By Jessica Hanewinckel and Alanna Berman
With its first issue hitting news stands in December 2001, this month marks 10 years since the San Diego Jewish Journal began covering local, national and international stories of Jewish interest and the Jewish people and organizations that do their part to repair the world. This month, we take a look back at the past decade and examine 10 ways we’ve evolved along the way. We also catch up with, yes, 10 prominent figures we’ve featured in that time to see what they’re doing now. Finally, we ask a diverse group of community members (10, of course) how they envision Jewish San Diego 10 years into the future. And check out this month’s restaurant review and business features — all three establishments have been with the SDJJ since day one. Cheers to another 10 years!
A Work in Progress
10 Ways the SDJJ has Evolved in 10 years
1. More ‘magazine,’ less ‘yellow pages.’ The SDJJ began as a mostly black and white publication with spot color and eight pages of wrap-around gloss, and it contained a community resource guide in each monthly issue. It wasn’t until THIS ISSUE that the monthly resource guide was dropped to focus on more features, and until THIS ISSUE that the magazine became totally full color gloss, with a higher quality, heavier paper weight — which translated to a much more “magazine-ish” feel.
2. Starting small. From the beginning, the SDJJ was a work in progress. Publishers Mark Edelstein and Dr. Mark Moss had business and sales expertise and a long history in the local Jewish community but had never before published a magazine. With lots of hard work and perseverance and the support of their advertisers, their very first issue was a success. They then added an expanding creative team to the staff. The SDJJ’s exclusive interview with David Westerfield’s lawyer Steven Feldman in the case of the 2002 murder of 7-year-old San Diegan Danielle Van Dam solidified its place in the Jewish media.
3. A little less competition. When the SDJJ began, it was one of three printed Jewish publications in town, the other two being newspapers. Today, only the SDJJ lives on. It was the 2003 and 2005 first and third place winner, respectively, of the American Jewish Press Association’s Simon Rockower Award.
4. Growing pains. When publishers Moss and Edelstein opened shop, they shared a tiny one-room office with an art director and literally had to run exposed cables across the common hallway to reach the small office where the editor resided. Needless to say, space was tight and sometimes things had to be jury rigged. Today, with a larger full-time staff, the magazine is produced from a larger office suite where employees have their own bit of personal space — and all cables and cords are neatly tucked away.
5. Girl power. For its first several years of operation, the SDJJ was a man’s world, with nearly every employee happening to be male. Then, over the years, more and more women came on board. Today, there’s a lot of perfume circulating around this office, figuratively speaking.
6. Days at the printing plant. At one time, when the magazine printed using mostly newsprint, one of the job duties of the SDJJ staff included spending the day (and for the publishers, sometimes night) at the printing plant when each issue went to press to perform quality control checks (the poor paper quality meant the registration tended to be off). If the registration in any given signature (a section of pages) was off, and a staff member caught it, all thousands upon thousands of copies of that signature had to be printed again…and the waiting and watching continued. As each person who was around during those long, agonizing days can attest, the experience was miserable. Today, with no registration issues, the monthly production schedule runs as smoothly as a well-oiled machine — most of the time.
7. Technologically speaking. Technology on the homefront has improved dramatically as well, thanks to time and the natural progression of the hardware and software, as well as the growth of the business and the ability to purchase newer and better products. There was a time, recall Moss and art director Laurie Miller, when it was the norm to leave for home into the wee hours of the morning, shower, and return, or, in one past editor’s case, just camp out all night. Going to press was a 24-hour-a-day task, as printing pages and sending them electronically to the printer was a slow, arduous task. Newer, more advanced design software has also allowed for more freedom in the design and layout of the magazine, giving it a much more modern appearance than it once had.
8. A sister is born. In Dec. 2004, Moss and Edelstein expanded into Orange County, founding the Orange County Jewish Life, the sister publication of the SDJJ. Production of the OCJL began out of the SDJJ’s San Diego offices, but it later opened a second office at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Irvine, where it remains today with its own creative team.
9. Spreading our wings. The SDJJ began as a very community-oriented, very local magazine. And though that’s still very true today, the magazine also covers stories about Jews worldwide, from Israel to Europe to South Africa and beyond. Globalization increasingly connects us all, really making the comparatively small worldwide Jewish community even more inherently linked.
10. It’s always been about the tikkun olam. Before the SDJJ was even founded, when it was still just an idea, it was all about tikkun olam. Its mission has been more to show the good that comes from the Jewish world, less to show what you can already find on every cable news channel out there or every secular mainstream newspaper. But when the first issue actually hit newsstands, a few months after Sept. 11 forever changed the fabric of America, suddenly, that mission became a whole lot more important. The community needed to hear about the good others were doing, and to be inspired to do a little good themselves. And that’s one thing that hasn’t changed.
What Ever Happened to…
Catching up with 10 Jews featured in the SDJJ
Wayne J. Klitofsky
In June 2004, we featured Klitofsky as one of 10 San Diegans under age 36 to watch. He was a UCSD undergrad majoring in political science with a focus on international relations and involvement with every Jewish activity possible on campus. He hoped to go to law school, then be the U.S. ambassador to Israel by 2022.
