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Poverty rate in Israel higher than in Mexico

August 24, 2010 1 comment

Editor’s Note:  The following story, “The Threat from Within,  is reprinted with permission from The Forward, in which it appears in the August 27 issue.

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In May, when Israel was invited to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 31-nation club of the world’s most elite, developed economies, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called it “a badge of honor.” Indeed, it is.

Acceptance means that Israel can now access sources of capital investment available only to developed countries, but it means something even more rewarding: It’s a legitimization of the tiny country’s economic strength and innovation capacity, reinforcing the image of the scrappy “start-up nation” — where once early Zionists made the barren deserts bloom, now their 21st-century heirs are driving a high-speed technological revolution.

No surprise that the number of millionaires in Israel soared by 43% in just one year, from 2008 to 2009, a rate bested only by Hong Kong and India.

But the “start-up nation” narrative hides another story: Poverty in Israel is more widespread than in any of the other OECD countries, worse than even Turkey and Mexico. Almost one in five Israelis live in poverty, according to OECD guidelines; for children, the rate is nearly one in three.

This economic inequality, among the highest in the world, poses a serious danger to Israeli society beyond that caused by war or terrorism. Poverty in Israel is a direct result of non-employment, the fact that many Israelis will not or cannot work. The two largest segments of citizens outside the labor force are Haredi men, 67% of whom study full-time, helped by government subsidy, and Arab women, 80% of whom are at home, prevented by culture and discrimination from participating in the workforce. A government report issued in July said that Haredi unemployment alone will cost the Israeli economy $1.55 billion in 2010 — 300% higher than the comparable cost in 2000.

And the consequences are not just economic. Those who don’t work generally don’t serve in the Israel Defense Forces, absenting themselves from a fundamental pillar of Israeli life, sowing resentment among the majority and, given the high birth rate among the poor, threatening military capacity in the future. With nearly half of Israeli primary school students either Haredi or Arab, who will defend the country in 20 years?

‘When this country was very poor, we had our act together,” notes Dan Ben-David, an economist and executive director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, a think tank and research center supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“Now the percentage of families dependent on government is growing all the time.”

“The fundamental problem is that a large and increasing share of the Israeli population is receiving neither the tools nor the conditions to work in a modern community,” he says. “It harms them personally. It harms us nationally.”

It should be noted that while Ben-David’s data are generally accepted, his interpretation has been disputed. Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of the Reut Institute, another nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Israel, believes that the Haredi community has awakened to the challenge and is entering the workforce in ever growing numbers.

“Very few societies drive themselves over the abyss without survival mechanisms kicking in,” Grinstein argues.

Nonetheless, among the Haredim this shift is slow and fraught with resistance. Back in June, ultra-Orthodox protests against a high court ruling on a school segregation case nearly shut down Jerusalem for a day, but another ruling issued earlier that week was arguably more important. The court ordered that, by the end of this year, the government stop paying welfare to an estimated 11,000 married yeshiva students who chose study instead of work.

While Haredi political leaders have vowed to restore those cuts, they must be rebuffed; government action is essential to turn around this dangerous trend. The numbers of Haredi unemployed surely would be even higher had not then-finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu instituted cuts in child allowances and yeshiva subsidies in 2003.

But simply cutting off benefits won’t address the root causes of non-employment, and is hardly the right step for a moral society. Israeli Arabs want to work, but are isolated from employment centers and discriminated against by employers; Arab women face the additional hurdle of living in a culture where female autonomy is suppressed. In far too many Haredi communities, full-time learning is prized above economic self-sufficiency — a relatively new phenomenon. Ben-David points out that 30 years ago, the rate of non-employment for Haredim was 21%. Now it is more than three times that amount.

Clearly what’s needed is a committed investment in education and social programs to provide the wherewithal for these significant minorities to integrate into the high-tech economy of Israel’s future. There truly is no time to lose. Ben-David estimates that if present growth rates continue, by 2040, 78% of Israel’s children will be studying in the Haredi or Arab education systems.

And if the fate of worldwide Jewry is tied to the fate of Israel, as we believe, then this stark situation — generally hidden from most Diaspora Jews — must not be ignored or denied. Ben-David has been amassing and analyzing this worrying economic data for years, but only recently put aside his concerns about going public because of the urgency of the message.

“This country is on an unsustainable long-term trajectory,” he warns. “We’re a very young country — if we educate our youth, the sky’s the limit. But we’re quickly reaching the point of no return. This is the only Jewish country we have. This better concern the Jewish people.”

