Lecture on how World War I impacted San Diego Jewry

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–This year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. In commemoration of that and as part of the program series related to “Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diego’s Jewish Community,” the San Diego History Center will host a public lecture at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 7, by Laurel Schwartz of the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego on the impact of WWI on San Diego’s Jewish community.

From the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, San Diego’s Jewish benevolent organizations, together with the community at large, took on the huge task of raising money for the war-ravaged Jewish community of Europe. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917 and continuing until after the war, they supported the needs of the military personnel stationed here. Schwartz will talk about the way national and local Jewish service organizations and congregations rose to these challenges, raising funds, welcoming military personnel and helping to provide for their welfare during and after the war. For example, to care for the needs of Jewish U. S. soldiers, the newly founded San Diego Chapter of the Jewish Welfare Board constructed a building for Jewish troops at Camp Kearny. Schwartz will also speak about the personal wartime narratives and experiences of Jewish San Diegans and their families. Tickets for the event are $5 for members of the San Diego History Center, and $10 general admission.

Schwartz and her husband Stan have been leaders of the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego since 1990. They established the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego Archives, at Love Library in conjunction with the Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University in 1999. Laurel is the curator/archivist of the collection. In 2000, they, along with historian, Alex Bevil, and SOHO worked to make the 1926 Congregation Beth Israel on 3rd and Laurel Streets, eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The Schwartzes have spoken extensively on early San Diego Jewish history. Their publications include an anthology called Old Town, New Town: An Enjoyment of San Diego Jewish History for which they were associate editors and the entry on San Diego for the 2007 Encyclopedia Judaica. In 2004 they both received the Ben Dickson Award from the Congress of History. In 2005 they created a permanent exhibit at Congregation Beth Israel, called “Beth Israel in Three Centuries.” This past year they have contributed materials and expertise to the exhibition, “Celebrate San Diego: The History and Heritage of the Jewish Community of San Diego,” at the San Diego History Center.

Preceding provided by the San Diego History Center.

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