La Jolla’s Anti-Semitic Past Still Reflected in Community Christmas Parade

by on March 7, 2013 · 22 comments

in Culture, History, The Widder Curry

La Jolla from above

What is the difference between a “Holiday Parade” and a “Christmas Parade?” Not much, actually. But the fact that La Jolla continues to call their December parade a “Christmas Parade” bothers some residents of this snobby, exclusive city.

Many years ago – 1965 – to be exact, my husband and I decided to take a trip to La Jolla. We knew we would be moving to the San Diego area shortly, because my father-in-law was quite ill and lived in Chula Vista. We decided to make a vacation of it, and driving down from Berkeley where we were going to school we stopped off at a hotel in La Jolla. I was wearing a beautiful Star of David given to me on my 18th birthday by my ex-husband. My current husband – Bob – was not Jewish, but the star was so pretty that I wore it frequently.

As was usually the case, I got out of the car and went to the registration desk. The clerk looked at me and said, “I’m sorry. We do not cater to your kind.” What in the hell was he talking about? He didn’t cater to “my kind?” What kind was I? I said, “I beg your pardon. I don’t understand.” He said, under his breath, “you Jews just don’t want to understand.” And that was my first introduction to anti-Semitism – in a nice hotel in the middle of La Jolla.

When Bob and I moved to San Diego County we settled in Pt. Loma/Ocean Beach. We did not encounter any problems, and everyone was willing to take our money despite any taint of Jewishness that may have been attached to it. Being the bitch that I can be, however, I made sure every time I went into La Jolla I wore my Star of David. (And let me point out that I taught at UCSD Extension from 1972-1978 so I was in La Jolla often.)

As ironic as things can be, there was a period of time that I even worked in La Jolla, and to make it even funnier, I worked for the Copley Press in their Art studio on Herschel Street. (Funny because growing up in the Borsch Belt in Los Angeles, “Herschel” was a definite Hebrew name.) Although there was no more out-right snobbery, I was not welcomed into the restaurants I frequented with open arms. I was usually seated in the worst place – next to the bathroom or the kitchen; I was always greeted with a “hello”; but not with a friendly smile. It only took me a few weeks to discover what was wrong but I thrive on controversy so I continued wearing my star and patronized those establishments that wished I wasn’t a customer.

After I went back into the field of education, I became the chorus director for the several schools that I taught in. We began practicing singing Christmas carols in early October, and sang them daily until our Christmas pageant. Sometimes I would throw in a Hebrew song – “Dreidel”; or an other such song. Until one day a parent protested that she was not Christian; she was not Jewish; and, in fact, celebrated Kwanzaa and her children were asking why we were singing Christmas carols. It was causing a problem at home and although she did not want to have her child drop out of chorus, the conflicts were not worth the effort of keeping the child in a class that was in direct opposition with the families beliefs.

After discussion with the PTA; the principal and other staff members, we decided that we wanted to reach ALL people in the community and would change the name of our annual “Christmas” show to our “Holiday Show.” It was no big deal; we still sang Christmas carols, but now we incorporated many non-denominational songs for everyone. Santa still came to hand out gifts; the menorah was displayed when Jewish songs were sung, and everyone looked upon the changes as a positive experience as well as a learning experience.

As time passed, it was apparent that the parent who came to see me was not unlike many other people in communities throughout the United States. Many, many “Christmas Parades” were changed to “Holiday Parades” and no one thought anything about it. Everyone was included; no one felt excluded because they did not hold the Christian beliefs. And since there were so many other religions that had their holidays during the month of December it was a fairer way of including the entire community. And, interestingly enough, more volunteering happened; more donations were given; and the name change has been a positive factor every year.

