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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, May 28, 1954, Part 4

June 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 6

Tifereth Israel Sisterhood installation ceremonies and brunch will take place June 1 at 12:00 noon in the Tifereth Israel Center.  A wonderful program, “Color Through the Years,” has been planned, with Mrs. Victor Weiss in charge. Ann Schloss is circle captain.

The following officers and board members have been elected for next year: Pres., Mrs. Harry Wax; Ways and Means Vice-Pres., Mrs. Louis Feller;  Cultural Vice-Pres., Mrs. Arthur Gardner; Membership Vice-Pres, Mrs. Ben Gordon; Program Vice Pres., Mrs. Daniel Orlansky; Rec. Sec., Mrs. Paul Belkin; Corr. Sec., Ross Ann Feldstein; Fin. Sec., Mrs. Sam Lennett; Treas., Mrs. Edward Baranov; and auditor, Mrs. Sarah Bystrom.  New Board members are: Mrs. Lewis Solomon, Marie Richards, Molly Prager, Mrs. Frank Pomeranz, Mrs. Joseph Kader, Lillian Berwin, Mrs. Joe Spatz, and Mrs. G. Winicki.

Rabbi Monroe Levens will be installing officer.  Please make your  reservations early so that we may plan accordingly.  Call Jean Schreibman, Atwater 4-3351; Sarah Krasnow, Juniper 2-2583, or Rosalie Sonnabaum, Atwater 2-0173.

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Council Women Hold Installation June 2
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 7

The National Council of Jewish Women, San Diego Section, will hold its annual installation luncheon on Wednesday, June 2, 12:00 noon at Town and Country off Mission Valley Freeway.

The theme “Council Cinemascope” will depict the organization’s accomplishments during the past year.  The room will be decorated as a motion picture theatre with screen, lights and cameras.  The program will be highlighted by the appearance of Loretta Jewell, popular actress and San Diego personality.  She will give intimate glimpses of Hollywood and stories of the stars.

Installations will be conducted by Dr. William J. Rust, President of California Western University.  Guests of honor include Mr. Edgar Brown of the Community Welfare Council; Mr. Al Hutler, United Jewish Fund.  Members of the press will also attend. Chairman of this affair is Mrs. Irving Alexander assisted by Mrs. Milton Effron, Mrs. Morris Sims, Mrs. Marvin Jacobs, Mrs. Joseph Kwint, Mrs. David Jaffe, Mrs. Milton Fredman, Mrs. Robert Speigel, Mrs. Robert Drexler and Mrs. Morton Kantor.

All persons desiring transportation contact phone chairman: AT 4-1609; AGT 1-0120, JU 2-4933.

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Personals

Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 7

Welcome Home – Rose and Lee Greenbaum changed their South American cruise plans in mid-ocean and sailed only as far as Buenos Aires.  Having had enough of the open sea by that time, they changed transportation methods and flew the rest of their holiday time visiting Santiago, Chile, Lima, Peru; Panama and Florida.

After their return to San Diego, Rose and Leo had as their houseguests last week, Ida and Dan Polesky, former San Diegans, now of Los Angeles.

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Returns Home – After a wonderful month long visit with her family in Denver, Mrs. Sam Tepper has returned home.

Bride Honored – Mrs. Ben Halpern and Mrs. Paul Vereshagin were hostesses at a bridal shower honoring Esther Weitzman on May 8th at the Beth Jacob Center.  Forty guests attended.  Miss Weitzman will wed Andrew Segal on July 11.

Student Awards—Daniel Schaffer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Schaffer, has received a four-year scholarship to Harvard University.  Daniel will be graduated from Kearny High School next month and upon completing his 4-year course at Harvard expects to study law. 

A scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley was awarded to Judy Yukon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Yukon.  Judy is a member of Ecivres, the honor organization at Hoover High School and will graduate this June.

Visitors—Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kaplan of Norfolk, Va., have been visiting children, Dr. and MRs. Robert Kaplan (Joan Steinman) of Los Angeles. Chances are that the main attraction for them is grandson, Matthew. The Kaplans, en masse, visited in San Diego with the Louis Steinmans for a week prior to the Steinman’s departure for a month long trip.  Julia and Lou will see relatives in Tucson and St. Louis and will attend the graduation of their niece from Stephens College… (rest of article torn in archive copy}

Mrs. David Levy an her brothers, Judge Jacob Weinberger and Maurice Weinberger, are leaving Saturday to viit their sisters and brothers in Denver for a few weeks.

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Anniversaries Noted – Among the many “happy marrieds” celebrating the occasion in various ways this week are the George Matins, the Bob Gordons and the Carl Esenoffs.

We’re glad to note that Mrs. Ida Lipinsky is back home again after her sudden illness and hospitalization in Los Angeles.

Mrs. Esther Solov and daughter wish to thank their many friends for their kindnesses during their recent bereavement.

Birthday Party – Frank Berman was toasted at a birthday party in his honor given by Mrs. Berman on his 69th birthday on Sunday, May 16.  Guests were children, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Berman, MR. and Mrs. Sidney Berman, and grandchildren, Elaine, Sandy and Jeff.  Out-of-town guests were Mrs. Krupp and Mary and Jack Rose of Los Angeles.

Honored – Dr. Benjamin B. Faguet, well known psychiatrist, will represent the American Psychiatric Association at the International Conference of Psychotherapy in Zurich, Switzerland this summer.  He has accepted the appointment of Professor of Medical Psychology at the new University of San Diego.

