Archive for January 11, 2010

Some times even the circus may not be a refuge

January 11, 2010 1 comment

Adam Christopher and Joshua Grenrock in
“Circus Welt” at the Whitefire Theatre

By Cynthia Citron

SHERMAN OAKS, California– Even three-quarters of a century later, the sight of a troop of Hitler’s brownshirts, their left arms emblazoned with a swastika band, can cause a chill in the most stalwart of audiences. 

The setting is Germany in 1933 and the country is in turmoil.  But the engaging performers of Ludwig Bricke’s small traveling circus are happily oblivious to the gathering storm.  Very soon, however, they will learn that one can run away and join the circus, but sooner or later the real world will catch up with him.  Or, to put it another way, “You can run, but you can’t hide!”           

This is the premise of Jewish playwright/director Pavel Cerny’s Circus Welt (“Circus World”), a new (and deeply moving) adaptation of Leonid Andreyev’s earlier play, He Who Gets Slapped.   The “He” in this instance is a former professor from “the Academy” who has abandoned his career after refusing to teach the “Aryan myths” being promulgated by Hitler’s propaganda machine.  Without identification papers, without a history, and without a name, the erstwhile professor invents a niche for himself as a clown and persuades Herr Bricke to take him on.  As a performer, he will act as a foil for the other clowns and become “He who gets slapped.”           

Bricke (a superb John Moskal)’s ragtag group includes his Jewish common-law wife, Maria (an imperious Stephanie Keefer), who serves as the lion-tamer; Consuelo (Tanya Goott), the beautiful and innocent bareback rider (an “unpolished jewel,” as her father calls her); Bezano (Patrick Koffell), the handsome horse trainer and acrobat who is also a Communist activist; and Tilly and Polly (Justin Hertner and Lee Biolos), gay clowns who, in addition to providing music and merriment, serve periodically as commentators on the “real world” drama going on at the time. 

There is also Count Mancini (Kurt Hargan), an impoverished Italian nobleman and a despicable toady, who is negotiating to “sell” his daughter Consuelo to Baron von Reinhardt (Ed Brigadier), the commander of the local Nazi Stormtroopers, who is enamored of her but has no intention of marrying her.  

 And then there is He, a brilliantly poignant Joshua Grenrock, a man with an air of desperation and a rubber face whose performance will leave you in tears. 

Plus a bevy of other clowns, circus performers, and storm troopers (a full cast of 19 in all), most of whom, as Maria notes, “feel safe in the circus as long as we don’t bring in strangers.” 

As befits this type of hand-to-mouth enterprise,  the performers exist between acts in a seedy backstage setting designed by Walter Ulasinski.  Their costumes, designed by Shayla Kundera, while not resplendent, are colorful and appropriate—especially He’s “”jester” costume in red and black topped with the traditional belled cap. 

Although Andreyev’s original setting was Germany in 1914, the situation was, unfortunately, much the same in 1933.  Cerny’s adaptation, then, strikes much closer to home in the pre-World War II time frame and adds an entirely new dimension to the proceedings.  As carried out by this outstanding group of actors, “Circus Welt” is a theatrical experience that ought not to be missed. 

But hurry!  This world premiere performance of “Circus Welt” will run every Sunday at 2:30 and 7:30 only through February 14th at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., in Sherman Oaks.  Call 866-811-4111 for reservations.

Citron is Los Angeles bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, March 8, 1954, Part I

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment

By Gail Umeham

Mayor Butler To Speak March 8
Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 1

Mayor John Butler will be the speaker at the Lasker Lodge meeting Monday, March 8.  The mayor will discuss some of the problems facing San Diego which will be of interest to all members of the community.  Members are urged to attend as a question and answer period will follow his talk.

Harry Zall has been appointed chairman for the forthcoming Father and Child Night to be held on March 23.

S.D. Borrows $75,000—Its Share of UJA Loan
Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 1

San Diego’s Jewish community joined 160 others throughout the United States in helping to provide a $75,000,000 loan to the State of Israel, according Harry Snyder, treasurer of the United Jewish Fund.

In making the announcement, Mr. Snyder said, “Israel has a pressing problem in meeting immediate foreign exchange debts.  This situation has arisen because despite generous giving to the United Jewish Appeal campaigns in the past five years, the cost for absorbing nearly 700,000 immigrants by far exceeded our gift dollars.”

“Because we realize the serious situation involved and the fact that with this loan, Israel may well be on the way to self-sufficiency,” Snyder continued, “our committee decided to participate in this funding project.”

Known as the “Funding Project of the United Jewish Appeal,” the plan was proposed by the UJA to help meet Israel’s financial crisis by normalizing the payment of obligations of Israel over a period of five years.  United Jewish Appeal has guaranteed repayment of the loan over the same period of time.

After a great deal of investigation and discussion in which Mr. Leo Gallin, formerly director of the Jewish Welfare Fund of Los Angeles and now the director of the Funding Project for the UJA, was present and told the need, the board of the United Jewish Fund agreed to borrow $75,000 as its share of the $75,000,000 loan.

San Diego again joins with other communities to help meet a crisis which can only be alleviated through contributions to the United Jewish Fund in 1954.


