Point Loma, you’ll find a program for your children being run on Fridays as an extension of the Community Center.  The Center is not a static program.  It is continually moving and, under the excellent program direction of Sidney Posin, is doing a fine job and gaining tremendous respect in the community.

Equipment for the Center has been added through the generosity of several San Dïegans.  The Center now has a pool table for the use of its membership.

1954 Campaign
Well, the time is with us when the Combined Jewish Appeal begins asking for help for over 42 overseas, Israel, national and local organizations.  You can help the leadership of the campaign by making your contribution when you are called upon and not making the worker come back two or three times.

Periods of crises for Israel are no longer with us—crises in Israel have become the normal thing.  Our Jewish community has made up its mind that besides taking care of its own needs, it is going to help the United Jewish Appeal in every way possible—through purchasing bonds of the Israel government; and through participation in the $75,000,000 loan project of the United Jewish Appeal.  These are the things we must do—these are the things we will do.

Jewish Center News
Southwestern Jewish Press February 19, 1954 Page 7

Bob Dougherty will call the square dances at the Center Hospitality Night to be held Sunday, February 28th, 8:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3227 El Cajon Blvd.  For an evening of fun and an opportunity to meet old and new friends—all are welcome to attend.  Refreshments will be served.

All juniors and their parents are invited to attend a special Purim Party to be held at the Jewish Community Center on Wednesday afternoon, Mar. 17th, 4 p.m.  The afternoon Arts and Crafts groups will present a puppet play and the Creative and Ballet Dance groups will perform.  Refreshments will be served to complete an afternoon of fun and enjoyment.

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.

‘Steel Magnolias’ opens Welk season

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Carol Davis

ESCONDIDO, California–The Welk Resorts Theatre, which usually presents musicals throughout the year, opened their season recently with Robert Harling’s ‘comedy drama’, Steel Magnolias. Harling, the story goes, lost his younger sister to diabetes and was having trouble coping. Friends advised that he write about his feelings and use the journaling as a coping mechanism. It started as a short story and evolved as a full-length play. In 1987 it opened off Broadway and was subsequently made into a movie.

I’m going to say, just as a guess, that most people remember Steel Magnolias as the movie and in particular Dolly Parton as being the most memorable of the six characters. To be fair it also stared Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Daryl Hannah. Roberts receives her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. I must admit, I never saw the movie; I have however seen the stage play several times.  I have to admit as well that it is a tearjerker so bring tissues. A how many box tissue tearjerker play it is, remains up to your own sensitivities.

The play is set in rural Louisiana (Chinquapin) and the accents are thick. The friendships run deep, the topical comedy is dated (“When it comes to suffering, she’s right up there with Elizabeth Taylor”, “All gay men have track lightin’ and are named Mark, Rick or Steve”, “This is the 60’s … if you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past”.) and the ending predictable. But that shouldn’t keep you away.

Welk is producing the show in association with La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment. Hopefully the name Rigby will ring a bell. Yes THAT Cathy Rigby of Olympic Gymnastics and Peter Pan fame. Rigby, who stands at no more that five feet tall (just guessing) plays the Mom or M’Lynn Eatenton (believe it or not Sally Field played that role in the movie). Amy Sloan, who has to be at least five seven or eight, plays her daughter Shelby. I can identify because one of my daughters is five nine and I’m five two (that’s stretching since I’ve gotten older).

The entire play takes place inside the home of Truvy Jones (Christa Jackson) who has converted her living room into a hair salon. Its pristine looking with shampoo bowls, two hair dryers, a manicure station (on one side of the living room sofa) and a bookcase filled with hair products (for sale, I’m guessing). On one side is the entrance to the house with a staircase leading to bedrooms and on the other side is the kitchen where recipes are tried out and fed to the clients, all locals, and back entrance.

Besides getting one’s hair done, all the local news that’s fit to print and then some is discussed, hashed, digested, problems solved and moved on. Holidays are discussed, marriages, births, deaths, careers and children are like community property and every one of the women patrons in Truvy’s shop knows more about each other’s children than their own spouses do, I’m sure.

The drama that unfolds is centered on Shelby who is about to get married and whom we learn has diabetes. She was told by the doctor not to have children since it would complicate her life. Everyone is in the know on Shelby’s plight. The story line follows Shelby through her marriage to the birth of her son to her kidney failure and on.

Support comes from Truvy whose job is to make everyone welcome in her shop and make sure they leave looking better that when they came in. “We call ourselves glamour technicians”.

