Photos tell of Chanukah’s approach in San Diego

By Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — With the first night of Chanukah approaching this Dec. 24th, memories of past San Diego Chanukahs are being revived.

For example, in Old Town San Diego Historic State Park–where the City of San Diego began–the Robinson-Rose house displays in its window a hannukiah and a Star of David, both emblematic of the building’s second owner, Louis Rose, who in 1850 had become the first Jewish settler in San Diego. The display also includes Christmas ornaments, equally appropriate because the building’s first owner and close colleague of Rose’s was Judge James W. Robinson, a Christian whom Rose had met on a wagon train from El Paso to San Diego.

Window at the Robinson-Rose House, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (Photo: Shor M. Masori)

In Balboa Park, meanwhile, the San Diego History Center, getting ready for its major exhibit on the Jews of San Diego, scheduled to open in March, released a 1960 photo of an immigrant Jewish family from the Soviet Union lighting a hannukiah in a country that allowed them religious freedom.

The Zajd Family celebrating Hanukkah was originally featured in the San Diego Union on December 14, 1960. The Zajd’s were Holocaust survivors, sponsored in their resettlement in San Diego by the local United Jewish Federation. The photo will be part of a multi-media exhibition Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diego’s Jewish Community opening at The San Diego History Center in March 2017.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted via [email protected]

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