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Preceding provided by The Forward via the Trylon SMR Agency

Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, January 21, 1955, Part 3

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

Birdie Stodel Women Plan President’s Day
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

Past Presidents met at the home of Mrs. David Schwartz to plan “Past Presidents’ Day” which will be held on Monday, Jan. 24, at the Beth Jacob Center. They will be hostesses at the luncheon to be held at 12:00 o’clock.  All past presidents will participate in the program of the day.

Over 25 members will be initiated on this day. The initiation will be headed by Mrs. Robert Siegel who will act as president, Mrs. Jennie Siner as counselor, Mrs. Harry Schwartz and Mrs. David Schwartz will give responses.  All other past Presidents will form a living Menorah.

This year’s class of initiates will be presented in honor of Past President Mrs. Harry Schwartz and Mrs. James Geller.

Mrs. Marco Ratner is in charge of table decorations.

Past President Mrs. Jeremiah Aronoff, who is in charge of affairs for the day, promises a long, pleasant social afternoon.

Mrs. Morrie Kraus, president, urges all members to attewnd.  Make reservations by calling any past presidents.

Don’t forget our chapter’s 26th anniversary will be celebrated in February.  Details and date to follow.

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J.W.V. News

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

Members of San Diego Post 185 listened to a very interesting talk given by Bob Elliott, the newly named Padre manager, at their January 19th meeting. Elliott, who was introduced by his friend, Jerry Krakoff, told of his baseball career and his hopes for 1955.  The 40 and 8 organization of the American Legion were also present as guests of the Jewish War Veterans.

A committee of Past Commanders were appointed to choose a slate of officers to be elected in March.  Bud Samuels, Commander, has assigned the duties of Finance Officer to J. David Brooks until the next election.

Post 185 will march in the military parade to be held January 30 in National City for the purpose of raising funds in the March of Dimes campaign. Stanley Yukon, Post Commander, will be in charge of the JWV contingent.

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Council Slates Valentine Ball
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5


Final arrangements for the “Valentine Ball” at the Mission Valley Country Club have been completed. The date is Saturday evening, Feb. 12, 1955.

Join your friends in the cocktail lounge at 8 p.m. for a social hour. Buffet supper will be served at 8 p.m. and there will be entertainment and dancing. Decorations will be in the Valentine theme.

Make up your tables (you may have as many as twenty at a table) and call your reservation in to Mrs. Ben Lemson, JU 2-7628; Mrs. Paul Moss, JU-2-1504 or Mrs. Monroe Gardner, JU-2-5940.  Reservations close Feb. 8.

Mrs. Sidney R. Silverman and Mrs. Sidney Smith are Co-chairmen of the event.

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Council Women To Have Speaker
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

The next regular luncheon meeting of Council will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 1st, at noon, at the House of Hospitality in the Copper Room.

The principal speaker will be Mrs. Joseph Willen of New York City.  Mrs. Willen is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Jewish Women and President of the International Council.  In 1951, Mrs. Willen was chosen as part of a panel of eleven leading American women, and made a four weeks’ tour of Germany under auspices of the State Department.

Mrs. Willen will speak on “Council’s Role Overseas”.   A most interesting and stimulating afternoon is anticipated. Mrs. Harry Blumberg will give a report on Service to the Blind.

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(Religious Principle)
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

A big part of any man’s religion consists in getting along with other people.

(San Diego Hebrew Home)

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

Application for admission to the Hebrew Home for the Aged may be made through the Jeiwsh Social Service Agency, 333 Plaza, BE 2-5172.

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(Dollars and Sense)
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 5

If the man who is always in debt will keep a record of his expenses he may find it is sense he lacks—not dollars.

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Too many dollars in the wrong man’s pocket soon crowds out the sense in his head.

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Pioneer Women To Hold Annual Bazaar
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Pioneer Women’s Annual Bazaar will be held on Sunday, Jan. 30th, at Beth Jacob Center at 10 a.m until midnight.  Delicious foods will be served all day, prepared under the supervision of Goldie Kitaen, so bring your family and friends for a delightful day of fine food and fun.  New merchandise of all kinds will be on display and will be on sale at prices to please you.

Mrs. Rose Brooker and Mrs. Rose Abrams are chairmen and they are asking the support and co-operation of all members and of all who are interested in the important work of Pioneer Women in Israel.

Mark the date, Jan. 30th, on your calendar and be there.