Other regulars include Ouiser Boudreaux (Michael Learned is spot on and center stage a classy actor and class act every time she’s on), who is supposed to make everyone shudder but is a pussycat. 

Our own Rosina Reynolds as widow Clairee Belcher former First Lady of the state looking stunning after she changed from the awful looking wig we first meet her in to her own hair. Reynolds, a first class actor finds a happy medium between the younger and older generations as Clairee as she navigates finding common ground with mother and daughter who are at continuously at odds with each other over what’s best for Shelby.

Christa Jackson is top notch as the cool salon owner and Emma Fassler is Annelle Dupuy-Desoto the new beautician on the block with a secret past who turns to Jesus for consolation. She is a bit too affected every time she opens her mouth to be credible.

Brian Kite directs his women with ease, directness and heart, John Iacovelli designed the lovely set and Julie Keens costumes are times appropriate. Patrick Hoyny is responsible for the sound.

Steel Magnolias is here for a limited run through January 24th. For more information about The Welk Resorts Theatre see

See you at the theatre.

*Steel Magnolia Jewish Trivia: Winona Ryder aka Winona Horowitz was originally offered the role of Shelby.

Iranian exile anticipates demise of Ahmadinejad regime by year’s end

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

 HAIFA, Israel (Press Release)–An exiled Iranian theater director, Dr. Mahmood Karimi-Hakak has been visiting Israel this week. At a lecture that he gave for the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa, he said: “If the situation remains as it is today, by the end of 2010 the regime in Iran will be replaced.”

Dr. Karimi-Hakak, who has been teaching at universities in the U.S. over the past few years, left Iran when he came under investigation for a Shakespeare play that he produced without approval. Against the backdrop of deteriorating relations between the Iranian regime and Israel, Dr. Karimi-Hakak demonstrates the gap between the Iranian people and its leaders as he is currently visiting Israel thanks to a fellowship that he was awarded by the Fulbright foundation and intends to teach in the Israeli academia.

“The Green Movement in Iran has no ‘director’,” he said. “Unlike other movements in history, this is the first time that the people are driving leaders and not the leaders driving the people. As such, all the movement’s activities relate to at least two of the three leaders – Mousavi, Karroubi or Khatami. This way, none of them will become too pivotal after the fall of the regime,” he said.

Dr. Karimi-Hakak believes that the West does not need to become directly involved in the struggles between the protestors and the government, but could assist in roundabout ways, such as limiting the mobility of Iranian leaders, freezing bank accounts, and the like. As for Israeli intervention, he claimed that any such involvement would only jeopardize the possibility of changing the government. “Immediately after the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini targeted the United States as an enemy, and that united the Iranian people. Then Iraq became the enemy that united the population. I am convinced that the heads of government in Iran pray every day for an Israeli attack that would reunite the people against an external enemy. Therefore, I implore that you not intervene.”
The Iranian-born guest also related to the massive demonstrations in support of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad that have been taking place recently.

“About 15% of the citizens of Iran are true supporters of a religious government or are happy with the government’s economy. A similar percentage are state employees who are duty-bound to join these demonstrations and would otherwise lose their jobs. Another 5-10% are prisoners, drug addicts, prostitutes, and the like, who have accepted bargain deals to join the demonstrations in return for reduced sentences. This way, tens of thousands of people assemble to demonstrate support for Ahmedinajad,” he concluded.
Preceding provided by University of Haifa

Sutton-Smolin selected for Hillel trip to bring medicines to Cuba

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Max Sutton-Smolin

CHICAGO–This fall, I was selected by the Northwestern University Fielder Hillel Center to travel to the island of Cuba in March 2010.  This is a rare opportunity given the travel restrictions to Cuba however; approximately 30 Northwestern students will participate in this humanitarian aid and cultural exchange program. This will be the fourth annual trip to the island sponsored by the Northwestern University Fiedler Hillel Center.

Our trip is focused on providing aid to the small but vibrant Jewish community of Cuba.  Due to the current political situation on the island, the people are in dire need.  Thus, we bring aid in the form of food, toiletries, medicine and vitamins, and much more. 

Additionally, the Jewish community of Havana operates the only free private pharmacy on the Island.  They distribute medications to anyone in the local Cuban community regardless of religious affiliation; but the pharmacy is totally dependent on medical donations from groups such as ours.  In addition to bringing aid, we will be participating in community service projects with the youth group at the Jewish Community Center in Havana. 

