Archive for September 11, 2010

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, March 4, 1955, Part 1

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Page 1

Kirk Douglas to address United Jewish Campaign Fund “Kickoff” Dinner slated for April 2nd.

Jewish Artists To Entertain at Beth Jacob Center
Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Page 1

Three superb Jewish artists will give an outstanding performance this Sunday, at the Beth Jacob Center, 4473 30th St., at 8:30 p.m.  Sponsored by the Jewish Labor Committee in an attempt to bring the finest of Jewish music, drama and humor to San Diego, the group hopes to preserve the great traditions of the European stage.

The artists include Dora Kalnowna, from Brazil, who made a great name in Warsaw singing in Hebrew and Yiddish; Shmuel Fisher, called the Jewish Charlie Chaplin, who has lived in Israel since 1930.  His humor and song are unique.  Pola Kadison, the renowned concert pianist has appeared in many cities in the United States.  She has been acclaimed as one of the finest interpreters of folk music.

For an evening of nostalgic Jewish humor, drama and song, call Ben Feinberg at BE 2-5525 or BE 3-3524, or Morris Penn, HU 8-5906, and make your reservations for Sunday, March 6, and an unforgettable evening.


Dr. Walter Ornstein Elected To Head Jewish Welfare Agency
Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Pages 1, 5

Dr. Walter Ornstein was elected  president of the Board of directors of the Jewish Social Service Agency at the February meeting of the board.  He will succeed Harry Mallen who served as president for the past three years.

Other officers elected to serve with Dr. Ornstein are: Irving Stone, first vice-president; Mrs. Milton Roberts, second vice president; Mrs. Jack Rittoff, secretary; William Colt, treasurer.

New Board members chosen at the recent annual meeting are Carl Friend, Dr. Harry Ruja, Mrs Leo Sarfan, Mrs. Jack Stern, and David Zwanziger. They will serve along with Zel Camiel, Mrs. Avram Dickman, Dr. George Hermann, Edward Janowsky, Dr. Seymour Kuntz, Mrs. Esther Kupperberg, Mrs. Joseph Kwint, Harry Mallen, Mrs. Anna Peckarsky, Dr. Phillip Rand, Mrs. Elmser Wohl. Mrs. Rose Neuman(n) is an honorary member of the board.  The agency is supported by the Community Chest of San Diego and the San Diego Federation of Jewish Agencies,. It is also a member agency of the Family and Child Welfare Division of the Community Welfare Council.
B’nai B’rith Honors Carl Esenoff at Dinner Mar. 16

Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Pages 1, 78

Eight hundred men and women members of San Diego’s B’nai B’rith will honor Carl M. Esenoff, local community oleader on the evening of Wednesday, March 16, at the San Diego Hotel.

Mr. Esenoff will be presented with a testimonial at the dinner to be held in the Continental Room at 6:30 p.m. for “Americanism in Civic Affairs,” by the B’nai B’rith Lodges and Chapters and the Anti-Defamation League. Chairman for the evening are M. D. Goodrich and Edward A. Breitbard.

Religious, civic and political leaders of San Diego have accepted honorary chairmanship for the testimonial dinner. These include Admiral Wilder D. Baker, President, Community Chest; Anderson Borthwick; John D. Butler; Robert M. Golden; Ewart Goodwin; Graydon Hoffman; Lucius Johnson; George Renter; George Scott; Thomas Selton; Alan J. Sutherland; Herny Weinberger and Judge Jacob Weinberger.

Milton Senn, Director of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League, and an acknowledged leader in the Pacific Southwest in the field of human relations and in the fight against anti-Semitism, will be the principal speaker.

The B’nai B’rith Coordinating Council in the announcement made by Stanley Yukon, President, stated that they have selected Mr. Esenoff to be honored because of the many activities on behalf of all communities’ efforts.