Helen Schulman Heads Woman’s Division For United Jewish Fund Drive
Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 1

Organization of the 1954 campaign is now well under way following the selection of Mrs. Victor Schulman as Women’s Division Chairman of this year’s Combined Jewish Appeal.

Scheduled for the months of April and May, the annual drive for Jewish needs locally, nationally and overseas will seek to raise a minimum of 20% more than last year’s campaign, according to Louis Moorsteen, president of the Fund.

Mrs. Schulman will be assisted by co-chairmen, Mrs. Leo Beck, Mrs. Harry Wax, Mrs. Harry Felson, Mrs. Abe Bard; Mrs. William Carter will be in charge of Young Matrons Section of Women’s Division; Mrs. Morton Thaler in charge of Publicity and Entertainment.

Selected as the outstanding volunteer of the year in the Jewish community for 1953, Mrs. Schulman has been extremely active in Women’s Division work for many years.  A former Women’s Division co-chairman, she has done a magnificent job of organization in every campaign in which she has participated.

Her vice-chairmen are women who have been active in almost every women’s Jewish organization in San Diego.  They have received their training not only in fund activities but in such organizations as Hadassah, Sisterhoods, B’nai B’rith, National Council of Jewish Women and the various women’s Zionist organizations in our community.

“Though our Combined Jewish Appeal,” Mrs. Schulman said, “includes an appeal for over 42 causes and agencies, all of them depending upon our support and assistance, the cause of Israel is of paramount importance in our campaign.  There are definite indications that Israel is on the road to economic stability and self-sufficiency but the problem of providing for emergency needs of the newcomers and strengthening the gains achieved in the past five years, is a most acute one.”

“I know that the women of San Diego will once again respond with outpouring generosity so that we may all speed the day of complete rehabilitation of the immigrants in Israel and strengthen her economic position as well as do the very best that we possibly can for the national health and welfare, religious, educational, cultural, community service and community relations agencies and the agencies which do so much good in our own community,” Mrs. Schulman concluded.


Betrothal Announced (Weitzman-Segal)
Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 2

Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Weitzman announce the engagement of their daughter, Esther, to Andrew Segal, son of Mrs. Helen Segel and of Morris Segal, both of New York City.

Miss Weitzman, well known for her community activities, is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity.  She is teaching in the Santee School.

Mr. Segal is a graduate of the City College of New York City and a member of Pi Tau Sigma, national honorary mechanical fraternity and of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The wedding is planned for July and the young couple plan to make their home in San Diego.

Betrothal Told (Leson-Haimsohn)
Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 2

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schwam announce the betrothal of their niece, Shirley Leson, to Edward Haimsohn, son of Mrs. Herman Haimsohn.

Miss Leson attended San Diego State College and Mr. Haimsohn calls the University of Southern California “alma mater.”  While there he was affiliated with Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.

The young people plan to make San Diego their home after their marriage April 4.


Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 2

The Islands Call
Mrs. Roberts Downing Hudson, Jr. (Sandra Cole) of Albuquerque, visited here with her mother, Mrs. Lee Cole, prior to their departure for San Francisco on Feb. 23.

Sandra and Lee spent time with relatives and friends in S.F. until Lee sailed for Hawaii on the Lurline on March 3.  Her Headquarters during her stay on the Islands will be the Moana Hotel.  Sandra will wait for her mother in San Francisco and both will return to San Diego about March 25 where they will be joined by Mr. Hudson, on leave from the Air Force.

Visiting with the Harry Wax’s is Uncle Max Wax of Brooklyn, who belies his 78 years by doing a lot of traveling.

“Home From The Wars”
Welcome home to Stuart Ferer, out of uniform and back from Germany.  Parents,
Dave and Essie, and sister, Joyce Gerelick are overjoyed at having him back.

Popular Bride
Shirley Leson was the recipient of good wishes and bridal linens on March 3 when Mrs. Louis Weiss and Mrs. George Solomon entertained in her honor.  About twenty-five guests are expected to attend the linen shower to be held at Valle’s.

On March 27 the groom-to-be’s sister, Mrs. Herbert Haimsohn, has planned a dinner party in her home for Shirley and Edward Haimsohn.

We know that the many friends of Mrs. Harry Goodwin will enjoy the letter we received from her from “down under” so we are sharing part of it:

Auckland, N.Z.
Feb. 25, 1954

Dear Mac and Julia,

“This house appears quite similar to our own, inasmuch as it is equipped with electric stove, refrigerator, mixer, toaster, vacuum cleaner, floor waxer, and many other gadgets.

“Their gardens look much as ours do; almost everyone has several varieties of fruits and vegetables growing in them.

“I visited the glow worm caves, considered to be one of the world’s wonders.  The roof of the cave is illuminated by clusters of luminous green glow worms—a fascinating sight.

“The Queen had visited them about two weeks prior to my visit and everything looked spruce and bright.

“The summer has been a hot and dry one resulting in a critical water shortage.  So, you see, I am reminded of San Diego in more ways than one.

Raida K. Goodwin


Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 2

Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Baillif and 20 month old Judy Gale are proud to welcome a son and brother, Daniel Peter, born February 25.

Grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Walther Freund and Mr. and Mrs. V. Bailiff, all of San Diego.

Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Leonard announce the birth of their first child, a daughter, Linda Jo, born March 2, weighing 6lbs., 7oz.  Mr. Leonard is an electrical engineer at Convair.

Grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Frederick A. Leonard of San Diego; and Milo E. Ray of Phoenix.  The young lady is also blessed with great-grandmother, Mrs. Sarah Adler, of Phoenix.

Spring Brings Styles To T.I. Sisterhood
Southwestern Jewish Press March 5, 1954 Page 2

“Springtime Cameo” has been chosen for the theme of Tifereth Israel Sisterhood’s luncheon meeting and Fashion Show, on Tuesday, March 9, at 12:00 noon, at the Tifereth Israel Center.

Mollie Morse, well known in San Diego, will be the commentator.  Mrs. Edward Binder, program chairman, announces the following who will serve as models:  Miss Dorothy Mae Hess; Mesdames Irving Dear, Ida Lipinsky, Manny Hafner, Henry Raymor, Sanford Sack, Harold Lehrer, David Shapiro, and Max Zemen.  Musical accompaniment will be by Betty Blanc.  Door prizes are being donated.

Mrs. Abe Ratner, captain, and Mrs. Milo Berenson, co-captain, extend a cordial invitation for all to attend, and see the latest in spring fashion.  For reservations please call Mrs. Abe Ratner, AT-4-5538, Mrs. Henry Price, AT-2-5505, or office, AT-1-5529.

“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.

Call for nominations for teen super-menschen

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment

PALO ALTO, California (Press Release)–  The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards recognize young Californians who have distinguished themselves as leaders and have initiated community service projects that impact their communities in meaningful ways.  This is the fourth year for the statewide philanthropic endeavor. 

Any teacher, civic leader, or non family member may nominate a young California resident who is between 13 and 19 years old for the award.  Nomination forms are available via this  link, or by contacting (415) 512-6432, or by emailing:

Nominations must be received by the application deadline of February 19th

The $36,000 award can be used however the recipient wishes—most have used the funds for furthering their educations, developing their projects, or starting new endeavors.

Teens must self-identify as Jewish, though their community service projects can benefit the general community.

Teens  may nominate themselves, or be nominated by teachers, rabbis, community leaders, or anyone who knows the value of the their volunteer service and commitment—family members excluded

Teens must be residents of California, age 13-19 years old at the time of nomination
Tikkun olam is the Hebrew phrase that literally means “repair the world.”  The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award was established by Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller, to help identify, reward and encourage our next generation of leaders to follow their visions for improving the world around them and giving back to their communities.

The awards are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Preceding provided by the Helen Diller Family Foundation

Past recipients have come from Los Angeles, La Jolla/Santa Barbara, San Diego, Marin County, Encino, Carlsbad, Beverly Hills and Los Altos – maybe this year will open the door for a young person in your area.

Who are the U.S. allies in the war on terror?

January 11, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Now that President Obama has acknowledged that the United States is, indeed, at war, the relevant questions are, “against whom and with what allies?”
Mr. Obama said, “We are at war with al Qaeda.” Our allies include our Western-thinking coalition partners, of course. But our allies are also supposed to be the governments of countries in which al Qaeda has rooted itself. Those governments are supposed to see the problem of radical Islam the way we do and are supposed to want it gone the way we do. Both the President and Gen. Petraeus said in interviews last week that we only plan to “assist” the Yemeni government in ousting al Qaeda itself. But what if the government of Yemen or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Somalia decides they have to live with al Qaeda permutations for the long term while the United States will soon be leaving? What if they think they ultimately have more in common with local al Qaeda offshoots than with us?  What if they are more comfortable with tribal loyalties and radical Islamic thought than they are with secular, Western democratic norms? Then they will not be very good allies.
It is already clear that all four governments (and others, including Lebanon) have mixed views about what we call Islamic radicalism, and the administration has been public in its criticism of the Pakistani and Afghan governments. The President has gone to great lengths to separate a form of Islam of which he approves from al Qaeda, which he considers a distortion if not a perversion. The distinction may not be so neat.
Al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations defy simple definition. They have no bylaws, membership cards, lapel pins or secret handshakes. People can set up their own franchises that may have tighter or looser ties to Osama bin Laden or Ayman al Zawahiri-or none. Some radical Islamic groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, provide services to people the government cannot, or doesn’t care to reach, making them part of the scenery.