I am kindly requesting that my friends and family be involved in this special and once-in-a-lifetime project.  You can help by making a tax-deductible donation to Northwestern University Fiedler Hillel Center, and earmark the gift for the Cuba trip.  If you would like to help, please kindly send a donation check to: Fiedler Hillel Center 629 Foster Street Evanston, IL 60201. Hillel’s tax ID number is E9988-7101-05, under the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact our trip leaders Drew at  or Myriam at 

Sutton-Smolin is the son of Marcia Sutton and Rocky Smolin

A tale of competing narratives

January 9, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–Israelis and Palestinians are caught up in what nowadays is often called competing narratives. The Israeli story is that Jews have always lived in the land of Israel. Even the majority of them who don’t subscribe to the dogma that the land has been given to them by God point to historic evidence that at least some Jews have always lived there. Though most have been forced, or chose, to live elsewhere, the Holocaust has finally demonstrated that exile threatens their survival as a people. Their return to their land is seen as a necessary affirmation of roots and purpose. The existence of Israel has meant that even those who don’t live there have a much more secure future as Jews.

The Palestinians’ narrative also has it that they’ve lived in the land from time immemorial. Even those who don’t believe that their ancestors were the biblical Jebusites, whom the Israelites defeated, will insist that the land is theirs and nobody else’s. For them, the Holocaust is no argument for the Jews’ return. Even those who don’t espouse the expedient lie of Ahmadinejad of Iran and many others that the Holocaust never happened will nevertheless tell you that it’s not for them to pay the price for the atrocities that the Germans and other Europeans committed against the Jews.

The two narratives are irreconcilable. Only pragmatic considerations can lead to a modus vivendi. For some this means that there should be one state for both peoples. A good number of Israelis believe that it should be a Jewish state in which Muslims and others will live as minorities. Most Palestinians believe that it should be a Muslim state in which Jews live as a minority in the way they’ve lived in other Muslim states for many centuries in the past.

Not unexpectedly, neither side can accept the demands of the other. Realists, therefore, speak of two states, Israel for Israelis and Palestine for Palestinians. Since it’s not an option for extremists, moderates in both camps are looking for third-party support. Hence the diplomatic efforts that involve the United States, Europe, the Quartet, Egypt, Jordan, even Saudi Arabia, and perhaps Turkey. As neither side regards this as the best solution, we shouldn’t be surprised that progress is very slow, at times non-existent.

 An unrealistic, nay quixotic, agenda on both sides may be that the other will give up: some Palestinian leaders hope that the Jews will tire and move elsewhere; some Israeli leaders hope that with improved economic conditions, especially compared to other Muslim countries, the Palestinians will adjust to the status quo. Thus as soon as one side seems to be ready to negotiate, the other usually creates new obstacles.

At present Israel seems to be willing to come to the table. Even its current right-wing government has frozen settlement expansion and is making other concessions. In response, the Palestinian Authority is putting new stumbling blocks by insisting on new conditions. Each side, of course, has to reckon with a militant constituency back home that wants to stay with the original narrative come what may.

All of us may yearn for peace, but nobody seems to know how to change the narrative. Hence the constant seesaw and the endless frustrations. Though we must not stop hoping for a just solution, we owe it to ourselves to be realistic and not blame the other side for, literally, being the villain of the peace. Accepting complexities is the price we pay for mature judgment and for refraining from both euphoria and despair.   

Rabbi Marmur is the spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  He now divides his time between Canada and Israel 


Breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew scriptures has shed new light on the period in which the Bible was written

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

HAIFA, Israel (Press Release)– Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of King David’s reign), and has shown that this is a Hebrew inscription.

The discovery makes this the earliest known Hebrew writing. The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least some of the biblical scriptures were composed hundreds of years before the dates presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel already existed at that time.

The inscription itself, which was written in ink on a 15 cm X 16.5 cm trapezoid pottery shard, was discovered a year and a half ago at excavations that were carried out by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Elah valley. The inscription was dated back to the 10th century BCE, which was the period of King David’s reign, but the question of the language used in this inscription remained unanswered, making it impossible to prove whether it was in fact Hebrew or another local language.

Prof. Galil’s deciphering of the ancient writing testifies to its being Hebrew, based on the use of verbs particular to the Hebrew language, and content specific to Hebrew culture and not adopted by any other cultures in the region. “This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah (“did”) and avad (“worked”), which were rarely used in other regional languages.

Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah (“widow”) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages. The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs,” Prof. Galil explains.

He adds that once this deciphering is received, the inscription will become the earliest Hebrew inscription to be found, testifying to Hebrew writing abilities as early as the 10th century BCE. This stands opposed to the dating of the composition of the Bible in current research, which would not have recognized the possibility that the Bible or parts of it could have been written during this ancient period.

Prof. Galil also notes that the inscription was discovered in a provincial town in Judea. He explains that if there were scribes in the periphery, it can be assumed that those inhabiting the central region and Jerusalem were even more proficient writers.

“It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.”

He adds that the complexity of the text discovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa, along with the impressive fortifications revealed at the site, refute the claims denying the existence of the Kingdom of Israel at that time.

The contents of the text express social sensitivity to the fragile position of weaker members of society. The inscription testifies to the presence of strangers within the Israeli society as far back as this ancient period, and calls to provide support for these strangers. It appeals to care for the widows and orphans and that the king – who at that time had the responsibility of curbing social inequality – be involved. This inscription is similar in its content to biblical scriptures (Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3, and others), but it is clear that it is not copied from any biblical text.

The deciphered text:

1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].

  2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]

3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]

4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.

5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

Preceding provided by University of Haifa

Consensus seekers are true leaders

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO — I admire Abba Eban, z”l, I do not agree with his view on governing by consensus. Eban wrote: “A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.”

I have the opposite opinion: a consensus means that everyone has put aside their personal reservations and interests in order to come to a conclusion that everyone can live with.

As a participant or observer on many different non-profit boards, I have often felt that close votes make bad policy. I often advise that votes on controversial and divisive issues be tabled until everyone has time to think and reflect and come back to make a decision that the overwhelming majority can live with.

Consensus does not often occur on its own. It needs to be built. In order to build a consensus one or two people in positions of leadership need to speak with others and encourage their agreement and “buy in.”

Moshe Rabbeinu understood the importance of building consensus. Even when he did not need agreement he went out of his way to solicit support. One example of his leadership skills is found in Parashat Shemot. After God appears to Moses in Midian and orders him to return to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh release the Israelites, the Torah reports: “Moses went back to his father-in-law Jether (Jethro) and said to him, ‘Let me go back to my kinsmen in Egypt and see how they are faring.’

And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go in peace.'” (Ex. 4:18)

Rabbi Natan Tzvi Finkel, the “Grandfather of Slobodka” (1849-1927) wrote that some might find Moses seeking permission from his father-in-law to leave for his mission to be puzzling. After all, Moses was going at God’s bidding! Why did he need Jethro’s assent?

Rabbi Finkel was not puzzled by Moses’ actions, he praised them. Perhaps, he wrote, it was because Moses went out of his way to honor his father-in-law and other human beings that God found him worthy of leadership to begin with. (Iturei Torah, Shemot, p. 39)

There is nothing shameful or weak about compromising and seeking the agreement of others, especially of those whom might initially disagree with you. It is rather a sign of confidence, strength, and decency.

As I wrote above, I do not agree with Abba Eban that consensus is wallpaper for bad decisions. I agree, rather, with Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we commemorate next week, who said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego

Democratic professional club to host Marti Emerald

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)– City Council member Marti Emerald will speak on the state of the City from a Democrat’s perspective and take questions at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Mission Hills home of Linda Brown, 1870 Sheridan.  

There are some complex issues due to the budget crisis. For example, some funds are earmarked for projects such as the library or stadium, and cannot be spent on other items. Consequently, the City is laying off employees and limiting services while proposing a new City Hall.

Emerald  represents District 7 which is a large and diverse area, generally East of 805 and North of 94; it includes Tierrasanta, City Heights, the SDSU college area, Lake Murray, and Miramar.

What are her priorities and perspectives, and what plans and reserves are being considered for future recessions? The council member was a well-known local TV personality, having been a former consumer reporter for many years before her election to the council. 

Preceding provided by the Democratic Professional Club 

Israel’s choice between risk and responsibility

January 9, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–Most Jews in the world are sure, or would like to be sure, that Israel has an unassailable case in dealing with the Palestinians. When the rest of the world, or at least much of it, thinks otherwise, Jews tend to ascribe it to two reasons: (1) the non-Jewish world has remained as hostile to Jews as it has always been; (2) the Jews in general and the government of Israel in particular, don’t know how to make Israel’s case sufficiently convincing, i.e. they are bad at PR (“Hasbarah” in Hebrew).

