Home > Adventures in SD History, Israel, Theatre > Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, September 3, 1954, Part 1

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, September 3, 1954, Part 1

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Jewish Community Mourns Passing of George Neumann
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 1

George Neumann, prominent San Diego resident since 1918, died on Aug. 24 at age 69.  Mr. Neumann was associated with many local and national organizations and played an active part in philanthropy in this city until his recent illness.  He was a member of Temple Beth Israel and had served on the board for many years. A founder of the Hebrew Home for the Aged, he was its honorary life-president.  He also served on the board of the United Jewish Fund and took an active part in its annual drives.  He was a member of Al Bahr Shrine Temple, Scottish Rite, Lasker Lodge B’nai B’rith and the Guardians.

Surviving him are his wife Julia; two brothers, Al Neumann of San Diego, and William Neumann of Los Angeles; and three sisters, Mrs. Rosalie Sonnabaum; Mrs. Tillie Finkelstein of San Diiego, and Mrs. Louis Rubin of San Francisco.

Services were conducted by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn and Cantor Julian Miller and entombment was in Greenwood Mausoleum.

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Survey of Jewish Community Needs for San Diego and Area Being Made
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 1

Leaders of the Federation of Jewish Agencies Study Committee report that great strides have been taken in securing the basic information to be used in the study of the Jewish community of San Diego.

Next step in the program is the setting up of the over-all Study Committee and the many sub-Committees necessary to work on every phase of community problems, based on the information secured in the sample interviews which have now been completed.

Tabulation of over 300 answers to questionnaires, secured by more than forty volunteer enumerators under the direction of Marshall Zucker, is now taking place. The findings will be forwarded to each of the Federation agencies and to all major institutions and organizations in the community so that they will have a base to begin their individual studies if they so desire.

Edward Breitbard, president of the Jewish Community Center, also reported that the Center had set up its committees to study those responses which fit into its field.  Problems, such as: from what areas will members come to the center; what activities do individuals want arranged for themselves and their children; physical education, health club, nursery school, Camp Jaycee—these and many other problems may very well be answered by the study.

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New Jewish Chaplain At Training Center
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 1

Lt. Cmdr. Elihu H. Rickel, CHC, USNR, has reported for duty in the Chaplains department of the Naval Training Center, it was announced by Henry Weinberger, chairman of the San Diego Armed Services Committee of the National Jewish Welfare Board.

During the past two years he served on the staff of Commander Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. A veteran of four Marine campaigns which included Iwo Jima and Korea, Chaplain Rickel in the only Chaplain of the Jewish faith on active duty in the Eleventh Naval District.

His military service entitles him to wear the following commendations: Bronze Star with Combat V, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the Navy Unit Citation with Combat V.  He will reside in San Diego with his wife Lee and two children, Susan and Alice.

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Noted Speaker Here At Annual Dinner
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 1

Professor Guy Davis will make one of his first appearances on his return from Israel at Chaim Weitzman Branch of Poale Zion second annual dinner which will take place on Sunday, September 19 in the lounge of the House of Hospitality in Balboa Park.

In inviting Dr. Davis to be guest speaker the committee offer a rare treat to all who are interested in hearing first hand reports concerning the State of Israel from one who is interested in its welfare though a non-Jew.

Reservations are being taken by the following: Chaveras Rose Brooker, Cypress 6-4587; Dora Richlin, Atwater 4-3028; and Bertha Veitzer, Atwater 2-7886 who will be pleased to furnish any additional information. 

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Pre-Holiday Drive To Clean Up Fund Effort
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 1

Monday, September 13, will begin the two-week pre-holiday cleanup campaign of the 1954 Combined Jewish Appeal o f the United Jewish und, according to Sol Price, chairman and Seymour Rabin, co-chairman.

In an intensive effort to close the campaign before the beginning of the High Holy Days, over 300 homes will be visited by volunteer workers to secure contributions for the annual appeal for over 42 local, national and overseas agencies.

Goal for the two week period is $25,000, which will bring the campaign to a most successful conclusion.  Ruben Umansky and Isaac Domnitz, Histadrut leaders, have advised Fund officials that their organization would provide the necessary workers to call on over 200 $50 and under prospective givers who have not, as yet, contributed.

Chairman Price reported that the campaign is running even with the 1953 drive when $204,000 was raised.  “If those who have not as yet pledged,” he said, “will do so before the High Holy Days, the campaign will close with as much money as was raised in 1953.”

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To See or not To See
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 2

By Berenice Soule

How Lucky Can You Be?—It’s easy to understand why every female around the Globe could be green with envy over the plums awarded Eleanor Rose and Margo Miller.  Not only did those two get the enviable job of “doing props” for the practically all male “Mr. Roberts” last year, but rubbing salt into the wound is the news that they’ve been given the same job for the nothing-but-men “Stalag 17,” the Globe next.

