Home > Israel > Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, September 17, 1954 Part 1

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, September 17, 1954 Part 1

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Plans for 300 Year Celebration In Making
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Page 1
Mayor John D. Butler this week took official cognizance of the 300th anniversary of Jewish settlement in America and issued a Tercentenary proclamation.

The proclamation states that the theme of the observance, man’s opportunities and responsibilities under freedom, provides “a unique opportunity for all Americans to review and reevaluate their part in American life and to rededicate themselves to the principals of a free society which guarantees to men of all religions and races equality, security and freedom.”

The Mayor concludes: “I … do hereby take official cognizance of the American Jewish Tercentenary and call upon all citizens of San Diego to join in appropriately observing the Tercentenary in the spirit of true Americanism.”

Leaders of the Jewish community, headed by Louis Moorsteen, president of the United Jewish Fund; Carl M. Esenoff, president of the San Diego Federation of Jewish Agencies; and Mrs. Gabriel Berg, president of the Council of Jewish Organizations, are making plans for local participation in the nationwide celebration of the 300th anniversary of Jewish settlement in the United States which begins on September 12 and continues through May 1955.

Observances will be held in all San Diego temples and synagogues; at all meetings of Jewish social and fraternal organizations; and in community-wide affairs sponsored by the Jewish community.

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USO-JWB Plans Extensive High Holy Days Program for Servicemen

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Page 1

Jewish military personnel in the San Diego area are assured the warmest possible reception by the Jewish community of San Diego for the High Holy Days, it was announced by Henry Weinberger, chairman of the San Diego Armed Services Committee of the National Jewish Welfare Board.

All three houses of worship in our city will accept servicemen to religious services in accordance with their personal affiliations.

An extensive program of home hospitality for Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur is being developed by Mrs. Sidney Newman, home hospitality chairman, and a committee of Sisterhood women, including Mrs. Jennie Bloomfield, Mrs. Benjamin Ornstein, Mrs. Fred Leeds, and Mrs. Tom Turner.
On post services will be conducted by Chaplain Elihu H. Rickel, at Naval Training Center for Rosh Hoshanah. Recruits at Naval Training Center and Marine Corps Recruit Depot will be permitted special boot leave to attend services on base or in town, as they wish.

A Break-the-Fast supper will be held on Thursday, October 7 at 7:00 p.m at the Tifereth Israel Center with a dance to follow. All USO-JWB junior hostesses will be on hand for the occasion.

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Volunteers Needed
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Page 1

All that’s needed is a volunteer teacher of ceramics to make lots of San Diego boys and girls happy. There is equipment and lots of material available.  There are eager children ready to learn.  Why not call the Volunteer Bureau of San Diego, BE 2-1055 or register at the Bureau at 645 A St.  Just a few hours of spare time is required.

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Hadassah Sponsors Israeli Fashion Show Sept. 24
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Pages 1, 4

Hadassah will usher in their 1954-55 with a  major fund raising event on Friday, September 24 at the State Theatre, when a breathtaking Couturiere Fashion Showing of Fashions from Israel will be presented at 1:30 p.m.

Showing some of the most original and inspiring costumes yet to emerge from the Alice L. Seligsberg School, a Hadassah sponsored project, will be prominent matrons in San Diego’s social and civic world.

Miss Helen Abel, San Diego Union Fashion Editor, will act as Commentator and the following will show the fashions to their best advantage:  Mmes Melvin Wasserman, William Gerelich, E. Morris Sims, Arthur Goodman, William Carter, Victor Selten, Arthur Gardner, Burton Ross, Harry Farb, Harry Mallen, Morton Kantor, Barnett Edelbrock, Kenneth Jacobson, John Athaide, Dwight E. Keider, Alvin G. Rosa, Leon Oursland, A. Paul Sutherland, Paul Engstrand, Stanley Foster and Miss Mailyn Theodor.

In addition to 22 adult fashions, there will be seven exquisite children’s fashions and on hand to add sparkle to these clothes will be little Miss Sydell Lind, daughter of Mr. and MRs. Sidney Lind, and Master Barry Levenson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Morey Levenson.