Esenoff has been President of the San Diego Federation of Jewish Agencies since its inception four years ago; is a Past President of the Community Welfare Council of San Diego; a leader in the Community Chest; Past President of the Jewish Social Service Agency; a member of the Board of the United Jewish Fund; and the San Diego Hebrew Home for the Aged; as well as a director and participant in many other community activities. He is recognized in his profession as one of San Diego’s leading Certified Public Accountants as is indicated by his service on many C.P.A. committees, locally, regionally and nationally.

B’nai Brith Lodges and Chapters of San Diego stressed that the testimonial dinner was part of its participation and support of the United Jewish Fund campaign in 1955 and are urging all members to attend.  B’nai B’rith agencies which are beneficiaries of the United Jewish Fund include the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel Foundations, Youth Organizations of AZA and BBG, the Vocational Service and Leo N. Levi Memorial Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

All pledges made to the United Jewish Fund at the testimonial dinner will be dedicated to Carl M. Esenoff and be known in the campaign as the Carl M. Esenoff Fund.

To Lead Drive
Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Pages 1, 7

Brotherhood Week was celebrate by the United  Jewish Fund with the appointment of Anderson Borthwick, president of the First National Trust and Savings Bank of San Diego as the chairman of the Christian Committee of the 1955 United Jewish Fund Campaign.

In accepting responsibility for leadership in the 1955 United Jewish Fund Campaign to raise $220,000, Mr. Borthwick said, “I have accepted this chairmanship, although I have many other businesses and civic duties, because as a member of this committee from its very inception, some ten years ago, I have learned of the tremendous life-saving work that the agencies which are beneficiaries of the Fund have done throughout the world. As a Christian, I sincerely want to be a part of this great humanitarian effort which has the outstanding record of having aided more than 2,000,000 destitute and helpless people wherever they may be found.  The United Jewish Fund is a humanitarian cause deserving the wholehearted support of the entire community. To me the participation of Christians in this work of saving lives carried on by the agencies of the United Jewish Fund is brotherhood in the most meaningful sense.”

Borthwick is president of the First National Trust and Savings Bank, the San Diego Harbor Commission and the Rees-Stealy Clinic Research Foundation.  He is director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the San Diego Convention and Tourist Bureau, San Diego California Club, San Diego Hospital Association, American Cancer Society, the Downtown Association and many other organizations.

Sid Posen Resigns as Center Exec.
Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Pages 1, 5

Edward Breitbard, Jewish Community Center president, announced the resignation of Sidney Posin as Center Director as of February 15, 1955.

Posin, who has been in charge of Center activities for the last two years, left to accept a position as Director of the group work division of San Diego’s Community Welfare Division. In this position he will be responsible for the studies and surveys regarding recreation and leisure  time activities in San Diego as well as planning in this field.

The Center Board in a resolution favoring central administration of local Jewish agencies, has appointed Albert A. Hutler, Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Agencies to act as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center.

The personnel committee with Maxwell Kaufman as chairman are now interviewing applicants for the position of Assistant Director of the Center and hope to secure personnel before June 1st.  Breitbard announced that activities will continue as usual at the center and that plans are under way for expansion of the programming.

U.J.F. Top Leaders Accept Campaign Jobs

Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Pages 1, 7

Top organization in the United Jewish Fund 1955 campaign structure was almost completed last week with appointment of David Sapp and Edward Breitbard as vice-chairmen of the campaign.

Campaign Chairman Max Rabinowitz, in making the announcement said that other top community leaders had accepted key spots in the campaign organization.

He also announced that the campaign would be “kicked-off” at a dinner on Saturday, April 2, at the El Cortez Hotel with Kirk Douglas as the guest of honor.

Rabinowitz, in bringing two young leaders to the forefront to aid him in the $220,000 drive, said, “The campaign leadership of these young men whould provide the dynamics needed to conduct an all out effort in the drive.”

Breitbard, local laundry executive is an experience campaigner and community worker having served in various campaign capacities in the past. He has a wide range of welfare activities, President of the Jewish Community Center, Past President of Tifereth Israel Congregation, a Director of the Federation of Jewish Agencies and the United Jewish Fund, and vice president of the Breitbard Athletic Foundation.