Where did I hear the rumor that both their husbands are brushing up on their judo?

He Cooks, Too—The Things I Would Like To Have Seen Dept.:  As any moviegoer and reader of popular novels knows, the way to attract young actors is to promise them food. Working on that theory, Craig Noel, in an effort to round up his Festival casts for publicity pix last week, offered a free lunch to every cast member that showed up. So far as I know, he’s still frying hamburgers in the Tavern kitchen.

Variety Show – A group of local variety actors have formed “Entertainment Unlimited” for “the purpose of promoting more variety entertainment in san Diego.” Their first offering will be “Toast of the Coast” at the Russ, Sept. 26, and will be sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3059 for the benefit of their welfare and hospital fund.

The entertainment, under the supervision of Bill Roesch, will feature such local favorites as Margo Miller, Helen Leonard, Margie Whitlow, Julian Miller, Ed Flanders, Mickey Kohut, Lillie Mae Barr, Patti Twelvetrees, Jo An Mandolf, Carnell Kirkeeng, Sammy Parise, and Jack Wilson.

Stardom Ahead—
The Prediction Dept. at the Globe has given Gerald Charlebois (their Festival’s Othello and Antonio) top billing as the actor most likely to head for Hollywood since he received a letter from the William Morris Agency, artists’ representatives, evincing an interest in his future.

It Ain’t All Glory—Charles Jeffers, director of “Babes in Toyland,” had his moments of directorial suffering, magnified no doubt by the added burden of an entire teen-age cast. When, to augment his trials, he was stung by a bee during an outdoor rehearsal, he groaned, “All this and physical pain, too.”

My Choice—
For two most delightful and finely drawn characterizations, SEE Brenda de Banzie and John Mills in the comedy, “Hobson’s Choice,” showing at the Capri. This film stars Charles Laughton, who grows more laughtonish with each passing year, but Miss de Banizie and Mills in the second leards are a joy to behold.

“Happy” Choice
– The Drury Lane Players last week presented Samuel Taylor’s very refreshing comedy, “The Happy Time.”  The imaginative set, together with director Jim Eigo’s excellent comedy sense overcame the physical difficulties under which the group is working.  Particularly noteworthy were the performances of David Gregson as the young lad just learning about “the heart, the mind, and the glands” and Jim Gilmour as the father who must explain the functions of the above-mentioned manifestations.

Israel to Broadway – A new nation breeds many firsts, and while this may not be a first for the Israeli theatre, it sounds like one and a very interesting one, at that … Direct form a two year run in Tel Aviv, “Sands in the Negev” will open on Broadway, October 19.  Producer Benjamin Rothman has announced that the play, depicting Israel’s struggle for independence, will be given in English.

Ari Kutai and Celia Adler have been signed for leading roles and Abraham Ninio, a director of Israel’s Habimah Theatre, will supervise the presentation. A star of the Israel stage, Kutai, after touring the United States with the Habimah players in 1927, played many roles on Broadway before returning to his native Palestine in 1932.

Written by Yigal Mosenson, author of several plays and a literature prize winner, the Israeli hit has been adapted for Broadway by Shimon Wincelberg, Hollywood screen writer.

La Jolla Season Closes Sunday
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 2

La Jolla Playhouse ends its most successful season to date Sunday, when it rings down the curtain on the final performance of “The Vacant Lot.”

An original comedy-drama “The Vacant Lot” is being given its world premiere on the Playhouse stage.

The cast consists of five young people from New York and Hollywood, all with solid backgrounds in theatre, radio, TV and movies. They are Alan Dinehart III, Brett Halsey, Eliot Engalhart, Jeff Silver and Cindy Robbins

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Films To Be Shown At C.W.U Tonight

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 2

Two films, “Grass” and “The Window Cleaner” will be presented by California Western University as the fifth in its series of outstanding motion pictures on Friday, Sept 3, at 8 p.m. at Lomaland Hall.

“Grass” is an exotic and colorful Paramount film of nomadic Persian tribes.  “The Window Cleaner” an OWI Overseas Branch production is a unique study of New York City and its people as seen through the eyes of a window cleaner. Admission for non-holders of series tickets is 35 cents.

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The ‘Merchant of Venice’ Controversy
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, page 2

Letters to the Editor:

Dear Mac:
I read with interest Bill Schwartz’s letter, in your last issue.  I wish to say that I agree fully with his feeling about the “Merchant of Venice” now being presented in the repertoire of the Shakespearean Festival.

