University of California Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Jewish Community Federation Leadership Oral History Project
Melvin M. Swig
PRESIDENT, JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION OF SAN FRANCISCO,
THE PENINSULA, MARIN AND SONOMA COUNTIES, 1971-1972
With Introductions by
Donald H. Seiler
Robert E. Sinton
Interviews Conducted by
Eleanor K. Glaser
Copyright 1991 by The Regents of the University of California
Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading
participants in or well -placed witnesses to major events in the development of
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity
and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed
in final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material,
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved,
All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement
between The Regents of the University of California and Melvin M.
Swig dated July 30, 1991. The manuscript is thereby made available
for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript,
including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library
of the University of California, Berkeley. No part of the
manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University
of California, Berkeley.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal
agreement with Melvin M. Swig requires that he be notified of the
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Melvin M. Swig, "President, Jewish
Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula, Mar in and Sonoma Counties,
1971-1972," an oral history conducted in
1991 by Eleanor K. Glaser, Regional Oral
History Office, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley, 1992.
Melvin M. Swig, 1986.
SWIG, Melvin M. (b. 1917) Jewish community leader
President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula.
Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1971-1972. 1992, xii, 228 pp.
Family background, Boston, and business, the Giant Store; to San Francisco
after World War II; San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation:
fundraising, executives and volunteers, presidency, 1971-1972, views on
Jewish day schools; Jewish Community Endowment Fund; dispute with Jewish
Agency; further Jewish community involvement: Bulletin, Telegraphic Agency,
Family Service; overseas work: the State of Israel and the Jewish
community; San Francisco civic, philanthropic, and political activities.
Introductions by Donald H. Seller, current president, and Robert E. Sinton,
past president of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Interviewed 1991 by Eleanor Glaser for the Jewish Community Federation Oral
History series. The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley.
The Regional Oral History Office would like to express its
thanks to the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of The
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Their
encouragement and support have made possible the Jewish
Community Federation Leadership Oral History Project.
TABLE OF CONTENTS-- Me Ivin M. Swig
INTRODUCTION --by Donald H. Seller iv
INTRODUCTION --by Robert E. Slnton v
INTERVIEW HISTORY vi
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY viii
I THE SWIG FAMILY 1
Aronovitz and Swig Relatives 1
Joe Ford 5
Simon Swig and His Children 6
Benjamin Swig's Businesses 9
II EARLY YEARS IN BOSTON 12
Born July 31, 1917 12
The Giant Store 18
III MARRIAGE AND MILITARY SERVICE 20
Married to Phyllis Diamond, 1939; U.S. Army, 1945 20
Out of Officer's Training School 21
Military Training 23
Return to Civilian Life, 1945 25
IV SWIG FAMILY MOVES TO SAN FRANCISCO 26
Purchase of Hotels: St. Francis, 1944; Fairmont, 1945;
Bellevue, 1950 26
Mazor's Store, Oakland 28
From Retail Business to Real Estate 29
V JEWISH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT 32
Jewish National Welfare Fund, 1948 32
Early Leaders 32
Fundraising and Budgeting 33
Campaign Chairman, 1969 34
The Budgeting Process 36
Mount Zion Hospital
Jewish Family Service Agency 39
VI MISSION TO MOROCCO AND EUROPE, 1961 40
Accompanied by John Steinhart and Marshall Kuhn 40
Programs to Aid Moroccan Jews 40
Refugees in Vienna and Paris 43
VII MORE ON FUNDRAISING 47
Speaking to Groups on Return from Mission 47
Capital Fund Drives 48
Funds From United Way 49
Advance Gifts 49
VIII FEDERATION AND VOLUNTEERS 51
Those Who are New to the Community 51
IX FEDERATION ASSIGNMENTS 54
Promoting Leadership 56
Trip to Israel and Suez Canal, 1970 57
X FEDERATION PRESIDENT, 1971-1972 59
Professional Staff 59
Federation Agencies 61
Changes During Presidencies 62
Jewish Vocational and Employment Guidance Service 63
Programs for Young People and Stronger Jewish
Jewish Day Schools 66
United Bay Area Crusade 71
Large Cities Budgeting Conference 71
Positions After Presidency 72
XI FEDERATION EXECUTIVES 74
Federation President Jesse Feldman Seeks New
Executive, 1973 74
Opposition to Rabbi Brian Lurie 75
Federation Headquarters Building 78
Wayne Feinstein, New Federation Executive, 1991 78
XII JEWISH COMMUNITY ENDOWMENT FUND 80
Early Executives; Growth and Uses of Funds 80
XIII DISPUTE WITH JEWISH AGENCY 86
Support for Brian Lurie 86
XIV MORE ON JEWISH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT 90
Jewish Community Bulletin, President, 1969-1971 90
Jewish Telegraphic Agency 94
Mount Zion Hospital 96
Jewish Family Service Agency 98
Federation Assignments 99
Overseas Committee 99
Committee on Jewish Education 101
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on "Who Is A Jew" 102
American Friends of Haifa University 103
American Jewish Committee 104
State of Israel Bonds 105
United Jewish Appeal 106
American Association of Ben Gurion University
of the Desert 107
Ant i- Defamation League of B'nai B'rith 108
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 109
Brandeis University 109
XV INVOLVEMENT IN NON-JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS 111
University of San Francisco 111
Grace Cathedral 113
President, California Association for American
Conservatory Theatre 117
Civic League of Improvement Clubs and Associations
of San Francisco 118
Commonwealth Club of California 119
Crescent Porter Hale Foundation 120
Chairman, Easter Seal Campaign, 1963 121
National Conference of Christians and Jews 122
Foreman, San Francisco City and County Grand Jury, 1969 122
Vice-President, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce 124
San Francisco City Parking Corporation 126
Commissioner, San Francisco Housing Authority, 1962-1965 127
Chairman, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1965 129
San Francisco Life Insurance Company 132
State Savings and Loan Association of Stockton 132
Stanford University Jewish Studies Program 133
President, Lake Merced Golf and Country Club 133
United Way of the Bay Area 134
Bay Area Council 134
Boy Scouts of America 135
Brown University 135
Civilian Advisory Committee 136
Columbia Park Boys' Club 137
Koret Foundation 137
United Negro College Fund 139
United Services Organization [USO] 139
Fundraising for San Francisco's New Main Library 141
XVI MORE ON ISRAEL 144
Centrality of Israel 144
Political Situation 145
Arab- Israeli Relations 146
XVII POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT 152
Northern Californians for Good Government 152
Democratic Party Politics 153
Republican Candidates 157
XVIII FAMILY 159
Father's Influence 159
Sons' Community Involvement 159
XIX PHILANTHROPIC DECISIONS 163
People in Need 163
Satisfaction Gained 164
Inter-Religious Activity 164
XX A LOOK TO THE FUTURE 166
Direction of the San Francisco Jewish Community 166
The Federation 168
TAPE GUIDE 169
A. Report of the President presented at the annual meeting of the 172
Jewish Community Federation, 1971.
B. Report of the President presented at the annual meeting of the 181
Jewish Community Federation, 1972.
C. Remarks made by Melvin M. Swig at the annual meeting of the 189
Young Adults' Division, December 5, 1972.
D. 1973 Standing Committees, Jewish Community Federation. 194
E. Jewish Community Federation Committees, 1986. 195
F. Members, Ad Hoc Committee on "Who is a Jew," 1988. 204
G. Endowment Committee, Jewish Community Federation, 1989. 205
H. Executive Search Committee, Jewish Community Federation, 1990. 206
I. Endowment Committee, Jewish Community Federation, 1990. 207
J. "Mel Swig Heads Bulletin," San Francisco Jewish Bulletin. 208
December 8, 1978.
K. "Jewish leader becomes S.F. Catholic university chairman," 209
Northern California Jewish Bulletin. July 26, 1985.
L. "Swig gets award for endowment work," Northern California 210
Jewish Bulletin. January 24, 1986.
M. "Settlement Reached On Koret Foundation," San Francisco 211
Chronicle. June 24, 1986.
N. "The Swigs Build a Bigger Empire," San Francisco Chronicle. 212
September 8, 1986.
0. "Family of S.F. philanthropists get community's thanks," 216
Northern California Jewish Bulletin. October 31, 1986.
P. Dinner honoring the Swig-Dinner family, November 9, 1986. 217
Q. Remarks made by Melvin M. Swig before the Anti Defamation 218
League, June 11, 1987.
R. "USF president Melvin M. Swig honored at testimonial," 221
Northern California Jewish Bulletin. July 31, 1987.
S. Honorary degree, Brown University, 1989. 222
T. The Presiding Bishop's Committee on Christian-Jewish Relations, 223
July 29, 1991.
The Jewish Community Federation Leadership Oral History Project was
initiated in 1990, under the sponsorship of the Jewish Community
Endowment Fund, to record the recent history of the Jewish Welfare
Federation. Through oral histories with the thirteen living past
presidents of the Federation, the project seeks to document Jewish
philanthropy in the West Bay as spearheaded by the Federation during the
past half -century.
The Jewish community can take pride in the manner in which it has,
through the years, assumed the traditional Jewish role of providing for
the less fortunate. Organized Jewish philanthropy in San Francisco began
in 1850 with the Eureka Benevolent Association, today's Jewish Family and
Children's Service Agency. With the organization in 1910 of the
Federation of Jewish Charities, the community took the major step of
coordinating thirteen separate social service agencies. The funding of
local services was absorbed by the Community Chest when the Federation
affiliated with it in 1922. Soon thereafter, the need was seen for an
organization to support the financial needs of national and overseas
agencies. This led to the formation of the Jewish National Welfare Fund
in 1925, which pioneered in conducting a single annual campaign for
Jewish needs outside of San Francisco. The Federation of Jewish
Charities and the Jewish National Welfare Fund merged in 1955, becoming
the Jewish Welfare Federation, the forerunner of the present Jewish
Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma
This oral history project was conceived by Phyllis Cook, executive
director of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund, and Eleanor Glaser, the
oral historian who had just completed the oral history of Sanford M.
Treguboff, the late executive director of the Federation. They realized
that 1990 would be the thirty- fifth year of the Jewish Welfare Federation
and that it was none too soon to try to capture the insights and
experiences of the Federation's first presidents. Not only would these
leaders be able to document the dynamic history of the Federation, but
they could link that to the activities of several other agencies since
all had prepared themselves for their services as Federation president by
working in one or another capacity in the earlier Jewish charitable
Thus, it was anticipated that through the recollections of these
Federation presidents it might be also possible to understand the driving
motivations and principles of those pioneer leaders and the forces they
dealt with during the building of the Bay Area Jewish community.
Phyllis Cook, in consultation with the board of directors of the
Jewish Community Endowment Fund, worked with the Regional Oral History
Office of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, to
carry out the project. Direction of the project was assumed by Eleanor
Glaser, the office research editor for Jewish history subjects.
In the oral history process the interviewer works closely with the
memoirist in the preliminary research and in setting up topics for
discussion. For the Federation project, Eleanor Glaser conducted
extensive research in the Federation Board minutes in order to determine
critical events, committee assignments, and the pressing needs during
each president's term of office. The interviews are informal
conversations that are tape recorded, transcribed, edited by the
interviewer for continuity and clarity, checked and approved by the
interviewee, and then final typed. The oral history manuscripts are open
to research in libraries nationwide. Copies of the Federation project
oral histories will be available in the Federation Library; The Bancroft
Library; the Department of Special Collections, Library, UCLA; and in
other libraries interested in collecting source material on this subject.
Sam Ladar, president of the Jewish Welfare Federation in 1965 and
1966, was the first interviewee. As the initial oral history for the
project, general Federation information such as early board minutes,
lists of officers, etc., have been included in the Ladar volume.
Researchers are advised to start there.
The Regional Oral History Office was established in 1954 to record
the lives of persons who have contributed significantly to the history of
California and the West. The Office is administered by The Bancroft
Library. Over the years the Office has documented a number of leaders in
the California Jewish community. The Office is honored to have this
opportunity to document Jewish philanthropy in the San Francisco Bay
Eleanor Glaser, Project Director
Leadership of the Jewish Community
Federation Oral History Project
Willa Baum, Division Head
Regional Oral History Office
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Jewish Community Federation Leadership Oral History Project
Jesse Feldman, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1973-1974. 1991
Samuel A. Ladar, A Reflection on the Early Years of the San Francisco Jewish
Community Federation. 1990
Robert E. Sinton, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1967-1968. 1991
John H. Steinhart, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco,
the Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1969-1970
Melvin M. Swig, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1971-1972
Jerome Braun, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1979-1980
Annette R. Dobbs , President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1988-1990
Richard N. Goldman, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco,
the Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1981-1982
inces D. Green, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1975-1976
Peter E. Haas, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1977-1978
Ronald Kaufman, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1984-1986
William I. Lowenberg, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco,
the Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1983-1984
Laurence Myers, President. Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula. Marin and Sonoma Counties. 1986-1988
INTRODUCTION --by Donald H. Seller
The task of writing an introduction to the oral history of Melvin M.
Swig and his relationship to our Jewish community seemed to be so simple
at first. However, upon reflection, to recite his long and dedicated
leadership, to enumerate the many areas of outstanding service he has
rendered, or to extol the multiple virtues he possesses does not really
do justice to what our community has been given by Mel Swig. The reading
of this oral history will give all of you an excellent understanding of
what he has done and how deeply it has affected our Jewish community; but
to fully realize the depth of Mel and his feelings, you must grasp the
intensity he brings to his endeavors.
There is an old saying, "Life is short play hard." These simple
words capture for me Mel's approach to almost everything. Hopefully,
life will be long for Mel- -but playing hard really tells the story. Mel
plays hard in all areas- -in business, in sports, in family life, in
political life, and, most certainly, in his charitable and civic life.
His feeling for his fellow man is constantly evident, and the depth of
his commitment to others is constantly manifested, as it has been for his
lifetime. His leadership and service has been outstanding in our local,
national, and international Jewish community- -but it has been equally
outstanding in civic affairs, educational institutions, religious
organizations, service to the underprivileged, and many, many other
avenues of assistance. Mel has truly "given back" to his fellow man. He
has done it with intensity, integrity, and a tremendous amount of
personal efforthe has truly "played hard."
Mel Swig really needs no introduction- -but here it is anyway. I
know you will enjoy reading the history of a true leader of our
community. We are blessed to have him and look forward to many more
years of his participation and guidance. As new challenges arise for us,
both in the Jewish Community Federation and the larger world in which we
live, it is comforting to know that we have Mel in the forefront of our
On a personal level, I have grown to know and respect Mel over many
years. I am honored to have him as a friend and very pleased to have
this opportunity to write this introduction.
Donald H. Seiler
San Francisco, California
INTRODUCTION --by Robert Sinton
Why did Mel Swig ask me to do an introduction to his oral history?
Perhaps it has to do with my being his friend for the last thirty to
thirty- five years and also his colleague in philanthropy, fellow
traveler, victim on the golf course (I can't remember winning), and one
of his many admirers .
How do I put in proper words the kind of man he is . His love of
life comes first to mind. This characteristic has a great deal to do
with his being the leader he is in all his many activities- -the majority
of them have to do with helping his fellow man in the support of
education, health and welfare, Israel, our city, our country. I'll not
mention the many specific foundations, cultural institutions, and civic
positions he has held for they are covered in the book to follow.
Working with Mel has been one of the great pleasures of my life.
His great warmth, his good mind, his sense of humor are qualities that
come to mind. His good judgment is a reason he is sought after to
resolve issues, give financial support, and to lead others in
philanthropic giving. His energy is equal to that of ten average men.
With all the above he is a strong family man, a wonderful husband
I'm glad to share Mel Swig with you dear reader- -read on.
March 16, 1992
San Francisco, California
INTERVIEW HISTORY- -Me Ivin M. Swig
When the Swig family moved to San Francisco from Boston soon after
World War II, it did not take long for the family's influence to be felt
in the community- -in fundraising and in their personal philanthropy.
Both Ben Swig and his son Mel were Federation presidents after serving in
a variety of the organization's positions.
Melvin M. Swig, who was president of the Jewish Welfare Federation
for 1971 and 1972, is the fifth past president of the Federation to be
interviewed for the Jewish Community Federation Leadership Oral History
Project that documents the history of the Jewish Community Federation of
San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. This series of
memoirs is sponsored by the Jewish Community Endowment Fund.
A preliminary meeting with Mr. Swig was held in June 1991, and a
chronology covering his almost forty years of Federation activities was
given to him at the time of our first interview. In total, five
interview sessions, from mid- July to mid-November, were held in his
Mr. Swig's firm, Swig Weiler and Dinner Development Company, takes
up an entire floor in the Mills Tower in the San Francisco financial
district. Only phone calls from Mrs. Swig were taken during the
interviews, which lasted approximately one and one -half hours each.
During the period of the interviews, Charlotte M. Swig was chief of
protocol for the city of San Francisco, and she and Mel Swig were co-
chairs of fundraising for the new main public library. Documents and
photographs for inclusions in Mel Swig's volume were obtained from his
secretary, Lauren Brown, who searched through files for them.
At the time of the preliminary meeting, I asked Mr. Swig for the
names of people to whom I should talk for information regarding his
community involvement. Those he suggested were: past Federation
presidents William Lowenberg and Robert E. Sinton, as well as the current
president, Donald H. Seller; businessmen Gerson Bakar and Barney Osher;
Father Lo Sciavo, recently retired president of the University of San
Francisco; Bishop William E. Swing and Dean Alan Jones of Grace
Cathedral. A reading of these names indicates the breadth of Mr. Swig's
philanthropy, interests, and friendships.