Comparatively a short time in San Diego, David Sapp, construction executive, and vice president of Sapp Brothers Construction Company, has given outstanding service to the community.  He is a board member of the Fund, the Hebrew Home for the Aged, and the Community Center.

In filling other top positions, Rabinowitz announced the formation of an Emergency Committee with Carl M. Esenoff, M.D. Goodrich, Rodin Horrow, Irvine Kahn, Louis Moorsteen, Henry Price, Sol Price, Victor Schulman and Ruben Umansky.  Most are former chairmen of campaigns.

Harry Snyder, Fund Treasurer, and Albert Steinbaum, San Diego Hotel operator and a vice-presidentof the Fund, will head the Advance Gifts division.

The “Incentive Group” Committee, which included solicitation and participation of all local agencies and National organizations in San Diego that are beneficiaries of the drive, will be headed by Harry Mallen, past president of the Jewish Social Service Agency and Ruben Umansky, Histadrut leader.

William Colt, locker club operator and Harry Wax, San Diego Janitor Supply, will furnish the leadership for the Business and Trade Division.

Four top professional people will lead the Professional division in Dr. Joshua Rittoff, Chairman, and Dr. Walter Ornstein, Edward Baranov, Certified Public Accountant, and Norman Seltzer, Attorney.

County areas will be organized by Ben Carnot of La Jolla and Alex Maisel of Escondido, both outstanding campaign workers.  Nathan Golden of Tijuana has accepted responsibility for solicitation in Tijuana and Ensenada.

Magic Carpet Day will be under the direction of Bernard Arenson, and Ida Wax. Mrs. Wax has participated in many campaigns in leadership capacity.  Arenson is in his first major post.

Women’s Division Post will be announced in the near future according to Rabinowitz.  All other positions will be filled within the coming week.

Top chairmen will constitute the Campaign Cabinet, which will act in an advisory capacity to Rabinowitz, Sapp and Breitbard in the conduct of the campaign. The Cabinet will include Morris Douglas, Fund President; Milton Y. Roberts, vice-president; M.S. Fisher, Secretary.

Also, Mrs. Gabriel Berg, Mack Esterson, Maury Novak, Seymour Rabin, William Schwartz, Mitlon Fredman, and Zel Camiel.  Women chairmen will be added when announced.

Purim – Feast of Lots (Editorial)

Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Page 2

Purim, jolliest of the Jewish holidays, begins at sunset, Monday, March 7. The holiday commemorates a grim episode from Biblical history but its observance has always been marked by a July-Fourth like gaiety. Basis of the holiday is the overthrow of the Persian tyrant, Haman, who sought to have all men bow down to him.  When Mordecai refused because his Jewishness forbade hm to worship any but God, Haman sought to destroy the Jewish people. The Scriptural Book of Esther recounts how the Jews were saved through the intervention of beauteous Queen Esther.

Synagogal commemoration of the holiday includes the offering of special prayers on behalf of human freedom plus music and sermons devoted to the same theme.

Although the festival lasts but one day, preparations for the holiday begin months in advance. In religious schools, plays, pageants, mock beauty contests, and masquerades mark the occasion.  One Purim requirement, stated in Scriptures, is the giving of gifts to the poor so that the spirit of gladness may be widespread The Queen Esther Ball, held annually by the Pioneer Women this Saturday, helps preserve this delightful holiday.

The word, Purim, pronounced, Poor-im means Lots, and refers to the casting of lots through which Haman sought to determine the date of his intended massacre.

Turn About (Editorial)
Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Page 2

Very quietly last month, without causing a ripple, something happened that made no headlines and was hardly reported. We were all too busy with the atom bomb and Formosa.  But what happened was as important as any single event during the last decade.

The U.S. Government repudiated its historic position under which heads of enemy nations at the end of the last war, were hanged or punished for the crimes of war. Without benefit of debate in Congress or an explanation to the people, the Government reversed itself on the principle that not nations but individuals made war and therefore accept the responsibility.