The next meeting of Negba Club will be held on Thursday, Feb. 3rd and an interesting program and fine luncheon at noon is being planned. Plans are being made for welcoming Pioneer Women’s Delegates from Israel.

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Couples Club To Visit Globe Theatre
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

The next social of the Couples Club to be held on January 22nd is a planned theatre poarty to the “Old Globe” to see the comedy, “Affairs of State.” The entertainment committee report hevy bookings and regret that no more reservations are now possible for our particular group.

Take away the sculptor’s chisel or the artist’s paint brush and you deprive him of his most important medium of expression, take away a Rabbi’s voice and you bring about the same result. We of the Couples Club are happy indeed that our Rabbi, Monroe Levens, will soon be blessed once more with his most capable “tool of trade.”

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Volunteers Needed
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

An urgent appeal for volunteer workers went out today from the headquarters of the San Diego County Heart Association, 1651 Fourth Avenue.

Any man or woman who can spare even an hour a day for helping in the Heart Association offices, folding literature, stuffing or addressing envelopes, etc. is urged to phone the Heart Association at Belmont 4-5102.

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Public Speaking Class Now Open
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Esther I. Siegel announces that registration is now open for her adult class in Public Speaking which meets every Wednesday morning in her studio in the Barcelona Hotel. The course emphasizes practical training in diction, self-confidence, relaxation and vocabulary building. Anyone interested in becoming more effective in business, social and club life is asked to contact Miss Siegel, Barcelona Hotel, Belmont 2-0153.  Tuition for this course is a special rate of $18 for 10 lessons.  Private and class instruction is also available for children in Speech Arts and Dramatics.

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Temple Sisterhood Gets Set For Country Fair Feb. 6th
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

There’s a buzz of activity throughout the Temple Beth Israel family as final preparations get under way for the big Country Fair to be held on Feb. 6 from 3:30 to midnight.

The American Legion Hall at 2690 B St. is being transformed into a rural fairground under the able direction of Harriet Dickman.

There will be fun for all – young and old will enjoy the many activities that are being planned.  Betty Karel is in charge of special games for the youngsters and Helen Siner has planned exciting gaming events for their parents.  Enjoy the delicious buffet being served from 5 to 8 p.m.  Homemade specialties prepared by our own expert cooks, under the direction of Louise Hertz, Zelma Goldstein and Charlotte Haas, at the modest prices of only $1.85 for adults and $0.85 for children.

Many workers are still needed, especially for the buffet.

Help make this event a success – call Louise Hertz, CO 4-3021, and volunteer your services.

Finances for the Country Fair are being handled by Ruth Smoller and Ruth Silverman.

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New Director For Center Nursery

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Mrs. James Fry was made permanent Director of the Cooperative Nursery School of the Jewish Community Center this month after serving on a probationary basis for three months.

Mrs. Fry has had ten years of experience in the educational field, ranging from work with a demonstration class of primary age children at Tufts College to a position as Educational Consultant to the Universalist Church of Japan.

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Open Forum Has India Speaker

Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

The fourth lecture of the S.D. Open Forum will be held on January 30th, at the First Unitarian Cnhurch, 1541 Sixth Ave., at 8 p.m.

Mr. Amiya Chakravarty, U.N. Advisor to the Indian Delegation, Professor of Comparative Oriental Religions and Literature at Boston University will be guest speaker.  His topic –“An Asian looks at the World.”

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Deceased
Southwestern Jewish Press, January 21, 1955, Page 6

Molli Simon, aged 72, on Tuesday, Jan. 18th.  Mrs. Simon resided in San Diego since 1939.  Survivors are sons, Leo, of New York City and Jack of Denver, Colo.; daughters, Sylvia Greenberg of Detroit, Mich; and Rose Kohn of Los Angeles; a sister, Fern Raphael of Chicago, Ill; a brother, Nathan Niederman, of New York; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mrs. Simon was a member of Temple Beth Israel, Temple Sisterhood, Hadassah, and the Council of Jewish Women.

Services were conducted by Rabbi Morton J. Cohn at Merkely Austin Mortuary. Final resting place is Greenwood Memorial Park.

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William Schusterman, husband of Goldie Schusterman, died on January 2nd, at the age of 59 years.  He is survived by his wife; son, Arnold; and daughters, Doris Borenstein and Sally Kaplan; two brothers and seven grandchildren.  Rabbi Baruch Stern officiated at services held at the Merkely-Austin Mortuary; interment at Home of Peace Cemetery.  He was a board member of Congregation Beth Jacob and B’nai B’rith Lasker Lodge.