Except in La Jolla. They have steadfastly refused to change the name of the “La Jolla Christmas Parade” to anything more acceptable to members of the community. In looking at Wikipedia for reference I was astonished to see the following:

From its beginnings through the early 1960s, La Jolla was marketed by developers as a bastion of isolation and exclusivity. Antisemitic housing practices began in 1926 with the development of La Jolla Shores.[21] In La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Hermosa, only people with “pure” European ancestry could own property (this excluded Jews, who were not considered white), and housing advertisements included prohibitions against Jews and other minority groups. Such “restrictive covenants” were once fairly common throughout the United States, although the 1948 Supreme Court case Shelley v. Kraemer ruled them to be unenforceable, and Congress outlawed them twenty years later.[22] After the Supreme Court ruling, real estate companies used less obvious tactics to keep Jewish people out of La Jolla. Real estate agents would be fired if they sold a house to Jewish clients. There were no for-sale signs put up on properties, requiring the prospective buyer to go to a real estate office to find out what was available. If an agent suspected that a potential home buyer was a Jew, they would demand higher down payments and display green cards on their dashboards marked with the Star of David to warn the seller. The sellers would also send codes to their real estate agents; if their porch lights were on during the day, they did not want Jewish buyers.[23]

In 2003 a writer for the San Diego Jewish Journal reported, “When world-renowned British mathematician/philosopher Jacob Bronowski was brought to the Salk Institute by Jonas Salk in 1963, he wanted to buy a piece of land on La Jolla Farms Road for the purpose of building a house for his family. But the land was part of William Black’s Beach and Bridle Club, and the Bronowskis were required to produce three written character references.” The family produced letters from members of Parliament.[23]

By 1962, La Jolla, and the non-restrictive La Jolla Scenic Heights in particular, had a substantial Jewish population due to talk of establishing UCSD in the area. The university would bring many Jewish professors, who would need to live in nearby areas such as La Jolla. In the words of UCSD patriarch Roger Revelle, “You can’t have a university without having Jewish professors. The Real Estate Broker’s Association and their supporters in La Jolla had to make up their minds whether they wanted a university or an anti-Semitic covenant. You couldn’t have both.”[24] La Jolla now boasts a large and thriving Jewish population,[25] and there are three large synagogues in La Jolla.

I realize that I am writing this article in March. The Holiday season is still 9 months away. It takes time to make changes – publicity, posters, banners, etc. But it is not too soon to start thinking about making a change. In fact, NOW IS the time to make the change.

I also want to point out that I am not doing this because I was born to two Jewish parents; I was married to a Catholic for 44 years. We celebrated all holidays – our children celebrated all holidays – their children – my grandchildren – celebrate all holidays. Rather, it is a way of involving the entire community; a way of welcoming everyone to the shores of La Jolla. A way of showing respect for everyone – no matter where they live, how they were raised, and what their beliefs might be. La Jolla is a thriving, wealthy community because they are now a “salad bowl” of residents. It is time that the beautiful parade that highlights La Jolla in December include everyone. That’s what makes San Diego so wonderful. Wouldn’t it be nice if La Jolla could be part of the entire community?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Pfaff March 9, 2013 at 5:13 am

GREATER SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA annual December events:
1. “December Nights” – FORMERLY “Christmas on the Prado”
2. “Encinitas Holiday Parade” – FORMERLY “Encinitas Christmas Parade”
3. “Holiday Bowl” – annual DEC college football game played at Qualcomm Stadium
(no event would EVER be named the Christmas Bowl)
4. La Jolla CHRISTMAS Parade – explanation – Wikipedia – La Jolla, California – 1.3
5. “Ocean Beach Holiday Parade” – FORMERLY “Ocean Beach Christmas Parade”
6. “Pacific Beach Holiday Parade” – FORMERLY “Pacific Beach Christmas Parade”
The decision makers changed the name(s) of the above events for two reasons:
If the La Jolla Christmas Parade committee insists on being different, they should call this annual December event the “La Jolla COMMUNITY Parade.” If the name was changed from the “La Jolla Christmas Parade” to the “La Jolla COMMUNITY Parade,” monetary donations would QUADRUPLE. . .and so would attendance. La Jolla is still living in the late 19th century (1887) and first half of the 20th century.


John March 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Don’t forget the large cross war memorial that overlooks all of San Diego. But what do you expect from a country where the nation’s capital has a team called the “Redskins”.


Brian August 24, 2013 at 4:48 am

Seriously? You think the Washington Redskins are from DC? They are from the state of Washington.