The laws initiated at Nuremberg, under which the Nazi leaders were punished were drawn up with the aid of Britain, France and Russia. These laws were to be incorporated into the United Nations Charter as an aid to keeping world law and order. We were to use these laws as a warning to those reckless leaders who might be tempted to take nations into another blood bath.

On November 17, 1954, Charles H. Mahoney, U.S. representative to the United Nations, explained our position to that group.  He stated that “the project for a code of crimes under international law in today’s world is impractical and inappropriate.”  He also said that “the U.S. did not wish to subject its citizens to those regular and continuing processes of investigation, prosecution and trial, by international agencies, which would be necessary for real enforcement of an international code.”

Impractical?  Must we wait until a billion human lives are destroyed before we decide something should be done about the principal of individual responsibility?  Is it practical to construct an elaborate legal mechanism in the name of justice and then turn away from it when it fails to serve our purpose?

Inappropriate?  Is there anything more inappropriate than to be guilty of a double standard in the eyes of the world.

Speaking of individual responsibility, we do not believe that laws formulated by four major nations, after careful study and consideration, should be reversed in the name of the people of the United States without the matter being brought before their elected representatives in the government.


Candidates State Views on Religion in the Schools

Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Page 2

The Jewish Press asked the three candidates for the Board of Education in the coming election vital questions relating to the separation of Church and State.

“The state law now allows the Bible to be read in the schoolroom but no interpretation can be made. This is as far as I think the school should go and I would only favor that if there’s no objectijon from any parent.

“When I was a child, my parents read the Bible to us every day with whatever explanations they wanted to make.  I think it is the responsibility of the home to teach religion to their children. The schools are doing a fine job integrating moral and spiritual values into the whole curriculum from kindergarten through Junior College. These values are the basis for any religion.  Gideon New Testaments are now distributed to high school seniors at graduation time. They may take them or not. I believe all other faiths should have the same privilege of distributing their Bibles.

“I do not favor ‘Released Time for Religious Education.’  It was tried experimentally in ten of our elementary schools for one year and was not considered successful by a majority of those concerned.”   — Mary L. Fay.

“Before making direct answers to the three important questions asked, I would  like to express my feelings in a more general way. Since the citizens of our great country are divided into three major religious groups who hold very sacred their different faiths, principles and beliefs, I feel the Board of Education should adopt policies which would not in any way infringe on the religions of any of the children intrusted to their care. Teaching of religion is not a proper function of the public schools, but it is the obligation of the home and the church, and should be left to them. 

“In spite of the above statements, I feel keenly that our public schools cannot carry out their function of education in their most effective manner without recognizing the importance of spiritual and moral obligations of the students.

“It is my feeling that benedictions at graduations, dedications, et cetera, play a more important part I these programs than most people realize.  Likewise, I feel that a school day started with a simple prayer, recognizing and asking for Divine guidance, tends to create a greater respect and better relationships between students and teacher.

“It is also my belief that any teachers wishing to substitute a passage from the Bible for the above prayer should be allowed to do so, provided she confines herself to the Old Testament and that it should be read without comment. I feel that this should be the limit of the use of the Bible in the public schools.

“A few years ago the Board of Education and the religious leaders of our community made a complete and thorough study of the subject of released time for religious training. Their conclusion was that training of this kind should be done outside of school hours.  I concur in this finding.

Recently, the Board of Education requested a legal opinion from the District Attorney relative to the matter of Gideon Bibles in schools.  I shall be guided by the decision of the District Attorney which, at this writing, has not been received.”

–Robert C. Dent

“It is my sincere intention to be absolutely fair and unbiased representing to the best of my ability all the people of this city.  Our public schools will remain the foundation of our freedom only so long as they uphold American fundamentals.  I shall seek, therefore, to sustain in spirit as well as letter the Separation of Church and State.  The constitutionality of Bible reading in public schools, according to Attorney General Pat Brown, is awaiting court decision.

“If that decision favors Bible reading, my thought now, subject to later revision, is that the Bible in its entirety, as part of the rich cultural heritage of this nation, if used without comment and without prejudice to any race or religion, could be included to good advantage in our schools in such times as these; providing, of course, that the same privilege is accorded to other inspiring literary works.