Visitors Daughters—Mrs. Anna Peckarsky left this week for her annual summer sojourn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   {Rest of article missing in archive copy.}

Z.B.T. Mothers Club – The Mother’s Club of Zeta Beta Tau, Jewish National Fraternity at State College is having its Second Annual Card Party on Saturday, June 12th at 8 p.m. in the Beth Israel Temple Center. Donation $1.00.  An additional attraction will be entertainment by members of the fraternity. Refreshments will be served.

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Pi Alpha Lambda At State College
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 7

The Mother’s Club of Pi Alpha Lambda Sorority will hold a luncheon and card party Thursday, June 3, at noon at the home of Mrs. Fred Leeds, 4273 Ridgeway Drive. The proceeds will go toward the obtaining of a sorority house near San Diego State College.

Classified
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 7

Woman will share modern cozy apartment with working woman. Everything is furnished.  Near bus lines 1 and 2.  AT-1-2102, AT-1-7869.

Driving to N.Y. about June 20.  New. Chev. Will take 1 or 2 riders to share driving and exp.  JU-2-6429 after 5:30 p.m.

Room for Rent.  Nice home, ½ block to El Cajon and 50th bus. Call before noon or after 6:00 p.m. after June 1l1, AT-4-6586.

Sholom Mausoleum Dedicated Sunday
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 8

On May 30, the entire community is cordially invited by Tifereth Israel Synagogue and Greenwood Memorial Park to be present at the official dedication of the Sholom Mausoleum.

Rabbi Monroe Levens and Cantor Joseph Cysner will officiate at the Service, which will include a memorial for our departed ones lying at rest in Sholom; as well as a dedication of a memorial plaque, in memory of the six million Jews who lost their lives during the Second World War.

Outstanding features of Sholom are its Jewish motifs and designs incorporating rich symbolism in an atmosphere of beauty and dignity.

Sholom Mausoleum is not merely a corridor in a general mausoleum open to the general public. It is a completely separate building erected exclusively for Jewish use.

The ready acceptance of Sholom Mausoleum by the Jewish community is evidenced by the fact that it will soon be completely reserved, and plans for another addition, doubling its present capacity, are under way.

Tifereth Israel Synagogue has been designated by Greenwood Memorial Park to be in full charge of the operation, planning, design and all matters pertaining to Sholom Mausoleum.

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Beth Jacob News
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 8

Temple Beth Israel will usher in the Shavuoth Holidays with Consecration Services Friday evening, June 4, at 8:00 p[.m.  Members of the Confirmation Class will participate in the Sabbath Services. Alan Friedman and Sandra Byrock will do the Kiddush. A class barbecue lunch will be held at the home of Alan Friedman on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and a class party including dinner, dancing and swimming will take place at the home of Preston Martin, Saturday afternoon and evening.

Confirmation Services will take place on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. for the 11 members in the Confirmation class.  Rabbi Morton J. Cohn will be honored at the Friday evening services for his 20 years of service to the rabbinate. Hosts and hostesses for the Oneg Shabbat will be board members and their wives.

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Beth Jacob Set for ‘Golden Nugget’ Nite
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 8

Plans are nearing completion for the Beth Jacob Men’s Club “Golden Nugget” Nite, Sunday, June 13, at 6 p.m. in the Center, according to Dave Schissel and Julius Penn, co-chairmen.

Never before has so much been offered at an event never to be forgotten. Besides the drawing for the 5-day Las Vegas all expense vacation for two, including free air transportation, there will be a bond as a door prize.  Winner of the trip need not be present and tickets for it are available from any club member.

The finest honest-to-goodness Jewish meal, with all the dishes your mother used to make, will be available for only $1.50 per person, including all you can eat. 

There will also be other prizes including electrical appliances, home furnishings, etc., plus all kinds of games and diversions, bingo, and many other attractions to help spend an enjoyable profitable evening.  As a special feature, for all who are present, there will be lucky draws every 30 minutes.

There will be plenty to eat, plenty to drink , and plenty to do. Get up a party for this tremendous affair, the proceeds of which will go towards reducing the building loan.  Mark the date, June 13, and keep it open for the best time of your life!

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Beth Jacob News
Southwestern Jewish Press, May 28, 1954, page 8

Shavuoth services of Beth Jacob Congregation this year will be as follows:

Sunday, June 6 – 7:00 p.m.; Monday, June 7—9:00 a.m.; Tuesay, June 8—9:00 a.m.  Yizkor will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 8.

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The Beth Jacob Religious School will hold its closing exercises on Sun., June 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the center. Classes will participate in appropriate prayers and a short program.

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“Adventures in Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our indexed “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.

 
 

 

U.S. bungles relationships with Turkey and Honduras

June 8, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Turkey and Honduras, in different ways, highlight the lack of effective leadership the United States currently is able to exercise in the world. 
 
Turkey: Turkish government support for the IHH ship in the Gaza flotilla is now well understood and the anti-Semitic ravings of both official Turks and the Turkish media have made Turkey’s intention to split from Israel clear. 
 
