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Breitbard’s philanthropy and family ties emphasized at funeral service

May 18, 2010 1 comment

Related story by Joey Seymour

By Norman Greene

Norman Greene

SAN DIEGO– During his life time, Bob Breitbard, 91, who passed away in his sleep at Seacrest Village Retirement Home in Encinitas on Monday, May 17, was already a San Diego legend.

As a dreamer and visionary sportsman who built a community arena, a museum to honor the city’s athletic heritage, taught and coached high school and college athletics, and owed professional franchises in basketball and hockey, he was, according to Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, spiritual leader of Tiffereth Israel Synagogue, “larger than life.”

A successful businessman, Bob Breitbard “set the bar for anyone who wants not only to serve the public, but to be a mensch as well. He was always focused on serving the public good,” the Rabbi said.

Although Bob Breitbard’s business and civic successes were enormous, It was his family’s desire that at the Tiffereth Israel memorial service held Tuesday, May 18th, the emphasis should be on the humanity of Bob Breitbard and Bob Breitbard the family man.

It was announced that a community appreciation would be held at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park next month where Breitbard’s achievements and extraordinary contributions to the sports community would be warmly celebrated.

Representing the large Breitbard family, daughter Gayle and her husband, Jerry Klusky each delivered loving memories as daughter and son-in-law. Citing his father in law’s admonishment that it was best to “treat your competitors fairly,” Klusky remembered Breitbard as “an excellent mentor.”

Rabbi Rosenthal than delivered the main eulogy describing Breitbard the man as one filled with humility, modesty, kindness, respectfulness, creativity, productivity, generosity and vibrant warmth. “Bob Breitbard never cared about a person’s station in life, or their background, or religion, or ethnicity, or the color of their skin, or for what they could do for him.

“He had a gift for making anyone he met and spoke with feel that they were the center of his universe and that no matter who they were or their station in life, they were a unique and valuable human being. He would just as warmly embrace the woman who cleaned his house as he would a captain of industry.”

As Breitbart was a member of two congregations, Rabbi Michael Berk and Cantor Arlene Bernstein, spiritual leaders at Congregation Beth Israel, also participated in the appreciation of Bob Breitbard’s long life. Breitbard was a life member there from 1963 and gave generously to their building and other campaigns.

He was a passionate and supportive member of the Jewish Community. He had experienced anti-Semitism personally when he was rejected from a fraternity at San Diego State because he was Jewish, but this did not lead him to hide his heritage. The opposite was true. He always affirmed his Jewish roots and love for the Jewish community and Israel.

A member of Tiffereth Israel Synagogue since 1945, he was one of its generous supporters. In addition to his other contributions, he dedicated one of the art panels in the congregation’s Cohen Social Hall in his late wife, Lily’s, memory, and when the congregation built its new Shekhter Gan Yeladim, Shekhter Family Children’s playground, he and the Klusky family donated the miniature basketball court.

Through the years, Breitbard was also an active supporter of countless Jewish causes, including the United Jewish Federation and San Diego’s Hebrew Homes for the elderly.

Breitbard’s civic-mindedness and civic support is legendary. The number of boards he has served on, charities he supported, and awards he received is far too long to enumerate here. On a brief list of Civic Organizations and Public Service Activities, there are 22 entries, including such varied organizations as the Old Globe, Sharp Memorial Hospital, the Aztecs Club and the Salk Institute.

As for Awards and Honors, there are 35 entries, including San Diego State College Alumnus of the year, the City of San Diego naming the “Breitbard Wing” at the Casa de Balboa in Balboa Park, State of California Contribution to Athletes and Athletics Award, Honorary Chair of the Holiday Bowl, and, of all things, Grand Marshall of the Mother Goose Parade in November, 2000, to name but a few.

“Bob was comfortable financially,” according to Rabbi Rosenthal, “but he was not as wealthy as most people thought, and there was a reason for this: Bob gave most of what he had away, to the many organizations and causes to which he so committed.”