“Since Released Time has been recently tried and after a year withdrawn, it is not an issue so far as my own campaign is concerned.  I am running for the School Board as a man, experienced in business, with a taxpayer’s point of view; who is also trained in Education; and vitally concerned in moral and ethical standards of conduct, I am not running to promote either my own or anybody’s religious faith.

“If a majority of people desire Released Time and so indicate, I feel that I should approve it if convinced at that time that it could be practically carried out with fairness to all relgions, and non-religious groups, as well.”

–Frank Lowe

Bnai Brith Briefs
Southwestern Jewish Press, March 4, 1955, Page 2

By Morrie Kraus

By way of note – I can hardly believe it myself, hammering out this colum for The Press after all these many years. But that old adage about printer’s ink still holds good and this will be my own mall way of making Mickey Fredman’s row a little easier to hoe.  Too many people in San Diego do not really know what B’nai B’rith is, what it does, how it does what it does, when, where and why.  As a matter of fact, this goes for many of its own members. If this column can in an informative way bring “home” to you the largest and oldest Jewish service organization in the world, then I will have been of service to the organization, the community.


The international scene – B’nai B’rith is making rapid progress in Great Britain, particularly after the establishment of Hillel at the University of London, which proved to be the greatest event of many years in Anglo-Jewish life in that city. (Reminds me of when Hillel was instituted at San Diego State College back in 1947.  Godaink?)

Leo N. Levi Hospital – The hospital has bene put in fine physical shape by a complete renovation. It has been fire-proofed and a new recreation hall built costing $40,000.  Patients from 28 states are being treated. Of the patients, 45% are non-Jewish. Staff morale is very high.  Only weakness of the hospital is I the research department  due naturally to NSF.  (Allocation committee, please note.)

Monsky Foundation – Tourists visiting Washington, D.C. in 1956 will be able to see the new B’nai B’rith building now being erected. The structure will house all the available memos of the Jewish contribution to the growth of this country, including collections of many sorts besides the arts. The value of having our heritage and its influence upon this country’s progress impressed on the “outside” world will be priceless.  By next month the fund will exceed one million dollars. Our District Four is committed for $25,000, fifteen of which is already paid.

Crusade for Freedom – Members of our lodges and chapters are joining millions of other Americans this month in the annual Crusade for Freedom campaign to continue the fight against Communism behind the Iron Curtain itself.  The Crusade supports Radio Free Europe, which beams powerful messages through the Iron Curtain and sends “truth balloons” sailing over it. Those of you who heard Becky Rosenthal not so long ago at the special Oneg Shabbat event sponsored by S.D. Birdie Stodel Chapter got the full impact of this project. Special B’nai B’rith Freedom Scrolls have been distributed locally by the Americanism Department of the order. Be one of the 25,000,000 citizens who will contribute “truth dollars” for this worthy cause. A dollar this way spent may save you hundreds later.

The Local  Scene – Some people say “what do you do; where does the money go; what is it all about?” and any other questions. I can fill columns and columns answering these questions. From time to time these efforts will appear in this paper, touching on the highlights here and there. Everybody cannot be active, we know, but passive membership is just as important I order to do the work B’nai B’rith does.  Have you got a son in training at some distant camp, far away from home?  How would you like to have B’nai B’rith get together with him some Sunday morning, feed him, and make him feel at home?  If it did nothing else you’d say the organization was tops!  Well, we do it all the time here at the naval training stations, for kids that come from all over the country. Take a look at their eyes and faces when we get together.  Take a look at the AZA boys as they introduce their parents at an installation. Take a look at the BBG’s when they meet regularly. Take a look at the Hillel students when they thank us for making it possible that such a group can exist on the campus and be a prime factor in the sphere of interfaith.  Yes, take a look at Brotherhood Week, the ADL, Vocational guidance, Americanism and Civic Affairs, Veterans and Armed Forces, the Israel program, the youth projects, and many others – and then say “I want to belong, even if I never come to a meeting.” Because whether you do or not, someone will always be there to carry on the good work.

