My Shtetele California: 19th Century proposal to make Baja California the Jewish homeland
By Rabbi Will Kramer
(December 24, 1971)
Not long ago, we reviewed Sam J. Lee’s Moses of the New World the story of the life and work of Baron de Hirsch. It made us de Hirsch-conscious.
In 1896, Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger of San Francisco admired Hirsch’s success in South America and hoped that Baja California might become a new Israel with Hirsch-like help. Voorsanger wrote:
“It is encouraging to learn that the De Hirsch colonies in Argentina are
no failures. In California, we have not been successful with colonization.
Our means were too limited, our lands too rich and expensive. Isolated as we are, locked in between the sea and the mountains, we could not command the attention of the world.
“And yet, there are opportunities here, which, in their extent and character,
are larger than those offered in the sub-equatorial republic.
“Right across from San Diego, in Lower California, an empire is still awaiting fostering hands. The time will come when the inevitable migration of large numbers of colonists must be directed to these sunny slopes, which are Mexican in name only and which have a welcome for all honest men.
“These slopes, coasting a princely area of uncultivated, rich lands, need the exploring power of modern commerce and enterprise, and the impetus of population.
“It is still a comfort to know that whilst governments are restricting the right of admission, and nations cry out against the wanderers from abroad, there is still room elsewhere to make a new cradle forgrowing nations.
“The earth is still large enough to hold the children made of its dust.
Where to send them is often the question.
“But, like the mariners of old, when we go far enough, we are sure to
find land. We are always hopeful for lsrael, particularly now when
its hopes are enlarging.”
Can you imagine Ti-Aviv and not Tijuana?
Preceding was reprinted from the Winter/Spring 2010 issue of Western States Jewish History. Rabbi Kramer wrote his column for the Jewish Heritage newspapers of California.