Others, including al Qaeda in Iraq, alienate the local population. Groups can be larger or smaller, tighter or looser. They can cooperate for tactical or strategic ends (think Taliban and al Qaeda and where one begins and the other ends) and what they lack in common definition, they make up for in common worldview.
They believe the United States and Israel are the primary enemy, with other Westerners close behind. They believe in the expansion of violent, radical Islam to subjugate their own people, destroy infidels and expand the realm of Sharia law. They are misogynistic and homophobic. They are McCarthyite in their demonization of “the other” and Hitlerite in their propaganda. They undermine weak governments and then thrive in the chaos with money and arms provided by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and others. They react not to what we do, but to their own view of the Islamic future. It is a mistake to believe poverty drives them; they can be and often are personally middle class or even wealthy. It is true that poor people may have fewer resources with which to differentiate propaganda from truth, but many jihadists are worldly, well-traveled and still think it best to seek heaven in bloody tatters.
Certainly not all Muslims share the mindset. Millions have happily integrated the 21st Century and millions would if given the chance. But many people who would never consider blowing themselves up are sympathetic to the principle of Islamic expansionism, many others believe they have legitimate grievances against the West. And many weak governments find it unwise to antagonize them, or don’t want to antagonize them and use their weakness for cover.
As this war continues, and it will, the United States should be careful how much it expects from the governments of Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia and consider how much we are on our own in their countries.

Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

San Diego Jewish Profile: Bilingualism jumpstarted Loretta H. Adams’ career

January 11, 2010 10 comments

Loretta Adams at home

By Donald H. Harrison

LA JOLLA, California—The life and business success of Loretta Hirschfeld Adams illustrate how advantageous a bilingual education can be, especially for those of us who live in the southwestern United States.

Adams, who established and later sold a company of nearly 300 employees  specializing in Spanish-language market research, grew up in Colon on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal.  Her Jewish parents sent her to English-language schools in the Canal Zone where she could meet and mingle with the children of American military personnel and Canal Zone employees.

As a child, she spoke Spanish at home and English at school, adding to her appreciation of the larger world into which she had gained more-than-usual exposure from her parents.   Her mother was a member of a Sephardic Jewish family that had lived for generations in Curacao after Adams’ triple-great-grandfather, Aron Mendes Chumaceiro, had been sent from the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam to serve as a rabbi at the yellow-painted Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue  in Willemstad.

In an interview, Adams said that the Salas family to which her mother belonged had spread from Curacao throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, with some of them becoming important figures.  Some stayed Jewish, others intermarried resulting in the next generation becoming Christian.  One cousin in Colombia, Ernesto Cortissoz, helped to found a forerunner of Avianca Airlines, and another relative, Henrique Salas Römer, ran unsuccessfully in 1998 for President of Venezuela against Hugo Chavez.  Her mother’s branch of the extended family had lived in New York and in Cuba before migrating to Panama.  “They went where there was opportunity,” she said.

Adams’  father was an Ashkenazic Jew who had escaped Germany in 1937, the year before Kristallnacht,  and who thereafter avoided ever speaking about Germany or using its language.  Günther Hirschfeld spoke Spanish with such a strong German accent, however, that he couldn’t completely bury his roots.  Hirschfeld worked with Adams’ maternal grandfather at Almacen Salas, an import/ export business that sold American goods to Panamanians and helped Latin American companies export their goods to the U.S and other markets overseas. 

While Adams never actually worked in the family business, as a girl “I used to go visit my grandfather and my father.  They had air conditioning—and that was a big draw,” she recalled.

Most young women in Panama married almost immediately after high school, but that was not the future that Yolanda Salas, Adams’ mother, had dreamed about for her.

“My mother was a very advanced person for her generation, for her time,” commented Adams during a recent interview in her La Jolla home. 

“She always had wanted to go to college so she made sure that I went to college, and that I wanted to go to college.  That was what was needed for me – I couldn’t see myself being married young in Panama.”

She enrolled at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, a chief attraction being that Florida was the closest point in the mainland United States to Panama.  The drama professor there, incidentally, was Arthur Wagner, who later came to UCSD where he was instrumental in persuading Mandell Weiss to underwrite construction of an on-campus theatre.   Except for Adams’ roommate, Gloria Pasternak, there were few other Jewish students at Rollins.  Pasternak, attuned to Adams’ feelings of being a fish out of water, persuaded her to transfer to American University in Washington, D.C, where Pasternak’s family resided.   One of her sisters-in-law was Nina Hyde, the fashion editor of the Washington Post.

Adams decided upon a marketing major, rare then for a woman.  “It sounded good to me,” she explained.  “I wanted to be in business but accounting sounded dull and boring and statistics I didn’t do well.  I knew marketing was a coming field.”

Owing to her familiarity with the family business, Adams wrote a paper on exporting , a subject that was a novelty because most American University students at that time “didn’t focus on international at all.”

Her father, drawing on his lessons as a refugee from Germany, persuaded Adams to apply in the United States for a Green Card as an insurance policy, even though her immediate plans were to return to Panama.  At the time, certification as permanent residents in the United States was fairly easy for Panamanians to obtain, so she did so.

Following graduation in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in international marketing, she returned to Panama where she took graduate courses at the University of Panama in Panama City to which, in the interim, her parents had moved from Colon.   Many Panama City residents own businesses in Colon, 60 miles away, either commuting to their stores or having on-site managers, Adams said. 

Adams got her first job in Panama City as a management trainee for Sears Roebuck and Co.  Her salary, she recalls, was $22 a week, paid in a cash envelope.   Despite her boss saying that in the United States she never would earn more than $90 a week, she went to New York in 1965, obtaining a job in market research at the Kenyon and Eckhardt advertising agency.  As her boss had predicted, her salary was $90 per week, disappointing her because she really wanted to earn $100 so she could have $5,200 yearly.