B’nai B’rith in San Diego pays homage March 16 to a great personage in our midst. A testimonial dinner will be held for Carl Esenoff, a past president, and an outstanding in the general community as well as ours.  All contributions made to the United Jewish Fund that night, as well as subsequently by B’nai B’rith members, will be in Carl’s name as a tribute to hijs long career in the humanities. You probably have your invitation, please make your reservation.

In July at Spokane, Eddie Breitbard will make his bid for third vice-president of this District. He’s running against two good Los Angeles men, and it will not be easy. But Eddie is going to make a real fight of it, and to help him do it, S.D. Lasker Lodge and the S.D. B’nai B’rith Coordinating Council will in the near fture run a little social to help him on his way.

I started this column by wowing not to think I was on the pulpit. I see now that I have been running true to the long form, so until next time, this must be “thirty.”

“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.

The varied life of a Hebrew-English translator

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment

By Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

MEVASSERET ZION, Israel — I never intended to become a translator. It just happened. I first began translating after my daughter was born and I could no longer go out to work. My knowledge of Hebrew was minimal and I frequently had to use a dictionary, but with the passing years this was needed less and less. For a long time I worked from home as a free-lance translator from Hebrew to English, then in a paid position at Israel’s central bank, translating and editing its English-language publications.

As a free-lancer my work was very varied, ranging from novels of varying literary merit to academic articles and books. During that period I spent some years translating what eventually appeared in six volumes as  Selected Knesset Debates. These began with the pre-State People’s Council and the pre-Knesset Provisional Council of State, with their fascinating discussions about various aspects of founding the Jewish state. The project continued up to the Ninth Knesset in 1981 (the one sitting now is the Eighteenth), when the funds ran out.

Working on that project brought me into contact with one of the most affable and knowledgeable men I have ever met, Dr. Netanel Lorch. He had been Clerk of the Knesset for many years, as well as the author of several books on subjects relating to Israeli and modern European history. Every few weeks I would go to his house to collect a cardboard box containing another set of thick blue volumes–the Hebrew equivalent of Hansard–receive general guidelines from him about which debates (those of historical interest) and speakers (a representative selection) to focus on.

Then I would go home and delve into the enthralling world of Israel’s early years, with  its internal and external conflicts and its moments of triumph and disaster. In a debate about arms coming into Israel prior to the Sinai Campaign in 1956, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion quoted a poem by the ‘national poet,’ Natan Alterman, rather than reply directly to the question. I don’t think that sort of thing happens in the Knesset today. That project stretched my translating abilities to the limit, as well as giving me a rare insight into the rhetorical abilities of Israel’s founding fathers (and mothers).

Since retiring from the Bank of Israel I have slipped back into my previous free-lance role. It makes a change from the turgid prose of practitioners of ‘the dismal science,’ even though I occasionally find myself tackling that material too. Recently I was asked to translate the autobiography of someone who had lived through the pre-state period and Israel’s early days. He recounted his experiences in the Palmach, the pre-state fighting force, being trained in night-fighting by Orde Wingate and bringing clandestine immigrants to the country on ships in varying states of seaworthiness. One of these was the Exodus, which he commanded. I was asked to do this translation in haste as his 98-year-old widow was not in good health and, despite having lived in Israel for sixty years, was unable to read the Hebrew text. Just a month or two after submitting the translation I saw her obituary in the newspaper. I hope she managed to read the memoirs, or that someone had read them to her.

There is a lot to be said for working on a free-lance basis. You are free to take the morning off if you feel like it, or work late at night, if a deadline looms. However, there is also a lot to be said for the security of a steady job, a regular salary and a pension. I still haven’t made my mind up as to which I prefer, but I feel that my work has given me a unique perspective on Israel.


Shefer-Vanson, a freelance writer and translator based in Mevasseret Zion, can be reached at This article initially appeared in the AJR Journal, published by the Association of Jewish Refugees in the United Kingdom.