Now: Klitofsky graduated from UCSD in 2006, took the LSAT and filled out the necessary applications to law school…but got a call from an AIPAC director to go to the Washington, D.C., headquarters and work for a year. Now, he’s the greater Los Angeles director of AIPAC, overseeing AIPAC’s operations from south Orange County up to and including Santa Barbara. Klitofsky, who says he’s very happy working for AIPAC, says of his long-ago quip about being ambassador, “Cute, huh?”
In July 2004, we featured Ukranian-born Igor Olshansky, who joined the Chargers that year at age 22 as a defensive lineman and second-round draft pick out of the University of Oregon. During his tenure, he became one of the most well-loved players until 2008, his final year as a Charger.
Now: Olshansky moved on to play for the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons, 2009-10, in a deal worth $18 million, $8 million of it guaranteed. He was released from the team Sept. 3, 2011. A few weeks later, on Sept. 20, he was signed by the Miami Dolphins. (The Chargers beat the Dolphins in an Oct. 2 matchup at Qualcomm Stadium Oct. 2. Maybe he should have stuck around a little longer.)
Zohar Sharon, the blind Israeli golfer we featured in our March 2004 issue, is arguably the best of the best among blind golfers. The resident of Moshav Aviel in Israel, who lost his site in his early 20s in a chemical accident while serving in the Israel Defense Forces, has been playing golf since 2000. Four years in, when we featured him, he had already accumulated countless titles worldwide, thanks to help from an assistant and a guide dog from the Israel Guide Dog Center.
Now: Now age 58, he’s continued to take titles worldwide, from Australia to Europe. Last January he won a world championship title in England, and in 2005, he made headlines with a hold-in-one on the 15th hole at the Caesarea Golf Club, Israel’s only 18-hole course, where he is a member and plays regularly with the help of assistant Shimshon and his new dog, Venus. Sharon will visit Southern California to play in a Palm Desert golf tournament Jan. 18 at the Desert Willow Golf Resort.
Four years ago, in our Dec. 2007 issue, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz was already 86, but he was still doing what had made him famous over the years — catching a wave. At that time, he’d already been surfing for 70 years and had created a surfing legacy with his wife and nine children. The pro surfer and 1992 Association of Surfing Professionals world longboard champion was the subject of the documentary “Surfwise” and founded the organization Surfing for Peace.
Now: Pushing 91 years old, Paskowitz has passed along his love of surfing to his grown kids and their own children. Son Izzy Paskowitz runs the Paskowitz Surf Camp and was the subject, with his own family, of a short-lived reality show on the OWN Network called “The Swell Life.” The senior Paskowitz still speaks to groups about surf culture and even traveled to Israel in September to promote peace among Palestinians and Israelis using surfing…and of course, he still surfs.
In Nov. 2002, San Diegan and native South African Jeffrey Essakow was co-founder and president of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, begun in 1997, which raises money for disabled athletes, and especially for amputees. He’d also already completed an ironman triathlon and raised money for Israelis disabled by terrorist attacks.
Now: Essakow remains president of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He has since become the international vice president for Tikvot, a nonprofit volunteer-based organization founded in 2003 that rehabilitates Israel’s victims of terror through sport.
In Nov. 2006, San Diegans rejoiced as multi-award winning composer, writer, musician and conductor Marvin Hamlisch made his debut as the San Diego Symphony’s principal pops conductor. The creator of “A Chorus Line” was excited to be in San Diego and hoped to bring classical music to a wider audience with each show.
Now: Since his first season with the Symphony, Hamlisch has worked on original compositions and musical adaptations for several major motion pictures, including, most recently, Steven Soderbergh’s “The Informant!” He still conducts in San Diego, but he also holds the position of principal pops conductor in five other U.S. cities. His next show in San Diego will be “A “Valentine’s Romance With Broadway’s Best” Feb. 10 and 11.
Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien
In our July 2010 issue, San Diegan Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien talked about his unlikely career as a cook (he doesn’t like being called a chef) and his wildly successful cooking show.
Now: Since our initial interview, Zien has released a third book of recipes called “Just Grill This” and started a live webcast, which airs three days a week, in addition to his television cooking show. Like a cross between a radio talk show and a TV cooking show, the Sam Livecast is uncut and uncensored. In addtion to his regular cooking classes, Zien will also host “Sam Live” in February, combining the best parts of his live cooking show with an interactive component and behind the scenes stories. This month, Zien will return to the Today Show for the 12th time to feature Jewish food in celebration of Chanukkah on Dec. 21. He is in the process of writing his fourth book in his series of cookbooks.
In Sept. 2003, we featured Alan Bersin, then in his fifth year as superintendent of San Diego City Schools. He faced harsh criticism from some for his “Blueprint for Student Success,” an initiative that reorganized the school district with major changes to teaching styles and goals in the classroom. Then, we said his was the toughest job in America.
Now: Bersin was appointed Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection by President Barack Obama last year, with his offices in Washington, D.C. He is responsible for protecting the border and facilitating travel and trade for the U.S., and he oversees all operations of the department of Customs and Border Protection, including an $11 billion budget. Maybe this job is just a little bit tougher.
