Tuesday, August 6, 2013


After Batman rescued Robin from ... oops!  Wrong movie.  When last heard, we had made it into the theater, and got to see a most intriguing documentary. San Francisco - the American Jerusalem is the story of a sleepy, non-descript village in the early 19th century on the western edge of the continent that was transformed when in 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill on the American River. That triggered a mass rush of people from literally all over the world.

Included in that migration were many Jews from central Europe. In Europe the Jews were treated as second class citizens, confined to ghettos, and denied the right to earn a living in most businesses. There the hierarchy made and enforced the rules. With the discovery of gold, California became the Promised Land.

San Francisco exploded from a sleepy little village into the major port of entry into California. And the Jews discovered that there was no hierarchy here to limit them as to where they lived, how they earned a living, or how much influence they were able to exert.  The following is from the online description of the documentary: “Puzzled visitors to San Francisco often wander around wondering where the Jewish neighborhood is, or at least was. Fact is, beginning with the city’s boom in the 1849 Gold Rush, Jews have been assimilated into nearly every corner of San Francisco life, helping build, grow and define the city—as well as being shaped by it—in ways that are unique in American and Jewish history.”

Among the emigrating Jews were young men whose names you may recognize. One was Adolf Sutro, who became the first American Jewish mayor. There used to be a marvelous set of swimming pools called Sutro Baths that friends and I as youngsters used to go to regularly. Unfortunately, that is no longer there. Another was a young fellow by the name of Levi Strauss. Well, we know what he produced. You may be wearing such right now.

There was one funny bit in the film. The Jews built a new synagogue, and in it was a beautiful stained glass window depicting Moses coming down from the mountain with the tablets of the 10 Commandments. In the background we can see the mountain – – Yosemite’s Half Dome. That had the audience laughing.

Then in the late 1800s there was another wave of Jewish emigration following the Russian pogroms. This was of particular interest to me because my parents came from that part of the world about that time.

All in all this was a most satisfying experience. But that was not the end of our Great Saturday. Just a few doors down from the theater there is a Fish Market restaurant where Cliff and I decided to have dinner. As Cliff started to turn into the parking lot, he had to stop suddenly because cars were jamming the driveway. But how lucky could we get? The very first space in the lot was a handicap slot, and it was empty. So Cliff pulled in. Bingo number one. He got my scooter and we headed to the restaurant entry. I was thinking at the time that there must be a crowd of people waiting to be seated. Sure enough, there were about a dozen people ahead of us. I pulled up to the desk and asked, “How long is the wait?” “How many in your party?” “Just two.” “Oh, we can seat you right now.” Bingo number two. Dinner was delicious, too.

Cartoons --

1 comment:

  1. Saturdays don't get much better than that!

    BTW, I read that sign "correctly" and then saw the mistake.