But it is a mistake to think this is only about Israel. Support for the flotilla was only the latest in a series of Turkish decisions designed to distance itself from the United States and move toward closer political relations with countries adversarial to us. Immediately after the bloody 2007 Hamas coup against Fatah in Gaza, the United States and the European Union reiterated that Hamas was a terrorist organization to be shunned. Instead, Turkey’s prime minister invited Hamas leadership to Ankara. The Hamas-Turkey relationship has grown as the Turkey-Palestinian Authority relationship, the relationship supported by the United States and the EU, has declined. Rapprochement with Russia, Syria and Iran, and the Iran-Brazil-Turkey enriched uranium deal are more of the same.
 
After his meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters, “Citizens of member states were attacked by a country that is not a member of NATO. I think you can make some conclusions out of this statement.” The implication was that Turkey would ask NATO for some satisfaction-or some slap at Israel.
 
Thank you for the reminder, Mr. Minister.
 
Turkey, as a member of NATO, is privy to intelligence information having to do with terrorism and with Iran. If Turkey finds its best friends to be Iran, Hamas, Syria and Brazil (look for Venezuela in the future) the security of that information (and Western technology in weapons in Turkey’s arsenal) is suspect.  The United States should seriously consider suspending military cooperation with Turkey as a prelude to removing it from the organization.
 
Honduras: The United States tried to have it both ways. The Obama Administration quickly jumped in with Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua to denounce what it called a “coup” in Honduras. The United States voted with its new best friends to oust Honduras from the Organization of American States (OAS), and cut off various forms of diplomatic and economic aid to the small Central American country. After the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded that the Honduran Congress, Supreme Court and military had acted in accordance with the Honduran Constitution, the Obama Administration brokered a deal that permitted the previously scheduled election with previously nominated candidates to go forward.  When the new president was sworn in, the United States recognized the new government and withdrew its sanctions. 
 
All’s well that ends well, right? Not exactly.
 
At the OAS meeting in Peru this week, the United States tried to have Honduras reinstated. Guess who said no; Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil and Nicaragua refused to even to put the issue on the table. Hugo, Lula, Fidel and Danny were perfectly happy to let the Obama Administration join them in ganging up on a (former) American ally. But they still think they’re leading. 
 
Maybe they are.

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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.

San Diego’s Historic Places: Veterans Memorial Museum hosts exhibit on Japanese-American members of the Armed Forces

May 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Traveling exhibit of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

 

SAN DIEGO—Probably no event has seared into the consciousness of the Japanese-American community more painfully than their forced relocation from their homes on the West Coast of the United States to internment camps in the interior of the country during World War II.

This is the central portion of an exhibit at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Balboa Park that compellingly examines the 20th century history of Japanese American soldiers from San Diego.  The portable exhibit will remain through Memorial Day (May 31) and then be returned to the archives of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego.

Although the exhibit covers more than 100 years, conceptually it is book-ended by the experiences of Navy cook Sago Takata, who was one of 60 men killed in 1905 when the USS Bennington’s boilers exploded in San Diego Bay, and those of Lt. Cmdr. Craig Osaki, who at the end of the 20th century was an expert in the Iraq War on the use and repair of robots to remove enemy-planted explosive devices.

A few months after Japan’s military forces bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, notices were posted on telephone poles and on walls in San Diego neighborhoods where Japanese Americans were known to live. Families were given one week to pack their belongings and prepare for relocation to the interior. Initially most families from San Diego were taken to the Santa Anita Race Track, where horse stalls served as their temporary homes until an internment camp at Poston, Arizona, could be readied.

Poston was one of ten major internment camps built by the United States government. “From August 1942 until Poston closed in late 1945, the families attempted to live normal lives under circumstances that were anything but normal,” the narrative said.

San Diegan Tetsuzo Hirasaki had been a close friend of the city’s chief librarian Clara Breed. Using a sharpened bed spring, he carved for her from mesquite wood a nameplate that she proudly displayed on her desk at the San Diego Public Library. Instead of being sent to Poston with the rest of his family, Hirasaki’s father, Chiyomatsu, had been sent to camps in North Dakota and New Mexico. The family asked Breed, who wrote a column, to do what she could to help reunite them.

At first, the military was not interested in enlisting Japanese Americans, considering them too great a security risk. Although Mas Tsuida was a seafaring fisherman, the Navy had no desire for his skills. Eventually, however, the U.S. Army created a segregated unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for Japanese Americans willing to fight in the European theatre against Nazi Germany.

After joining, Tsuida was sent to Fort Reilly, Kansas for his basic training. One day he and all the other Japanese-American soldiers were “herded into a single barracks surrounded by military police with machine guns at the ready,” the exhibit related. “President Franklin D. Roosevelt was visiting the base and the MPs were protecting him from those questionable U.S. soldiers.” Afterwards, Tsuida was sent to Naples, Italy, and would fight in Italy and France. He was injured in the October 1944 battle in which the 442nd was sent into the Vosges Mountains to rescue the “Lost Battalion,” which had been surrounded by the Germans. The 442nd was successful, but not without sustaining heavy casualties. At war’s end, Tsuida returned to his life as a fisherman.

Other Japanese-American soldiers had their basic training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where those from the mainland United States found themselves thrown in with Japanese from Hawaii, with whom a fierce rivalry initially developed. However, as an exhibit photograph of San Diegan Sam Yamaguchi wearing Hawaiian garb illustrates, the two groups were molded in a single unit.

Among San Diegans fighting in World War II were Yasuichi ‘Jimmy’ Kimura, who used to drive a truck on local vegetable farms before his family was relocated to the internment camp. In the Army, he drove trucks and performed maintenance on them in both the European and North African campaigns. He was awarded a purple heart with an oak leaf cluster for wounds sustained during the rescue of the “Lost Battalion.”

