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2005 blog


San Diego Jewry should resist
turning to 'usual suspects' to 
build the community

San Diego Jewish Times, April 6, 2005

By Donald H. Harrison

In the wonderful old movie, Casablanca, there is that unforgettable scene when the jaded police chief directs his men to “round up the usual suspects”—a line encapsulating old world cynicism.  There would be an investigation, but for appearances only.

Today in our San Diego Jewish community, there is the same kind of cynicism when it comes to fundraising for community needs. Although they play lip service to being broad based, every major campaign attempts to “round up the usual contributors”—the big donors like the Jacobs family, the Viterbis, the Prices, the Galinsons and so forth. People tend to take the continued goodwill of these contributors for granted.  How many times have you heard, “let the Jacobs do it” or some other variant?

This cynicism has two deleterious effects.  First, it results in what the folks at the United Jewish Federation call “donor fatigue” – big donors getting tired of always being “rounded up.” There is fear that over the long run, such fatigue could lead to these families diminishing their financial commitment to our community.  That would be a disaster, as their involvement is so important.

But, perhaps even more dangerously, the idea that building our community is something that only “big donors” can do, leads other Jews to believe mistakenly that they have to be wealthy in order to have a say in our Jewish community.  How many times have you heard someone say, “no one will listen to me—I don’t have the kind of money the machers have”?  Believing mistakenly that they can’t make a difference, they drift to other kinds of interests, and the Jewish community thereby is deprived of their valuable ideas and involvement.

Aware of such feelings in our community, Norman Greene, my former co-publisher of the now defunct San Diego Jewish Press-Heritage, and I recently began the Louis Rose Jewish Historical Preservation Fund at the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation.

We’re hoping to collect money in $36 increments—double chai—towards the creation of a park and monument to Louis Rose, our city’s first Jewish settler, entrepreneur and civic leader—at the newly designated “Louis Rose Point” at the foot of Womble Street at the former Naval Training Center.

This should be a people’s monument, one to which members of our Jewish community—as well as our Gentile friends—will contribute a very affordable sum of  $36 each, knowing that their contributions will be just as appreciated as those of our community’s financially important families.  On my website at, I’ll post names of contributors as they are reported to me by the Jewish Community Foundation.

Money collected for the Louis Rose Fund will continue to aggregate as we grow towards our $100,000 goal for a monument and small park that will adjoin the boat channel that skirts the edge of “Roseville” and leads to San Diego Bay. 

The design of the monument and the park will go through the City of San Diego’s various approval processes, but we hope—with your help—to be well along the way by March 24, 2007, which will mark Louis Rose’s 200th birthday.

Once the Louis Rose monument and park are completed, the next goal of the Louis Rose Jewish Historical Preservation Fund will be to bring more awareness of Jewish achievements and contributions to San Diego County with a historic plaque program that will mark sites of significant Jewish interest. 

Everyone who contributes $36 to the “Louis Rose Fund” at the Jewish Community Foundation automatically becomes a member for one year of the San Diego Jewish Historical Preservation Association. Tax-deductible contributions may be made to the Jewish Community Foundation at  4950 Murphy Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92123 with the notation on your check indicating that the contribution is for the Louis Rose Fund.

After that, depending on how actively you would like to offer your ideas and volunteer your time, you can be a macher in this organization. From the planning of the Louis Rose monument, to the celebration of Jewish achievements in various fields of endeavor throughout San Diego County, the organization needs your input.

If you are interested in volunteering to help on various committees that will be set up as we begin to plan the Louis Rose park and memorial, please let me know.  We’ll welcome your input on what you think the memorial should look like, and what kinds of lessons it should teach. Additionally, if you care to volunteer, we will be happy to find ways to utilize your expertise.  Please contact me with your thoughts at, or by telephone at (619) 265-0808. 

(If you need to know more about Rose, please check out my book Louis Rose: San Diego’s First Jewish Settler and Entrepreneur from your local library, buy it at a bookstore, or purchase on the web via )

Your ideas about what other sites in San Diego County should be remembered for their Jewish significance also will be most welcome indeed.