Mel Swig is very involved in Democratic politics and is considered a
key person to contact, by phone or in person, by local and national
politicians looking for votes and financial support in San Francisco. He
is equally involved in fundraising for his community and for Israel. He
is a passionate supporter of Israel; it is close to his heart. There
were three areas that caused Mr. Swig to speak with great emotion: his
family, when talking about Israel's enemies, and the enthusiasm expressed
for Brown University. One senses that Mel Swig is never half-hearted
Mr. Swig's memoirs cover the wide -range of his Federation activities
from his earliest involvement, his presidency, and the role he played in
the subsequent years. In addition, he discusses philanthropy and his
involvement in the general community.
The edited transcripts of his interviews were submitted to Mr. Swig
for his review, which he returned with just a few minor corrections in
record time. At Mel Swig's suggestion, his friends and fellow Federation
leaders, Robert Sinton and Donald Seiler, were asked to write
introductions to the volume. We appreciate their response to this
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720
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MELVIN M. SWIG - BIOGRAPHIC DATA
Date of Birth: July 31, 1917
Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts
Residence: Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
Wife: Charlotte Mailliard Swig
Children: Steven, Kent, Robert
Business Affiliation: Vice-chairman of the Board, Fairmont Htel
Chairman of the Board, Swig Weiler and
Dinner Development Company
PROFESSIONAL AND CIVIC AFFILIATIONS
\merican Assoc. Ben-Gurion University Board of Directors
\nti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith Member Regional Board;
Honorary Member National Commission
Vtalanta Sosnof f Board of Directors
Bay Area Council Board of Directors
3oy Scouts of America Advisory Council
Brandeis University Trustee
Brown University Trustee
Civilian Advisory Committee (Presidio)
Department of the Army Board of Directors
Columbia Park Boys' Club Board of Directors
Commonwealth Club Board of Directors
Srace Cathedral Trustee
Jewish Community Federation Board of Directors
<oret Foundation Board of Directors
Stanford University Jewish Studies Advisory Board
Jnited Negro College Fund Advisory Board
Jnited Service Organizations (USO) World Board of Governors
Jniversity of San Francisco Chairman, Board of Trustees
\merican Friends of Haifa University Board of Trustees
\merican Jewish Committee National Board of Trustees
\merican Jewish Joint Distribution Comm Executive Committee
\merican Jewish Joint Distribution Committee . Board of Directors
California Association for ACT President, Board of Director
Crescent Porter Hale Foundation President
faster Seal Campaign Chairman, 1963
Jewish Community Federation President
Jewish Family Service Agency Board of Directors; Vice Pr
L^ake Merced Golf and Country Club President
fount Zion Hospital and Medical Center V.P. Board of Directors
Rational Conference of Christians & Jews Board of Directors
San Francisco City and County Grand Jury Foreman, 1969
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Vice President
San Francisco City Parking Corp President, Board of Directc
San Francisco Housing Authority Commissioner
San Francisco International Film Festival. .. .Chairman, 1965
San Francisco Jewish Bulletin President, Board of Directc
3an Francisco Life Insurance Company Member of the Board and Trc
CHRONOLOGY-- Me Ivin M. Swig
1952 Elected to Federation board.
1953 Co-chairman, Business and Professional Division of campaign.
1955 Re-elected to Federation board.
1956 General chairman, Israel Bonds drive.
1959 Chairman, campaign.
1961 Mission to Europe to observe immigration problems, with John
Steinhart and Marshall Kuhn.
Budget and fundraising committees.
1962 Chairman, budget committee; fundraising committee. As budget
chairman, overriding consideration at budget meetings was action
taken at Federation board meeting of 11/9/61 that UJA should not
be placed in position of being residue from which increases to
other agencies are taken.
1963 Fundraising committee; chairman, Advance Gifts.
1964 Budget committee.
1965 Assistant treasurer, vice-chairman of finance and administration.
1966 Assistant treasurer, vice chairman of finance and administration,
1967 Treasurer, chairman of finance and administration.
1968 Board vice-president, executive committee, finance and
administration, vice-chairman budget committee.
1969 Board vice-president, chairman public relations, Federation
representative to Jewish Bulletin, finance and administration,
Federation member on joint Federation/Maimonides committee to
review funds accruing to Maimonides. One-half already given to
Home for Jewish Aged when Maimonides closed; Federation trustee
for balance .
1970 Board vice-president, reported on UJA study mission to Israel
including experiences at Suez Canal. Director, San Francisco
1971 PRESIDENT. Reports to board re sit-in by group of thirty-five
college students from Friday a.m. to Saturday p.m., demand
immediate support for Jewish education and public debate on Jewish
education. Contested election, statements circulated re way
Federation allocates funds. Petition submitted for ten
candidates, but didn't have required 250 signatures.
1972 PRESIDENT. Announces need for capital funds drive last one in 1960.
Notes decrease in UJA share of overall campaign receipts. "As
long as our campaign continues to grow, the allocations to all
agencies can be increased without seriously jeopardizing funds
available to Israel. Therefore need to increase sums raised in
1973 John Steinhart's commendation to out-going President Swig: on
executive committee of UJA, national commission of Ant i- Defamation
League, national board of American Jewish Committee. Dealt with
problems of Jewish day schools. Chairman, executive committee,
chairman, Advance Division.
1974 Chairman, executive committee. Appointed honorary director so can
remain on board; on by-laws revision. American Jewish Committee's
Human Relations Award. Trustee, Brandeis University.
1975 Vice-chairman capital funds campaign, on finance and administration,
allocations review committee for capital funds; three year term on
San Francisco Jewish Bulletin. Legal suit by Hebrew Academy.
By-laws; past presidents honorary directors ten years, can vote.
1976 On new standing committee; Jewish Community Endowment Fund, Marshall
1977 Re-elected Federation representative to Bulletin, three year term.
1978 President, San Francisco Jewish Co muni tv Bulletin.
1980 Capital funds, endowment fund, fundraising committees.
1981 Capital funds, fundraising.
1982 Committee for new Federation building, capital funds, fundraising,
new chairman of Jewish Community Endowment Fund for five years.
1983 Committees: fundraising, ex officio philanthropic fund advisory
committee, officio planning and budget, building investment,
executive, capital funds, overseas, ad hoc committee on Jewish
education- -to study direction an magnitude of Federation's
allocations to Jewish education institutions and evaluate
desirability of this funding pattern. Also, should have
long-range study of Jewish education?
Endowment fund to have two -phase grant process because of large
capital funds outlay from corpus to Home, Schulz Center, day
schools and maybe new building. New policy: Federation proposals
must go to executive committee first before going to full
endowment committee for approval . Three subcommittees : culture
and public affairs, education and youth, family and health care.
Newhouse Foundation turned over to endowment fund.
1984 With L. Myers, R. Kaufman, and B. Lurie, met with UJA/CJF leaders at
quarterly meeting. Asked to wait before visiting other cities to
present Federation's concerns re Jewish Agency.
1988 Federation board, chairman of endowment fund development,
of ad hoc committee on "Who is a Jew."
1989 Executive committee, capital funds committee, vice-chairman,
I THE SWIG FAMILY
[Interview 1: July 9, 1991 J//// 1
Aronovitz and Swig Relatives
Glaser: I want to ask you about your great - gr andparents , because you told
me that you knew them when they were in their nineties.
Swig: All four of them were, on both sides, and I remember them only
with a vision of having known them and having seen them. I can't
even identify where I did see them. I can remember the room, but
I can't remember their faces.
Glaser: Tell me about your maternal grandparents.
Swig: My maternal grandparents, I believe, came to this country about
the middle to late 1870' s. I think they were from Kiev, or in
that general area, although I'm not sure. My grandfather was in
the furniture manufacturing business. I don't know what business
he was in prior to that, but when I remember him that's what he
Glaser: What was the family name?
Swig: The family name was Aronovitz. My grandmother's name was Ida, and
my grandfather's name was Hyman. Matter of fact, in their later
life they lived on a street called Gibbs Street in Boston, which
was the same street that the Kennedys lived on. Joe Kennedy lived
on that street and John Kennedy, who was my age, lived and was
brought up on that street, although I didn't know him.
Glaser: Would there have been any interaction between the two families?
Swig: No, there was none to my knowledge.
] This symbol (//#) indicates that a tape or segment of tape has begun
or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see the end of this transcript.
Glaser: The Irish didn't talk to the Jews?
Swig: [laughter] Yes, they did talk to the Jews, of course they did, and
my grandfather was very good friends with many of the Irish
politicians of that day. Dan Coakley, for instance, my
grandfather's friend in politics was an extremely good friend, and
his son Gael was a good friend of my father's. So Irish did talk
to the Jews in those days. Although I'd get beaten up on by the
Irish kids in my day, but I stopped that by fighting back and
beating up on a few of them. That kind of stopped that nonsense.
But my maternal grandparents were lovely people. My
grandmother was about five foot tall. My grandfather might have
been 5*4", 5 '5", or 5 '6", or something like that. Not a big man.
Nice man, very quiet person. We celebrated many Passover Seders
at their home. They lived about two blocks from the synagogue
where I had my bar mitzvah and attended services in that
Glaser: Were they married in this country?
Swig: Yes, I believe so.
Glaser: Were they born in this country?
Swig: No, they were not born in this country. They came over quite
young from I think the Kiev area. And there were seven children.
There were six girls and one boy. And I still have the youngest,
my Aunt Miriam. She's four years older than I am. She came late
in life. She's still alive. I talked to her this morning.
Glaser: Still in the Boston area?
Swig: She lives down the Cape in Boston. I've forgotten the name of the
town. Her husband is ninety and she is going to be seventy-eight
next month, and they are getting along fine. In fact, my wife and
I visited with them the end of May and spent a night in their
house, just this year. She is doing just fine, although at ninety
he's slipping a little bit.
The daughters were quite musical. When they were young they
used to have concerts in their house. One of the girls played the
bass viol. Another girl played the piano. My mother was a
concert violinist. She wasn't at that time but became one. And
they used to have their trios play, and the mother and the father -
-and I have a picture at home showing itwould be sitting there
and the girls would be playing. It was all very nice.
Benjamin H. Swig (second from right, front row) and
his family, circa 1903.
Glaser: Did they work after they graduated from high school or was that
not done at that time?
Swig: I don't believe they did. I don't think they did. My mother said
in those days they didn't allow women in the symphony orchestras,
only men. But there was a Jordan Hall in Boston, still very well
known and very famous. And she played in that orchestra at Jordan
Hall. There was a famous band leader by the name of Leo Reisman,
who played society- type music in New York. And my mother's claim
to fame was she was the first fiddle and he was second fiddle. So
that always pleased her very much.
But I remember her playing when I was a young kid, a young
kid being three, four, five years old. And then, for some reason,
she gave it up. She loved music and she adored it. She went to
symphonies regularly. In fact, all the girls loved their music
and attended Symphony Hall. None of them, however, ever made a
career out of it. The closest, I guess, that anyone came to it
was my Aunt Gert, a younger sister to my mother. Her husband had
a very fine voice and sang, and she used to accompany him on the
piano. He used to do concerts once in a while.
Glaser: Was this a close family?
Swig: Very. Very close.
Glaser: Did you do a lot of things with the family?
Swig: Yes. I can remember one summer at a beach outside of Boston with
my Aunt Flora, the oldest sister, and my mother, whose name was
Mae. We took a house together for the summer, July and August I
guess it was. And we did that regularly. My cousin Ruthie, a
girl who is twenty- five days younger than I am, and I were
together. We were more like brother and sister than cousins. We
were that close. In fact when I was about fourteen or fifteen I
belonged to a fraternity in high school, and I wasn't allowed to
take out girls because I was too young. But the fraternity had a
dance so I'd take my cousin to the dance. She was my date. And
to this day we are very close. Ruthie lives in Long Island and
has lived there for must be forty- five years or more. We see each
other regularly in New York when I go there . We talk to each
other on the phone. We love each other dearly.
Glaser: You sound like someone who has strong family feelings,
Swig: Anyway, our relationship was very good, very close, and very warm
and still is. As I told you, my aunt who lives in Boston, down
the Cape in Boston, is only four years older, so the three of us
were thrown together a great deal. And the sisters were as close
as any sisters could be, all of them. Miriam, this youngest one,
is many years younger than the rest of the family, so she was like
another cousin and was thrown together with us.
My grandmother, of course, was the matriarch of the family
on my mother's side. A strong woman who ran things with a strong
iron fist and was a great influence on the whole family and a
wonderful, brilliant influence.
Was your family as close to your father's family as to your
No, I wouldn't think so, because you know the mothers tend to have
more of an influence in that regard than do fathers . But we were
close on my father's side, and I used to see my uncles and aunts
regularly. I spent time alone with my grandparents on my
Tell me their names please.
Simon Swig and Fanny.
Tell me first about Fanny. What was she like?
Well, she was a fairly large woman, tall, not a terribly
attractive woman. A very nice person, quiet, good cook. My
grandfather used to play pinochle and he was a dominant
individual. So she'd have the people over on Sundays, and the
family would come over, and everybody would sit around and play
cards, which my grandfather dearly loved, as did his sons. She
kept the family very well together.
As I say, I spent time alone with her and my grandfather at
their home, both the one in Hull outside of Boston and the one
that they had in another part later in life. I was then about
thirteen or fourteen. And I spent a couple of weeks with them, I
remember, down there. I remember my grandfather beating me in
checkers. [laughter] The guy was a wiz. I thought I was really
good but he would knock me out. In a few plays I was gone, he was
that good. He loved to play pinochle. I learned to play
pinochle, of course, with him and my father and this gentleman who
was a great influence on my father, Joe Ford. Joe loved pinochle
too. So I was brought up in the game of pinochle. In Boston we
played it a lot. I don't see it much elsewhere, or at least
around here .
Glaser: What kind of an influence did Joe Ford have on the family?
Swig: Well, Joe and his wife, whose name was Clara, were born in the old
country, came here quite young. He started a manufacturing
company that made inexpensive ladies' underwear sold to places
like Grant, Woolworth, Kresge, Sears, and places like that. It
did a tremendous business and had a fine reputation. He was the
kind of man who loved people.
He had no children. He put more children through college
than any person you've ever heard of, mostly children of his
employees. He treated them like part of his family. I remember
during the 1939 World's Fair in New York he closed down the plant,
took everybody by bus, took them all to New York. I think they
spent a week at the World's Fair in New York, and they came back
and went back to work. That was the kind of a man he was.
Interestingly enough, they were never unionized because he paid
them more than the unions would pay them. So they never
unionized. They loved and worshipped this man like a god.
He treated everyone like an individual , and this was also
true in his charitable giving. He taught my father, I'm sure,
much about charity. My father was a charitable person, obviously,
but this man was in a class by himself. He was this unusual
Incidentally, he and my father were two of the founding
fathers of Brandeis University. Brandeis, as you know, is just
outside of Boston, the next town to where I was brought up, in
Newton. It was called Middlesex Medical School, and it was a
flop. It wasn't an accredited school. That campus became
available right after World War II. In 1948, the same year that
Israel was founded, so was Brandeis University founded. And two
of the founding fathers were Ben Swig, living here in San
Francisco, and Joe Ford living in Boston. And both were on the
board until my father left the board early. But Joe was on the
board until he died at age ninety- three. I succeeded my father on
that board and still am on it. I don't go to very many meetings
these days, but I am still on that board. We have a very soft
and warm spot in our hearts for Brandeis, obviously.
And this guy Ford was one of those people who turned people
on with his charitable affairs and did a lot. He gave money to
Tufts. He gave money to Northeastern, Brandeis. A little bit to
Harvard, not much. But those are the things that he was
interested in. And, of course, Jewish affairs.
Simon SWJE and His Children
Glaser: Let's go back and talk about your grandfather, Simon Swig.
Swig: Incidentally, I have a new grandson. He's a little over a month
old. His name is Simon.
Glaser: How nice, and Mazel Tov.
Swig: My son who lives in New York just had this child a little over a
month ago, June 5th, and named him Simon. I happened to have had
a few things in my house that I took back. One written in 1905 by
Simon Swig that says "With Affection, Simon Swig". And it's a
book having to do with his days in the legislature in Boston. I
brought it to the new Simon so that someday he'll be able to see
that, among some other things. I had pictures of my grandfather
with Calvin Coolidge. He'll have that.
My grandfather was quite a character. He came to this
country in 1876. Carried a pack on his back door -to -door to earn
a living. Married Fanny when he was, I think, eighteen. They had
eleven children, eight boys and three girls. My father was the
seventh child. My grandfather developed into a legislator in
Massachusetts. He was president of a bank in Boston. He was very
well-known, very well -respected, and very well -liked generally in
the community. I remember when he died, in 1939 I believe it was,
on my birthday.
Glaser: He died on your birthday?
Swig: On my birthday in 1939. His death was announced over the radio
and the newspapers in Boston, New York and everywhere; he was
acclaimed. He was quite a large civic individual in
Massachusetts, and he ran a good bank. He was so progressive,
however, and being the only Jewish banker around in those days, he
was not looked upon with favor by other bankers. I don't know the
politics of the situation; I was too young to know about it.
Somehow or another the other bankers established a run on the
bank. My grandfather paid off a hundred cents on the dollar, that
I know. And was closed, unfortunately. I know he was crushed by
this and never really rebounded well after that.
Glaser: But he was very active politically.