After the war, the services of Japanese-Americans were called upon as interpreters and in other capacities in the occupation of Japan and of Okinawa. San Diegan Francis Tanaka, who later would become a physician with Scripps Mercy Hospital, served as a medical interpreter on Okinawa in 1945 and 1946. Shizue Suwa, a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy nurse corps, was stationed in occupied Japan.

When the internment camps closed in late 1945, Japanese-Americans moved back to San Diego. Those whose family members had served in the military were eligible for veterans’ family housing. The exhibit extensively quotes from Grim The Battles, a 1954 memoir by Daisy Lee Worthington Worcester. Arriving at the Frontier Housing Project in the Midway District of San Diego, a group of Japanese-American families encountered the hostility of Anglo families already living there.

“The Japanese sat in chairs along the walls, heads cast down as if to avoid hostile glances but not enabling them to escape low murmured expressions of hatred. An emergency meeting of the tenant council was held that evening,” Worcester wrote. One woman who served as secretary of the tenant council threatened there would be “a dead Jap” before morning if any of them were placed in the unit where she lived. “The meeting lasted until midnight. There was not one person who did not take part in the discussion. I witnessed a miracle that night—the miracle of serious people thinking and feeling together, striving to be above all good Americans and decent human beings.” The upshot was that there was a complete turnaround, including by the woman who had made the ‘dead Jap’ threat. The tenants decided to oppose any discrimination on the basis of race or creed or color. Additionally, they formed a committee to welcome each Japanese-American family to the complex.

Although the war was over, the experience of the internment camps continued to have its influence on the Japanese-American community. The exhibit notes that the 1951 Korean conflict “brought a whole new generation of Japanese Americans into the military…. These Japanese American youths had spent their formative years in internment camps and most had watched their parents lose everything during World War II. Nevertheless, they served when called upon…”

Among San Diegans who went to Korea was Jim Yanagihara who served in a mobile hospital unit such as that made famous by the television series M*A*S*H. “As part of the multinational United Nations force, Yanagihara came into contact with soldiers from other countries and he had high praise especially for the Ethiopian soldiers. He recalls ‘I was really impressed by these soldiers. They never complained.’”

The comment can be juxtaposed with the forward to the exhibit on Japanese-American soldiers, which explained: “Two Japanese words provide a running theme for this exhibition and describe the motivations for Japanese-Americans to serve. One is giri meaning duty, and the other is gaman, which means to endure….”

These concepts were tested in the Vietnam War, when like other young men in the United States many questioned the justness of that war. However the Japanese Americans “did not find it easy to openly express their thoughts. Nearly all had an uncle, brother or father who had been interned and who had served with distinction during World War II and Korea…. Many of those who served in Vietnam were born in the U.S. internment camps.”

Alan Hayashi, who was born in the Poston, Arizona camp, was drafted into the Army in 1969 after graduation from San Diego State University. He “received the bronze star for actions to cut the supply chain known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail near Da Nang, as well as many other commendations from the United States and the Republic of Vietnam.” He commented that he was “raised with the value of loyalty to my country.”

Among the first San Diegans killed in the Vietnam War was Sgt. Shugi Julio Kaneko, whose family were Japanese Peruvians who, at the suggestion of the American government, were sent to an internment camp in Texas to possibly be traded for U.S. prisoners of war held by Japan. However, his family was not needed for such an exchange and they eventually settled in San Diego. Unlike the Japanese-Americans who eventually received a U.S. government apology and $20,000 as redress for their wrongful internment during World War II, the Japanese-Peruvians never were eligible for the award.

Although San Diegan Robert Ito didn’t serve in Vietnam—his draft number having never been called – he remembered vividly stories told to him by San Diegan David Uda “about the racism and the mean-spirited attitudes of his fellow U.S. soldiers,” according to the narration. “When U.S. helicopters flew over, he would dive in the brush for the cover because he (having Asian features) didn’t want to be mistaken for the enemy….”

Containing criticism as it does of the actions of the American government, the exhibit demonstrates that the Veterans Memorial Museum is not only a repository for the memoirs of San Diegans who served in the military but also is an institution willing to examine controversies affecting the military. This makes the museum an even more valuable resource in a city of proud military tradition. Elsewhere in the museum, there are exhibits about San Diegan experiences in different branches of the military, on different fronts and in different wars—providing a kaleidoscopic introduction to the U.S. military experience.

Speeches by veterans about their individual experiences often enliven visitors’ experiences at the museum.

Outside the museum, there are some permanent memorials, including monuments with the names of San Diegans who died in the Vietnam War. Moved from its original location in Old Town San Diego to the Veterans Memorial Museum, these plaques constituted what was considered the first-in-the-nation memorial to Vietnam Veterans, erected even while controversy about the war raged.

In a park leading to the museum’s front door, there is a sculpture by Robert Henderson of a B24 Liberator Bomber which as noted on a plaque had an impact both on the outcome of World War II and the development of San Diego’s industrial sector.

“The airplane was designed by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation where more than a third of all B24sx were build during World War II,” the plaque reports. “At the peak of production more than 45,000 San Diegans worked at Consolidated building the B24. Other San Diego manufacturers brought the number even higher. Subcontractors included Rohr Industries in Chula Vista, Ryan Aeronautical Company and Solar Corporation both in San Diego. The B24 Liberator was flown by all branches of the U.S. military and by every major ally during World War II. Altogether, 19,256 liberators of all types and models were built. The Consolidated B24 Liberator was the most mass produced American aircraft of all time.”