Mrs. Victor Schulman in Gen. Chairman of the gala spectacle which will be shown to 1,600 San Diegans.  She is being assisted by Mrs. Leo Beck as her Co-Chairman and a committee of Hadassah workers who include Mmes. David Blocks, Models; E. Al. Slayen and Ray Bass, Tickets; Richard Disraeli; Ushers; Abe Ratner; Wardrobe Mistress; Ray M. Lieberman, Publicity; Rudolph Hess, Program Book; Leon Solomon, Arrangements, Alfred Bobrof and Vailia Denni, Decorations; Sidney Chemnick, Planning.  Mrs. Leonard Zlotoff, Vice President and Ways and Means Chairman, has stated that tickets are at a premium and that anyone desiring tickets may secure them from Mrs. Slayen at Hopkins 9-4434 or Mrs. Bass at Juniper 2-4278.  This Monday a Box Office will be opened for three days only at Borgens Music Company, 724 Broadway in downtown San Diego, with tickets going on sale to the general public.  Admission is $1.50 and your contributions will greatly aid the progress of one of Israel’s finest schools, and also add to the success of the organization in other projects in the young democratic state.

Area chairman selected by Mrs. Schulman include Mrs. Jonathan Lippitt, Thursday Club Juniors; MRs. Frank Gonsalves, Social Service Auxiliary and Juniors; MRs. Lewis Kipperman, Coronado; Mrs. Sam Siraton, Point Loma; Mrs. Harold Elden, La Mesa-El Cajon; Mrs. John Ruskin, Kensington; Mrs. Maxwell Kaufman, Mission Hills.

Mrs. Harry E. Felson, Hadassah’s newly elected President, urges the entire community to attend this spectacular showing of Israeli fashions and stresses the importance of the organization reaching its high financial goal for the coming year.

Adding a note of gayety to the event will be the appearance of Bernard and Mildred Lamb, Starlight opera stars, in a musical interlude of melodic tunes, accompanied by Pauline Gleason.

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To See or not To See

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Page 2

Those interested in The Merchant of Venice “to do” will find more of the same in Letters to the Editor on Page 16. [2010 note: We run the letters below}

Jimmy Durante and Mike Schwartz, aka Mike Williams

Talented ten year old Mike Williams (son of Bill and Jean Schwartz), who is pictured on this page with the Shnoz {Jimmy Durante}, will appear on the program for the first Globe Activity Night of the fall season, Sept. 26. A Tennessee Williams’ one-act, Lord Byron’s Love Letter, and a reading by Kay Chevalier will also be presented.

Activity Nights, for active Globe workers and those interested in doing volunteer for the Community Theatre, will take place on Sunday evenings at 8:30 instead of Mondays, as in the past.  There is no charge for admission.

Flash!—Just got word that Mike will appear on the popular TV Comedy Hour soon. Date of broadcast to be announced later.

Tryouts—It’s things like this that make me almost glad I’ve given up acting – Last year, the all male Mister Roberts; starting Sept. 20, the all-male Stalag 17; and now Craig Noel has announced tryout for Ferenc Molnar’s The Play’s The Thing. When is this going to end.  The Molnar comedy calls for six men and one woman, Women Arise!

Atlas Doings – Missed out on the Atlas Award shindig by being in San Francisco last weekend, but hear tell it was a real doozer. Robert Strauss, well known on stage, screen and television, presented the awards to the winning actresses and Beulah Bondi presented them to the male Atlas winners.

Bob and his charming wife, Audrey, were houseguests of Dick and Jane Lustig.

Ken Ferguson was in town from Santa Cruz last weekend, too, but also missed, for the first time in many  a year, the Atlas dinner – he was attending the Morticians’ Convention.  Both affairs were held in the same hotel – if Ken’s convention were presenting awards, it’s easy to imagine the interesting possibilities if any guests wandered into the wrong dining room.