The agency handled such accounts as the Lincoln-Mercury lines of automobiles and Brylcream, a men’s hair product. Because she was fluent in Spanish and knowledgeable about Latin American lifestyles, “I got to do projects in Latin America with the research director,” she said.  “The visibility I had was unbelievable because you get taken out of your cubicle and you get to deal with presidents of companies that are clients in Latin America.”

After three years, she moved to Richardson-Vicks International, which manufactured such products as Vicks VapoRub, Oil of Olay, and Clearasil.  Suddenly, she was being paid $11,000 a year by the company that eventually was absorbed by Procter and Gamble.  “They sent me to Mexico City for six months, and I ended up staying there for ten years.”

Adams became director of research in Mexico City—a promotion that put her in the unenviable position of having male Mexican subordinates who resented her and an American boss who she described as the epitome of the chauvinistic male middle manager such as those portrayed in the television series “Madmen,” dealing with advertising firms of the 1960s.

She didn’t let them get her down. 

Adams’ American studies and her Panamanian upbringing helped her realize one problem that American companies were encountering in Latin America:  “The foreign consumer, the multinational consumer, is not an American in a different language.  Too many marketers make that mistake.  Too many advertisers think, ‘Oh, we’ll just put a commercial in Spanish—we can take the same commercial in English and put it into Spanish.’  But the consumers’ experiences are different…. “

Adams recalled an advertising campaign in which the blue mouthwash {Scope} was being  sold as better tasting than the medicinal one {Listerine}.  The problem was that mouthwashes were not then part of Mexican culture; consumers there needed to be educated as to the benefits of the product.  Contrasting one product that Mexicans didn’t know with another product they didn’t know was wasted advertising, Adams said. 

Another example was when Tropicana in a direct translation of its U.S. campaign boasted that orange juice was fresh, not concentrated.  But Spanish speakers liked what  “concentrated” conveys in Spanish; “it means more and stronger, more Vitamin C,” said Adams.  

It was in Mexico that Adams met her husband, Henry Adams, from whom she is now divorced.  A psycholinguist who also had grown up in Panama, and had gone to university in Washington, D.C., he  was well-versed in understanding the different concepts words can convey to people who speak different languages

For example, she explained, if one says “rice,” what image will come to an American’s mind? Probably white grain in a bowl.  What about the word, “arroz,” which means rice in Spanish?  More than likely an Hispanic person may think of something that looks pink or yellow.

In that words can convey different images, advertising messages must be sculpted to make certain audiences understand what they are intended to convey.

While the Adamses was living in Mexico, her parents died. One brother, Richard, moved to Caracas, Venezuela, and today is an investor in Houston.   Her younger brother, Gary Hirschfeld, 12 at the time, came to live with them, and had his bar mitzvah in Mexico City the following year. Today, Hirschfeld is a successful investor and board member at Congregation Beth Israel.  Although Adams is the older sister, her relationship to Gary is almost that of a mother, and that of a grandmother to his two daughters.   She does not have any children of her own.

As comfortable as life was in Mexico, they decided that their future was elsewhere.  “We realized that while we were Hispanic, we weren’t Mexican.  Everyday someone would say to us, ‘We, here in Mexico, do this.’   {Luis} Echeverria {Alvarez} was president at the time, and he was very anti-American, anti-foreign.  That couldn’t be long term for us. We made nice salaries but we didn’t make a wealthy living there.  And we didn’t have friends and family we could count on.”

They decided that he should study in San Diego for a license as a psychologist and return to Mexico approximately every six weeks to see his patients.  She would fly when she could to San Diego to search the job market, which was dismal.  “We chose San Diego because at the time it was the cheapest air fare between Mexico City and the U.S.”

The plan to move might have been stillborn, but for Ed Noble, the proprietor of a large advertising firm in Mexico City, Noble & Associados.  In line with his own plan to purchase radio stations along the U.S.-Mexican border, he agreed to back Adams in establishing a San Diego based firm that would specialize in advertising research for the American-based Hispanic Market.  But the firm did not live up to immediate hopes, and so “I bought him out, paid back every cent he invested in the company and I created my own company.  This was Market Development Incorporated (MDI).  My first office was on Mission Center Road, across the street from the building where the Anti-Defamation League has its offices. “

From a small professional suite opened in 1978, her company grew to the point that it took over a quarter of a floor, “so we moved to our own building at 1643 Sixth Avenue, a little stand-alone building that is now part of a condo complex. “  Outgrowing that, the company moved next to the Comerica Bank on B Street.   Thereafter it decided to hire not only the researchers who crunched the data, but also the people who went out and conducted the focus groups.  “The interviews had to be in proper Spanish and we weren’t finding suppliers to do that,” Adams said.  As it continued to expand, the company moved to Chula Vista, then to Bonita, and finally it rented a building in National City near the freeway. 

Where were her customers?  “I got on a plane a lot because the market was not here that I was researching and my clients were not here.  I can’t remember any client that I ever had in San Diego of national importance, so I was always either getting on a plane to go to New York or the San Francisco Bay area.”