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  This article previously was published on examiner.com

Compiling a digital menagerie on Holland America cruise

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Seventh in a series

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

ABOARD MS ROTTERDAM – Not really conscious that I was doing so, I turned this Holland America  cruise ship into a digital Noah’s Ark while voyaging from Lima, Peru, to San Diego, USA.

In port after port, I photographed whatever seemed interesting that crossed in front of my lens.  This included shops, architecture, signs, people in national costume, flags—the usual eye-appealing parade of color that catches the eyes of tourists. To my surprise,  it turned out that in every port—even in one at which I was feeling too ill to get off the ship—I photographed animals. 

Some of the animals were alive, some were representations in art, but  the growing unplanned collection seemed a testament to the fact that no matter where in the world where we go, humans find animals irresistible to watch and to admire.

Our cruise started in Callao, which is the port for Lima, Peru.  In the Plaza des Armas, near the presidential palace, various artists had decorated life-sized sculptures of cows.  I was told that this was  a public art project that eventually through auction will raise money for charitable causes.

Iguana Park in heart of Guayaquil, Ecuador

The next stop was Guayaquil, Ecuador, and from the pier, courtesy shuttle buses took us to a park in the center of town famous for the iguanas that roam there along with the pigeons.   Admired, photographed, oohed and ahhed over, the iguanas are quite used to the Ecuadorians and tourists who come to see them on a regular basis.   They even seem to tolerate the pigeons, which like to share in the iguanas’ bounty.

Tuna fountain in Manta, Ecuador

Manta, Ecuador, is home to tuna canneries –and tuna are celebrated with public art showing them jumping out of a fountain and flying across a main street.

In Puerta Caldera, Costa Rica, I felt too ill to get off the ship—a short bout with  a  gastro-intestinal malady had done me in – but a black bird of a species I couldn’t identify apparently took pity on me, flying right to the Promenade Deck outside the sliding door of my cabin. 

It was if the bird knew, even before I did, that I had this  animal photo streak going, and didn’t want a little thing like a stomach upset to spoil it.

Next it was to Puerto Chiapas, Mexico, where woodcarvers at work inside a giant tourist pyramid made various animals before our eyes, including a frog.

Huatulco shopping district

In Huatulco, the Gabriel the Owl store invited tourists to buy gold at 40 percent off with the promise on an outdoor sign that “we won’t cheat you too bad.”  How reassuring!

In Acapulco, at Fort San Diego, exhibits showing trade goods carried in the times of the Manila galleons included a sculpture of a horse carrying a Spanish soldier.

In Cabo San Lucas, our last port before San Diego, we were fascinated by the large, friendly pelicans that loafed along the waterfront.

The ship also contributed to my photographic zoo.  Two large sea lions dominated the swimming pool on the Lido Deck, carved watermelons in the buffet line looked  like seahorses, and on many nights in our cabins, towel animals created by our stewards tickled our whimsy.

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Next: Boom times in Manta, Ecuador
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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Cruising through Latin American history

March 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Francisco Pizarro statue in Lima

Sixth in a Series

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

ABOARD MS ROTTERDAM—From the earliest days of the conquest of Latin America to the years of liberation, our cruise ship sped us through some of the most dramatic moments in Spanish colonial history.

For us, a recent voyage aboard MS Rotterdam began in Callao, the port serving nearby Lima, Peru.  Inside the Cathedral on Lima’s Plaza des Armas, one can find the tomb of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who nearly 470 years after his assassination is still a controversial figure in Peru.

Renato Monteverde

As guide Renato Monteverde of taxilimaperu.com narrated the story, Pizarro is hated in Peru for having slain so many Incas during the time of conquest.  A well-known statue of him astride a horse once was located in front of the Cathedral, according to Monteverde, but the church didn’t consider a horseman with a sword consistent with its image as the helper of the people.  So, said Monteverde, the statue was moved by city authorities in front of the presidential palace.   But the president—being a politician who wants to court the support of the people—didn’t want so controversial a figure in front of his building either.  Spain was asked to take the statue back, but according to Monteverde’s version, the former colonial power would do so only if Peru paid for the shipping.  Eventually, the statue was moved to the catacombs by the river, in the hope, according to Monteverde, that it would be someday washed away.

While one might quibble with the historical veracity of Monteverde’s tale, it certainly portrayed in most vivid fashion how some people feel about the Spaniards who brought their weapons and their diseases to the Incan Empire.  At least for some parts of the population, Pizarro is an absolute anathema.

Fernando Lopez Sanchez

Fernando Lopez Sanchez, an historian trained by Lima’s Catholic University who today serves as chief archivist at the Cathedral, offers a more forgiving assessment of the conquistador.  “History tells us the facts that took place; it is up to us to interpret and understand the time in which he lived,” Lopez said.  “He was doing what all the soldiers of the time were doing, which was conquest.”

However, he added, “The intentions of Pizarro and the conquistadors was not just to come in and kill everything in sight; the intention was to try to spread faith to a population.  At first they tried to negotiate with the indigenous people, but once the negotiations failed, it turned into violence.”