Finale
–Received a letter this week from Tom Dammann, who has so ably handled publicity and public relations for La Jolla Playhouse the last few seasons. In it he says, “I am sure you are aware of the fact that this was our most successful season to date.  This is interesting in view of the two week policy.  We ran throughout the season at an average of 90% capacity.   One show, Sabrina Fair actually  played to 99% of capacity, paid attendance, for its two weeks. We believe this experience is highly important and revealing in view of the plans of the La Jolla-San Diego County Theatre and Arts Foundation to build a permanent theatre, because it shows that San Diego County’s theatre audience is growing.”

La Jolla Theatre—In line with the above letter was a release from La Jolla-San Diego County Theatre and Arts Foundation stating that the Foundation has been granted complete Federal tax exemption.  This of course will allow donors to deduct their contributions for tax purposes.

They can now, according to Mrs. Edward Longstreth, Foundation president, “set about in earnest raising the funds necessary.”  An attempt is being made to obtain a site from the University of California on the campus of the Scripps Institution of Oceonagraphy.  The theatre and its buildings could be used for lectures, scientific film showings; and drama, painting and other arts could be taught.

It naturally would house La Jolla Playhouse, and in addition, could accommodate road companies, concerts, the ballet, and there’s even talk of an international film festival for the first time in this country.

Mrs. Longstreth concludes, “Our plans call for the building of the most modern and most beautiful theatre in the nation when we secure the required funds.”

Hollywood Theatre –From a little farther north comes news of a new theatre, too. The new Huntington Hartford Theatre in Hollywood will have its formal opening on September 28 when Helen Hayes will begin a four-week engagement in James M. Barrie’s “What Every Woman Knows,” which will be followed by “Mrs. McThing,” starring Miss Hayes.

The theatre will feature an elaborate bar, the first to be installed in any theatre in the United States. This bar-or-not-to-bar is a burning question among the theatres on Broadway, and while they argue the question, Hollywood has beaten them to it.

This, of course, adds on more problem for the poor theatre-goer.—Where is the line between the number of highballs that will spice up a dull second act and the number that will put one to sleep while watching even another “Oklahoma”?

Look Ma! He’s Acting!—Bill Browning, KFSD Program Director, who, incidentally, is the youngest man in the country to hold that type of job, and who should certainly be accustomed to public appearance, needed prodding by his friends to try out for a part in Stalag 17.   Result: Bill is playing his first Globe role.

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(Getting Ahead)

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Page 2

The means some people use in getting ahead in this world probably means they are getting behind in the next.
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The ‘Merchant of Venice’ Controversy Continued

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, Page 16

{2010 Editor’s Note:  Part of the page from which these articles were taken has been destroyed.  We print as much of the letters as we physically have, indicating in brackets the missing parts.}

Dear Mr. Kaufman

Anent The Merchant of Venice controversy appearing in the Jewish Press and which I read with interest, I should like to add my comments.

Nations and writers have long been engaged in criticizing and speculating upon Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” and it will doubtless furnish criticism and learned discussions to writers yet unborn.  Innumerable commentators have occupied themselves in searching for the probable source whence Shakespeare derived the element of the plot, its incidents and its characters upon whom he has conferred an immortal personality.

The most striking feature of “The Merchant of Venice” is unquestionably Shylock, the Jew, and the incident of the pound of flesh.  Upon his imaginary Israelite Shakespeare has profusely expended some of the sublimest efforts of his genius, but for stage effect and in order to conform to the religious prejudices of his age, he has unhappily at the same time heaped upon him many vile propensities, abhorrent alike to Jew and Christian.

The fictitious Shylock has been universally accepted and widely condemned without sufficient impartial investigation, as a true impersonation of a wealthy Jew of the Middle Ages.  There has been ruthlessly cast upon the entire Jewish race a foul slander, and an immense enduring wrong.

The portrait of the Jew which Shakespeare has draw has, as its dominant feature, the inhuman desire to wreak revenge upon Antonio, by cutting from his body a pound of flesh in accordance with the terms of his money bond. This has unquestionably no warrant in reality; no place in any authentic record, or sanction in Jewish laws, nor in Rabbinical traditions.

Shakespeare misinterpreted Jewish feeling, when he put into the mouth of Shylock the sentence, “I hate him for he is a Christian.”  Shylock would not have hated Antonio because of his Christianity, but because he railed against him in the public thoroughfares, because he berated him about his profits because he spat upon his beard and gabardine, and called him misbeliever and cut-throat dog.