Breitbard’s life was a true San Diego success story. His three older brothers, Ed, Will, and Al were born in New York, but Bob and his sister Joyce were born in San Diego after the family moved here in 1919.

Breitbard worked hard in school and was the only one of his siblings to graduate from a college, specifically San Diego State. He also earned an M.A. in Education from USC in 1945. He always loved sports and played football at Hoover High and at San Diego State. It was during his years at Hoover High that he met a classmate Ted Williams, who would go on to be an incredible ball player, one of the best hitters of all time, and who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. Bob and Ted became fast friends, and their close friendship endured until Ted’ passing in 2002.

After graduating college Bob became a teacher and coach. He began his career at Hoover High. From Hoover High, he went on to coach at San Diego State, and was the Aztec’s volunteer head coach in 1945, when he re-established the program after the war. He also re-established the program at the Marine Corps  Recruit Depot around the same time.

But, unfortunately teaching and coaching did not pay very well in those days. He would soon have a family to support.

Bob met Lily when she moved here to be closer to her brother, who was stationed in San Diego during the war. They dated, fell in love, and married. It was a marriage that lasted for almost 52 years until Lily’s passing in 1997.

After leaving coaching Breitbard joined his three older brothers in California Linen Supply, which their father had started. He eventually rose to the position of president, but in the beginning he was, naturally, in sales and marketing. With his natural warmth, interest in people, and ability to strike up a conversation with anyone, he was a natural. He helped grow the business by lining up large and significant clients, including hotels, hospitals and the Marine Corps. “For Bob, the customer was always king.”

While managing the laundry provided for his family, the work was not the stuff of Bob’s dreams. He had a life long love affair with sports, and as far back as 1946 established the Breitbard Athletic Foundation from which came the Breitbard Hall of Fame. Bob eventually found a larger home for the Hall of Fame and much of his sports memorabilia in the San Diego Hall of Champions, one of the most renown sports museums in the country, which he pioneered, founded, and whose doors he opened in 1961.

“Bob was devoted to the Hall of Fame because he wanted to make sure that local athletes received the recognition they deserved. So central was the Hall to his life that his daughter Gayle often teased him, calling it his “first child.”

He dreamed of bring professional hockey and basketball to San Diego. With four partners, but in truth, almost single-handedly Breitbard built the San Diego Sports Arena as a home for professional sports. Today when major sports facilities are built there is often a great deal of indirect financial assistance from the cities which house them. This was not the case then. Although the city did help by leasing the land for a modest amount, Breitbard either put up or raised the money to build the arena almost by himself. He risked a great deal personally. The Arena was a big success, especially when he brought in the Rockets and the Gulls.

Unfortunately, much of the financial burden of running the Sports Arena fell on Breitbard and in 1971, he was forced to sell his beloved Rockets to Houston. It truly was a low point of his life.

Breitbard is survived by his daughters Gayle and Denise Breitbard, his sister Joyce Weitzen, two grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Donations can be made to the Hall of Champions in his memory.

In Memoriam, Robert Breitbard: April 28, 1919 – May 17, 2010.

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Greene is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

NJDC lauds agreement among Security Council’s five permanent members to sanction Iran

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday announced that the five permanent members of the United Nation’s Security Council, plus Germany, have reached an agreement to impose “strong” new sanctions against Iran.

David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), issued the following statement praising Secretary Clinton’s announcement:

“The National Jewish Democratic Council welcomes the announcement that a package of aggressive new sanctions has been finalized. This is a necessary step in working to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and a clear demonstration of the Obama Administration’s commitment to preserving the security of those who are potentially threatened by Iran – including Americans, those in the region, and especially citizens of the State of Israel. . For President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the Administration’s national security team, this is a diplomatic achievement of the highest order – one that every American should be proud of, and one that everyone who cares about the stability of the Middle East and the security of Israel should be thankful for.

