J.D.B. News Letter

Outlines Contributions Made by Jews to Development of San Francisco (By Our San Francisco Correspondent)

Outstanding contributions of the Jews in the development of San Francisco were outlined by Judge Max C. Sloss, former associate justice of the Supreme Court of California and one of the most distinguished members of the San Francisco bar, in a recent issue of the San Francisco “Call.” To the Jews Judge Sloss attributes leadership in philanthropy and social welfare work, as well as in the business development and in musical and artistic accomplishments.

“There have been Jews here since the days of ’49, and throughout all the years they have taken part in practically all of the community activities” writes Judge Sloss. “Throughout their known history the Jews have had a strong sense of family and social responsibility, and it is this quality which has enabled them to contribute so much to the development of philanthrophy and social welfare work in San Francisco.” He then cited the Hebrew Orphan Asylum at Homewood Terrace, San Francisco, as an excellent illustration of progressive and modern social service at its best. The children live in small groups in cottages with a house mother in charge of each cottage. The children help around the house and garden as they would if living at home with their parents.

“The same spirit” says Judge Sloss “is shown in the Old People’s Home and in the boarding house for working girls, conducted by the Emanu-El Sisterhood. These all represent the last word in making provision for human welfare.

Long before the Community Chest was established, the Jews were carrying out successfully the idea of a single annual collection and distribution of money for social welfare purposes. Ten or twelve years before the Chest was formed the Federation of Jewish charities of San Francisco was in full operation. This organization did all the collecting of funds for the various Jewish social agencies and distributed them equitably. Now that the Community Chest has been organized, you find many Jews active in its work and management.”

Judge Sloss then tells of the great part played by the Jews in the pioneer days of the community. Among the most prominent figures he mentions are Levi Strauss, early wholesaler, whose firm still plays a great part in the distribution of commodities in the west, and the late Raphael Weill, founder of the White House. Weill was an able business man and a public spirited and useful citizen. Many Jews were prominent as bankers in the early days of San Francisco. The banks which were later merged into the Anglo and London Paris National Bank were conducted separately for many years by Jews. ‘The Fleishhacker brothers, now heading these consolidated banks, are known wherever finance is discussed” says Judge Sloss. “The Hellmans are another Jewish banking family, widely known.”

Among the Jews who have been prominent in the professions are Solomon Heydenfeldt, one of the leading lawyers, who was elevated to the State Supreme Court, and Dr. Morris Herzstein, one of the leading physicians, who in his will made provision for many philanthropic and educational institutions. In politics the late Julius Kahn, congressman for many years, attained a national reputation. He was succeeded by his widow, Mrs. Florence Kahn, who has already made a name for herself in Congress.

“The Jews have always shown a love for the arts,” writes Judge Sloss, “and have done their share of creative work. In music the remarkable performance of Yehudi Menuhin as a violinist has attracted literally world-wide attention. The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra has Jews of brilliance among its members. Alfred Hertz, the conductor, is one of the famous Jewish leaders in the country.

“The development of the theater in San Francisco owes much to the activity of the Jews. David Belasco the great manager and David Warfield the great actor, both were reared in San Francisco and when children lived next door to each other.

“In mentioning Jewish achievement in various lines only a few names have been given. Enough has been written, however, to show that the Jews have contributed much to the upbuilding of San Francisco.”

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