Swig: Politically he had been very active. Of course by that time he
was in his sixties when this happened, and in those days people
didn't rebound in their sixties like they do today. Somehow or
another he was in the insurance business, and he just never really
did a lot thereafter. Incidentally, he had a beautiful home in
Roxbury, Massachusetts right down the street from where I was
born. He had collections of old estate things, and he enjoyed and
liked that. He had things in that home that were simply
magnificent. And in that big home he had down in Hull he used to
have clambakes for all his political friends. As a matter of
fact, just recently somebody who called me, or wrote me a letter,
from Boston, had heard that my grandfather had collected some
things from the Lawson estate way back. And I remembered that
because I remembered seeing some of it in encrusted insignias. I
turned them over to a cousin of mine who is older than I am, and
she recalls enough of it to help this man out, talking about the
Lawson estate. So it was pretty well known that he was a pretty
good collector. He was a remarkable guy and quite a wonderful
Glaser: Tell me about some of your father's siblings.
Swig: Okay. The oldest was Louis Swig and Uncle Lou was a lawyer and
judge in Taunton, Massachusetts, where they lived. His oldest
son, his only son, Irving, lives in Hawaii today. Retired.
Irving is at least a couple of years older than I am. He had an
older sister, Sydell, who passed away some years ago of cancer.
And a younger sister also passed away just a couple of years ago
from cancer. So Irving is the only one living out of that side of
the family, plus their children. At least of my generation he's
the only one. There were three children. But Louis was a very
well -respected, highly- regarded individual who died,
unfortunately, very young. He had brain cancer and he died. I
think he was only forty-nine years old, but by that time he had
accomplished much in his life.
Another guy in the family, an older brother of my dad's, was
a fellow named Hyman, a dentist. He gave up his practice when
prohibition went out and formed a new company and went into the
wholesale liquor business. Represented Seagrams and other brands,
I guess, until he died. He died before my father did, several
years. I can't remember when exactly. He was in his late
seventies when he passed away.
Another brother, Hirsch, was in the real estate business.
Younger than my dad. Very sound, very good business man. Lovely
guy, full of hell. Active politically, not running for office,
but in his activities and support of candidates he was a very
active guy in Boston.
Glaser: Did they all remain Republicans like their father?
Swig: No, Hirsch was a Democrat I think. My father was a Republican
until 1952, although I know he voted for Roosevelt. But he
registered until 1952 as a Republican. The others, I really don't
know, I imagine they were Republican. But, I think they voted
for Roosevelt when he came in; but most people did in those days.
My grandfather had an idiosyncracy. He named the tail end of his
children-- Let's see there was Howard Roosevelt, Hirsch McKinley
[laughter] after the president, my father's name was Benjamin
Harrison after the president, George Dewey after Admiral Dewey. I
think that was it. Those were the political names that my
grandfather picked for his children.
Glaser: And the female names?
Swig: Females were not named politically. And the older ones- -Louis and
Hyman and Izzy and Eddie- -all those brothers were not named for
politicians. I think probably my father might have been the first
one, and the rest of them below him were.
Glaser: Do you get the feeling that immigrants were more American than
Swig: Oh, I'm sure they were. They had to prove, the Americans didn't.
Glaser: That's right. And very civic minded I would think.
Swig: Very civic minded. My grandfather, as I say, was a very active
political guy and a very active civic guy.
Glaser: Now tell me about your father. Where was he educated?
Swig: He was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, and went through high
school in Taunton. He sold newspapers on a train from Taunton to
Glaser: That sounds like Thomas Edison.
Swig: Somewhat like it. They all used to wear newspapers in their shoes
to keep them from getting soaked. They were poor. You know,
eleven children in those days, that was a lot. But my grandfather
did pretty well. As I say, he came in with a pack on his back and
then progressed through all these various things and later on
became president of the bank. My father went one year to college,
I think it was Suffolk University, and then joined the bank. At
age twenty- three, he became the youngest treasurer of a bank in
the country at that time. I don't know whether it's since or not
but at least at that time. He was very good, and he was very
astute. An interesting story- -you've heard of the Ponzi scheme?
Swig: There's a book somewhere--! have it but I haven't located it yet.
I want to give it to my grandson. My grandfather was one of those
who exposed Ponzi. He wasn't the only one. But Ponzi came to his
bank, and my grandfather was suspicious of what he saw and what
was going on and reported it to someone. And part of the evidence
given by my grandfather caused Ponzi to be apprehended.
Glaser: What was the Ponzi scheme?
Swig: The Ponzi scheme was that I have this piece of metal and I sell it
to you for a dollar. And then I take it to somebody else and sell
it for a dollar, and to somebody else and so forth. You keep
adding on. You get the dollar from the first guy, and you go to
the second guy and you pyramid it. And there is no substance
Glaser: Was it selling or was it investing?
Swig: I think it was probably investing. Yes, it was investing. And
you keep pyramiding it. It's called the Ponzi scheme to this day.
He was the initiator of that scheme. What he did with my
grandfather I can't tell you; I don't remember. But my
grandfather became suspicious of him and turned him over to the
proper authorities. They already, I guess, had some record on him
but this helped to expose him. It was written up in some journal
or some book about him doing this and it's a matter of public
record. My grandfather was in the bank at that time when he did
it, and he exposed Mr. Ponzi and his scheme and helped to get him
Benlamin Swig's Businesses
Glaser: When your grandfather gave up the banking business, or it gave him
up, what did your father do?
Swig: My father went into the real estate business and became a partner
in the firm called Henry W. Savage Company at 1333 Beacon Street
in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was very successful in his
business. He was in with two men, one by the name of Curtis the
other by the name of Tucker. They just did very well in their
business. They were a very highly- regarded, successful firm.
Then along came the Depression and the Depression hit everybody
very, very hard. The real estate business stopped almost totally.
There was just nothing doing.
My father left the real estate business after a while, when
he couldn't make any money at it. He lost everything in the stock
market at the crash of '29, he and all his family, and opened up a
store. It was a forerunner of what we now call a discount house
today. It wasn't quite as stark as the so-called Price Clubs that
we see, but it was that type of thing. A little more refined than
that, but not much. It had clothing, it had hardware, homeware, a
supermarket, drugs, soda fountain type of food.
Glaser: Were these concessions?
Swig: They were all concessions.
Swig: It was called the Giant Store and was in Lowell, Massachusetts.
It was an old mill building that had gone out of business when all
the mills in New England went south and left great unemployment
and real serious problems in each of those cities. Lowell,
Lawrence, Have rhill- -all those places were severely damaged
economically by the movement south. The building was a relatively
new mill building, but it was still an older building. It was
remodelled and fixed up and made into a store. It had parking in
the back, and it was the type of building that we now take for
granted around here, but in those days it was quite novel.
The store was moderately successful. It was a living, and
that's about all. But for the Depression, when people were
raising families on thirteen and fourteen dollars a week, you know
things were real tough. On one of the floors in the upper part of
the building, I remember, they used to have WPA [Works Progress
Administration] working there. You don't know what WPA is do you?
Glaser: Oh yes I do.
Swig: WPA was working a whole floor. They were selling aprons, I think,
ladies aprons, or cotton goods of some sort. Putting them
together. And they were paid- -that's why I remember them--
fourteen dollars a week that those ladies were making at that
time. And incidentally, it's not a bad idea for today if we put
some more people to work instead of letting them sit home and do
nothing while they're getting the money. That's another story.
But the store was moderately successful and made a living, and we
stayed there until we moved out here in 1946.
Glaser: Then it must have been more than moderately successful.
Swig: Well, it did quite well but it changed and we'll get into that
later after you ask me more about my personal life because I was
involved in the store later on.
II EARLY YEARS IN BOSTON
Born July 31. 1917
Glaser: All right. Let's talk about your education and your early years.
And tell me about your siblings.
Swig: I started out being raised until about age four or five in
Roxbury, Massachusetts, where I was born. We lived in an
Glaser: I thought you told me you were born in Boston.
Swig: That is Boston. It's a section of Boston called Roxbury. I was
born in a hospital somewhere in Boston, I don't know where. I
probably was told, but it's long since gone so I never did see it
Raised in this town, suburb, part of the city of Boston where my
grandfather lived up the street not far away. Where my
grandfather, incidentally, caused to be built an Orthodox
synagogue called the Crawford Street Synagogue. I was born on
Crawford Street, number twenty -two. I told you I could remember
numbers; I can't remember names.
Then we moved to a section of Boston called Jamaica Plain.
There we lived for a couple of years, I guess. It was at that
time, and living in that house, that the bank closed. Then we
moved to a place called Brighton, another suburb of Boston,
another section. There, Betty, my sister, was born in 1923. I
was in grammar school there, at that time.
Shortly thereafter we moved back to another part of Jamaica
Plain, right down the street from a very well-known mayor by the
name of James Michael Curley, with whose kids I played when I was
a youngster. And it was there, in that period, that my brother
Richard was born in 1925 .
Incidentally, Joe Alioto's present wife, Kathleen, was
brought up a block and a half away from that particular part of
Jamaica Plain many years later. And today we talk about it.
lived a street over and a half a block up. Interesting.
As I said, Curley lived at the head of the street facing what
is called Jamaica Pond, a well known pond in the suburb of Boston.
And his kids, a couple of them were close to my age and we played
together as kids. A very sad part of that family is that most of
the kids died very young: were killed in accidents, one thing or
another, illness. I don't think there are too many of them, if
any, left. He was the famous mayor who became a congressman who
served his congressional term, in part, in jail.
Glaser: He was supposed to have been quite a character.
Swig: He was quite a character, [chuckles] Not the most honest guy in
the world. My grandfather, incidentally, was a very close friend
of a man by the name of Coakley, Dan Coakley. And Dan Coakley was
the politician who was not a very good friend of Mr. Curley, and
therefore my grandfather was not a very good friend of his. It's
interesting how later on we lived near each other.
Glaser: Well, if your grandfather was not a friend of Mayor Curley, did
things happen to you?
Glaser: He was very powerful, wasn't he?
Swig: Yes, powerful but not that powerful. I can't tell you what the
implications were because I was too young to know.
Glaser: And you mentioned the Kennedys also.
Swig: Well the Kennedys lived near my grandmother in a town called
Brookline, Massachusetts. Which is a suburb of Boston, not a part
of Boston. It was an independent town. And they lived on a
street called Gibbs Street. Joseph Kennedy lived nearby and John
Kennedy, who was my age, lived in that house with his folks
although I didn't know him at that time. I knew him much later on
when he was senator and then president. I didn't know them at
that time . Although he was my age , we never bumped into each
other. He went to Harvard. I went to Brown. We had nothing to
do with each other and never saw each other. Much later on we
met, but that's just a coincidence that they happened to live on
the same street. And the Irishmen do talk to the Jews as I
mentioned about Coakley. But that Irishman didn't talk to many
Jews I believe. [laughter]
The Coakleys were dear friends of my family, my grandfather
starting out. And Gael Coakley, the son of Dan, was a good friend
of my father's until the day that he died. They were powerful
political folks, the Coakleys, and very well known too, even
though they opposed Mr. Curley. Anyway, that is the background of
their political life around Boston and the association with the
Kennedys, which was not an association.
Glaser: We were talking before this about you and your siblings. There's
quite an age difference. Did that keep you from being close?
Swig: I was not as close to them as they were close. They were two
years apart and I was six years and eight years older, so you
know, you don't have as much in common. We were close, obviously,
but not to the same extent that they were close. Because of the
age difference. I was in school when they were born. I was in
high school when they were in grammar school. I was in college
when they were still in grammar school. And so you know it's
quite a swing.
Glaser: Tell me about your religious training and your schooling.
Swig: I was bar mitzvah and went to Hebrew School under difficulty.
There was no temple; we were living in Newton. That was before
they had a temple; they have them now. I had to go a long way to
Hebrew School and get training for my bar mitzvah. My mother's
parents were Orthodox and we had a kosher home until I was about
fourteen. But my grandmother finally got religion and decided we
didn't have to do it anymore. So I had that kind of atmosphere in
I went to grammar school in the Boston area until the sixth
grade, when we moved to Newton. Newton is another suburb of
Boston and an independent city, called the Garden City. Beautiful
homes, lovely place, good area. We moved there in 1927, I was
then ten. I was in the sixth grade, or fifth grade I guess. I
went through grammar school and then Newton High School and then
went to Brown University from high school. I was only a fair
student. I was much more interested in athletics. I played on
the football team, I was on the track team, I was on the baseball
team, and that sort of thing. That was far more important to me
than studying, I guess.
Glaser: Did you win letters? Did they give out letters in your school?
Swig: Yes. I sure did. Yes. And I was a pretty good athlete. I made
all -scholastic team in football and that sort of thing. You know
when you get home from football you're pretty tired, pretty hard-
workout, and it's hard to stay up and study and work.
Glaser: But did you have favorite classes and subjects?
Swig: Yes. In spite of what I've told you, I had three years of Latin
and four years of French, English subjects of course, and history.
I took all the courses. I wasn't particularly good at them, but
I did well enough. My Latin teacher, one of them, was a teacher
by the name of Johnson who was terrific. I used to like him. I
had a math teacher, and math was one of my pretty good subjects,
by the name of Tommy Walters. He was the golf coach. Tommy
Walters. Actually, I remember two very good English teachers.
One was Miss Weatherly, and then my senior year I had a wonderful
English teacher by the name of Smith, and she really turned me on.
But I worked hard in my senior year because I had to get ready to
go to college, and I had to turn it on a little bit. So I studied
a little harder and did a little better.
Glaser: Because of the Depression years, did you have to work when you
went to college or was your family at that point prosperous?
Swig: I worked both in high school and college. I used to sell
magazines door -to -door and shovel snow and do anything I could to
get a few bucks because we didn't have very much money. My
father, I think I told you, lost his home in 1932 and we moved
from pillar to post in that general area of Newton where I lived.
And so if I needed any money, or wanted any money, I had to go out
and sell the magazines or shovel snow.
We used to get fifty cents to seventy- five cents to shovel
big driveways and front walks. That was a lot of money for us.
So we did that, and I'd get some commission, I've forgotten what
it is now, for selling subscriptions to magazines like Good
Housekeeping and that sort of thing.
In college I washed dishes and waited on table to make a
living. And that was worth a big sum of seven dollars and fifty
cents a week, but I got my meals for free so I didn't pay the
seven- fifty. I had a little dry cleaning route on the side, and I
made a few bucks shooting crap. [laughter] Wherever I could find
Glaser: Let me go back to your high school days. What was your social
Kind of quiet. I wasn't allowed to go out up until age sixteen.
I belonged to a high school fraternity and we used to have our
fraternity dances and my cousin Ruthie, my mother's sister's
daughter who was my age , was my date up until the time I was
sixteen. And I had another cousin on my fathers side, Barbara
Swig, who used to be a date on occasion too.
You make it sound as if your parents were very strict with you.
Well, they were strict in that regard. But that wasn't terribly
unusual in those days. People were more strict and didn't allow
kids out socializing until they were fifteen, sixteen years old.
In my case it was sixteen.
You probably didn't have much money for that anyway.
I didn't have any money then or later. [laughter] So I couldn't
do too much anyway.
Tell me why you chose Brown University.
My high school football coach went to Brown. An interesting
thing, I had a possibility of a scholarship at USC [University of
Southern California] and I said, "California? Three thousand
miles away?" In those days, you know, that was so far away. I
hadn't been out of Boston, I don't think. So I turned that down
quickly, and I had another chance at North Carolina State, I think
it was. But my high school coach worked on me. He was what they
call a Brown Ironman, which was the 1926 football team. And he
said, "Come on down. I want you to meet Tuss McLaughery, the
coach, and I'll introduce you to the dean of admissions, Bruce
Bigelow." And so I did.
My marks weren't as good as they should have been so the dean
said, "You'll have to take college boards," which was like an SAT
type thing in those days that you may remember. So I said, "Okay,
I'll work on it." I went to a cram school. I studied and I
worked my butt off, and I passed my exams and did okay, and they
accepted me at Brown. So I went to Brown and loved it, enjoyed it
What was Providence like in those days?
Not too damn much different from what it is today. [laughter]
What is it like today?
Well, Providence is a mill town, was a mill town,
manufacturing town as well, costume -type jewelry.
It's a jewelry
It was a pretty
good city. The school is up on a hill. There it is [points to
large photograph on the wall]. You really didn't have too strong
a relationship with downtown unless you wanted to. And the part
that was up on the hill was a very attractive older residential
section, most of which is made up into Brown. And it's expanded
quite a lot since then. It's just a very fine place and a
wonderful place to go to school. In those days it was about an
hour from Boston. You could take the train in about forty minutes
Glaser: Oh, you lived at home?
Swig: No, I lived at school. I lived in a fraternity house. But I say
it was that close to Boston. It was about three hours or three
and a half hours by train to New York. It was very convenient and
very well located. It was a good, fun town. It was attractive.
It's not a rich town. Today there are a lot of places outside of
Providence that are very attractive. Newport, Rhode Island, is
one of the top places in the country. We never got over to
Newport; that was out of our league.
Again, I didn't have much money and I couldn't do a lot of
the things. You know it was still part of the Depression and
things weren't so good. My father had to pay tuition. Then it
was four hundred dollars for the year, and he had to scrape up
four hundred dollars , but I had to help him scrape it up by
working. Oh, incidentally, I worked in one of those drug stores
that my father owned at one time. I worked there a couple of
summers, behind the soda fountain. I was too young, so they only
let me work part-time. So I worked making seven, eight, six
dollars a week.
I bought ray first suit of clothes after I got paid one day.