It is true that many Incas died, “but what you have to take into account was that most of the deaths were not caused by Spanish arms but by the diseases” they unknowingly brought to South America with them.

Pizarro founded Lima in 1535, and he is buried in the cathedral “because the city would not have been established were it not for Pizarro and it was his dying wish to be buried in the cathedral.”

The conquistador of Mexico, Hernan Cortes, was a second cousin of Pizarro’s.  Cortes’ conquest of the Aztecs in 1520 and Pizarro’s conquest of the Incans in 1532 are often equated.  However, said Lopez, “although there are similarities in the Mexican and the Peruvian pasts, the Mexicans today are ultra nationalists, whereas Peruvians are more open to people from different cultures.   Mexicans view their history with more hatred.  They hate Cortes, they say ‘he killed us all.’  What is happening here in Peru is that we try to understand the Spanish instead of just hating them.”

Spanish rule lasted in Peru for nearly 300 years, until 1821, when the Argentine general Jose de San Martin liberated Lima and became known as the Protector of Peru.

The next port of call for MS Rotterdam was Guayaquil, Ecuador, where San Martin in 1822 reportedly had his only meeting ever with the liberator of northern South America, Simon Bolivar.  Nobody knows for certain what the two men said, although it is believed that San Martin acceded to the idea of modern-day Ecuador and Peru becoming part of Gran Colombia, the confederation of South American states that also included modern day Colombia and Venezuela. 

La Rotunda in Guayaquil celebrates meeting of Bolivar and San Martin

The content of the meeting between the two great liberators today is still a source of speculation among historians.  The fact that it was held in Guayaquil is a matter of great pride to the port city, which in its commemoration built La Rotunda, a heroic sized monument  on the Malecon, a wide walkway along the Guayas River.  Those interested in Spanish colonial history can easily combine a visit to La Rotunda with a short walk to the Museo Nahim Isaias, in which a banker of Lebanese descent compiled a storehouse of Spanish colonial art, most of it on Christian religious subjects.

After stopping in Manta, Ecuador;  Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, and Puerto Chiapas, Mexico; MS Rotterdam pulled into Huatulco, Mexico, which in association with Veracruz on Mexico’s Atlantic Coast and Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific Coast was an important port in keeping Spain’s colonial empire in Latin America together.  Acapulco was the next port after Huatulco on MS Rotterdam’s itinerary.

Small boat dock in Huatulco

Spain sent European goods and crops across the Atlantic Ocean to Veracruz, where they were sold at market for the silver mined and coined in Mexico.  Afterwards, the European goods were sent to Huatulco and Acapulco.  Those that went to Huatulco were put onto ships for Peru, where the goods were exchanged for Peruvian precious metals, furniture and crops.  European goods that went to Acapulco were put on galleons bound for Manila in the Philippines, where the goods and Mexican silver were exchanged for the silks, spices, and ceramics of the Far East.

Fort San Diego in Acapulco

Fort San Diego in Acapulco is located across the street from the cruise pier, making it a popular destination for tourists.  Shaped like an irregular five-pointed star, Fort San Diego had a commanding view of ocean and land approaches to Acapulco. Its cannons were able to protect the treasures of the galleons from pirates and other enemies of the Spanish crown.

In 1813, however, the Mexican revolutionary Jose Maria Morelos was able to capture the fort in Acapulco, effectively bringing to an end the era when the Pacific Ocean was considered a Spanish lake ruled by the Manila galleons.

From Acapulco, MS Rotterdam proceeded to Cabo San Lucas, which most people know for the famous stone arches that mark the point where the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean divide.  In Spanish colonial history, this picturesque port spelled danger because it was a favorite hiding place for British pirates ready to plunder the galleons. 

Tendering to Cabo San Lucas

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese sailor in the employ of Spain, passed Cabo San Lucas en route to Alta California.  He claimed modern-day San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542, naming the area San Miguel.  However, Cabrillo’s discovery was all but forgotten for six decades.  After the pirate Thomas Cavendish made short work of the galleon Santa Ana in 1587, Spain realized it had to do more to protect the Manila-Acapulco route, perhaps by establishing forts in areas where the pirates were likely to strike. 

In 1602, Spain authorized Sebastian Vizcaino to explore the coast of Alta California.  Not recognizing the area that Cabrillo had named San Miguel, Vizcaino gave the bay and the city that would spring up in its vicinity its modern name of San Diego.  Homeport to the MS Rotterdam, San Diego was our final port in a brief, but fascinating, excursion into Spanish colonial history.

Next: Animals in Cruise Ports

Contrasting an airline that doesn’t care about its passengers with a cruise line that does

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Nancy waiting in Fort Lauderdale, not suspecting the time crunch to come

_____________________________________________________________________________________
First in a series

By Donald H. Harrison

LIMA, Peru—Were it not for cruise ships like the one we embarked upon here in the wee hours of Monday, Feb. 22, I believe I’d be ready to consign my leisure travel to the lazy boy chair in front of the television in my home.   I’d much rather go nowhere than to have to subject myself constantly to airlines.

I’ll tell of the Delta Airlines experience by which we arrived in this South American capital and port city—an experience that I believe typifies what happens on airlines today.  The story I will tell is not about some fabulous exception; rather it concerns the low standard of service that is becoming common place. Airlines may try to excuse themselves by saying they have to adopt certain customer-adverse policies and measures because of the difficult economic times, but I believe the problem goes much deeper. 