Clients like the Beef Council, Wells Fargo and Chevron contracted with MDI to research the Hispanic market in the United States.   “When I started in 1978, I think the market size was 15 or 20 million,” she recalled.  “Now it is up to 45 million.   When I started there was one Spanish-language TV network and now there are nine, and there are internet sites in Spanish.  If you go to the Zoo, you will find a Spanish site there.  Nothing like that existed before. “

Among potential clients back when she started, “there was a lot of lip service given to this market—everyone said ‘we’ve got to do Hispanic,’ but it never stuck.  It came and went with the management.  A new VP in charge of ethnic marketing or multicultural markets would say ‘we will do it right now,’ and then the guy was gone in six months and that was the end of that budget, so it was very fluid.  It was not consistent with clients you could count on. “

The good news was that those who believed in the Hispanic market formed a community.  “They would go somewhere else, so you could find them and start up with them again,” Adams said. 

One of the problems was that “there were a lot of people who were afraid of the market—the Spanish-language market.  They didn’t see the benefits; the stereotypes were there.  They would say ‘these are poor people.  What can they afford?’   Well, they do like branded products, because when you are a poor person you cannot afford to make a mistake and buy an unknown product.  So they will buy Tide or Ivory Soap or Crest Toothpaste or like that.  But there was fighting the stereotypes about the Spanish market.”

MDI found customers not only in the private sector, but in the government and the non-profit sectors.  “I did work for the American Cancer Society in Spanish and that was very needed and very worthy kind of research I did,” she said.  “Another heartfelt kind of work I did was for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) because even though accidents were going down among other segments of the population, they were going up among Hispanics.  They are the ones doing the labor intensive and precarious jobs.”

Adams said at the request of OSHA “I did a lot of work with laborers and people in different markets and they were scared to death of their own bosses, who were usually Americans or assimilated Hispanics.”  Some Hispanic laborers “never reported their accidents because they were afraid of being fired from work.  They weren’t being paid when they were hurt because they’d lose their job if they took off time from work to go to the hospital.  So they would limp along and do whatever they could.  This was heartbreaking, and it was revealing.  They came from countries where people don’t wear goggles; they don’t know the value of wearing those things.  ‘Why do you need to wear goggles?’  ‘Because it will save your eyes.  And gloves are important.’  So a whole educational process was needed.”

Adams said utilizing focus groups in her research “gave me a mountain of insight into the consumers—the end users of the product” To run the focus groups,  “I needed people from Latin America who knew Latin American culture, and to whom we could teach marketing, psychology or some kind of social science to get their reports going.”  

In the process, she said, MDI created many competitors—people who would start companies of their own after being trained by MDI, which “helped build the industry, the multicultural marketing research industry.  I was one of the pioneers of that, without a doubt.”

In 1999, Adams sold her company, which has annual revenues of $7 million, to Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for an undisclosed amount.  Bruce Shandler, then TNS chief executive officer, was quoted as saying that MDI had “pioneered the development of transcultural consumer research, an area that is growing in importance as ethnic marketing increases in the U.S.  It provided leading U.S. corporations and global advertising agencies with an in-depth understanding of Latin American and U.S. Hispanic consumers, local customs and cultures, and the products and services Latin consumers use most.  The Latin American research is carried out primarily, but not exclusively in the major markets of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.  In addition, MDI has a 120-station, tri-lingual CATI telephone facility in San Diego, fully staffed by personnel who can interview consumers and business executives in English, Spanish or Portuguese.”

Neil Schwartz, today TNS director of Southwest operations, said that in their industry, Adams is credited as a pioneer of research into the U.S. Hispanic market.  “She established that whole niche in marketing research,” he said.  “She really pioneered it.   She had prescience and foresight, but her success definitely also was her entrepreneurial spirit.  She was an extraordinary presence in the industry, with a real determination to tell the meaning of what the research is saying.”

Besides being a successful entrepreneur, a woman and an Hispanic, Adams also was a Republican – and that was a combination that proved irresistible to some national figures in the Republican party.

She was invited to Washington D.C. on one occasion to attend a social function sponsored by senators with large Hispanic constituencies.  It was before John McCain’s rise to national prominence and Adams says she regrets that she didn’t get to know him better back then, because she would have enjoyed learning more about his early life as a military dependent in the Panama Canal Zone.  McCain’s father completed his military service as an admiral, as did his grandfather.

While on a business trip to Chile, Adams received a telephone call from U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who then was the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate.  He explained that a new government group was being formed, under the chairmanship of Jack Kemp, called the National Commission for Economic Growth and Tax Reform, and that he would like her to be a commission member.

“I had no idea what he was talking about, but he was Bob Dole, so I said yes,” Adams said.

Besides Kemp, commission members included former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Shirley Peterson (the only other woman), former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell; former Delaware Gov. Pete DuPont; and Fortsmann-Little CEO Ted Fortsmann. Economist Arthur Laffer served as a consultant.