I was walking down the street in downtown Boston. A friend of my
father's owned a clothing store there. He grabs me by the
shoulder and pulls me in says, "You want to buy a suit?" I said,
"You're too expensive." He says, "I'll give you a deal." So I
paid seven dollars and bought a suit, [laughter]
Glaser: A whole suit, my goodness.
Swig: I've always remembered that. Anyway, things were difficult but it
was a good experience.
Glaser: But how could you afford to live in a fraternity house if you were
working your way through?
Swig: Well, I waited on table in the fraternity house.
Glaser: Oh, In the fraternity house, I see.
Swig: Yes. I washed dishes one week and waited on table the next week
and I paid my way through.
Glaser: And you had time for sports also?
Swig: Well, I did. I played hockey in college and I played football.
Glaser: You were one of the star players on the hockey team, weren't you?
Swig: Well, I wasn't that good. I was pretty good. But I only went two
years to college, incidentally. I went two years because I wanted
to get into business and make some money. So I left school. I
was then going with a girl whom I had met at summer camp as a
counselor up in Maine. That had an effect on me which is
unfortunate, because I probably shouldn't have left school. But I
The Giant Store
Swig: I went to work, and I went to work in the Giant Store. This man,
Joe Ford, lent me ten thousand dollars to go into business and
become one of the concessionaires in the clothing department. And
we hired a guy who was the with the W.T. Grant Company who taught
me the business. I was then a young kid. I was twenty, I guess,
and I went into business. I learned the business, and I worked
hard at it. I worked morning, noon, and night. The store was
open five nights a week. Opened at nine -thirty, closed at nine.
Glaser: You were there for twelve hours?
Swig: I was there the whole time. Except Wednesdays when it closed at
one o'clock, I guess. So I didn't go in on Wednesdays. I went
downtown to Boston to do the shopping for the store. Oh, and
Friday and Saturday nights it was open until ten, and I worked
from nine -thirty in the morning. Well, the store opened then but
I was there earlier, obviously. I worked twelve, thirteen hours a
day in the store, and I had to drive an hour to and an hour from.
Anyway, I didn't know any better. It seemed like a way of life,
and that's what I did. But I worked hard, and we made great
progress. Finally we took over more departments, and I ran the
whole store and did the whole thing.
Glaser: Are you saying you took over the whole store from your father?
Swig: Yes, my father had long since gone. He had a woman in charge at
that time. He went back into the real estate business at that
time. Let's see, he worked from 1932 to 1935 or 1936 in the
store, I guess, '35 maybe. Then he went back into the real estate
business. Things started to pick up a little bit by that time.
That's where he met, and how he met, Jack Weiler.
Glaser: Who is Jack Weiler?
Swig: Jack Weiler became my father's partner in 1936. That's fifty-
five years ago from now, and they're still partners. In fact,
you'll see a message here. A Mr. Jack Weiler just called me a
little while ago. "At 4:23 p.m., Mr. Weiler called."
Glaser: It certainly sounds as if you paid your dues.
Swig: Yes, but it was good experience. When I look back on it now it
was great experience. It taught me discipline. It taught me to
do the right thing, be on the ball, and be creative. And I
learned about business. I learned it the hard way, but I learned
it, and I think I learned it pretty well. The experience of
working those hours makes the hours I work now seem like nothing,
although I work almost as many hours today as I did then. I'm
here in the office at seven- thirty , quarter of eight in the
morning. I don't leave here until five -thirty, six o'clock at
night. But now I'm not working so much on business as I do
outside activities: civic, charitable, and that sort of thing.
But it's worth it, nonetheless.
III MARRIAGE AND MILITARY SERVICE
Married to Phyllis Diamond. 1939: U.S. Armv. 1945
Glaser: You were married in 1939. Whom did you marry?
Swig: I was married in 1939 to that girl, unfortunately, that I'd met
that summer at summer camp .
Glaser: What was her name?
Swig: Her name was Phyllis Diamond. We had two children, Steve, who
works here with me now, and Judy, who unfortunately passed away at
age twenty- six from cancer. That was 1975, so it's been a long
time. But the marriage failed. Well, in between I went in the
service, in the army, World War II.
Glaser: What year did you go into service?
Swig: I went in 1945, went in kind of late because my son was a pre-
Pearl Harbor birth. At least he was created before the war and he
was born May of 1942, and I went in at the beginning of '45. I
spent a year in the army, and the war ended, and I was lucky
enough to get out.
Where did you take your training?
I took basic training in Macon, Georgia, in the infantry. This is
a cute story. I had an I.Q. of a wild- eyed genius in telegraphy.
Don't ask me why, I don't know. Probably because I'm good with
numbers and it's dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash. And I guess I
could count pretty well.
Glaser: I think your being good in languages would help you too.
Swig: Well maybe that had something to do with it. But whatever it was,
I was a wild-eyed genius. I was very good in the rest of my
exams, but in telegraphy I was a genius, wild- eyed genius. I was
a genius the other way but a wild- eyed genius in telegraphy. So
what did they put me in? The infantry. [laughter] So I was a
soldier boy, and I went from basic training, where I was selected
number one out of a thousand men to go to O.C.S. [Officer
Candidate School] . And of course it was in the infantry.
Glaser: At Fort Benning?
Swig: Fort Benning. I went to infantry school there. I was a good
Glaser: Was it rough?
Swig: Yes, it was tough. But, you know, it was like working the way I
did in college. I had a good experience. I took everything they
could throw at me and I did well. That was a confidence builder
if I needed it, and I probably did. It was a tough experience,
but the experience was good.
Glaser: Did you run into anti-Semitism when you were in the army?
Swig: No, I did not. My best friend in the army was a guy by the name
of Dick Rebello. Dick was a fire chief in Providence, Rhode
Island, as it turned out later on. Matter of fact, shortly before
he died he was out here visiting with me. Another fellow I was
friendly with was a fellow named Eddie Epstein. He was Jewish.
We still correspond once in a while to this day. He became a
lawyer. He's in Washington, D.C. He was in the rag business at
the time. He was making ladies' sportswear in New York [laughter]
and he wound up being a lawyer in Washington afterwards.
Out of Officer's Training School
Swig: But the experience was solid. I did well. I was a good soldier.
My fellow men and my superiors liked me. In fact, I decided not
to take a commission in the army because the war had ended by this
time, and they wanted us to stay in an extra two years, I think it
was. I had a wife and a kid, and I didn't feel like I wanted to
do that. I had a hell of a time trying to get out of the army
because my record was too good. They said, "We spent all this
money on you and now you want to leave us . "
Glaser: Did you have to have a certain number of points to get out?
Swig: Yes, you did. But I didn't get out at that time. I just got out
of O.C.S. at that point. So I had been in for about twelve, I
think, of the sixteen weeks. I had already been fitted for
uniforms by this time. I went to my platoon leader and said, "I
want to get out, sir." And he said, "You can't do it. You're too
good a soldier. We can't lose you after we've done all this for
you." He said, "You'll have to see the company commander."
I went to the company commander and I got the same story.
In the meantime, weeks are going by, and so then the company
commander said, "We'll have to take it up to battalion." Well,
some guy up there finally let me out. I said, "Look, I don't want
to flunk out of here. I don't want to ruin my record. I want to
just get out because I've got a wife and a kid. The war is over.
And I don't want to stay in. I've got a business back home, and I
have to get back and run my business." Finally they let me out.
So then I drove trucks, [laughter] They didn't know what to
do with guys like me. There were some others, a fellow name Bill
Sustak from Owatonna, Minnesota. He slept next to me in the
barracks. He became a postmaster in Owatonna, Minnesota. I
haven't seen him. But they had us driving trucks for a while and
experimenting. We were driving through mud, through sand, through
hills, up, down, all over the damn place. So I learned how to
drive a truck.
They finally transferred us over to Leesville, Louisiana,
which was Camp Polk. Leesville before the war was a town of about
twelve hundred, fifteen hundred, two thousand people. It became
the area for a hundred thousand troops during the war. So you can
imagine what happened there. Anyway, I was able to get over
there. I had my car and I drove over, and I had my wife and my
son with me at that point. She wasn't too well.
Swig: So we rented a little house down there. We were part of a surplus
company, if you will, because men were coming back from overseas
and had the points to get out. I did not. One night I had pulled
guard duty, and while I was on guard duty they served us some
coffee. It had some chicory in it, which I didn't realize, and I
drank it. That's what they serve in New Orleans, you know. I
just couldn't stand it. It tasted awful to me. And, gee, pulling
guard duty is not too good, but I had to do it, I had to do it.
So anyway, the next day, as it turned out, they asked for
volunteers to serve as a company clerk. You had to type and you
had to do whatever they asked you to do. I volunteered. Now,
you're not supposed to volunteer in the army. That's the last
thing you do. But I volunteered because I didn't want to pull
this guard duty and have this chicory coffee . So I became the
Part of my job being the company clerk was typing up
requests for retirement to get out of the army. I looked at all
these different requests, and I saw which ones were approved and
which ones weren't. I thought I had an idea of what would work
because I had a wife who was ill. Even though she was with me,
she wasn't a well woman. And I wrote back for her record. I sent
the material to a friend of my father's in New York who was a
lawyer because I knew he would know how to do this , and I told
him the general idea. Another friend of my father's was a doctor
and I got the record from him. I sent all this material to the
lawyer, who wrote up a request for retirement. He sent it back
down to me, and I typed up my own request.
Lo and behold, three or four weeks later I get a call from
headquarters company, from this fellow Sustak who was still at the
same camp. He says, "Guess what?" I said, "What?" "You're out."
I said, "You've got to be kidding." He says, "No, you're out."
December 7, 1945. Very auspicious day. At twelve noon, I
was out of the army, with a little discharge button on, in the
car, wife and a kid, bags packed, everything done, on the way back
to Boston. So we drove from Louisiana, up through Little Rock,
Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and then
on to Boston. Finally got home and back to work the next day in
the store in Lowell, Massachusetts. End of career in the army.
But I was a good soldier, and it was not a bad experience.
Fortunately, I didn't get killed and I didn't get wounded and I
didn't go overseas.
Glaser: Did you get injured in O.C.S.? Because that happens.
Swig: No, but you know a lot of guys did. And I saw a couple of guys
killed in basic training. Carelessness, pure carelessness. The
obstacle courses are where accidents happen. You're climbing
things, jumping things, crossing rivers, and getting shot at.
You've got to go through all kinds of training. They put a line
of fire with machine guns over your head and you're crawling
underneath them. You can get hurt doing that. You don't dare
stand up, obviously. You'd get killed. And one guy was killed in
basic training doing that. Another guy got killed on maneuvers
that we went on- -it's a little complicated- -but he got in the
wrong line of fire, stupidly, carelessly. And a guy got killed.
He was a big league ball player. I forgot the name, but he was
It can happen, it does happen in basic training. And O.C.S.
training, which is probably no more rigorous than basic training.
They're both tough. They're both rigorous. I lost thirty pounds
in basic training, and I lost it in the first six, seven weeks. I
weighed more than I have ever weighed in my life, more than I have
ever weighed since. I weighed 191 pounds. I went down to 161
pounds. But I was solid. I was like rock because 1 was in such
good condition. Everybody is.
It was an experience that you don't forget, obviously, and
the discipline is a good example for life. The benefit I had of
being a good soldier was that I had gone to summer camp up in
Maine that I mentioned earlier. I had been a camper and a
counselor at summer camps. And there's a certain amount of
discipline. One of the head counselors of the camp I went to,
when I was a junior counselor, wanted me to go to West Point. He
tried to talk my mother and Dad into it very, very much.
I had a pretty good inclination. Every summer we had two
West Point cadets who were counselors. They had the summer off.
They were allowed one summer off in the four years . They had a
pretty good influence on me because, again, it was discipline, and
they were great guys. I learned to ride, I learned to shoot under
their guidance. And I got pretty good at it. So good that when I
went in the army I was an expert in every weapon- -rifles , machine
guns, no matter what it was --based on the training that I had had.
At this camp, this head counselor, who was a professor at
West Point, wanted me to go to West Point, tried to talk my folks
into it. I turned it down because I had been accepted at Brown by
now, and I decided to go to Brown. And because I had to take
another year of schooling to take the exams for West Point. It
was too late for that year, so I decided not to do it. I guess
I'm glad I didn't. But when I did get in the army, the training
that I had from that discipline made me a good soldier
automatically. I knew what to do, how to do it, and how to do all
the things that you had to do in the army. I was so good at it
that the company commander used to turn the company over to me ,
the acting sergeant, and I'd take over the company and take them
Glaser: For drilling?
Swig: For drill, hikes, whatever we had to do. So the training was
Glaser: One doesn't usually think of a summer camp as being a good basis
for discipline and for training that leads you to doing well in
Swig: Oh, it was, clearly. That camp was, certainly.
Glaser: Well, you give me the impression of whatever the experience is you
look on it in a favorable sense and get the most out of it. You
don't look negatively upon it.
Swig: I'm an optimist, not a pessimist. If I were a pessimist I
wouldn't do half the things I do. I'm always looking forward; I
don't look back. But the experiences of life, those experiences,
build whatever you are and make whatever you are out of you. And
I think they're good experiences when I had these kinds of things
happen to me .
Glaser: That's a wonderful trait to have.
Swig: That's the way I am. Whatever success I've achieved, I think, has
been partly because of that. Mostly because of that. And when I
take on ventures and do things, I'm an optimist. I always believe
we can do them.
Return to Civilian Life. 1945
Glaser: When you went back to Boston and you started up again in the Giant
Store, where were you living?
Swig: I had, by that time, sold ray house, my relatively inexpensive
house. I was living in an apartment in Boston.
Glaser: You told me you were divorced from your first wife.
Swig: Yes, later on.
Glaser: How long were you together before the divorce?
Swig: Twelve years. I was then here in San Francisco. I moved to San
Francisco in August of 1946.
Glaser: Well, why don't we leave that for another time. We'll pick that
Swig: All right. We'll pick it up when we move to San Francisco. I'll
tell you then.
IV SWIG FAMILY MOVES TO SAN FRANCISCO
[Interview 2: July 30, 1991 ]//#
Purchase of Hotels: St. Francis. 1944: Fairmont. 1945: Bellevue.
Glaser: While you were in the army, what was the rest of your family doing?
Swig: Well, my father was transporting himself back and forth from San
Francisco. He had bought the St. Francis Hotel first. And then
in 1945, in March, bought the Fairmont Hotel. So he and my mother
were spending a lot of time in California at that time. My
brother was overseas, in the New Hebrides Islands. They're called
something else now. My brother-in-law, Buddy Dinner, was in the
CBI theater of war.
Glaser: What does that stand for?
Swig: China -Burma -India. Subsequently came back to this country. So we
were all in the service at the same time. Buddy was discharged in
September, October of '45. I was discharged in December of '45.
And Dick didn't get out until March of '46. Maybe it was
February; I'm not sure exactly.
Glaser: When you were discharged, did you go back to managing the Giant
Swig: I did. As a matter of fact, on December 7, 1945, at twelve noon I
was discharged. Two minutes later I was in my car and on the way
back to Boston. I arrived in Boston a few days later and went to
Glaser: Who managed the store while you were in the army?
Swig: I had a partner who had been brought in when I knew I'd have to go
in the service. He was an ex-W.T. Grant man. He became a
partner, and he ran the store while I was gone.
Glaser: Where did you settle in the Boston area when you came back?
Swig: I went back to where I had been living before, which was in a
hotel in downtown Boston.
Glaser: And you had just the one child at that point?
Swig: At that point I had one child.
Glaser: When was your daughter born?
Swig: She wasn't born until 1949.
Glaser: If your father was going back and forth to San Francisco and
returning to Boston, who did he have managing the Saint Francis?
Swig: It was a man by the name of Dan London, who was an old established
member of San Francisco. Well known, and a very fine man. He ran
the hotel on a daily basis.
Glaser: He managed that for years, didn't he?
Swig: A long time.
Glaser: Your father also bought the Bellevue Hotel?
Swig: Yes, but that was quite a lot later,
Swig: The Bellevue Hotel was bought, I'm going to guess, in the late
40' s, early 50' s. Somewhere at that period. Around 1950, '51,
Glaser: You told me that the family took a vote on moving out here, and
your mother said, "Let's go." Does this mean that she had a very
strong voice in the family and was a dominant person?
Swig: She was a strong family woman. She envisioned the possibility of
the family not being together because of the hotels out here, and
the rest of her family and my father's family all being back East.
She said, "Either we all move out together or let's sell the
hotels and go back to Boston." Back being wherever home was and
everything else. In a democratic way she said, "Let's take a
vote. Let's see how we all feel about it."
After I got out of the army, I came out here after the
Christmas season was over. In January of '46 I came out and
spent, I think, three weeks, or something like that, traveling
around this part of the country to find out if I liked it. My
brother was still overseas, and hadn't come back. My brother-in-
law and my sister had been out here. They liked it. They voted
aye . I subsequently voted aye . My folks voted aye . And my
brother didn't get a vote. [laughter] Besides, he was the only
single one. We all agreed to come out.
But that separated your mother from her own family.
It did do that. But it was important to my father, and we all
felt it was a good move to come out here.
Mazor's Store. Oakland
Glaser: When you came out, you started a store in Oakland. Is that right?
Swig: In Oakland, yes.
Glaser: Would you tell me about that?
Swig: Well, my father had invested with a couple of his friends in a
store, called then Mazor's, in Oakland: Harold Baruh and Harold
Goldman, who operated another store in that town called Goldman's.
My father had bought an interest in this particular store with
them, which was a few blocks away. It was a ladies clothing
store. I had been in the retail business back East, but not in
this kind of business. So that seemed like a likely outlet to
continue in the retail business. And so we bought out the Baruh
and Goldman family and bought into this business.