It is our hope that the Security Council will work to expeditiously pass a resolution enacting these sanctions, as a means to the critical end of stopping Iran’s unacceptable pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

The five permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Preceding provided by the National Jewish Democratic Council

J Street applauds congressional resolution calling for immediate release of Gilad Shalit

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement Tuesday, May 18, in response to the introduction of House Resolution 1359:

“J Street applauds the introduction of House Resolution 1359, calling for the immediate release of captured Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.  Introduced by the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia Gary Ackerman and senior Republican on the subcommittee Rep. Dan Burton, the resolution is an important demonstration of bipartisan support not just for Gilad Shalit’s immediate release, but for achieving a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and for a Jewish and democratic Israel within recognized and secure borders.

“J Street shares the strong belief of this resolution’s sponsors that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit should be released immediately. We also endorse the Israeli government’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to secure Shalit’s release and to bring him home to his family.

“On a recent J Street Education Fund Congressional Delegation trip to Israel, I had the opportunity to join members of Congress in meeting with Gilad Shalit’s father, who spoke in deeply moving terms about his son’s ongoing captivity, urging us all to do what we could to bring him home.

“We urge members of Congress to add their names to this important demonstration of support for Gilad Shalit, and of ‘strong support and deep interest’ in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution.

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Preceding provided by J Street

Turkey bidding for greater influence in Middle East

May 18, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Turkey and Brazil announced they have “brokered” a “deal” to bring some percentage of Iranian LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) to Turkey. The “deal” is a fraud-without knowing how much uranium Iran has, you cannot know how much it “lent” to Turkey and how much remains in its weapons program. And knowing that Iran has lied about every single stage of its nuclear program, we will assume it is lying about this stage as well.
 
So much for Iran.
 
But there is something compelling about a country that looks at its position, determines its interests, and changes course to achieve new objectives. Turkey has done that. 
 
Let us be clear: we don’t have to like the direction or the choices; we don’t have to support them; and we don’t think the United States should treat Turkey as if it hadn’t made those choices. That was one reason we wrote-and strongly believe-that the Congress of the United States is the wrong place to parse and judge someone else’s history. Our Armenian friends entirely misunderstood-we were neither denying nor denigrating their history. But Congress has to be about the present and, more important, about the future. Our ongoing irritation with our Congress and our Administration is that they find it easier to pronounce on a past for which they are not responsible than to deal with present circumstances. 
 
For the moment, it may be easier but it is shortsighted in the extreme.
 
After decades of resolutely secular, pro-Western economic and security policy, during which it was resolutely rejected by Europe, the Turkish government, specifically the AKP, surveyed the landscape in the absence of the Soviet Union and the apparent decline of the United States and decided to stop banging its head against a closed European door.  Turkey, in their view, didn’t have to be the stepchild of Europe; it has a strong military, a good economy in regional terms and historic interests.
 
Turkey certainly will not give up the benefits bestowed by NATO membership and is unlikely to do anything to hamper its economic ties to the West. It is unlikely to actually sever ties with Israel while there are still benefits to be had. It simply has added new portfolios, Muslim portfolios. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all Turkic, all Muslim, all post-Soviet and all amenable to leadership from Ankara (although the coup in Kyrgyzstan was a setback).

New military relations with Syria and Russia, increased political relations with Iran, the hosting of Hamas leadership and increasingly strident rhetoric are signs of Turkey’s belief that it can do as it pleases, at least in the region. 
 
There are those who believe Turkey is aiming to re-establish the old Ottoman Empire and others who think the goal is restoration of the Caliphate. Maybe, or maybe it is just opportunistic push back. In any case, the result is likely to be inimical to American and Western interests.
 
We have two thoughts: Turkey’s future choices in the region will be much more important to the United States than any possible benefit of looking backwards at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.   
 
Was that only one thought? Yes, it was one thought about Turkey. The second thought is about the United States. 
 
The Turks stopped begging Europe for entry and considered their options; the United States should do no less. The clock cannot be turned back to 1948 any more than to 1915. The Obama Administration should stop begging the Palestinians to let us force Israel to manufacture a small, kleptocratic, dictatorial, terrorist-sponsoring welfare regime wedged in between two of our regional allies. Stop trying to create “two states” where three governing bodies currently exist with no likely mergers. 
 
