If you go to the website of the publication San Diego Jewish World you will see the motto: “There Is a Jewish Story Everywhere!” Owner and publisher, Don Harrison, delights in traveling, meeting people, and sniffing out that Jewish story.
You can read about his latest adventures in his third book, “77 Miles of Jewish Stories.” These stories take place on 77 miles of Interstate 8 in San Diego County, from Ocean Beach to the far ends of East County finishing at the boundary line with Imperial County. Harrison decided to see if he could find a Jewish story in the vicinity of every exit off the freeway/highway.
You would be surprised at the wide array of stories he found! What is nice about this book is that you can go to the Table of Contents –there are 70 short chapters — and look for a story or area that interests you. When you have time to really savor each chapter, read the book from cover to cover and discover many fascinating people and facts along the way.
Some of my favorite chapters were Chapeter 4 on the Roseville section of Point Loma and Louis Rose (Harrison’s first book was on the life of Rose, one of the first Jews to settle in San Diego in 1850). Roseville is named after Rose, a visionary entrepreneur who realized the potential of buying land between Old Town and the San Diego Bay near Point Loma. You can find a plaque honoring him near the water at Liberty Station. You can also see Rose’s influence in Chapter 9. The visitor information center at the State Historic Park in Old Town is located in the Robinson/Rose house, named after Rose and attorney James W. Robinson. These are two chapters that will appeal to history buffs.
I also enjoyed the chapter on the University of San Diego and Rabbi Wayne Dosick (The Rabbi and the Monsignor), and the idea of an “all-faith service.” In that spirit, I liked Chapter Eight on Mission San Diego.
I live in East County and some notable chapters from there were Chapter 56 on the Eddy Pump and the Weinrib family in El Cajon; Chapter 58 on the Dream Rider Equestrian Therapy and Catherine Hand in Alpine; Chapter 64 on the Camp Lockett Buffalo Soldiers in Campo; Chapter 61 on Raising Alpacas in Descanso; and finally, Chapter 70 on the Desert View Tower in Jacumba Hot Springs. The chapters dedicated to East County offer fascinating tidbits about the history of the area and introduce us to some interesting residents.
There’s a funny chapter on Lake Murray and how some of the nearby congregations go there during Rosh Hashanah. As an act of atonement, they cast bread into the water to atone for sins and ask for a fresh start. The funny part is the description of the bread that goes with the sin. For example, white bread is for ordinary sins whereas rye bread is for particularly dark sins.
My only critique is that I found the typesetting to be very small, so you either need excellent vision or a good pair of reading glasses. Otherwise, this is a book that many San Diegans — Jewish or not — can enjoy while learning about the area they live in.