Glaser: Where was the store located?
Swig: Broadway and Fifteenth Street in Oakland.
Glaser: What was Oakland like in those years?
Swig: It was a nice town, a very nice town. We were right in the middle
of the retail district. Kahn's Department Store, which is no
longer in existence, was right across the street. It was
considered a good location.
Glaser: Did that put you near Capwell's?
Swig: Capwell's was up a few blocks, about four or five blocks up the
Glaser: You saw Oakland in its heyday then, didn't you, compared to now?
Swig: Well, I don't know whether it was its heyday or not, because I
think it's become a bigger community today than it was then. It
was a nice community in all, but I wasn't overly enthralled about
working and being in Oakland, I must tell you.
Glaser: Where were you living?
Swig: San Francisco.
Glaser: When you came out here, what was your first impression about San
Swig: Well, I woke up- -on the train in those days, my first visit ever
to California- -I looked out from the windows on the train. I was
in Sacramento and it was in January. I looked through the windows
and looked out at a beautiful blue sky, far bluer than what comes
now. No smog, nothing, just clear blue and green. And looking at
that, after coming out of the East where it was winter time, was a
tremendously wonderful impression. Then I came to San Francisco,
and of course, like everybody else I fell in love with the city.
It's a beautiful city. I went to Los Angeles at that time. Even
in L.A. the skies were clear and blue in those days. There was no
smog yet, and that was a pleasant experience. But I loved being
here in this wonderful city.
Glaser: How long did you have the store in Oakland, Mazor's?
Swig: Until 1950.
Glaser: Did you keep the name, Mazor's?
Swig: No, we changed it. It became a Joseph Magnin store. We made a
deal with Cyril Magnin at that time. He became a partner with us
in the store. We remodelled the store, and we reopened about
1949, I guess it was. And it became a Joseph Magnin store.
Glaser: How long were you there?
Swig: Four years.
From Retail Business to Real Estate
Glaser: What made you change from retail into the hotel business?
Swig: Well, I never was in the hotel business. I went into the real
estate business with my father. My brother went into the hotel
business. I went into the real estate business. And it's still
Glaser: The Swig's have, or perhaps I should say had, a very fine
reputation for hiring refugees, giving them a break in the
Swig: That's true. That's right. My offices were in the hotel until we
had to move here because we didn't have any more room. The Henry
Lewins and Werner Lewins . Our present manager of the hotel is
Herman Weiner, and Herman's been with us for must be close to
forty years. He had been in a concentration camp as a Polish
young man when the war was on. Somehow or other got out alive by
being a slave laborer. There's a number tattooed on his arm and
he's here working at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.
Glaser: I know the Lewins were in Shanghai.
Swig: And the Lewins were in Shanghai. Hans and Peter Goldman, who
worked for the hotel for years and years, also came out of
Shanghai. And other people, waiters and other folks. And they
all started, incidentally, as waiters or busboys or what have you,
and worked themselves up and did very well and accomplished a
great deal. Good people.
Glaser: I think the family has a fine reputation concerning that.
Swig: You mentioned reputations. One of the nice things I recall along
those lines is a story I was talking to my wife about last night.
Ella Fitzgerald came to play the Venetian Room at the Fairmont
probably around 1950 I'm going to guess. And she always tells
this story to this day. When she played the Fairmont the first
time, it was the first time that she had ever slept in the same
hotel in which she played. Black people were not allowed to do
that. But when she came to play the Fairmont, she had a room at
the Fairmont Hotel and stayed in the Fairmont. She always tells
that story. She's never forgotten it. She's always had a soft
spot in her heart for my dad and the Fairmont Hotel because of
that. Nice Story. To this day she still tells that story.
Glaser: In transferring from retail business to real estate, was there any
difficulty in that adjustment?
Swig: Yes, I had the learning process, a very strong learning process.
I had to learn all about different things. But I had been exposed
to it through my father, obviously, for quite a few years. He'd
been in the real estate business for, well, practically all my
life. So I wasn't unfamiliar with the real estate business, per
se. But it was a learning process.
Melvin and Richard Swig at opening of San Jose Fairmont Hotel, 1987
V JEWISH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Jewish National Welfare Fund. 1948
Glaser: Your first Federation activity, actually it wasn't the Federation
yet. It was the Jewish National Welfare Fund, is that right?
Swig: I think that's what it was called.
Glaser: One gets confused between that and the Jewish National Fund, which
plants trees in Israel. Did you have much contact with the
professionals at that time?
Swig: Oh, yes. I started working for the Federation about 1948, I think
it was. I went through every phase of volunteer kind of work. So
I knew [Sanford] Treguboff, of course originally. He was the
mainstay, or the chief gunner, for many years until [Lou]
Weintraub took over. I went up through the chairs; I became
everything that one does .
Glaser: Who were the lay people you were working with?
Swig: I remember Lloyd Dinkelspiel, Sr. , was around those days. Then
Walter Heller. Of course Walter Haas and Dan Koshland. And I
remember Jake Shemano and Lenore Underwood.
Glaser: I've never come across her name as part--
Swig: She was a judge in San Francisco.
Glaser: And she was active in the Federation?
Swig: Yes, I remember serving on a budget committee with her, among
other things .
Glaser: Now tell me what these people were like whom you've named.
Swig: They were actually great symbols of leadership. They were the
deans of San Francisco in those days. I learned from them. I
watched them. I thought they were very fine people. They treated
me very well. It was quite a wonderful experience because they
were good leaders. They were bright, with-it kind of people. My
father, of course, was among that group. They just led the
community. They took charge. They did by example and by hard
work a lot of good things for this community.
Fundraising and Budgeting
What was fundraising like when you started?
Well, as compared to today, it was chicken feed because things
were a little different then. But I had cards that I called on,
other people that I used to call on, to raise money. I
subsequently, after going through all the chairs, became the
campaign head. Obviously, you have to raise money, and I did a
lot of calling. In those days, if we raised about two and a half
million dollars in the community, that was a pretty good year.
And that was the most that had ever been raised at that time.
But was there a difference in how the money was raised then?
Aside from the end result, was there a difference in the method of
Not really. I mean you go in cycles. Sometimes you do big
dinners , and other times you do parlor meetings , and other times
you do just direct contact and nothing else. We did that. Mostly
we had parlor meetings. We got people into a room and we asked
for money. And we did a lot of personal solicitation which is no
different from what is done today.
Did two people together call on one?
done now .
I think that's the way it's
Swig: You mean work two-on-one? Yes, we tried to do that. We did some
of that. We did one -on- one. We did the parlor meetings. Those
were successful, and we did very well with them at that time. It
doesn't seem like a lot compared to what we're doing now, but it
took the same effort and the same energy then that it does now to
do what we're doing today.
Campaign Chairman, 1969
Glaser: When you were the campaign chairman, was there an orientation
period for the volunteers?
Swig: Yes, we did some training with them. But, you know, what really
happens is that year after year most of the same people do most of
the same work. There are transition periods, but you kind of
break in gradually. By the time you get to be calling cards and
so forth, you've already been doing it for a few years. It was a
smaller community then, too. Everybody knew everybody in town,
pretty much, and you just-- It's your turn to take a card this
year, or it was my turn to take it last year. I still call on
cards on occasion. Not so much today, but it doesn't stop. It
keeps going. So the training part is relatively small. You have
to have new campaign slogans. You have to have new reasons why to
give, and so forth and so on. But basically you know your stuff
when you're going in.
When you started up, did you have a mentor? Did somebody take you
under wing and help you break in?
No, I think it just came about gradually. You get involved. Then
you see what other people doing, and you do your own thing.
Did you ever serve as a mentor?
Some people have accused me of being a mentor to them, but I
haven't recalled doing it as a studied thing.
Did you have help from the United Jewish Appeal in your campaign?
Yes, we did. In those days, as a matter of fact, we had more help
than we seem to be getting today. UJA people came out here more
often and talked to our groups more often than I believe is done
today. We used to hold meetings--! remember meetings in Palm
Springs, meetings here, meetings in Los Angeles- -where all the
communities of the West Coast got together more than they do now.
Although I'm beginning to see some revival of that happening
today. I guess with Brian Lurie going to New York maybe more of
it will happen.
Glaser: He'll bring the local picture to New York?
Swig: I think he'll get it souped up again.
Glaser: Did you achieve your goal when you were the campaign chairman?
Swig: Sure did. We had the best year they ever had at that time. It
was a good year. Now what year it was I don't remember exactly.
Let's see, I was president in '71 -'72, so it must have been in
Glaser: Did you pick the chairmen of the various campaign divisions?
Swig: Well, we worked together. To say that I picked them is not
accurate; Treg and I would go over it. I guess Lou was involved
at that time, he was Treg's assistant, and we'd pick out our
people. And they knew the bodies better than I could know them:
who performed, who didn't perform. And we made selections.
Glaser: What was the role of the Women's Division in your campaign?
Swig: Not very strong. We had one, but it wasn't as strong as it is
Glaser: Was it still, at that time, that if a woman gave over a certain
amount it would go into the main campaign rather than stay with
the Women's Division?
Swig: I don't recall that.
Glaser: Were people still giving more money than before because the State
of Israel was established?
Swig: Oh, I think there's no question that Israel has always been, since
I can recall, a focal point during a drive throughout the years,
and increased as it went along. The strength of it. Once Israel
was established as a state, there was an upbuilding, if you will,
of devotion and giving.
Glaser: There wasn't the need for a second line during your campaign, was
Swig: I can't remember. The years kind of get mixed up as to what went
on. We worked every year, whether we were campaign chairman or
not. There were several years where we had two lines, and I can't
tell you which year it was. I don't remember.
Glaser: I know one year it was the War of '67.
Swig: Sixty-seven clearly was one. There was a big outpouring of people
at that time. Seventy -three as well, I'm sure.
Glaser: During your campaign, what were the local needs? Because you were
also involved in allocations, after your campaign.
Swig: The local needs were not as big as they are now. We gave a much
bigger percentage to UJA than we do now. The Jewish Family
Service Agency, the Centers. Well we didn't have as many Centers
then, the main one being in San Francisco, of course. The
hospital [Mount Zion Hospital], I think we had the Hillel Day
School, the Bureau of Jewish Education, of course. Those are the
ones I remember principally at that time. Oh, the Jewish Home for
the Aged, called the Hebrew Home for the Aged at that time.
Glaser: Probably the orphanage was still in existence then too.
Swig: I don't think so. It was already falling out. Then the national
organizations, of course, were similar to what we have now.
The Budgeting Process
Glaser: What were the budget meetings like?
Swig: Budget meetings were held at the Concordia Club. Went on from
dinner time to all hours of the night. It was kind of long, very
long. You're talking about the final meeting when we allocated?
Swig: Yes, they went on for hours and hours on end.
Glaser: Was there a lot of screaming going on?
Swig: No, it was done rather well. We divided up into various segments:
the nationals and the locals and the overseas . And they were set
up by committees. They were voted on very democratically.
Glaser: Did the subcommittees meet separately before the final meeting?
Swig: Yes. It was all done well and came out pretty good on the whole,
I thought. It was kind of a challenge to make it all add up and
come out. Negotiations took place when the budgets didn't match
the outlays and so forth. It came out fine. It was hard not to
be ritualistic about your own studies, because you'd take a
patriotic view, if you will, of your own department, but you had
to rise above it in the overall picture. Of course, Israel was
the big number. That was the biggest amount of money that we gave
Glaser: Did you have a favorite local agency?
Swig: I had two, probably. The Family Service Agency and Mount Zion
Hospital were probably my favorites.
Mount Zion Hospital
Somebody said to me that Mount Zion was considered the most
prestigious agency of all. Is that true?
It was. We had great pride in Mount Zion Hospital because we had,
obviously, one of the better hospitals in town. That was a day,
of course, when Jewish doctors were not allowed to practice on a
community basis the way they are today. Today you go to any
hospital anywhere in the Bay Area and there are Jewish doctors.
In those days there weren't. So we had great pride in
establishing, for our Jewish doctors, a wonderful hospital. All
that changed over the years.
How do you feel about its merging with the University of
I think it was a good move. I think it was an important move and
one that had to be done, because the whole demographics of San
Francisco changed dramatically over the years. The percentage of
Jewish people in our community diminished, and a lot of other
people moved in. It became a different kind of community. Also,
the rest of the Bay Area built hospitals that were fine and good
hospitals. For instance, down in the Peninsula. Then Stanford
Hospital was built. Sequoia Hospital was built. Other good
hospitals were built. And whereas everybody used to come to San
Francisco to the hospital, they didn't have to come into San
Francisco anymore. So the whole complexion of hospitals changed.
There was, as a result, an over -supply of hospital rooms in
San Francisco. It was an over-built situation. Mount Zion and
all hospitals suffered as a result of it. The recent merger of
Presbyterian with Children's Hospital is a result of some of that.
Mount Zion, Children's, and Presbyterian at one time talked
merger, the three of them, years ago. I was still on that board
at Mount Zion, and they talked merger. It never went through.
There were too many economic problems to make it happen. But
eventually Presbyterian and Children's did merge. Mount Zion
merged with U.C. So it took away the problems. It's like the
banks that are merging today.
That's in disrepute. Don't make that comparison. [laughter]
Yes, but it's in part not dissimilar.
The hospitals cut their expenses. They don't compete one against
the other to the extent that they did then. They don't have to
buy as much equipment. They have cancer in one hospital, a baby
hospital in another part, and so forth and so on. They don't have
to duplicate what amounts to today millions of dollars worth of
equipment. They segment them. It makes for lower expenses.
How long were you on the board of the hospital?
I think it was only about twenty years .
What kind of problems were they having during your term on the
Growing. Very serious problems in the end, financially.
Hospitals, at the beginning of course, were running, I guess, in
the eighties and nineties percent occupancy. It got to a point at
the end, at least when I left, and I left some years ago now, they
were running in the fifties and sixties. Making it very
difficult, obviously, to make both ends meet and supply the first
class kind of hospital that we'd been used to having. There were
some serious economic problems as a result of it. Therefore, the
merger was good, as it was with Presbyterian and Children's.
In the 70' s, you had a lot of governmental help,
funds - -
The Hill -Burton
Yes, there was that, and that evaporated. Then they got into this
new system of the government telling how much you could charge for
a room. Each hospital was competing and having to bid for the
government thing. It became a very competitive thing and profits
were reduced. Mount Zion had more of its population in
government -supported business, and less private business and as a
result was under very severe hardship economically.
Glaser: Aside from the economic hardship that you mentioned, was it a
well -administered hospital?
Swig: Most of the time, yes. We had good administrators. We had a
couple of bad ones, but mostly they were good. I'd say the guy
that's running it now, who came in some years ago, Marty Diamond,
I think has done a very good job.
Jewish Family Service Agency
Glaser: Were you on the board of the Jewish Family Service Agency at the
same time that you were on the hospital board?
Swig: No, prior to.
Glaser: What kind of clients did they have? What were they dealing with?
Swig: They dealt in family problems and there was no hospitalization
involved. It was a semi-psychiatric type thing. It was family
problems and social problems that were totally different from what
a hospital performs. A man by the name of David Crystal came in,
Doctor David Crystal, who recently died incidentally. He did a
super job with Family Service Agency. He was a devoted,
intelligent, bright, lovely person. I admired him very much. I
think he elevated the Family Service Agency very, very much. It
became, and still is, one of the fine institutions of its kind
anywhere. We did a good job. Same old building that they're in
Glaser: On Scott Street?
Swig: On Scott Street, across from Mount Zion.
Glaser: What was it about that agency that made you decide to work with
Swig: I guess somebody asked me. I don't remember. [laughter]
Glaser: So there was no selective factor involved?
Swig: No. I guess I was asked, and I don't remember who it was. It was
such a long time ago. It was early 50 's I guess.
VI MISSION TO MOROCCO AND EUROPE, 1961
Accompanied by John Steinhart and Marshall Kuhn
Glaser: Tell me about your mission to Europe with John Steinhart and
Swig: Let me see, that was '61. I was not the chairman of the drive, and
I don't remember who was. I think John might have been. 1 We were
asked by Treg to go to Europe and go to Vienna to see the Romanian
people being taken out and sent to Israel. We went to Morocco, to
see what was going on with the plight of the Jewish people in that
Arab country. A lot of them were coming out of Morocco and going
to France. We went from Morocco to--
Programs to Aid Moroccan Jews
Glaser: Tell me first what you found in Morocco.
Swig: We landed in Casablanca. We were met there by the Jewish Agency
people. We toured the Jewish section of the city, and the Arab
section of the old part of the city, not the modern part. We went
through the ORT [Organization for Rehabilitation Through Training]
schools. We saw the work of the feeding of the children that was
done by the Jewish Agency there. Kids were fed and clothed at
these little buildings. And to see the way they lived was
unbelievable. Coming from an environment such as we come from and
to see fourteen people in a room living as families with outdoor
toilet facilities and poor education facilities.
To see these kids come to this at least fairly pleasant
environment to be fed, clothed, and taken care of as little
*Richard N. Goldman was 1961 campaign chairman.
children. To see pregnant mothers get their milk there that they
needed for their children, for their own health. To see blind
people taken care of, and there were an awful lot of blind people
with glaucoma, 1 guess it was, or some eye disease that was
prevalent in Morocco, an awful lot of blind people there. And
schools to help educate the kids. You know, it's like this is
what life is all about. This is why we give money. It was a very
good educational process; it was sad to see.