A group of us attended a performance—choosing this play because it was one we had not seen before; and because, I for one, wanted to see what this interpretation would be like.  I can oly say I saw nothing new in the venomous anti-semitism expressed here by the author, and when with Shylock down on his knees, broken in body and spirit, the Duke berates him as “You Jew, you dog, you cur,” I felt sick at my stomach, and heart, and would have walked out, except I did not wish to make myself conspicuous.

Attending with us were some young university students.  One the way home, they said they too were disturbed by the play and felt as I did.  Some among them were not of the Jewish fiath. But we also would not like to see a play in which they say, “You Negro, you do, you cur” or “You Catholic, you dog, you cur.”

I think this play had best be left out of any Shakepearean celebrations.  It does not win friends for this fine San Diego event. Of all the plays available, I think it showed poor judgement on the part of those who made the selection, to choose this one, when we are trying to cement world friendships, not stir up old hatreds.

Very sincerely,
Esther W. Moorsteen

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Editor, Jewish Press
Dear Sir:

In beginning, I should like to take this opportunity to thank you and especially your drama editor, Berenice Soule, for the excellent coverage that your paper has always given to the activities of The Globe Theare.

Recently, in reading your paper I have notice some criticism of The Glove Theatre for having produced ‘The Merchant of Venice, and of Mrs. Soule, for her review of this play.

Preparing our first Shakespeare repertory proved to be a tremendous undertaking. We predicated much of our planning upon the experience of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, now in its fourteenth year of repertory. The Ashland Oregon company has found that, over a period of many years, of the serious plays, “Othello,” “Hamlet” and “The Merchant of Venice” enjoy the greatest popularity.

Aside from popularity (and why is ‘Merchant of Venice’ perennially popular?  I should say because its simple story line plays well.  Of all Shakespeare’s works, it is the most simple for the casual theatergoer to follow.)  “Merchant of Venice” held still another attraction for the local community theatre. The venerable actor, Mr. Charles Coburn, attending the kick-off drive of the Shakespeare Festival Committee, stated that it was his fondest wish to play once more the great acting part of Shylock.  With an eye toward the box-office and with a really sincere desire to improve the artistic quality of our season, we announced “The Merchant of Venice,” intending it as a vehicle for this actor. Professional commitments later prevented Coburn from participating in the local Festival.

As soon as the play schedule was made public, one of the first to question the advisability of including this show was my good friend Berenice Soule. 

As  a result of this conversation, I questioned at some length Mr. Phillip Hanson, who had already been signed to direct ‘Merchant.”  I found that Mr. Hanson’s interpretation of the play differed strikingly  from a version which I had witnessed in Ashland, Oregon. Hanson saw the prejudice of the haughty and unbending Antonio as the motivating force of the play.  To Hanson, Antonio is the villain.  I felt that, if “The Merchant of Venice” could be given an inoffensive performance, this would be it.  The season began as announced.

May I add that Mrs. Soule’s review of the play seemed to me to be the most interesting and correct evaluation written by any of our local critics.

Last summer when the Oregon Festival ran “Merchant” for the sixth time (it is not true, as one letter writer-suggested, that similar Festivals usually eliminate this work), the program included the following note.

“It is too often said that ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is anti-Semitic because the villain is a Jew.  But in the first place, Shylock is not a typical Jew, nor is he loved by the other Jews in the play; in the second place, plays are not written about villains but about protagonists, and specifically about their moral growth in the course of the play’s events.  It is ironic that a work of art should be condemned as anti-anything when it’s central theme is the acquisition of merciful understanding for one’s fellow man.”

I do not believe that this single statement completely covers all of the controversy that has arisen about “Merchant of Venice.”  But I do know that it is next to impossible for an honest theatrical organization, dedicated to the creation of adult entertainment, to avoid all that is controversial.

Shylock no more represents all people of the Jewish faith than Rev. Davidson typifies Protestant missionaries.  Yes, the Globe was accused of being Pro-Catholic for having produced “Rain.” And Anti-Catholic for staging “A Family Portrait,” a play about the family life of Jesus.  Later, we were called Communistic because of Saroyan’s “Beautiful People” and Girardoux’ “Madwoman of Chaillot.”

Actually, it is impossible for the San Diego Community Theatre to be any or all of these things. Living theatre cannot serve as an instrument for propaganda,.  Nor can Shakespeare justly be condemned as anti-Semitic when the true poet, emerging from the machinations of plot devices and the limitations of his own time, speaks to us through Portia’s immortal lines. The “Quality of mercy” speech is universal art and universal philosophy.  Its message needs repeating today as strongly as it needed utterance three hundred years ago.   – Craig Noel
 
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“Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.  To find stories on specific individuals or organizations, type their names in our search box.

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