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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.

Jerusalem tourism waxes and wanes with international politics

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–More than two million overseas visitors arrived in Jerusalem during a recent year. The attractions are well maintained places linked to individuals and events featured in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, and a functioning Old City enclosed by walls built in ancient times and last reconstructed in the 16th century. The Old City offers sites and shopping for tourists, and four distinctive neighborhoods that are the homes of 30,000 Jews, Muslims, Armenians and other Christians. Only a short ride away is Bethlehem, equally compelling for those wanting to see the roots of Christianity. Jericho is not much further in another direction. It offers winter visitors a chance to dine comfortably in an outdoor restaurant, while ten miles away in Jerusalem it may be raining and close to freezing.
While the numbers coming to Jerusalem are impressive, and often a nuisance to locals having to cope with crowds and traffic, the city ranks lower than 50 others in the numbers of tourists it attracts. London, New York, Bangkok, Paris, and Rome attract from three to seven times the number of international tourists as Jerusalem. Dublin, Amsterdam, and Prague get twice as many, while even Kiev and Bucharest, plus resorts near Bangkok attract 50 percent more international visitors than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may have more of a mystic pull than these other places. The “Jerusalem syndrome” is a documented condition whereby some visitors believe themselves to be biblical characters. Jewish and Christian sufferers act as David, Jesus, or some other figure associated with their faith. I am not aware of visitors to London and Paris thinking that they are Henry VIII, Napoleon, or any of the other figures associated with local history.
Why does Jerusalem rank only #51 on a sophisticated ranking of international tourism? 
Distance has something to do with it. Visitors to Western Europe can avail themselves of numerous attractive destinations as part of the same trip from home. There are decent beaches and other features in Tel Aviv and Netanya, but they attract only 60 and 10 percent of the overseas visitors as Jerusalem. Tiberias is on the Sea of Galilee and close to sites important to Christians, but draws only 25 percent of the number of visitors to Jerusalem. 
 
There are other sites in countries close to Jerusalem, notably Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, but the borders of the Middle East are not as easy to cross as those of Western Europe. For some years now Israeli security personnel have not allowed Israeli Jews to visit Bethlehem or Jericho without special permits, and others have to pass through barriers and inspections meant to protect us.

Politics and tension are more likely to figure in a decision to visit Jerusalem than other cities. The number of overseas tourists to Israel dropped from 2.4 million in 2000, which was mostly prior to the onset of the latest intifada, to a bit over one million in 2003, which was one of the bloodiest years. Numbers increased to 1.9 million by 2005 when the violence had diminished significantly. No other country included in the regions of Europe and the Mediterranean surveyed by the United Nations tourist agency showed comparable variations in the same period. Even on a mundane issue like this, the U.N. is unable to consider Israel part of the Middle East region, which includes all of the countries bordering it and Palestine.

Jerusalem has drawn more tourists that some well-known sites in Europe. It does better than Florence and Venice, and is pretty much tied with Athens. Why less than Kiev and Bucharest? There are mysteries in the world of tourism that may boil down to nothing more than current fashion or a lack of precision in the numbers.

Tourist flows change with politics and economics. Thirty years ago there was virtually no direct travel between Israel, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Now Russian visitors are in second place behind those from the United States; there are sizable numbers from Ukraine and Poland. Thousands come each year from India, Korea, Japan, China, and Nigeria. Indonesia and Morocco receive Israelis and send visitors to Israel, even though there are no formal diplomatic relations. There are even a few hundred visitors annually from Malaysia and Iran, whose officials are usually among our most intense critics .

My latest Jerusalem experience may be part of a multicultural gesture to attract overseas visitors, or it may reflect nothing more than the lack of experience or attention by the person responsible. While I usually pay no attention to the music piped into the exercise room at the university gym, this morning I became alert to something familiar. It was Silent Night, in the English version I was required to sing many years ago at the Highland School. But only in December. Never in July.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Demonstrations in U.K. alert the world to true intentions of Islamist extremists

June 17, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–An alarming image is appearing across the Internet showing young Islamic protestors, in Muslim and Arab garb, marching British streets, shouting hate slogans and bearing signs that clearly declaim the grimmest intentions for Westerners, including: “Britain, Your 9/11 is Coming.”