The Jewish folks there on the surface got along okay with
their Arab neighbors. (And the Arabs didn't live much better, I
must tell you, if at all.) But by this time, the people were
starting to come out of Morocco and go to France .
Glaser: Was there a reason for it? Was there any anti-Semitism that
caused them to emigrate, or any political reason?
Swig: Oh yes, there was clearly some anti-Semitism. It wasn't like some
of the other Arab countries, like Egypt, or the Saudis, or the
Syrians, or the Iraqis. I don't believe it was as bad as that,
but it definitely was there and it was difficult. A lot of people
also went to Israel, of course. In fact, I remember when I was in
Israel some years later and saw a plane load of these Moroccan
people coming off. It was very hard for me to see them come to
Israel. We were there in the middle of the night and they were
Glaser: What were the children being taught in the ORT schools?
Swig: Well, some of it was the typical reading and writing type of
thing, but also in those schools they were trained for a trade. I
can't remember what all the trades were at this point. But it
might be leather work. It might have been weaving and other
things like that, so they could be self -productive . So they were
taught all kinds of things. But the good part was that they got
at least two meals a day there. I think they had breakfast and
lunch if I'm not mistaken. 7 \ey had people taking care of them
and cleaning them, because th^y lived under terrible conditions,
awful conditions. That was in Casablanca.
Then we went to Fez and Rabat, which is the capital. I
think that's where the king lives. We spent only a few hours in
each place, so we didn't get to see a lot of that. But I do
remember when we were driving that there were guards and policemen
all over. They were having some internal problems in the
government. They had areas on the road if you went the wrong way
your tires would burst. That type of thing. Guys poking their
machine guns into the car to look around and see what's going on.
It wasn't exactly the most pleasant thing at the time. A little
John H. Steinhart, Melvin M. Swig, Marshall H. Kuhn. American Airlines photograph,
Photograph courtesy of Western Jewish History Center
frightening because you don't know what these people were going to
do, or how they were going to do it. But we did get over to Fez,
which is a much older city. Similar kinds of things but not as
much Jewish concentration there.
I also recall there were a lot of Jewish people coming out
of the mountains. They were shambles of people. They weren't
educated. They were living like people would live in the
mountains. There were some of those people that came on. Then we
went by the king's palace, we did get to see that in Rabat, and
then back to Casablanca.
The day we left there was some kind of an outbreak that took
place in the country, a revolutionary type of thing. There were
soldiers all over the place. I mean you couldn't move in that
city without being pointed at by a soldier to move here, move
there, and told what to do. We were so happy to get out of that
city that day because we didn't know what was going to happen at
that moment. We felt very fortunate to get out. And we went from
there to Marseilles, which is a relatively short ride. Just
across the Mediterranean at that point. But that was kind of a
harrowing experience. Obviously you can see I was impressed with
the experience. Marshall, John, and I trooped around all over the
place and did our job. And we learned. One of the chaps we met
with came with us from there to Marseilles and also went on to
Paris as I recall.
A United Jewish Appeal representative?
It wasn't the UJA; it was the Jewish Agency. And HIAS [Hebrew
Immigrant Aid Society], I guess, was involved there too, and the
ORT people from the schools. The one fellow I remember was from
Brooklyn, New York. I can't remember his name, dammit. He was a
delightful guy and helped us a great deal, took us around and
showed us everything.
And the ORT schools are still there?
Yes, I think they are.
What did you do in Marseilles?
Practically nothing. I went out and got a haircut, and got
cleaned up. The funniest story I've got to tell you this because
it's a cute story. They have a Fisherman's Wharf kind of place in
Marseilles. By that time, Paula Borenstein, the Jewish Agency
representative in Paris, had come down and met us there. I still
send her a Christmas card. Lovely gal. She's been here a few
times. We went to dinner and we start going around the table to
decide what we're going to have. So Marshall orders, I think it
was clam chowder. The famous dish, of course, in Marseilles is
bouillabaisse. He orders bouillabaisse after ordering clam
chowder, not knowing what bouillabaisse was. But he heard about
and talked about it, so he decides to order the bouillabaisse,
which is a fish stew. The head guy, or whoever was taking our
order, says, "Impossible!" And he walks away, he won't complete
the order. [laughter] "Impossible!" And he walks away in
disgust that somebody could order chowder and bouillabaisse. I've
never forgotten the incident. I don't think Marshall to his dying
day ever forgot the story. It's always been a cute remembrance of
that restaurant. I think the restaurant was called the New York
Restaurant, interestingly enough.
[Knock on door. Tape Interruption.]
Back to Marseilles. You said nothing much happened there aside
from the restaurant.
No, we looked around the town but nothing.
Refugees in Vienna and Paris
Glaser: Wasn't that where you saw the Romanian emigres?
Swig: No, no, that was in Vienna. We went to Vienna first, then to
Morocco, then to Marseilles, then up to Paris.
Glaser: Tell me about Vienna, then.
Swig: Vienna was a fascinating situation. We stayed at a fine old
hotel, which I think that had been Nazi headquarters during World
War II. We were escorted around the town by the Jewish Agency
people. We got up at five o'clock in the morning, five, six,
something like that. We went down to the train station to see
the-- What's the name of the railroad?
Glaser: The Orient Express?
Swig: The Orient Express come in with people from Romania.
Glaser: Was this at a time when the government had to be bribed to let
Swig: Paid is the word, bribed or paid, whatever you want to call it.
Yes, we paid so much a head. These people came off the train and
they were typical, I guess, typical refugee -type looks to them.
They had their little bags, and that's all they were allowed to
take out. Their whole life was in these little bags. Fairly
young people. Some older people. Little children. Egyptians
were there watching us . Other Arab countries were checking us out
to see these people coming in.
Glaser: In Vienna?
Swig: In Vienna. You know, a state of war still existed between all
these people. As it does today with most of them. We had
surveillance on us very carefully. We knew that.
Little kids, some of them had blood in their ears where
their little earrings had been torn off for the gold. And the
blood was still on the ears of the kids. The people were
confused, of course. They came in and we shook hands with them.
We were happy to see them. Two interpreters told them who we were
and why we were there, and we welcomed them and so forth. It was
exciting to see these people coming out of Romania to freedom.
They were then put in World War I barracks and kept for two,
three, four, five days. The Austrian government- -interestingly
enough, of all the places the most anti-Semitic people of all
time --the Agency kept them in their barracks, these Jews coming
out of Romania and then going on to Israel.
So we went out and we reviewed their barracks, looked at
them, saw their living environment. Then, I guess it was another
night, we went out at one o'clock in the morning to the airport
and saw an El Al plane loading up with these folks. Not
necessarily the same ones, but coming out of that barracks and
going out to the airport. At one o'clock in the morning,
obviously, it's fairly deserted. Taking these people out and
taking them on to Israel.
Glaser: You're inferring it was a safety factor that it was done at that
Swig: Safety factor. And I think without calling attention to what was
going on. To quietly do this thing and take them away so as not
to, Lord forbid, offend those terrible Austrians. The thing was
done so well and so nicely, the people cared for so well. It was
An incident that occurred there I think I shall never
forget. We were with these Agency people and going back to their
office, I think it was after a lunch. As we entered into their
office building (their office was on the second floor), and we
were about to walk up to the second floor- -although it had an
elevator we were walking and out of the back door comes a man
screaming something in Austrian. We didn't know what he was
saying, obviously. But he was screaming and screaming. We could
see something was up; this wasn't a normal thing, at least to us.
When we got upstairs, we found out that this guy was the
head janitor or engineer, whatever he was. What he was screaming
was, "You no good Jews, you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and
swearing and calling us all kinds of names because we were Jews.
Nothing more; nothing less. I said, "How do they allow this thing
to happen?" This was a government building. Typical, standard,
the guy is that way. They paid no attention to him. We were kind
of taken aback. We'd never seen anything like this before. They
were used to it. It didn't bother them. He did this regularly.
This was standard. But the government never corrected it.
Another day- -or maybe one of the days, I forget how long we
were there, maybe two or three days --we were accosted on the
street for being Jews. How they knew we were Jews, I don't know.
I guess we looked it, or what. They recognized us as whatever we
were, and we were called names. This time it was in English with
an accent. So I sensed of Austria that they were the most anti-
Semitic of all, and we were told that they were.
A couple of the nice things that happened to us there was we
did go on a little bit of tour. We did see a little bit of the
city and the surrounding countryside. It's a very pretty area.
Glaser: Did you go out to Grinzing? Did you see the wine area?
Swig: Yes, yes we did, and beautiful estates out there, just lovely.
John and Marshall went to the opera. I don't care for opera so I
wouldn't go with them. So I went to a restaurant all by myself
and read my book. You ate at big long tables where everybody ate
together, sat together. It was kind of interesting just looking
at the local life. I enjoyed that more than I would have enjoyed
the opera. I did go to the opera house with them. I don't know
if you've been there, but it's a beautiful, beautiful building,
Another night they took us to a Russian tea room type of
place, playing Russian music. That kind of thing with the strings
and all that business. That was kind of interesting.
Glaser: The balalaika?
Swig: No, these were violins. They may have had the other, I don't
know. But the name of the restaurant could have been The
Balalaika if I'm not mistaken. [laughter] It was something like
that. It was a very nice evening, as I recall, with a bunch of
those people. The Jewish folks there were working hard and
industriously, through the Jewish Agency, bringing these people
in. They did a super job as far as we were concerned. Again,
this was our first experience of finding out why we were, what we
were doing, what we were all about, and how we had to raise money,
and why we had to raise money.
We had started out in Copenhagen. That was just an
overnight stay before we got to Vienna, because you could fly in
those days from Los Angeles to Copenhagen. I think it was a non
stop flight. It was a good way to get to Europe. I love
Copenhagen anyway, so John and Marshall decided they'd go with me
and appease me as a way of breaking in to Europe . We had a nice
time for a day in Copenhagen. Went to the massages, and all that
sort of thing like you do. Stayed at a lovely hotel. Then we
went to Vienna, then on to Morocco, then to Marseilles, and then
back to Paris .
Glaser: In Paris, did you do anything connected with refugees?
Swig: Yes we did. We went to soup kitchens that were set up in Paris to
handle the people coming in from the North African countries.
They had a fairly large population coming in at that time because
they were French citizens. France, of course, owned those
countries originally. Took them over, or whatever you want to
call it, but they were French citizens.
Glaser: Was this at the time of the Algerian War?
Swig: I think it was, if I recall correctly. There were a lot of
Algerian people there. We also went down to the Jewish quarter in
Paris. It was along the river. We went to some Holocaust -type
building that they have there, where we saw first hand some of the
things of the Holocaust. We hadn't yet been to Israel. I had
never been to Israel, hadn't seen Yad Vashem or anything like it.
So this was my first introduction. There were a lot of things
there about the Holocaust, stories and pictures and so forth. It
was a small Yad Vashem, if you will. It was interesting to us to
have seen that.
VII MORE ON FUNDRAISING
Speaking to Groups on Return from Mission
This trip must have made you three very effective as fundraisers
when you got back.
It sure did. We did a good job. We each went out and spoke. You
know when you see that in the action, when you see what you're
doing, what life is about, and what kind of reward we were getting
for our money, it makes you want to go out and do that much better
a job. And we were good fundraisers, accordingly.
What kind of groups did you speak to?
Everybody. Everybody who would listen.
Do you enjoy public speaking?
Well, I did my first public speaking for the Federation. I didn't
know whether I was good, bad, or indifferent. It apparently went
over very well, so I got confidence in myself. I didn't think I'd
ever be able to do it. But I had to do it, and it seemed to go
over. So I continued doing it, still do. I do my best speaking
extemporaneously, as long as I know my subject, and I can get up
and belt it out. I try to do that for the most part. I sketch
ideas out. Most of the time when I start out I have the piece of
paper up with me, and then I talk about whatever I feel like. I
don't always follow the paper.
That makes you sound like a natural speaker, that you don't have
to have it all written down and read directly from it.
Well, if I have to be precise, I do it that way. But I do better
if I just let it flow. As long as I've done my homework and
written the stuff down- -I write it out long hand.
Glaser: I imagine as campaign chairman you had to do a lot of speaking.
Swig: That came easy. That was a natural. You're so knowledgeable
about your subject. You've lived the subject so easily and so
well, it doesn't take any effort to get out and do that. It
didn't for me, anyway.
Capital Fund Drives
Glaser: Were you ever involved in capital fund drives?
Swig: Yes, when the Federation had one, which we did.
Glaser: Was that the one for the hospital?
Swig: We had one for the hospital. We had one for the Jewish home.
Glaser: There was one, I think it was early '70's, where you--
Swig: I was president, come to think of it when we had one. That would
be '71 or something like that.
Glaser: That's right. That's the one I was thinking of. There was a
combination for the hospital and the home, and there was another
agency combined in that.
Glaser: How long do capital fund drives go on?
Swig: I don't remember. Probably a year or two. No more than that. .
Glaser: Do you ever get funds from the general community?
Swig: We do get some, sure we do, but not very much.
Glaser: I think the hospital is more likely to do that.
Swig: Well, even the hospital didn't get a heck of a lot.
According to Federation board minutes, in 1971 President Swig
announced the need for a capital fund drive in 1972. The last one was in
1960. In 1973, two separate and simultaneous capital fund drives were to
be launched: one by Mount Zion Hospital for $7,500,000, one by the
Federation to raise $7,500,000 for the Bureau of Jewish Education, the
Jewish Home for the Aged, and the United Jewish Community Centers. Due to
the 1973 war in Israel, the drive was postponed until 1974.
Funds From United Way
Glaser: What about from the Community Chest?
Swig: Yes, that's an ongoing thing. The United Way used to be the
Community Chest. You're dating yourself.
Swig: The United Way gives money to the Federation each year, and still
does to my knowledge. And then the Federation disperses that
money with its own allocation committee. Now it may not still
work that way, but it did at that time.
Glaser: Was there ever any difficulty in getting the amount that you felt
you were entitled to?
Swig: No. I think that the United Way always did a very fair job.
Glaser: There was a period of time much earlier when there was some
Swig: There may have been, but I am not familiar with that. At the time
that I remember, we'd always get our fair share.
Glaser: In 1963, you were chairman of the Advanced Gifts Division. What
was involved for you in that activity?
Swig: See, you're reminding me of something I had completely forgotten
Glaser: I'll give you another copy of your chronology, because it helps,
it's a long time ago.
Swig: Well, the Advanced Gifts is an extension of being a campaign
chairman, actually. It's just a more detailed and specific kind of
assignment where you're talking about the bigger hitters in town,
the bigger gifts. You do the same damn thing. You get out there
and hustle, only you're doing it with relatively few people. I
think in the Advanced Gifts area, at that time, you're probably
talking about a hundred, a hundred and fifty people at the most,
if that. You just concentrate on those people and try and upgrade
the gifts as much as you can. What was that, in '63?
Swig: I believe it was a good year, as I remember it.
Glaser: For the Advanced Gifts, do you have the parlor meetings, or is it
two -on- one or one -on- one?
Swig: Both. Every bit of it. One part of it I remember being at Bob
Sinton's, as an example, having a parlor meeting. I'm quite sure
that that was the evening we had an Advanced Gifts parlor meeting
that went very well. Bob, of course, was always a big help and
did a good job, he and Joan both. We had the heavy hitters there
and we went out and raised money.
I remember also being at another one at Walter Heller's
home, as I recall. You see, they overlap. You can't remember
which year you did what. I remember the one at Bob's house very
well. I also remember the one at Walter's -house, but I can't tell
you that that was the same year. It wouldn't surprise me if it
were, but I don't remember whether he was still alive at that
time. I remember being at Advanced Gifts functions at Walter
Heller's home, but I can't tell you that it was 1963 or not. I
think it was. We just went out and worked the house, if you will.
We called cards and got people to give. And we made the pitch.
Glaser: Is there any particular kind of gimmick that you need for the big
Swig: Well, it depends on the year and what the need was. The needs
were constant in that Israel was a focal point at all times.
Nineteen sixty- three was not a particularly troublesome year in
terms of wars or things like that. But there were always things.
People were still coming in from other countries at that time.
Not like today, because the numbers today are astronomical, but at
one time there was a constant flow of people coming into Israel
from every which country.
Unlike the Arabs, we were taking our Jews out of Arab
countries, settling them in Israel. In later years the Arabs
didn't take their people and settle them like the Palestinians do
today. But we did, and that was our focal point; that was our
drive impact: saving lives, saving people, bringing them to
Israel. That was the whole emphasis of all our campaigns during
that time. And successfully, very successfully.
VIII FEDERATION AND VOLUNTEERS
Those Who are New to the Community
Glaser: As a newcomer yourself in the early years, how open was this
community to new people? And how did somebody who was new get a
toehold into the Federation and start working up through the
Swig: I told you, I started working in 1948, and I was then thirty-one
years old. So I was the young kid on the block. But people
accepted us, accepted me, very well. I had no particular problems
being an outsider. Everybody whom I knew, who knew where I came
from, treated me well. I had good friends. I just met a lot of
new people at that time and then enlarged upon it as life went on.
But I think, although I didn't consciously do this for any
particular reason, some of the friends I made in the Federation,
and some of the contacts that were made-- Well, I think Bob
Sinton is probably the best example. He and I, to this day, are
the closest of friends. We play golf three or four times a month.
We're still close and wonderful friends. I respect him and I know
he does me. We still work on many things together. This has been
going on for forty-odd years. But it was through Federation that
I first met Bob.