Frank Gormlie August 24, 2013 at 8:50 am

Brian, straight from wikipedia:

The Washington Redskins are an American football team based in the United States that represents Washington, D.C. They are a member of the East Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Its headquarters and training facility are based at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia and the newly built Redskins Complex in Richmond, Virginia respectively. The team’s home stadium is FedExField in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins have played more than 1,000 games since 1932. The Redskins have won five NFL Championships (two pre-merger, and three Super Bowls). The franchise has captured 13 NFL divisional titles and six NFL conference championships.[1]


Pfaff March 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm


It was, is and will always be the Easter Cross. Then in 1989, two atheists filed a law suit.
After the law suit, it was still the Easter Cross. Then Billy Kellogg thought he would put up some memorial plaques to save this cross, which is still a religious symbol. Then Billy Kellogg said it was a war memorial and not a religious symbol. I have a US Navy retirement. Not every member of the five branches of service would choose a cross for their grave. Then Billy Kellogg said he wanted to move the cross. If he wants to move the cross, talk is cheap. Perhaps Billy Kellogg would enjoy having the Easter Cross on his property at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. How would Billy enjoy having a six pointed star or a menorah on the top of Mount Soledad?


star bal March 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

l’m not a Christian but l recognise and honour the intrinsically Christian nature of the Western countries. And this is how they do it, bit by bit they change our ancient customs and replace them with banal and basically meaningless parodies.
Israel is 100% Jewish in character and no non Jew is seeking to change that – but Jews in the West are doing great work stripping us Europeans of our past and our very identities – so they can feel more comfortable in the West or is there a more sinister anti-Christian anti-Western motif at work here?
Jewish groups were at the forefront of the drive to open up the West to non-white mass immigration and now look at the mess the West is in as a direct consequence.
Take the word Christmas out of our vocabulary but in turn expect resentment. Christians are spat on in the street in Israel and not because they are working assiduously in that country to bring about Jews abandonment of their time honoured customs and cultural identifiers. Christians are spat on in Israel because they are Christians full stop.


judi Curry March 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the root of prejudice. There are no facts to back up this comment; and it is comments just like this that get the dander up and create unrest. I’d be wary of this mean-spirited woman.


Andy Cohen March 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm

And here it is, folks! The “America is a Christian Nation and others need not apply” sect chiming in. People like this are the PROBLEM, not the solution.

Tea Party activism at its finest. Divide and divide. Spew the most vile, racist crap you can find, and don’t worry at all about its basis in fact or reality.

My suggestion to you, since yo obviously don’t like the country we live in: Move to Texas, secede from the Union, and that way you can form whatever kind of country you want. Sound good? Best of luck!


Meturaf March 3, 2016 at 4:48 pm

No your not Christian, as Hitler said Christianity a “Jewish Fairy Tale” but you are definitely wrong. And dont forget, the whole Southwest of the US belonged to Spain then Mexico. It’s maybe the pasty faces who don’t belong here among us browner people. The whole US was nothing but non white people who you Europeans destroyed wholesale via murder, starvation, relocation to limited reservations.

Get off your high horse. The virus in this country is Not Jews or Non Whites.


judi Curry March 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Amen, bro!


Pfaff March 14, 2013 at 6:15 am

Andy Cohen
Thank you.


OB Jamie March 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

May as well add that Point Loma is just about as WASPY as La Jolla once was….And OB has I am sure an inglorious history of racism that continues to this day.


judi Curry March 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I don’t know, Jamie. I can not find anything to back up your claim in Google; Jewish news press, etc. Are you referencing something specific? Because if you are not, you are doing the same thing that the other prejudicial nuts in our current society are doing to foster hate and unrest.


Frank Gormlie March 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Sure, PL has a fairly “white” history, except for the Japanese fishing village at the turn of last century, the neighborhoods of Portuguese-Americans on the Bay side. And historically, it has been very conservative politically. Over the years, of course, this has changed.

And sure OB has its racist side, as do most mostly-white communities. There were some OB proponents of the Posse Comitus group, a virulently racist grouplet; there were a couple of kids who worked at Zekes Chicken who used to don their actual KKK white sheet outfits and parade on Newport Ave. And there have been racist biker clubs as well.