In 2002, San Diegans were engrossed in the investigation of the abduction and murder of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam. A neighbor, David Westerfield, was later convicted of the crime and sentenced to capital punishment. Westerfield’s defense attorney, Steven Feldman, became infamous in San Diego, and after the trial was over, in Dec. 2002, Feldman spoke with the SDJJ defending his profession as a criminal defender.
Now: The circus surrounding The People v. David Alan Westerfield has gone, but Feldman continues to practice criminal defense in San Diego. Between 2006-10, San Diego Magazine named him one of the “Best Lawyers in San Diego” and the Los Angeles Times named him one of the “Best Lawyers in Southern California.”
Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs
When we featured Gary and Jeri-Ann Jacobs in May 2003, High Tech High was still a fledgling school in its third year of operation, and the couple, who are the school’s founders, were busy with the school and with their various volunteer commitments; he, as president of the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County; she, with the youth theatre orchestra at the JCC, among other things.
Now: High Tech High has evolved into a network of schools for grades K-12, serving about 3,500 students annually. The Jacobs continue to be pillars of the community, although Gary is no longer president of the Federation.
A Look into the Future
10 San Diego Jews respond: Through your professional lens, how do you envision the local Jewish community 10 years from now?
“Genetic testing, as well as the entire capability of accessing the human genome, is moving so rapidly that 10 years from now we will have the ability to test for things we can’t even imagine today. That applies to everyone, and to Jewish genetic diseases. We’ll be able to test more accurately and earlier in pregnancy.”
—Dr. Robert Resnik, perinatologist and UCSD professor of reproductive medicine
“Today’s Jewish young adults are interested in exploring their Judaism in vastly different ways. They’re looking for specific opportunities that speak to their complex Jewish identity. I see a Jewish community 10 years from now that offers opportunities to connect around these interests as well as around religious observance.”
—Darren Schwartz, development manager, Young Adult Division, Jewish Federation of San Diego County
“I’m not sure anyone knows where the San Diego Jewish Community will be in the future. Who would have predicted 10 years ago the ADL would be fighting a new wave of anti-Semitism, couched in Anti-Israel rhetoric? We must work together as a strong, cohesive Jewish community to deal with the challenges that will surely lie ahead. Ten years from now I hope to look back and know that we have truly made a difference in our community and beyond.”
—Tammy Gillies, regional director, Anti-Defamation League
“One of the things that turns people off sometimes to the Jewish community is the lack of cooperation and collaboration. I think the more we begin to work together, the more we’ll be able to create real Jewish community in San Diego. That’s where I see us moving, and I see it happening already. I see us coming up with more communal ideas that allow us to reach and serve a much greater percentage of the population than we currently do.”
—Rabbi David Kornberg, president, San Diego Rabbinical Association
“I have a dual hope for the San Diego Jewish community in 10 years that is both organizational and individual. I hope to see continued growth and creativity in our communal agencies, coupled with ongoing vibrancy of individuals who are taking responsibility for their own Jewish journeys. I hope both the individual passion and organizational response will come together to enhance our community.”
— Jackie Tolley, director, Hillel of San Diego at SDSU
“In 2022, our community’s teenagers and young adults who visited Israel will be the community leaders. They experienced Jerusalem with its spiritual and physical beauty, Tel Aviv with its vibrant Israeli culture, the Negev with its young pioneers. Let’s make sure we continue to cultivate future leaders by engaging them with Israel today.”
—Shoshi Bogoch, community shlicha, Israel and Overseas Center, Jewish Federation of San Diego County
“As someone who works with a global Israel education organization that helps Israel fight the PR battle, like every Israeli mother who prays that her children won’t have to serve in the Army, I too, hope that the intense work we do every day to defend Israel is no longer needed and that the world and our local community will see Israel for the amazing country it is.”
—Audrey Jacobs, regional director, StandWithUs San Diego
“I hope to see the community become more cohesive. It’s [sometimes] very difficult to know what is going on in the community, i.e., at the different synagogues, the Jewish Studies programs at UCSD, SDSU, etc. This means that people tend to stay at their own congregations, and that leaves the community fragmented.”
—Stan Schwartz, Jewish Historical Society, San Diego
“The future of the Jewish community is a bright one. Ten years from now, I envision a unified, collaborative community of San Diego Jews utilizing emerging technologies, and our deeply engrained culture working harmoniously to build a vibrant Jewish future in our local community, and around the world. This Jewish future will bridge the generational gap, combining the innovation and drive of our young adults with the wisdom and values of our elders.”
— Steve Morris, president and CEO, Jewish Federation of San Diego County
“The Ken has been an integral part of San Diego’s Jewish community for about 30 years. Its unique focus on the Latin Jewish community allows our distinct traditions, values and beliefs to flourish. The next 10 years should see continued growth as three generations of Ken families and new families join to contribute to the rich spectrum that comprises Jewish life in San Diego. Coupled with this growth, we anticipate greater interaction and reaching out with the greater San Diego Jewish community.”
—Leo Simpser, Ken executive committee member