It was an enjoyable experience for Adams.  “We flew all over the country and went to town halls, and people talked to us about taxes.”  Eventually the commission proposed a single tax (some call it the “flat tax”) on gross income to replace the current graduated income tax with its system of exemptions and deductions.

“I remember we went to Boston, where I met William Weld, the governor, who was brilliant, and then we went to Omaha to have dinner with Warren Buffett.”  The billionaire investor had sold a business  property to Disney, and to celebrate “he wore that day a tie with Mickey Mouse on it.”  The commission also went to Stanford University where a meeting had been arranged with Nobel Prize winners.

Dole and Kemp went on to become the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates in 1996—the year that both the Republican presidential convention and a debate between Dole and Bill Clinton were held in San Diego.  On one occasion, Kemp asked Adams to introduce him to a luncheon crowd of business people that filled a local ballroom.  She did so, and then Kemp turned the tables on her, spending much of his speech talking about her career, entrepreneurship, and the contributions immigrants can make to America.  Adams was pleased but embarrassed; “I was thinking ‘oh let this room swallow me up.’”

Social life for  Adams family was, of necessity, quite limited because of all the flying she did throughout the week.  However, she made some lasting friends, sometimes through her business, and sometimes by being someone else’s customer.

Linda Levy first got to know Adams some 25 years ago when she did an interior design project for Adams’ home, which then was in the  Del Cerro area of San Diego.   “I  also helped her find her home here in La Jolla,” where the two live close enough to walk to one another’s homes and then to continue on walks into La Jolla Village.

The two also have taken longer trips together.  “She went with me one time to Memphis where I grew up” and they are planning a trip together to Panama “so I will be getting to see her roots.”  Additionally, they have gone to New York, on a Jewish Family Service trip that included some fashion shows, and “I like to kid her that when we walk around San Diego, she doesn’t walk as fast as we do in New York.  She always can walk two or three times faster than here.”

Levy said Adams “has a good sense of humor—that’s important to me.  She’s always ready to try new things, we tried tap dancing together.  We took a cooking course a couple of years ago…we had to do the preparation one day and we literally were like Lucy and Ethel  (Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance) on the old television show. We were so tickled.”

Terry Goldfarb, an American living in Panama, met Adams more than two decades ago when Adams was visiting family and friends there.  When Goldfarb’s son, Neil, arrived in San Diego to attend UCSD, Adams promptly invited him to join her for Shabbat dinner.  “She met my future daughter in law, Megan, before I did,” Goldfarb recalled.

When Goldfarb followed her son to San Diego a few years later, “she took me under her wing.”  The friend said Adams has a “caring nature – no matter if she is on the road, if she knows you have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday she’ll call you Wednesday night to see how the appointment went.”

“She’s very intelligent, keeps au courant with everything, a wonderful hostess, gracious, giving, inclusive, caring person.  And she keeps up with so many people from her past, whether a cousin, or a former employee, she goes to baby showers, weddings, and meets socially for coffee.  She’s formed and kept many friendships along the way.”

Nadja Frank Kauder, who had been director of the women’s division of United Jewish Federation, said she thinks she initially was introduced to Adams by Sylvia Liwerant, who is active in the Mexican Jewish community.   Her first husband, attorney Stan Frank, eventually did some legal work for MDI.  Meanwhile, Nadja Frank persuaded the Adamses to go on the large community mission to Israel in 1995—the one participants always will remember because it coincided with Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.  Eventually, on the suggestion of the Jewish communal activist, Adams became involved with Project SARAH (Stop Abusive Relationships At Home) of Jewish Family Service.

“It is very challenging to work in this area with the Jewish community because it is not accepted that domestic and spousal abuse exists within the community,” Adams said.  “Some rabbis turn a blind eye to the whole situation, ‘it doesn’t happen to us.’  But it does happen in the same proportion as in the general population.

“There is also a misperception of what spousal abuse is – I think when we think in terms of spousal abuse we think of an eyeball hanging out and a black eye.  But abuse can be physical, emotional and verbal.  I think we probably don’t have that much of the physical abuse but there is a lot of the emotional and verbal, and I think that is where the Jews may have a blockage that doesn’t allow them to recognize that it exists.”

Adams helped to create an advertising campaign for Project Sarah, the theme of which is “this is the face of domestic abuse.”  The face is that of a regular person with no bruises.

Now a JFS board member, Adams is helping the agency plan the fundraising Heart and Soul Gala in March.

“We have a nice base of donors but to survive we need more donors and the demand is getting bigger for services with this economic downturn,” Adams said. She suggested that if Jews knew that there are other Jews in need, they would try to help them.  But because people tend to know only those people in their social circle or synagogue, they may not be aware that in other areas of San Diego County, “there really are people who are needy out there, who need our help.  And that means we need to create an awareness that there are people who need our services, our money and our help.”

Pondering Adams’ career trajectory, one can say there were some fortuitous steps along the way.  She was able to study at a fine American university.  She obtained a Green Card, before it became very difficult to do so.  She saw an important market research niche: the Hispanic market.  Her entrepreneurial experiences brought her into contact with business and political leaders.

But had she not learned English in addition to her primary language of Spanish—English so fluent that she had no difficulty whatsoever in her marketing studies in America—Adams might never have had the career and life that she did.  