Being a newcomer and not one of the insiders, if you will,
it took a little time to develop friendships, because you don't
have your old school buddies around where you develop those
friendships. It took a couple of years or so to get acclimated to
the new environment, make new friends. You still lost your old
buddies back home, so to speak, with whom you were brought up.
But it's interesting, after a few years, I didn't know too many
people back there and I knew them all out here. So it changes and
it develops and it works. If people like you they accept you. If
they don't like you they don't. I think they liked me and I think
they accepted me. They made me feel very much at home. Never did
I feel that anybody excluded me, or wouldn't want to have me as
part of them. I felt, very much, their warmth and their
friendship. And it went very well.
Glaser: After becoming active in the Federation, and after a few years,
what did you see of the Federation reaching out to newcomers to
bring them into the sphere of the Federation?
Swig: I think there was strongly active work in that department. I
think we always were reaching out trying to find new people and
bringing them into the Federation. To this day, that still goes
on. The demographic study we did recently, about three years ago,
is an example of that. We found out that instead of having a
125,000 or so people we've got maybe 200,000 Jews in the Bay Area.
We didn't think we had that many. We didn't know where they were,
so we redoubled our efforts to try and find these people and bring
them into our community.
Glaser: What kind of efforts?
Swig: Well, you have to go to the congregations and do some research.
Try and look in phone books. You do all kinds of work to find out
who the Jewish people are, where they are. You check businesses
and so forth. You check their rolls and see who they are and try
to incorporate them. A lot of them get lost that you're never
going to get. But you do pick up people every year. And every
year we get more.
Glaser: It seems to me it's a matter of informing the people that the
Federation is more than just a fundraising organization. That
it's the center for the Jewish community.
Swig: It's a central thing. It transcends all religious factions, if
you will. Whether you be Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox, we're
all Jews. And this is the central Jewish organization, almost
central to Jewish life, in my opinion. It's like another
religion, in a way, because it doesn't separate the people. It
brings them together. I have always viewed it that way. I think
it's almost the central voice for Judaism in our communities.
Glaser: It seems to me that's the message the Federation has to get
Swig: I think we do it pretty well. And I think once you're involved
with it you realize that's what's happening. While we might have
different political and social views and so forth and so on, that
central agency brings people together from all walks of life. Poor
people as well as rich people, because poor people give to the
Federation too. They may not give big numbers but they give
The social services that we render in our community, for
instance to the newcomers from the Russians. We knock our brains
out to take care of those people and make sure they're comfortable
and happy in our community as best we can, offering them all kinds
of services. We give big money for that. We should. That's
central to our theme. That's central to our beliefs. It is its
own kind of religion.
Glaser: Tzedakah [charitable giving] .
IX FEDERATION ASSIGNMENTS
[Interview 3: September 12, 1991 ]#//
Glaser: I would like to talk to you about the Federation committees you
were on before you became president, the finance and
administration committee. You became chairman in 1967. What was
the function of that committee?
Swig: That's a good question. I wish I could remember. It seems to me
that had to do with the budgeting process of the Federation. It
was not a very meaningful job or a very big job. The most
important jobs at the Federation were the fundraising jobs. The
finance committee for instance was watching the purse strings of
the Federation, obviously important but not in proportion to what
the rest of the Federation was doing.
Glaser: What you're saying is that the raising of the funds is really the
impact of the Federation.
Swig: That's really what it's all about.
Glaser: When you were the treasurer, was that also pretty low-key?
Swig: That was just a low-key job.
Glaser: Then you were on the budget committee. That must have been--
Swig: The budget committee I was on for about twenty years, and that's
giving away the money that is raised. That is very important.
Glaser: What were the changes that you saw in twenty years?
Swig: Well, I think that the budget committee became a more diversified
group of people who became very interested in the function of the
various agencies that we watched and supervised. We added
agencies over the years and changed emphasis in thought over the
years. It is really the reason why we function. We do two
things. We raise money and we give it away. That is basically
what we are, plus some social planning.
So the giving away of the money becomes almost as important
as raising it, to make sure that the best job is done in the
community with the money that we do raise. That is a very
important function and we go over each agency very, very
carefully. We study it, we're very careful, we watch their
budgets, we watch what they are doing and what they are performing
in the community and make sure that they are doing the right kind
of job that the community needs and wants.
Were you on that budgeting committee when it became the social
planning and budgeting committee of 100?
I went off just about that time, as I recall. That followed me
but eventually led to what you are describing.
You were on the executive committee in 1969, just before you
became president. What were the functions of the executive
The executive committee then and now performs actions and decides
issues that it then presents to the board for a final approval.
The executive committee on some occasions can act for the board
under emergency conditions.
Is it like a clearing house, deciding what's important enough to
go to the board?
Basically that. It's kind of like a sounding board and gives the
professionals advice and allows them to know what the feeling is
because all the people who are on the executive committee had
votes at the board level. So if those people are in agreement on
issues it's likely that the board will follow their ideas.
You were chairman of public relations. What did that do?
Public relations does just what it says it's to do. It sets the
atmosphere for the fundraising part of the work that the
Federation does. It also is involved with where it gives the
money because we sell, in effect, the fundraising effort based on
the agencies that we supply money to, including overseas,
national, and local agencies. We are three divisions so to speak.
We sell to our community all of those agencies, overseas, local
and national. We sell those agencies to the public and say, "This
is what we need money for." And we have to have a good sales
pitch and a program, an effective one, that makes people want to
give to us .
Glaser: Why would that be separate from the campaign?
Swig: It's all part of the campaign. The campaign itself has special
emphasis in some ways. But basically we cleared the air for those
things that do happen, on- going.
Glaser: Did you get help from the UJA for your public relations?
Swig: In part, yes, because UJA tied in with us much more then than they
do now, I think, but we got campaign slogans. We were part of the
national UJA campaign. I can't remember all the slogans, but each
year we would have a different slogan for a sales pitch. We
dwelled on this. We would use partly theirs and part of our make
up. We had local people, for instance, in different advertising
agencies for free who helped us put these campaigns together.
Glaser: Did people come from New York from the UJA to help you on the
Swig: On occasion. Not greatly, no. We ran our own campaign.
Glaser: As you got bigger and bigger you had your own manpower.
Swig: That's right.
Glaser: When you were appointed the vice-president in 1968, was it clear
that you were on-line to become the president?
Swig: I think that was the trend at that time. I think John Steinhart
preceded me. It was understood that I would follow him.
Glaser: So there was a moving up on the ladder in a very definite
progression. What input did the professional staff have to do
with that, with the grooming of who was going to be next?
Swig: I think they had a lot to do with it because they knew who were
the people who were working the hardest and doing the best job and
who were the most qualified and who could raise the most money.
Glaser: Did you see this with other people? How people were spotted and
moved up and groomed?
Swig: I saw it then and I see it now.
Glaser: Is this an effective way?
Swig: I think it is. Today more than then there are more lay people
involved with doing the selection. But it's a limited group of
people, the insiders so to speak, who have worked the hardest on
the campaigns , who know who can produce and who are the natural
Glaser: If the lay people are involved, does it make it more democratic?
Swig: It's somewhat democratic but it's also autocratic in the sense
that the broad spectrum of people really don't have much input
Glaser: You bring a slate to the annual meeting and that's it, right?
Swig: Yes, pretty much. But it's effective because we the people who
work on those things know who are the best bodies, who are the
best leaders, who will do the best job.
Trip to Israel and Suez Canal. 1970
Glaser: In 1970, when you were the vice-president, you went on a mission
to Israel. That included the Suez Canal. Do you want to tell me
about your experiences at the Suez Canal? It seemed to be
Swig: It was special; I remember it very clearly. I didn't remember the
year, but I remember my first trip there. I've been there a
couple of times. First of all, the experience of going there and
seeing the Suez Canal, it's almost like seeing the Colosseum in
Rome for the first time. It's a very great experience. I think
it was on that trip that we flew down to the Sinai area in army or
air force paratroop planes. It's kind of a rough ride and not
very pleasant. Then they took us by bus right up to the Suez
Canal. We were looking out at the Egyptian soldiers on the other
side. We saw our own troops --our own troops being the Israeli
troops --guarding the eastern shore of the Suez Canal. It was a
very good experience seeing the Canal for the first time.
Glaser: Did you feel you were in danger?
Swig: Not really. We waved at the Egyptian soldiers, [laughter] We
felt no problem with that. But we saw some beautiful young
Israeli boys down there. I have a picture at home that I can
recall of a handsome, movie -star like young Israeli boy. He made
such an impression on us . I remember his face, I can almost see
it right this moment. Beautiful kid. They were down there on the
canal doing their duty. They protected that country very, very
Glaser: That must be very hot duty.
Swig: It is hot down there.
X FEDERATION PRESIDENT, 1971-1972
In 1971 you became the president,
yourself as president?
Did you have any goals for
Well, the important goal was to keep the flow going and gather
more money and do a better job. We did. The campaigns that I was
involved with, I know that we upgraded ourselves every year in
terms of fundraising. We did a good job. Every year that I
happened to have been involved, I seemed to recall that we raised
more money and that's always the important part of our program.
While you were president Frannie Green was campaign chairman, and
she brought in the largest amount to date, which was $6,600,000.
I think she was. That's right. When I was the campaign head we
raised $2,500,000 and that was the highest ever raised in the City
before. You can see the progress that was made over the years and
how well it worked.
Glaser: What was your relationship to the professional staff?
Swig: The professional staff was not as good as it should have been in
my opinion. I think I was instrumental in causing a change to be
made. I went to Jesse Feldman very early on in his
administration, which followed mine, and discussed with him the
problems that I felt were present and told him I thought it was
time for a change. Jesse said, "Why didn't you do it?" I said,
"Jesse, the reason I didn't do it is because by the time you
assimilate all the material that is necessary to understand why a
change ought to be made, it's already too late to do it.
telling you early on.
I got together with all the other past presidents and we sat
and we met. We discussed the problems, what at least I felt were
the problems , of operating the Federation and what kind of help we
needed to do a better job." Jesse finally said, "Okay, I hear
you. I'll study it and then I'll go to work and we'll see what
can be done . "
I didn't bother him anymore. That was it, I think, about
March of his first year. That was the last time we met that
Glaser: Are you talking about the San Francisco Seven?
Swig: I don't know about the San Francisco Seven.
Glaser: Somebody told me that those who worked to bring in Brian Lurie in
place of Mr. Weintraub were called the San Francisco Seven.
Swig: I hadn't heard that statement, but I guess that they could be
called that. I didn't know there were seven; I didn't count them.
Glaser: But you are talking about after Mr. Treguboff took retirement.
Swig: Treguboff was long gone by this time.
Glaser: He left in 1970.
Swig: Yes. He left in 1970. I became president, when, 1971?
Swig: 1971-1972, right?
Swig: Yes. Well, Treg was gone, out as the executive, and Weintraub was
then the executive. I found that they were not functioning in the
way that I felt that it ought to function. That's what brought
about this whole issue. So we left Jesse on his own after March.
In January I started on him, or maybe it was late December. I
don't even remember which, but somewhere in there. At the end of
March, we finished our deliberations with him and then he was on
his own to do what he felt was right. He finally agreed that
obviously what I had said was correct and he went about making the
Glaser: I will talk with you about that when we talk a little later on
about Brian [Lurie]. I am trying to just keep to the presidency
Swig: Okay, [chuckles]
Glaser: What was the relationship between the lay people and the
professionals when you were the president?
Swig: It was only moderately good. That was one of my problems.
Glaser: Did the lay people need more direction?
Swig: They needed a more compatible type of individual who could turn
people on rather than turn people off. Lou is a very nice guy, I
don't want you to get me wrong there. I'm not trying to condemn
him, but his personality didn't fit too well with a lot of people
in the community. He was a loner type of individual. I don't
think he had the broad perspective or maybe didn't see the broad
perspective as, at least I felt and others felt, should be done
for our community. I didn't think it was working too well.
Therefore I made the suggestion for change. I guess it worked
very well because Brian came along and obviously did a
tremendously successful job.
Glaser: When you were president, what was the relationship with the
Swig: I think that it was adequate. It wasn't superb, it was adequate.
Glaser: You had the chairman or the president of each of agencies sitting
on the board at that time?
Swig: Yes, they did. I believe so.
Glaser: How much oversight did the Federation have with the agencies?
Swig: Quite a lot. We checked them out very carefully and we watched
their progress. We saw where they spent their money, overhead and
so forth and so on, and carefully watched them. That was part of
the budget committee's responsibility, as well as the on-going
social planning work. In those days the budget committee was not
a social planning committee. We had a social planner on our
staff. Mike Papo hadn't come yet. But Mike Papo , for instance,
was a social planner when he first started with the Federation.
That was important to know: what the needs of the community were,
where we should emphasize, what we should de-emphasize , and so
forth. So that became very important, was important to us.
Glaser: Did you attend any agency board meetings?
Swig: On rare occasions.
Glaser: I know some presidents made it a habit to do that.
Swig: Those who had more time I'm sure did. [chuckles]
Glaser: In 1971 you suggested a capital funds drive and a population
study. Actually, I think the capital funds drive didn't really
get under way until 1974, after you were president. Can you tell
me any of the results of the population study?
Swig: I don't think it was an in-depth study of population. It wasn't
anything like what happened within the last three years. As a
matter of fact it was perfunctory and I don't think it was very
effective. What we did do and we did plan was the capital funds
drive, which was very important at that time.
Glaser: I gather that half of the funds raised were to go to the hospital
and the other half to be shared by the United Jewish Community
Centers, the Bureau of Jewish Education, and the Jewish Home for
Swig: Yes, I think that was it. That's my memory.
Changes During Presidencies
Glaser: In your term as president there was the establishment of the
combined social planning and budgeting committee, the committee of
Swig: Maybe it was. I can't remember exactly when it happened. I know
it did happen some time very close to them. I can't remember
whether it was just at that time or just afterwards. But it was
established. I felt from my perspective that it was important for
the community to have such a thing. Not to be just going wildly
supporting anything that came along, that we ought to have a
knowledge of what the needs of the community were. Also checking
our organizations that were in place. Are they still valid? Are
they still necessary? What do they perform? What are we doing?
How are we helping the community? Those things are important to
know in order to satisfy the needs of the community and do a good
constructive job. I think we started in to do that.
Glaser: Has the number of people on the committee become unwieldy? I
understand it has increased from 100 it went to 120 and to 140.
Swig: I haven't worked on that committee so I really don't have a lot of
knowledge of it. But it seems to function very well. As a matter
of fact, it has been expanded since the beginning. It's bigger
now than it even was then. So I have to presume that it is
working fairly effectively.
Glaser: And a lot of subcommittees.
Swig: A lot of subcommittees, and those are the people who really do the
Glaser: Did you enjoy the presidency?
Swig: Yes. I think I did very much. It's a big responsibility. If you
do the job correctly it requires a lot of work. I maybe shouldn't
say this but I wish I had had a Brian Lurie to work with. I think
I would have enjoyed it more.
Jewish Vocational and Employment Guidance Service
During your administration, the Jewish Vocational and Employment
Guidance Service was established on a two-year trial basis. Did
you feel perhaps that that should be part of the Jewish Family
No. That thought never crossed my mind.
I don't think they are related exactly.
They do separate work.
Programs for Young People and Stronger Jewish Identification
Glaser: Many programs for youth were developed during your administration
A great number. Can you tell me how that came about?
Swig: As I recall, it was during that administration that we had the--
what did we call them? The young people's groups out of which
developed some of the future leadership of the Federation.
Glaser: The Bay Area Jewish Youth Council?
Swig: No. It was a group of unmarried singles really, mostly.
Glaser: Oh, the YAD?
Swig: The YAD- -Young Adults Division. The Young Adults Division really
sprouted and I did attend their meetings. I remember we had a
meeting down at Fisherman's Wharf, and I know that I went to other
places and met with those young people. Those young people turned
into some of the future leaders of our Federation. A lot of
marrying went on with the young people. It was very good. I
guess they have all these singles things today. I guess this was
the equivalent of it at that time, but for a very healthy and good
cause. I was very taken with that. I liked that. I thought that
was the way the Federation should move, get those young people
We still do that. We do that very strongly to this day,
only probably even more so today than we did then. We do have a
young cadre of people who are coming along always and moving
through into leadership positions in the Federation. That is very
healthy and very good.
Glaser: Aside from that, there were programs funded with an emphasis on
students. This Bay Area Jewish Youth Council that I mentioned,
Hillel programs at Berkeley and Stanford were funded and there was
a North American Jewish Students Appeal.
Swig: They weren't that powerful in the organizational structure; they
were just newly developed things that were just beginning to come
along, I think, at that time. They weren't a very big, major
development, although the YAD was the far more important of all of
those things. At that time, incidentally, as I recall it was
early on, maybe even before me, we had Brian Lurie over at Temple
Emanu-El sending young people to Israel. The confirmation classes
were sending their kids to Israel for the summer for a two or
three week program, I believe.
That was marvelous, and to this day we send kids by the
bucketful compared to what we were doing then. Brian was the guy
who instituted that and got it moving. As a matter of fact, there
were some people at that temple who, as I recall, resented it. It
caused a little bad blood with him and the rabbi at that time.
Glaser: Between Brian and Rabbi Asher?
Glaser: In a speech to the YAD in 1972 you stated that the funding of all
these different youth programs shows a trend toward more Jewish- .
oriented programs; that the allocations indicate more funds going
to agencies with distinctively Jewish content and less to health
and welfare agencies. That sounds like a whole new direction.
Swig: It was. All you have to do is look at the allocations in Jewish
education as an example. It went from whatever percentage it was
at that time to this kind of a percentage over a period of not too
many years .