Stop blaming Israel for American difficulties in the region that have nothing to do with it. 
 
Face the issues of perceived American inability to deal with radical Islamic ideology and the wars it engenders and deal with them. Face the fact that radical Islamic ideology is, at its core, forward looking-not a slap at the past, but a belief in the Islamic future. Turkey and “the Stans” are in that mix. So are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and, increasingly, the failed states of Africa. Russia and China are heavily involved, and not necessarily on our side.
 
As with the congressional fixation on the Ottomans to the exclusion of the Turkish future, it is easier for the Administration to keep pounding on Israel for its alleged intransigence than to accept that the “peace process” is over and serious American interests for the future lie elsewhere.  
 
It is equally shortsighted.

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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.

Robert Breitbard was San Diego’s sports MVP

May 18, 2010 3 comments

Related story by Norman Greene

By Joey Seymour

Joey Seymour

SAN DIEGO — What was just a bunch of “junk in the garage” according to Bob Breitbard’s wife, Lillie, turned into the vast collection of San Diego sports memorabilia, which is housed today in the sixty thousand square foot Hall of Champions Museum in Balboa Park. Bob Breitbard loved collecting sports memorabilia, especially items from great champions who came from San Diego.

In 1946, while president of the California Linen Supply, Bob decided to follow his passion of sports by starting the Breitbard Athletic Foundation, which honors local high school athletes. Breitbard himself was a star football player at Hoover High School and later became their coach. The combination of Breitbard’s collection, the Athletic Foundation, and later the Breitbard Hall of Fame (honoring professional athletes from San Diego), created the San Diego Hall of Champions, the largest sports museum honoring a single city in the country. Whereas the museum is one of the many incredible museums in Balboa Park, Breitbard who passed away of natural causes on Monday, May 17, was an original.

Robert Breitbard was born on April 28, 1919 in San Diego and grew up a fan and participant of sports. He excelled in football while at Hoover High and was great friend with baseball legend, Ted Williams, who called Bob “knucklehead.” They graduated together in 1937. Their friendship would remain strong throughout their lives. Many of Ted’s items, trophies and game used equipment are on display at the Hall of Champions, despite a law suit in 2006 by members of Ted Williams’ family who attempted to have Ted’s 1949 MVP trophy returned to them. After graduating from Hoover High, Breitbard  went on to play football at San Diego State University. In 1945, he became SDSU’s fifth football coach. He would only coach the team for one year.

The desire to focus his life on bringing sports to San Diego escalated in 1966 when he built the San Diego Sports Arena and owned the buildings first professional team, The San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League. A year later, he purchased the 12th team to join the NBA for 1.75 million dollars. They would be given the moniker the Rockets due to San Diego’s budding space age industry and the city’s theme at the time, “a city in motion.” Unfortunately, and with much contention, the Gulls folded and the Rockets were sold to an investment firm in Houston, Texas for 5.6 million dollars. The Gulls would return in other forms playing for different minor leagues and under different ownership, but the loss of the Rockets was upsetting to many San Diegans, despite low attendance numbers and poor performance on the court. Breitbard always contended that he did not want to sell the team, but due to major tax hikes on the Arena, Breitbard could no longer operate either team.

After the Rockets left in 1971, Breitbard continued to focus his attention on the museum (which officially opened in 1961), the Athletic Foundation, and the Hall of Fame. He  was also a member of Tifereth Israel Synagogue giving much to San Diego’s Jewish Community. He also donated a great deal to the Sharp Hospital and Salk Institute while also sitting on the boards of the San Diego International Sports Council and San Diego Holiday Bowl. His efforts to persuade the Chargers to move from Los Angeles helped earn San Diego its NFL team in 1961 and his negotiations with Major League Baseball helped persuade the league to add the expansion Padres team in 1969.   

Al Kidd, President of the San Diego Hall of Champions posted a video tribute on the museum’s website saying, “Bob had a big heart and he put a lot of his resources both personally with time and finances into a lot of causes here in San Diego, but in the end, the number one cause was the Hall of Champions.”