With some amazement, Adams tells of a workman she once spoke to who was indignant that his child’s school was insisting that the boy take Spanish.  “This is America; we speak English,” Adams recounted the man saying.  It was like hearing someone slamming the door on a child’s possible future.

Harrison is editor of  San Diego Jewish World

An ode to JINSA

January 11, 2010 1 comment

By Jay N. Jacobson

BOCA RATON, Florida — Last year I went to Washington for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) Board of Advisors meeting.  I was so impressed that in early December this year, my wife Lorita and I went back.  It’s an amazing organization.  They have instituted many programs that no other organization is involved with.  I will only mention four that I think are important.

* Every summer JINSA sends 30 cadets from our Military Academies to Israel for a personal and  intensive interaction with their Israeli’s counterparts. 

JINSA also invites retired flag and general officers who are still active in areas of National Security Policy to Israel for intensive discussions with their Israeli counter parts, and also meet with the highest level of Israel’s civilian leadership.  They come away with a better understanding of the threats Israel faces, and the resources it brings to meet those threats, as well as ways in which the U.S. and Israel can cooperate  for our mutual security interests.

* Combating terrorism has become the single most intense issue in American and Israel law enforcement. JINSA’s Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) brings American law enforcement officials to Israel for crucial counter-terrorism training with the Israel National Police. And JINSA’s  popular national security forums, conferences and JINSA Reports educate community leaders across America about terror threats and how they’re being met.

* JINSA members put their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting the young men and women who serve in our Armed Services.  For the last six years, JINSA members have supported a holiday appeal on behalf of deserving soldiers and their families. They have distributed over a half a million dollars to families that have a breadwinner serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries abroad, or have had a  family member killed in action.

* In 2003 JINSA created and presented the first Grateful Nations award, which sought to honor an outstanding representative from each of the five services and the United States Special Operations Command.

Each year since, six young heroes have been honored by JINSA for having distinguished themselves through exceptional, superior conduct in the war against terrorists and their sponsors.  The Chairman and all the Joint Chiefs of Staff attend this dinner.

Honorees are chosen by their respective services and come from the enlisted, noncommissioned officer and/or junior officer ranks.  There was not a dry eye in the room when a young girl of nine or ten accepted the posthumous for her father who was killed in Afghanistan.

I know there are many who care as deeply as Lorita and I do about the future of Israel and the United States, and recognize that these are challenging times. We shake our heads as Israel continuously receives misguided and unwarranted condemnation on the world stage – and even within the Jewish community – simply for exercising the right to defend her citizens.  JINSA is the Jewish organization whose sole purpose is national security – for the United States and  Israel.

* JINSA played a major role in advising the United States  national security establishment not to put troops in the Golan. JINSA was one of the first organizations to issue warnings about the Iranian nuclear program. Two decades ago – when most Americans thought domestic terrorism was something they’d see only in science fiction films – JINSA was already warning about threats that are all too real today.

Right now, the U.S is talking about using multinational forces as “peace keepers” in the West Bank, substituting for the security presence of the IDF. JINSA is well placed to provide professional military analysis detailing the potential problems that such a force would create.  

The future of the United States, of Israel – and indeed of true democracy everywhere – all depend on the outcome of the issues JINSA deals with every day.

Jacobson is a Jewish community activist who divides his time between Boca Raton, Florida, and Minneapolis, Minnesota


B’nei Akiva promotes worldwide reunion for Pesach

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment


JERUSALEM (Press Release)–As one of the world’s largest religious Zionist organizations with an alumni base numbering in the hundreds of thousands, Bnei Akiva is renowned for its ongoing work on behalf of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. 

In advance of the upcoming Pesach, World Bnei Akiva is inviting the participation of its alumni to join in a historic holiday gathering in Jerusalem in conjunction with Eddie’s Travel, an Israel-based full-service travel provider (  While the largest concentration of Bnei Akiva alumni are found in Israel, those who grew up within the organization can be found in countries all over the globe.

“Bnei Akiva is a life-long experience and even while people might stop attending events, one never really graduates from the Bnei Akiva experience,” said  Zeev Schwartz, Director General of World Bnei Akiva.  “This Pesach, we invite everyone who has been a part of Bnei Akiva to come back to Jerusalem and be reminded of the tremendous experiences that define what we’re all about.”

“As someone who grew up with this organization and appreciating how the fact that I made aliya is in large part due to my Bnei Akiva experiences, I am deeply committed to make this an unforgettable holiday for everyone who chooses to spend Pesach with us,” said David Walles, President of Eddie’s Travel.

Based out of the Ramat Rachel Hotel in Jerusalem, the program includes numerous day trips and activities designed both for adults and children.  The partnership between World Bnei Akiva and Eddie’s Travel provides that a portion of the costs for the program will go directly towards supporting the continued work of the organization.  “This is the best of both worlds,” said Walles. “Families will be able to enjoy a luxurious Pesach in Jerusalem amongst friends and the international Bnei Akiva community but also support the work of this incredible organization.”

Preceding provided by World Bnei Akiva