This is what we are dealing with:  An entire generation of brain-washed, extremist young people, dangerously radicalized, drained of their dreams and creativity, who (in this case) were photographed again marching the streets of London and taunting the British people:

“Be prepared for the REAL Holocaust”                   

“Behead those who Insult Islam”

“ISLAM will dominate the world”

It is now a year since the tragically failed revolution of extraordinarily brave-hearted protestors in the streets of Teheran and other crushed pathways of the Koranic dictatorship that rules Iran with cold-blooded fury and dispassion.  Untold anonymous suffering continues to take place there and elsewhere in the name of an old and proud faith that has been seized by medieval and misogynous men given to wholesale terror and extermination. 

The destruction of our towers in New York and the genocide of three thousand civilians that day really hasn’t seemed to awaken us to the reality of radical Islam’s clearly announced intention to take the West by force and place it under sharia.

Hundreds and hundreds of subsequent attacks upon hotels, railroads, airplanes, schools, busses, directly upon people, in Spain, Indonesia, Canada, the UK, Israel of course, India, the USA, and on and on…what will it take for so many of us to get it that this an international war against our way of life, our children—as ominous, if not more so, due to the proliferation of nuclear sources, as the threat to world peace represented by the Nazis?

They have shamelessly declared that their first national goals are to convert Great Britain to Islamic practice and to return Spain to its former Muslim regality.   Right now, we are shaking our heads about how our soon-to-be former pal and NATO ally Turkey has gone their way.

And some of us are just conveniently blaming Israel,

Israel, however, will never wake up one morning and find itself being something other than itself.

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Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Planned Bollywood movie ‘Dear Friend Hitler’ angers Indian Jews

June 16, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Plans by filmmakers in India to make a film on Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler that will claim that the despot loved India and that he indirectly contributed to its independence have outraged members of the Jewish community.  “I am a proud Indian and assert my Indian identity everywhere I go in Israel. I tell fellow Israelis that in my birthplace there was no anti-Semitism. However, I am having to bow my head in shame at this recent ignorance shown by Bollywood, which is also very dear to us,” Noah Massil, president of the Central Organization of Indian Jews in Israel (COIJI), was quoted in the media as saying.

“All I know is that Hitler never supported India’s independence. I will write to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in order to prevent bringing disrepute to our entertainment industry,” said Massil. He was born in India but later migrated to Israel.

The film ‘Dear Friend Hitler’ is due to be released at the end of the year. Its director Rakesh Ranjan Kumar has claimed it will show “Hitler’s love for India and how he indirectly contributed to Indian independence.”

Some Israelis also expressed dismay at the decision by veteran actor Anupam Kherto (above, on the right) to star in the role of Hitler in the film. The film is said to look at Hitler’s personality, including his relationship with Eva Braun, to be played by Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia (pictured above left). It is said to closely resemble the 2004 German film ‘The Downfall’, which also enacted Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker in April 1945.

The film’s title is a reference to the two letters written by Mahatma Gandhi to Hitler before World War II broke out in which he referred the Nazi dictator as “my dear friend”, before pleading that he avoid starting a war.

Bollywood – India’s film industry – has recently moved into more realistic, hard-hitting subjects such as terrorism, internet privacy and physical disability, but with limited success.

In 2006, a Nazi-themed restaurant called ‘Hitler’s Cross’ opened in Mumbai, but was soon closed after protests by Jews in India and abroad.

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Preceding provided by World JewishCongress.

San Diego County’s historic places: Santee Lakes

June 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Santee Lakes

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SANTEE–As you feed the ducks in the Santee Lakes, or watch naval enthusiasts sail radio-controlled model battleships and cruisers on its waters, or picnic along its shores, you may not realize that you are standing at a venue that back in the 1960s was a sensation of the water reclamation world and a magnet for delegations from parched countries everywhere.

Today, it’s not at all uncommon for cities to used reclaimed water for recreational purposes but a half century ago in 1959, when the Santee County Water District decided to reclaim water from sewage and turn it into lakes, it was a novel and controversial idea. However, with the neighboring City of San Diego charging more and more for the pipelining of treated sewage into the Pacific Ocean, the district’s director, Ray Stoyer, was able to persuade his board that creating the lakes would be less expensive economically and more beneficial for recreation-hungry residents of Santee, a small city east of San Diego.

There were some special geologic circumstances permitting Stoyer to envision his system of small lakes, chief among them the fact that the area he wanted for the project already had been mined for gravel down to the impervious layer of clay. Thus, there was no danger of the treated water percolating down to the ground water supply.

Another factor was that the man who owned the mined-out gravel pits, Bill Mast, was willing to donate the land to the district, which since has become known as the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Mast was a good businessman. If the project were to be built, irrigation water could be routed from the lakes to the property he wanted to develop into a golf course, which today is known as the Carlton Oaks Country Club.