It seems apparent that airlines no longer value their customers, except as numbers on a chart.  An attitude of contemptuousness has taken hold of the airline industry, an attitude that began in the board room where such policies were approved as all-but-eliminating sufficient leg room in economy class, charging passengers extra for luggage, and nickeling and diming passengers for snacks and beverages, movies and other amenities.  This lack of appreciation for customers eventually was transmitted through middle managers all the way to the service personnel. 

I’ll start my story in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Nancy and I had attended a wedding.  We arrived at the airport there, which seemed comparable in size to San Diego’s Lindbergh Field, about two hours prior to our flight.  Because our ultimate destination was an international one rather than a domestic one, we were not able to check our bags curbside but instead were required to do so inside the terminal.  However, the terminal was so crowded that we were not permitted to simply check our bags.  Instead we and other passengers were herded into an area across a corridor from the counters and told to wait there until the time our flight was called.  Then and only then could we proceed to check our baggage.

No one explained why this procedure had been adopted, but by asking questions we were able to ascertain that the baggage belt was working only intermittently, requiring many bags to be ferried by hand. We waited well over an hour with other passengers, who either were standing with their baggage or sitting with it on the floor, until finally we were permitted to proceed to the ticket counter, where there was little or no order.  By the time we actually got to a ticket agent, another twenty minutes had elapsed.  To add insult to injury, once we  arrived at the ticket counter,  an agent curtly told us we should have been at the counter a half hour earlier.  We replied that had been our intention, but her own colleagues had prevented us from doing do.

The counter agent processed our luggage and handed us our boarding passes and quickly moved on to another customer.  We worked our way through lines to a screening area where an employee checked our ticket against our passports.  They didn’t match; the ticket agent somehow had given us the wrong boarding passes, made out in someone else’s name.

Nancy told me to wait with all the carry-on luggage—and she charged back to the ticket desk—explaining what had happened.  “Find the agent who helped you,” she was told.  “She’s not here,” Nancy answered in a panic. “And our flight is about to leave.” 

Grudgingly another ticket agent got onto the computer, and issued proper boarding passes.   Nancy dashed back to where I was waiting, and with the new documents we were allowed to proceed—to security, where we had to go through all the regular procedures of removing everything from our pockets, taking off our shoes, putting my laptop computer in a separate tray, and so forth.  As I gathered up everything, Nancy ran ahead to the gate.  As she turned the corner, she heard an agent say “last call for Donald and Nancy Harrison.” 

“We’re here, wait!” Nancy shouted at a dead run.  

Nancy found that they had reassigned the airplane seats we had reserved—and that the gate agents were completely unaware what was happening in the ticket area.  “Do you want to go without your husband?” they asked Nancy, “because we’re closing the doors.” 

“He’s coming,” Nancy replied.  “He’s at security, just putting his shoes on.”  “Well I don’t see him coming,” the agent said.  “Do you want to board anyway?”  At that point I made my appearance.  They whisked us down the gangway and put us into the seats by the boarding door.

Next, we went to Atlanta where we caught the flight to Peru, thinking that embarkation was blessedly uneventful.  But we were incorrect in our assessment. Although we had no problem boarding the plane, it later developed that one of our two large bags did not.

On the six-and-a-half hour flight to Peru, some of the flight attendants evidently were in a bad mood.  Instead of placing snacks on trays, one flight attendant practically threw them onto the passengers’ trays in economy class, as if she were dealing cards at a poker table.   When Nancy asked another attendant  near the end of the flight, “if you have time, could I please have some water?” he responded in a surly tone, “I don’t have time!”—making several passengers wonder what had prompted him to exhibit such hostility.  He might simply and courteously have responded.  “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to get back to you before we land.”  Evidently he was having a bad day, and decided to take out his pique on passengers.

After arriving in Lima, we sought to retrieve our bags.  It’s a sickening feeling when the bags on the carousel keep repeating themselves—but your bag is not among them.  Eventually, after every other bag was taken off the carousel by passengers, we had to admit the obvious.  Although Nancy’s bag had made it to Lima, somehow mine didn’t.  We reported the problem to a courteous gentleman at the baggage desk, who was able to establish that my bag was still in Atlanta.   Normally, this is not a problem, he said, as the bag could be sent on the next flight and delivered to the person’s home or hotel. The problem was that our cruise ship—the MS Rotterdam—would be leaving Lima Monday afternoon and the next flight from Atlanta wouldn’t arrive until late Monday evening.  “Perhaps,” I suggested, “the bags could be delivered at the next port,” which would be Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Wednesday, February 24.

The baggage agent said that he never had to deal with the problem of reuniting luggage with a passenger on a cruise ship before, and was uncertain what the procedures were.  He asked a colleague to photocopy our passports as well as an information sheet with Holland America’s contact numbers.  He said he would leave a message explaining the situation for Delta’s morning supervisor of luggage in Lima, and gave us that person’s contact number. 

I went with another Delta employee who wanted to photocopy our passports at the Delta office – which was up a floor and down a corridor—only to find that the office had been closed and that she had no key.  So she radioed for assistance, and eventually someone opened the door, and she copied the documents.   Meanwhile,  Nancy dashed ahead to find the driver whom we previously had engaged by long distance phone calls and emails to take us from the airport to the cruise ship terminal.  She was concerned that the driver,  Renato Monteverde of taxilimaperu.com, would have become discouraged after waiting for us for such a long time, but there he was with our name printed on a placard and with a smile on his face. 