Breitbard lost his beloved wife Lillie on November 24, 1997. The two of them, however, will always have seats at the Sports Arena. Loge section 24, Row 1, Seats 11 – 14 are always saved for Bob Breitbard and will continue to be.

The San Diego Hall of Fame honors great athletes from or who represented San Diego like Dan Fouts, Ted Williams, Maureen Connolly, Greg Louganis, Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Archie Moore, and Tony Hawk. Today San Diegans mourn the city’s MVP, Bob Breitbard for all that he did and for the conviction and passion in which he did it.

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Joey Seymour is a  Sports Historian and Author of “San Diego’s Finest Athletes: Five Exceptional Lives,” now Available through Sunbelt Publications at www.sunbeltbooks.com.

New York Yankee baseball camp will be strictly kosher for the Shomer Shabbas

May 18, 2010 1 comment

TAMPA, Florida  (Press Release)–For the second consecutive year, the New York Yankees have announced they will offer strictly kosher food offerings and Shabbat accommodations at their November 2010 Fantasy Camp. Glatt kosher food will be provided by Weberman Foods with OK supervision, and a Wednesday “Dream Game” will be played so Shomer Shabbat Jews can participate.

Campers who keep kosher will be able to fully participate in all regular camp activities and have three strictly kosher meals served daily. The camp will offer traditional Shabbat services Friday night and Saturday, with Friday practice ending well before Shabbat and kosher campers able to participate in final games on Sunday.

For six days and seven nights, Yankees Fantasy Campers live the life of a big league player, dressing in full Yankees uniform and using the same Spring Training clubhouse and fields as the New York Yankees. All campers get their very own locker and are served by a staff of clubhouse attendants and professional trainers to create the authentic Yankees experience.

Former Yankees Chris Chambliss, Fritz Peterson, Tommy John, Mickey Rivers, and Ron Blomberg, among others, are scheduled to attend.

Founded in 1997 and located in Tampa, Fla., the New York Yankees Fantasy Camp has hosted over 1,500 campers and 50 former New York Yankees players. For more information on the New York Yankees Fantasy Camp, and the addition of strictly kosher and Shabbat accommodations, please call (800) 368-2267.

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Preceding provided by the New York Yankees

Sharon Scott Gustafson new president of International Council of Jewish Women

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Sharon Gustafson

SAN JOSE, California (Press Release)–Sharon Scott Gustafson of the United States becomes the 19th President of the International Council of Jewish Women for a four-year term, commencing May 2010.

Gustafson,  a Vassar College graduate, worked as Director of Personnel for the Planned Parenthood organization in Rochester, New York, and later as Director of Corporate Services for Deltanet Inc. in San Francisco. She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Jewish Community Federation and the Home for Jewish Aged in Rochester, New York, and as Vice-President of the Women’s Division of the Jewish Community Federation of San José, CA, where she now lives. 

Gustafson  serves on the San José Airport Commission, chaired the San José Ballet and Arts Commission, and was the first honoree of the local “Women Making a Mark” award, in recognition of her significant leadership commitments to community organizations. She has always been actively involved with the issues of civil and human rights, especially those which affect women and families. She served as President of the Rochester Section of the National Council of Jewish Women and later on NCJW-USA’s National Executive Committee and Board of Directors. This led her into its global umbrella organization, the International Council of Jewish Women, where she became Assistant Treasurer in 1999, and Treasurer from 2002 until today.  As President of ICJW, Gustafson  intends to reinforce ICJW’s focus on the status of women, the worldwide fight against human trafficking and domestic violence, and campaign for religious equality for women.

The new president  explains: “As our organization approaches its centenary, it is shocking to see that many of the causes for which we are campaigning today have been on the ICJW agenda for almost 100 years: the white slave trade, known today as human trafficking; equal pay for men and women; the scarcity of women in public life; and protecting women and children from all forms of violence. Today, more than ever before, globalization and modern technology can empower women to combine their influence in order to make real changes, in their own communities and worldwide.”

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Preceding provided by the International Council of Jewish Women