Up to the point it decided to create the lakes, the water district had been giving its sewage primary and secondary treatment. Primary treatment involves holding the sewage in a tank long enough to permit big particles to settle out and light particles to float up. The particles then are separated from the water and disposed of.

In secondary treatment, the water is pumped to another tank in which bacteria, kept alive by a constant flow of air, feed off the impurities, a process that further cleanses the water.

To be able to turn this water into lake water, suitable for fowl and fish, other processes needed to be introduced to remove both nitrogen and phosphorus from the wastewater. By pumping the wastewater from the secondary treatment tank to another tank, with a different population of bacteria, Stoyer was able to solve the problem of nitrogen.

Removing the phosphorus was a more difficult problem, but this was where the geology of the region came in handy. The district was able to pump the water to a gravel area lying upstream from the proposed lakes. Located on the same kind of impervious clay, these gravel beds could serve as giant filters, cleansing the water of phosphorus before it flowed by gravity into the lake system. In the first lake, the water would be allowed to oxidize by exposure to the air, then be pumped to the second lake for more oxidation, and finally to a third lake, which could be used for recreational purposes.

The engineering and most chemical problems solved, Stoyer next considered the public relations problem—how was he going to get the people of Santee to accept the idea of boating, fishing, and picnicking by lakes filled with water that once had been in their toilets? He decided to tantalize them by fencing off the lakes and using its waters to irrigate the grounds surrounding them with trees, grass and other plants. He also put in picnic tables which could be seen—but not touched—through the fence. And then he waited.

In Santee, summer temperatures can sometimes exceed 100 degrees. Sweltering in such heat, Santee residents saw the clear waters of the lake, the ducks and other water fowl splashing happily, the empty picnic tables, and began to question why they also could not take advantage of the lake. To which Stoyer replied in speech after speech promoting water conservation that only after the county Department of Health ruled that the water was absolutely safe for human contact could the district even consider opening it up. Stoyer thereby helped to create pent-up demand.

Dr. J.B. Askew, the health department’s director, announced opposition in 1961 to permitting boating and picnicking at the lakes following unsatisfactory sampling of the waters for bacteria. Ten years later, in his book “The Town That Launders Its Water,” author Leonard A. Stevens quoted Askew as voicing these concerns: “You cannot let children around a body of water before they are in it. At least their hands are in it, and the next minute their hands are in their mouths.”

Stevens reported that in discussions between the district and the health department, it was decided that “they would percolate the water from the oxidation pond through soil and then channel it into the recreational lake. After this, there would be little chance of pollution endangering human health.”

The system was constructed, the water was again tested, and Dr. Askew gave his permission for the lakes to be opened to the public in June 1962. Grand opening ceremonies attracted 10,000 people. The California Fish and Game Department meanwhile introduced some fish species into the lake to see which ones would thrive and which ones would not. After gathering its data, the department authorized Santee Lakes to have “fish for fun” programs, in which fish caught in the lakes had to be thrown back. After two years of further testing, the Fish and Game Department concluded fish taken from the lake were safe to take home and cook.

Step by step, the six lakes proved themselves the equivalent of freshwater lakes. A swimming pool, drawn from lake waters, was authorized. A small water park where children can cavort is a favorite feature today.

Today, the Santee Lakes no longer can accommodate all of Santee’s reclaimed sewage, so much of it is pumped to the San Diego Metropolitan Water District—the very agency whose charges back in 1959 prompted Santee officials to develop the lakes.

In his book, Stevens reported that during the development stages, the lakes became internationally famous. “The significance of what happened at Santee is pointed up by several name-packed guest books kept by Martin Poe, the project’s chief water pollution control plant operator. They show that thousands of official visitors have come to see the lakes from nearly every state in the United States and from thirty-nine countries. Many of the visitors are officials from local, state or national governments. They are also water pollution control engineers and scientists, journalists, students and other individuals interested in solving water problems. The dry lands of Israel and India are well represented in Poe’s books, for in these distant countries, as in southern California, water is so precious that using it to the fullest extent is absolutely essential.”

Today these lakes are taken for granted as pleasant places to while away a lazy afternoon.  Water historians record them, however, as key projects that encouraged acceptance of wastewater reclamation for recreational purposes.

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

Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
 
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
 
Surprised?
 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
 
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
 
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
 
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
 
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
 
And finally…
 
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

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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.