If the Jew of the Middle Ages hated the Christian it was because of the hate which the Christian bore the Jew.  Jews at no period of their medieval history, nor since, have hated Christians on account of their religion, but on account of the cruel oppression they suffered at their hands.

Jews have always been taught to forgive their enemies. The Jewish people are strictly enjoined to practice forbearance, mercy and charity unto its widest sense to all men and to deal impartial justice to th stranger. They are commanded by their divine law, to love their neighbors as themselves—irrespective of race, creed or faith—and to treat all living creatures with kindness, mercy and human consideration.

To mutilate any living creature, much less a human being is strictly opposed to the merciful spirit of the Jewish law.  It may be confidently averred that no Jew that has ever existed beyond the inflamed imagination of a romancer, was ever justly charged the abominable crime of mutilation which is ascribed to Shylock…

{2010 editor’s note:  Here a large chunk of the page is torn out.  What may be the same letter, or another letter entirely, after the gap, continues at the top of the next column.  Such gaps are frustrating, but they are proof of the worthiness of this project by which we transfer the contents of the archived Southwestern Jewish Press to the internet.  In time, the newspaper will continue to yellow, become brittle and break apart.  But on the Internet our community history can be preserved.}

 

.,.. Hath not a Jew weyes?  Hath not a Jew hands? Organs? Dimensions, senses, affection, passions?  Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subjects to the same diseases, heated by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is?  If you prick us do we not bleed?  If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not avenge?  If we are like you in the rest we will resemble you in that.”

That Shakespeare should have had the temerity to put such bold words into the mouth of his Jew whom the other characters of his play were holding up to public abhorrence and contempt, is even now a subject of great astonishment. Shylock is a wealthy Jew of Venice as were the Jews of that republic in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.  It is an historical fact that these wealthy Israelites were proud in spirit and dignified in bearing; as merchants they held distinguished positions.

The pound of flesh myth, of which there exist numerous versions, was evidently a popular story for many ages, and is supposed to have originated in the East.  However, my own version of the incident of the pound of flesh is, that many thoughtless persons are in the habit of making use of inflated language upon the most ordinary occasions.  How often do we listen to such phrases as the following: “I will bet my life,” “I would give the world,” and so on?  It would appear in like manner have been the custom in Italy and probably in other countries to use such senseless expressions as “I lay my head,” or “I wager you a pound of flesh from my body,” with as little intention of forfeiting a pound of flesh, as of forfeiture of life or a head in the discharge of the debt or wager.  This would seem to be a reasonable explanation of the existence of such numerous and varied versions of the “pound of flesh” bond story.

It is much to be lamented that this drama can neither be read nor performed without exciting in every human and liberal mind, an abhorrence of its professed design to vilify and ancient and respectable but persecuted nation.

May the New Year approaching give birth to a new era of peace and kjind fellowship and may God answer our prayers so that the year 5715 shall be a year of blessing for all mankind and bring to this sorely afflicted world a genuine peace that comes with understanding, tolerance, brotherly love and justice for all.

With my kindest personal regards and all best wishes,

Very sincerely yours, Rabbi N.I. Addleson.

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Dear Mr. Kaufman:

Just a note in commendation of Craig Noel’s answer to criticism of the Globe’s production of “The Merchant of Venice.”

It is easy to understand the feelings of the critics – Mr. Schwartz and Mrs. Moorsteen; we Jews are so wont to experience unpleasant twinges whenever a Jew is pictured in an unfavorable light.  Nevertheless, I feel it’s about time we “grow up” and stop carrying chips on our shoulders.

Must Jews always be portrayed as great and heroic characters?—philosophers, musicians, judges, etc?  Jews are as “human” as any other people and they have as good a right as anyhone else to feel rebellious against indignity and oppression, even when their rebellion may push them beyond the line of sane social behavior.