But since the late Sixties at least, OB has included a decidedly anti-racist side as well, as it was home to one of the most vibrant anti-Vietnam war movements in San Diego, it was staging grounds for the Boycott Grapes and Lettuce campaigns of the United Farm-workers movement, and support for the original Black Panthers was shown in the pages of the original OB Rag. During the mid-70’s, the OB Community Planning Group linked up with Barrio Logan residents and staged a march between the communities. And in the early 1990s, there was a racial incident around Abbott Street and OBceans organized a huge rally in 3 days time against hate crimes.

If you look for the warts in OB, you’ll find them, but then you also have to acknowledge all the positive things of OB on the other side.


judi Curry March 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Thanks for the historical look, Frank.


Pfaff March 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

OB Jamie,
Please. . .
Go to Wikipedia
enter La Jolla, California
select 1.3 Anti-Semitism
Please do your homework by sourcing Wikipedia Reference (footnotes) 23., 24. and 25 within the 1.3 paragraphs. Footnote 25. is quite lengthy, but well worth the read.
Please let the blog know if you are able to define or identify another city or town in the USA with such a dark and unsavory past and present.


Lester Burnham March 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm

You obviously never heard of “sundown towns.”

Pretty dark and unsavory huh? Getting killed for being a minority after sunset is a tad worse than being denied a motel room.


judi Curry March 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I had heard of “sundown” towns. I could not find any reference to Pt. Loma – Jaimie’s comment. And, is there much difference in being denied a motel room because I am a Jew than being killed after sunset? Both are wrong; both are racially motivated; both are sick.


Andrea June 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Judi, how can I get in touch with you?


OB Jamie March 21, 2013 at 12:49 am

Let me ask you a “hypothetical question…

What do you think happens when an African American person without permanent housing shows up in OB?


Pfaff March 21, 2013 at 7:07 am

OB Jamie,

Jamie, what do you think would happen when an African American without permanent housing shows up in OB?


Pfaff June 15, 2016 at 2:52 am

San Diego County Diversity and Inclusiveness Group
P. O. 7
La Jolla, CA 92038-0007



Tolerance – Inclusiveness – Diversity – Equality

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.
For indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Margaret Mead

Indian Voices • April 2016

San Diego Communities strive for cultural equity
As Mayor Kevin Faulkner so eloquently pointed out in the State of the City address … San Diego is a city of communities. Ever since the original San Diego inhabitants, the Kumeyaay, were forced by an invading conquering people to yield their land and disperse the bayfront, a growing citizenry has woven a cultural tapestry within the city’s boundaries that ultimately formed the city of communities that we know today. Gifted with a community soul that Donna Frye called the Aloha Spirit, at its core has traditionally been supportive of the collective will of the people. Our city of communities have historically worked together symbiotically to create a unified image of San Diego.In the recent past culturally sensitive citizens with an eagerness to welcome a growing population of varied ethnicities to San Diego inspired an action to change the names of various Christmas community events and parades. The aim is to be more inclusive and embracive ofour marginalized newly transplanted community members. By changing the names of various community events, the goal was to relax any brewing toxic separatist cultural climate.
As is typical for Americas Finest City, the people rallied around the idea and communities complied, although not without opposition. Christmas on the Prado became December Nights and eventually Christmas was overshadowed by Holiday and faith-neutral parade event names throughout the city. The one recalcitrant hold out has been the San Diego community of La Jolla whose insistence to hold on to the La Jolla Christmas Parade name has created an outcry by those who feel that this community that has a history of discrimination and racial prejudice, a makeover is required. The players in the cultural dust up reads like a social Who’s Who of La Jolla society and includes: Jack McGrory, William J. Kellogg, Cindy Greatrex, Audrey Geisel, Darlene Marcos Shiley, District 1 Candidate, Ray Ellis, Ann Kerr Bache, and Sherri Lightner, District 1 Council Member. Finding the thread to connect the dots to analyze and resolve this cultural quagmire may require the indigenous intelligence and spiritual guidance of the Kumeyaay Nation.
Please contact: Howard G. Singer of the San Diego County Diversity and Inclusiveness Group, SDCDIG.ORG Cell: 619-980-4586


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