Monteverde helped to rehabilitate our image of the travel industry.  He got us quickly, efficiently and politely to the Port of Callao, where MS Rotterdam was docked.  Security guards checked the ship’s manifest against our passports and ran our luggage through an X-Ray machine.  Once aboard, we were escorted to the front desk to report our missing luggage.  Although the problem had been Delta’s, not Holland-America’s, the ship’s personnel did everything they could to help.  Immediately and with a cheerful smile, they presented me with a courtesy kit of toiletries, so that I’d be able to shave and to brush my teeth.  The next day, a loan of a sports shirt was made to me so that I would have something different to wear at the captain’s informal reception for new passengers.   Meanwhile, personnel aboard the ship made contact with Delta Airlines to arrange a rendezvous for the luggage.  They had hoped it would be in Guayaquil, but in fact it did not catch up with us until the following day, Feb. 25, in Manta, Ecuador.

While not having my suitcase was an inconvenience, thanks to Holland America – and to Nancy who volunteered to shop in the Miraflores area for a few more necessities—it was not the serious problem it could have been. 

Holland America proved to be a company adept at solving passenger problems rather than causing them.  This made me feel glad that I would be taking this ship all the way to San Diego, rather than having to fly home by an airline. It was good to be treated like a mensch instead of as a serf.  I was certain that the rest of my vacation would go well, now that I had put myself in the hands of the right segment of the travel industry – the segment that believes that next to safety, service to customers is the highest value.  As I shall describe in part two of this series, Holland-America was soon to find itself facing some tough tests of that philosophy—tests not of the cruise line’s making.

*
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Cookbook features world’s kosher cuisine

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School has devised a delicious corollary to this publication’s motto that “there is a Jewish story everywhere.”  Gourmets may like the Orthodox school’s saying even better: “There’s great kosher food everywhere.”

Coming out next week, in plenty of time for the December 11th first evening of Chanukah, will be Volume I of the Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School Kosher Cookbook.  Recipes were donated by the families and friends of the faculty, staff and students, whose ancestral countries of origin and ethnic tastes span the globe.

My daughter, Sandi Masori, who coordinated the project with graphic designer and illustrator Aliza Shalit, said it’s anticipated there will be a Volume II in another two or three years.  “I’m already beginning to collect the recipes for it,” she said.

In the meantime, there are some 200 recipes in this volume to digest.  They are culled from a wide variety of international cuisines, including those of these United States of America.  The recipes are grouped in ten chapters: Breakfast, Appetizers and Side Dishes, Breads, Dips and Sauces, Soups and Salads, Fish, Dairy, Poultry, Beef and Lamb, and Desserts.

It’s a Jewish cookbook for people who want to travel the world while staying in their own kitchens. Of course, there are many of the Eastern European dishes that people often associate with kosher cooking such as blintzes, gefilte fish, kugels and  latkes.

But there are also numerous recipes that may be a surprise to those who don’t realize that the basics of kosher food preparation are to eschew certain proscribed foods like pork and shellfish, and to refrain from mixing meat and dairy products.

In the mood for tastes from Europe?  There are recipes for Cheese Quiche (France) from Muriel Algazi , Cold Pesto Pasta (Italy) from Rayna Levitt, Mediterranean Eggplant Salad from Tamar Adato;  and Grandma Rosey’s Honey Sponge Cake (Hungary) from Daniel and Eliezer Kraiman, who are the sixth generation of their family to love it.

Do you like the flavors of the Middle East?   A sampling of recipes include those for Shakshuka (Israel) from Liat Alon; Kubana (Yemen) from Shahar Masori;  Red Chatzilim (Morocco) from Leah Moryosef; Tbit Brown Rice (Iraq) from Anat Levi;  Tadiq (Iran) from Loretta Levi; and Goundi  (Afghanistan) from Shoshi Bogoch, the Israeli shlicha stationed at the United Jewish Federation.

The Far East also is represented in this volume with Oriental Hot and Sour Soup (Asia generally) from Cheryl Horn; Thai Tom Yam Soup (Thailand) from Sara Reisman; Kosher Mock Crab Eggrolls (China) from Betty Weiser, and Cucumber and Carrots Sushi (Japan) from Gabriel, Max, Alexis and Valeria Simpser.

How about the savory foods of South America and the Caribbean?   There are recipes for Huevos Ahogados in Tomato Sauce (Mexico) from Becky Krinsky; Caribbean Salmon with Guava Barbecue Sauce and Mango Veggie Salsa from Jessica Breziner; Arroz con Pollo (Chile) from Jacqueline Jacobs; Papa Rellena (Peru) from Aliza Shalit; and Cuscuz Caipira (Brazil) from Carla Berg.

What about the U.S.A.?  Well, what could be more American than a recipe for Coca-Cola chicken from Shari Marks or Coca-Cola Brisket from Debbie Rappoport?

Included with the recipes are the brachot (blessings) to be said over various foods, as well as the ritual for burning a piece of challah as a symbolic offering to God.  Rebbetzin Ariella Adatto provided the religious instructions and explanations.

Given that the cookbook was created as a fundraising project for Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School, its cost is not surprising.  It is $18 – eighteen being the numerical value of the Hebrew word “chai,” which means life.  Just as people need food to live, schools need money for their programs to thrive.

To purchase a cookbook, contact Sandi Masori at smasori@hebrewday.org.

*
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

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