I do not think we need to protest the play or to apologize. Although I have been unable to see the Globe productions, I have seen many great actors portray Shylock in New York, and I must confess that I never felt apologetic about him.  When Shylock stands up to his tormentors (who persecute him because he is a Jew), one feels a great respect for him.

“I am a Jew.  Hath not a Jew eyes?  Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?  Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?  If you tickle us, do we not laugh?  If you poison us, do we not die?  And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?  If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?  Revenge.  If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example?  Why, revenge.  The villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”

What is that but the expression of human dignity?  Truly the villain of the play is the sanctimonious Antonio.

I saw Maurice Schwartz as Shylock years ago. I shall never forget him.

Sincerely, Lillian G. Buck

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Dear Mac:

May I get into the Shakespeare act, too?

Craig Noel made a fine defense of “The Merchant of Venice” in your last issue, but I feel that he left much unsaid, possibly in consideration of our sensibilities.

I cannot write about the Globe’s interpretation of the classic. We twice made reservations to see it and twice circumstances forced a change of plans. We were most disappointed. I had always found reading the play a rewarding experience.

To me, Shylock has always been a tragic figure – a victim of forces beyond his control, who reacts to those forces in a neurotic, destructive manner. We all know many such persons, Jew and non Jew.  What is significant about Shakepeare is his incapacity to create a figure of pure evil – Iago in Othello would come closest to this – certainly not Shylock.

The point is this: although the Bard was undoubtedly influenced by the anti-Semitic stereotype of his day, he had too deep an insight into human nature not to show the sympathetic side of Shylock’s personality.

Please don’t think me indifferent to anti-Semitism.  Had “The Merchant of Venice” been written by a lesser dramatist and, say, produced in modern dress and in the contemporary idiom, I could see some real cause for alarm.  A less perceptive study of a Jewish pawnbroker under such circumstances could easily inflame mass prejudice.  But consider the audience which attends Shakespeare—usually a literate, intelligent bunch, not likely to have their racial and religious attitudes changed significantly by an evening of theatre, particularly when the characters are well drawn and well interpreted.  Consider, too, the language of the play—an archaic form which demands great concentration just to follow the dialog—a situation not too conducive to the developing of violent emotion.

It is with the deepest respect for your other correspondents whom I know well, that I raise these questions. Isn’t it time we stop squirming every time we see a Jew portrayed unsympathetically in a play or a novel, or read in the paper of a crime committed by a Jew?  Are we not demanding too much of our Christian friends to expurgate all such unsympathetic Jews from the English literary tradition?  And if we are not unreasonable by the same token, must we not demand that every member of every minority group be painted as pure and innocent. And if this great day should ever come to be, will we have any right to expect adult literature?

With  a plea for greater understanding and less hypersensitivity.

Sincerely, Muriel G. Goldhammer

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‘Stalag 17’ Opens Globe Season

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 17, 1954, Page 2

Globe Theatre-goers will see an almost documentary drama about the harrowing yet often grimly comic way American GI war prisoners lived in a German camp during World War II, when the San Diego Community Theatre presents Stalag 17, a comedy melodrama with an all-male cast.

Directed by Craig Noel, this initial production of the 1954-55 theatre season will begin a limited four-week run on September 20 and will play every night but Sunday.

Based mainly on actual experiences undergone by authors Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzsinski in a real Stalag 17 in Krems, Austria, the action concerns a group of captured GIs whose escape plot and secrets are being tipped off the camp commandant.

Cast in the leading role for the Globe’s production is Lee Burton, as the hated malcontent suspected of spying.  Cleto Fracchiolla plays the part of a Brooklyn boy with an earthy sense of humor. Frank Davis appears as a clown in long underwear, Fred Rose as a leader with a soft heart and Bruce McCarcken as a security officer who knows his job too well. Remaining parts are taken by Bruce Torbet, Gunnar Schillen, Irving Rogers, Hans Jacobson, Jack Wynans, Mike Monahan, Murray Schwartz, Roland Haworth, Keith Hawk, Bob Finch, James D. Howell, Edward Barlow, Bill Browning, Donald Wickham and Jim Pinkerton.

As important to the tone of the play as are any of its principals is the magnificently detailed setting, designed by Robert F. Corrigan.

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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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