The issue is thus reduced to either Gentile anti-Semitism and/or Jewish ineptitude. Of course, when Jews are critical of Israel they must be self-hating, poisoned in the wells of anti-Semitism, even if some of them are committed Israelis.

The uncomfortable possibility that Israel may not have an unassailable case is usually discarded because it’s too difficult to handle. We don’t like to contemplate Israel’s dilemma: either giving the Palestinians what they want or to act like a bully to prevent them from getting it.

To give Palestinians what they want expressed in frequent threats by their leaders and allies, runs the risk of Israel being wiped off the face of the earth and Jews to face another threat to their very existence. When Israel tries to make sure that this doesn’t happen by using force against Palestinians, it’s bound to have to suffer the approbation of many other nations. In the words of a very good sermon (there are still such things now and again) that I heard recently, Israel’s choice is often between risk and responsibility.

This doesn’t mean that there’s no anti-Semitism or that Israeli PR couldn’t be better, but it does suggest that the fundamental issue is whether Israel can afford to take security risks or, in order to act responsibly, must take stern measures to ensure security.

It’s good at the latter. Each time there’re new terrorist threats in other countries, their leaders, openly or in secret, turn to Israel for advice and help. Thus, for example, the drones Israel has developed are now being sold to countries like Brazil, Russia, and probably many others. Soon no doubt the anti-missile rockets that Israel is reported to have perfected will also be in demand around the world.

This doesn’t mean that the Israelis don’t make mistakes or that all Israeli security measures are always needed. Nor does it mean that all Palestinians are behind the militant ambitions of many of their leaders. However, one thing about security is that you never know how much is enough and, therefore, to act responsibly one has to do more than the risks might warrant, especially with the benefit of hindsight.

Would situation be different had Israel not kept the territories it conquered in 1967? Perhaps, but we must not forget that the reason why it conquered them in the Six Day War was in response to a real threat to its very existence, which was repeated again on Yom Kippur 1973. Those who say that the conflict is endemic and will last as long as Israel exists may have a point. To ascribe its origin to 1967 is to misread history.

This doesn’t mean that Israel shouldn’t try to promote a Palestinian state able to assess its own risks and take its own responsibility. Thus the need to resume the peace process. At least the negotiations may make life easier and safer for Israelis and Palestinians alike. That would reduce both criticism from abroad and dissatisfaction from within. Even if the conflict can’t be (yet) resolved, it could be better managed.

Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  He divides his time between Canada and Israel.

Poizner says all insurance companies in California have reported their Iran-related holdings

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment

SACRAMENTO (Press Release)–California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner on Thursday  announced that the remaining 216 of 1,327 insurance companies licensed in California have responded to his request to provide data on their investments with companies doing business with Iran’s nuclear, energy and defense sectors.

Because all licensed insurance companies have now complied with the data call, the previously-scheduled Jan. 12 hearing for insurers to explain why they did not comply with the inquiry has been cancelled. 

“Completion of the data call is a huge first step in our efforts to identify and reduce Iranian-related holdings from the portfolios of insurance companies,” Commissioner Poizner said. “I’m pleased that insurance companies realized that attempting to obscure their investments in the Iranian nuclear, energy and defense sectors was plain wrong. I hope they will continue to do the right thing and work with us as we do whatever it takes to apply maximum pressure on the government of Iran to change its behavior.”

California Department of Insurance (CDI) personnel have been able to uncover more than $6 billion in investments in companies doing business with the Iranian energy, nuclear and defense sectors.

With all California insurance companies reporting, CDI will soon provide a list of companies that are doing business with the Iranian energy, nuclear, and defense industries. Many of these foreign companies are based in South America, China, Russia and Europe. They include such companies as Siemens, Statoil, Petroleo Brasileiro and Total SA. The list will be created using information from the data call and input from outside consultants and other experts.

At that point, insurance companies will be given 30 days to notify CDI in writing whether they will comply with the divestment request. Insurers will be given 90 days to eliminate indirect holdings in Iran from their portfolios.

For companies that do not voluntarily agree to divest, CDI will make public a list of these companies and provide the name and value of their Iran-related investments. Commissioner Poizner will also subpoena high-ranking executives of these insurance companies to testify under oath and ask them why they believe it is in the interest of California policyholders for their premium dollars to be invested in companies propping up Iran’s energy, nuclear, and defense sectors.

Preceding provided by Commissioner Steve Poizner