Glaser: But at your time, during your presidency, what brought about this
Swig: I don't remember exactly. But the feeling of the community, as I
recall, was a much stronger feeling for Jewish identity. The way
it expressed itself was with day schools, the Bureau of Jewish
Education contributing a stronger and important involvement with
the young people of our community. I think the parents approved
of this and wanted this. I had the feeling at that time, and
still think I was right, that part of that, however, was the
breakdown of our public school system brought about partly with
some racial problems (busing and the like). And that the parents,
in order to avoid that kind of thing and not being able to afford
all the private schools, sent their kids to Jewish parochial
schools. I think that was a part of it.
But at the same time, there was a stronger feeling on the
part of these families that they wanted a stronger Jewish
identification for their children. It was kind of a mixture of
both, I think.
Glaser: Would part of this come about because you had a lot of new people
coming in from other parts of the country?
Swig: I think that was a part of it. I really feel that a fair amount
of it, however, was the busing situation and the decline of the
public schools. They wanted therefore to, in effect, protect
their children. I think that was that percentage. The Jewish
identification was also prominent at that time. As a matter of
fact it has been expanded upon over the years. There has been a
much stronger push in that direction.
Jewish Day Schools
Glaser: I want to ask you about Jewish education; during your
administration you had a lot of difficulty. You had a sit-in.
Swig: A very unfortunate incident.
Glaser: Would you tell me about that?
Swig: Well, we had and have a rabbi out at the Hebrew Academy who wanted
to run all the Jewish education in this community.
Glaser: Rabbi Pincus Lipner?
Swig: Yes. And he made some public utterances that were not in the best
interests of the Jewish community at large. And he did some
things with the city building department and the permits that were
not in conformity with the local rules. He just did a lot of bad
things, and he wasn't very happy with the Federation and the
support he was getting from them. The Federation conversely was
not very happy with him because he wasn't doing the right thing,
in our opinion.
So they held a sit-in because we were cutting off our
allocations to him. So he sent down a bunch of kids one afternoon
I guess it was, or one morning, I've forgotten. Anyway, I called
in Sam Ladar and John Steinhart, Bob Sinton, Lou Weintraub and
myself. Lou was all for calling the cops and getting rid of the
guys and doing all that. I said, "Hold the phone," as did the
others. "That's not the way to handle it. That's only going to
create a bigger disturbance and that's what they are looking for.
Let them sit in." So we had one of our people stay overnight with
them, sit in with them, so that we would not have damage and have
trouble. It went reasonably peacefully.
The next morning I came down and they wanted to meet with me
and I said, "Sure, I'll meet with them." And I did. They told me
what was on their mind and I told them what was on mine. I had
all our people there with me, I didn't do it alone, and we met.
And they got up. That was the end of it.
Glaser: Did you feel these young people were manipulated by Rabbi Lipner?
Swig: Unquestionably they were. They were his disciples.
Glaser: These were college kids; they weren't high school kids?
I believe they were a little older than high school.
What was going on at the Bureau of Jewish Education through all
They were not sympathetic to Lipner.
everybody ' s neck .
He was a noose around
You appointed a committee to study the situation of Jewish day
schools. That resulted in the combining of Brandeis and the
Hillel day schools. What was the situation with either of them
that they could work better combined?
I don't remember it in full detail, but I do recall that we
thought we needed a strong school that would satisfy the appetite
of the local people and could provide better service and be a
stronger institution. I think that's what actually happened. The
two of them alone were not doing the job as well as one combined
could do it. That's what I seem to remember. But that was a long
time ago; I'm not exactly sure.
What was your personal feeling about funding Jewish day schools?
I personally am not a proponent of Jewish day schools. I have
always made myself clear on that. On the other hand, the
community wanted it and I supported it because they wanted it.
Why were you against it?
My personal observation is that we are a multi- ethnic, multi
racial, multi-religious society. Basically I feel that our
children should be exposed to that way of life and shouldn't be
separatists. I don't believe particularly in parochial schools.
It's a personal observation. I think we should learn to get along
with our neighbors and be a part of the total society. I think
our Jewish education can come about either at afternoon schools
and/or at the various temples and synagogues. That's where I feel
the Jewish education should take place. In our daily school, it
should be done either in a public school or in a private, non-
sectarian school. That's a personal observation. I feel rather
strongly about it.
My experience tells me that it's introspective and not broad
enough to be a part of a total community. I think we as Jewish
people should be a part of the total community, never losing our
Jewish identity. I'm not for that but for showing our Jewish
identity and being a part of a total community. I happen to
believe strongly in that and I think I do do that in my life and
have done it. I am part of the total community very strongly, but
nobody will ever think I am not Jewish. Everybody knows I am
Jewish and what I stand for and what I believe in the Jewish
community. I think that is important.
Glaser: What kind of a job do the synagogues to with education for their
Swig: They weren't parochial schools. They were giving Jewish education
at their Sunday schools. I don't know how far they went with
their daily programs, but I know that on Saturdays and Sundays
they had schools. They could obviously teach the religious part
of what a temple is supposed to teach to the young people. They
are not involved with history, geography, arithmetic and all the
other things. They are just involved with religious education. I
believe that that is important to have, not on a daily basis at a
private sectarian school. I don't happen to approve of that
personally. I think more people would disagree with me about that
these days than agree with me. But that's my own feeling.
Glaser: There seems to be more and more of a movement toward Jewish day
Swig: Yes, there is. I think it's brought about in part, incidentally,
by the poor performance of our public schools.
Glaser: I don't think that is it altogether.
Swig: I don't think it is altogether.
Glaser: I think there are people who feel that for our continuity as a
people we need to know what our history is and what our ethics
are, and to have a good grounding in Judaism.
Swig: I'm all for them, if that's what they want Co do. I won't not
support them because I have supported the 5ople who feel that
way. However, I think an element, and I dc;'t know to what
percentage, but an element of that is people who are avoiding
sending their kids to public school and can send them to these
parochial schools that are far less expensive than the private
schools that are available today. The kids can get a reasonably
good education there, as opposed to what they are getting out of
the public schools. That's my personal observation, mind you, and
I guess I'm in the minority of people who feel that way.
Glaser: Well, I wanted your personal observation, your reaction to it all.
Bill Lowenberg told me that you supported him when he was fighting
against the proposed merger of the Bureau of Jewish Education and
the San Francisco Jewish Community Center.
I don't recall that.
There was a movement for that in the '70s, and he felt that it
should be kept separate.
I think I would have agreed with that. I think that is the right
way to go because the Bureau of Jewish Education not only supports
the Jewish day schools but it supports the programs in the various
temples and synagogues, so it has a dual function. I don't see
how the Community Center can perform that function and perform it
well. I think it takes something more than that to do. I'm sure
that I would have supported it. In retrospect I'm glad I did
During your administration, there was a contested election. I
don't know whether this was on the part of the Rabbi Lipner
faction or it was another group. I think it probably was Rabbi
Lipner 's group because there was an unhappiness with the amount of
funds allocated by the Federation.
He brought suit against us.
It wasn't a contested election, I
No. Aside from the suit, there was a contested election. Then it
was found that the petitions submitted didn't have sufficient
signatures, and many of those people weren't even members.
Yes. I think I vaguely remember that. It was not very important
as it turned out, apparently. It wasn't a major significant move.
It didn't have any groundswell support.
And you're not certain of who was behind this?
I am not surprised to think that it might be Lipner because I
can't think of anybody else who would have done it.
Glaser: During your presidency what was the Federation's relationship to
Swig: Strong. It always has been, I think. Most money in my opinion- -
the big money- -was raised by Israel, because of Israel, for
Israel. I always felt that the local community, local agencies,
benefitted strongly from the fact that so much emphasis was put on
Israel, even to this day. When we want to raise money what do we
do? We take people to Israel. When we want to influence the
young people, we send them by the bucketful to Israel. Why?
Because that is where the action is. That's where they learn and
can see first hand what's going on in the world of Judaism. It's
become the mother's milk, if you will, of raising money, of
getting money, for our Federation. That's true all over the
country. It isn't just here. I think to a large extent we were
able to raise an increasing amount of money throughout the years
because of the missions to Israel, the devotion to Israel and the
love of Israel by all our people.
Over the years, recently, there has been some conflict about
some of the things that Israel does . But still we send people to
Israel. Witness this last April when my brother and his wife led
a wonderful mission- -
Glaser: I was on that Mega Mission.
Swig: Were you? Great. Well, you know what happened. It's still
Israel. It's still the turn on. I don't think that changes. I
still think it helps tremendously in the fundraising efforts of
our Federation, which supplies the money (which I don't think it
would otherwise would get to the extent that it does) for the
local and national agencies. I think we do a good job because of
Glaser: Is there any conflict between the needs of the local agencies and
that money that goes to Israel?
Swig: Conflict? Competition maybe is a better word. I don't think it's
conflict. But over the years I think, because of the money that's
been raised, there has been a lower percentage of the money going
to Israel of the total campaign than there used to be. I know
there is. We used to give 70-80 percent of our money to Israel or
Israel -related. Today I think it is 45 percent. The dollars
haven't decreased but the percentage has, mainly because we are
raising more money. You mentioned the campaign that was $6.5
million that Frannie Green raised. Today we're raising $18
million. It's almost three times.
So all those millions, if you look at the records you will
see that they have gone to local agencies: Bureau of Jewish
education, the schools that we're talking about, the Family
Service Agency, and so forth. The Centers take a much bigger
percentage of the money. So these agencies locally have grabbed
off a much higher percentage of dollars of the increase than has
Israel. But I think the money for Israel has remained fairly
constant and gone up slightly. But the percentage dropped.
United Bay Area Crusade
Glaser: There was a severe cut in the appropriation to the Federation from
the United Bay Area Crusade. This had to impact on local
agencies. What was done about that.
Swig: I don't recall the incident that greatly, to be honest with you.
I can't believe it was a huge cut.
Glaser: Well, the Federation had to advance the United Jewish Community
Centers $1500 a month for three months because of the cut.
Swig: Yes, but that's not huge. That's fairly moderate. I believe that
the United Way did cut. Their funding went down too.
Glaser: It was a 12 percent for 1972.
Swig: Yes, 12 percent. That money all went to local agencies. It
didn't have anything to do with Israel or anything like that.
It's all local. I guess we went out and raised more money. I
guess that was the net result of it. I don't recall the incident
that heavily. It wasn't that major a factor.
Large Cities Budgeting Conference
I assume as president, and perhaps as vice-president, you attended
meetings of a Large Cities Budgeting Conferences?
I had been to a couple of them. That's all.
What did you get out of it?
Not worth attending?
I don't find them-- I'm not sure the need for it exists.
They were to give you directions as to how to allocate funds for
national organizations, is that right?
National and local.
Glaser: And local also?
Glaser: Would they know about the local agencies?
Swig: They didn't perform much for me. What they did was they made
recommendations and they were a clearing house for budgeting
process. They had guidelines really. That's all they were. They
weren't that important. It was just a guideline. We had the
obvious work to do for ourselves . They performed a function but
they weren't that important as far as I was concerned.
Glaser: Maybe they were more important earlier.
Swig: Maybe earlier on they were. But at that level I never found them
to be that critical or that important.
Positions After Presidency
Glaser: You became chairman of the executive committee in 1974, and then
in 1975 a bylaws revision made past presidents honorary directors
for ten years with voting privileges. Was that something new?
Swig: That was brand new. There were only at that time four past
presidents alive, maybe five: my father, myself, John Steinhart,
Bob Sinton, Sam Ladar, and maybe there was one other. But the
older ones, my father's generation, didn't attend very many
meetings so we gave them the privilege, obviously, of doing that.
That's all it was. It didn't last for ten years.
Glaser: They kept revising it after that.
Swig: They kept revising it and I am, I think, an honorary member if I
recall. They have voting power.
Glaser: It's a shame that those past presidents like your father and
others didn't attend it and give the benefit of their experience.
Swig: They did on occasion but they weren't that heavily involved.
Sinton, Ladar and I- -Steinhart, no- -maintained our interest. Sam
until the day he died, which was only a very short time ago, was
very much present. Sam devoted a huge amount of time. Sinton
still does and I still do. Even though we're honorary, I have
attended a fair amount of meetings over the years , including
executive committee. We work hard at it still. I don't go out
and raise money today like I did. I don't work on committees and
a lot of things like that, but I'm around when they need me. Like
choosing the new executive director, Wayne Feins tein. I was on
that selection committee.
XI FEDERATION EXECUTIVES
Federation President Jesse Feldman Seeks New Executive. 1973
Glaser: Yes, I understand you were on the search committee to replace
Mr. Weintraub. That was during Jesse Feldman' s term of office.
Swig: It happened in November of the first year of Jesse's term, which
was a year after I was on.
Glaser: Brian said that you were very influential in his coming back.
Swig: You bet I was.
Glaser: Could you expand on that?
Swig: Normally in the selection of an executive director of a
Federation, it goes through the Council of Jewish Federations or
whatever it is. Which I think is another useless organization,
but it gets a big turnout so I guess they're okay. I think they
should be merged with other things but anyway. Jesse didn't go
through that organization. It didn't make his selection.
Jesse worked very hard in trying to find the right person to
be in that job. He did it quietly. He met with only two, three
or four people at the most, who kept it very quiet, and he worked
very hard to find a good person. I can't tell you what he did
because I don't know. I wasn't involved, I wasn't party to it.
At the end of March of that year, he went on his own, did not
consult with very many people. He came up with a candidate, Brian
When he did, I checked it out in New York because that's
where Brian was working at that time. I had glowing, glowing,
glowing reports about what Brian had accomplished and what he had
done. A partner of mine in New York said, "I hate to see the guy
go, Mel, but if you don't take him you guys are crazy. This is a
guy who is very, very active in the Jewish causes of New York."
Opposition to Rabbi Brian Lurie
Swig: So Jesse came to me and said, "I think I've got a problem. I need
your support for Brian. There will be a few people in this
community who will be quite vocal in their opposition to him." I
said, "Jesse, you've got me in and I'll do anything I can to
help." And I did. When it came push to shove we got through and
it worked, and Brian was hired. A lot of bad blood on a few
Glaser: Do you want to name some of the people who were opposed to him?
Swig: Well, Frannie Green was the principal opponent and she and her
brother Lloyd [Dinkelspiel , Jr.] didn't want him in the worst way.
Glaser: I thought her brother was for him.
Swig: Oh no. Very strongly opposed. The reason was that he felt that
the rabbi at Temple Emanu-El--
Swig: Asher. That Rabbi Asher had an involvement with him, and Asher
apparently felt that Brian didn't do right by him in some way. I
don't know exactly what it was, I can't tell you. But Asher
influenced Lloyd enough that Lloyd was just hot and heavy against
Brian. I remember going to Lloyd's office with Doug Heller. His
father had been president of the Federation from 1960 to 1962.
Anyway, Doug and I went to see Lloyd at Lloyd's office and Frannie
was there. They chewed us out, he did in particular, like you
can't believe, like we were the worst guys who ever came down the
pike. When we got through, after hs spouted everything out that
he wanted to spout, we finally convinced him that he ought not to
be opposed to it. He came around finally and didn't. I guess we
did a good job on him because letting him vent his spleen and get
it all off his chest he had nothing left to say, and the enmity
stopped. Frannie and I to this day are good friends. We weren't
mad at each other, but Lloyd was mad at the whole process.
And I guess, in a way, if you look at it as far as the
process was concerned, it wasn't the way that we handled this
latest replacement. It was done the only way Jesse could have
done it to get the results that he got, to hire the best guy in
the business. Because had he gone through the normal chain, the
social work chain, because that's what the Council of Jewish
Had he gone through them we would have gotten a whole bunch
of guys whom they would have suggested, and they had to be social
workers or they wouldn't have been satisfactory because that's
Social workers are not necessarily good administrators, not
necessarily good fundraisers or know how to raise funds. That
doesn't detract from social workers. Social workers are a very
important part of our community. Some social workers are very
good in this field. Without being a social worker, they still can
be damn good, as Brian proved in doing the job that he did. That
broke down that mystique about social workers being the only kind
of people you can hire. Anyway we hired him.
Glaser: Frannie Green told me she felt that if she had been a man it would
have been handled it differently, that the whole business went
around her, that she was left out of the circle.
Swig: I don't think that's entirely-- Well, it might have been true at
that. She hadn't been president yet so that's possible. But I
relied on the ex-presidents when I first initiated the discussions
with Jesse. They are the people you would rely on. These were
the people who had the experience, who knew the people, knew the
players, had proved themselves as leaders of this community.
So yes, it's true. Although I had met with Frannie, I'm
quite sure I did. Yes, I'm almost positive I did. But she wasn't
in on the so-called inner circle, if you will, this group of seven
if that's what they were. Let's see, there was Jesse, myself,
John, Bob, Sam Ladar. I know Frannie was involved at a point in
time, I just know she was there. I can't remember who the others
were if any others were present. But that group in particular
were the ones whom I relied on. I was out of office by that time,
so I didn't do it as an officer of the Federation.
I wanted Jesse to know what our findings were and the
reasons for and so forth and so on. We met and we related it to
Jesse. We met several times in the early months of that year
until March. March was the last meeting. Jesse said, "Okay, I've
heard you. Now let me do what I think is right." We laid off;
that was the end of it. From that point he was on his own.
Glaser: There was a very odd contract that was drawn up for Brian the
first year. In his mind he was the executive director, but that
really wasn't the title. He was executive director to Lou, who
was the executive vice-president. Lou Weintraub still kept the
Swig: Yes, but he was wiped out. We got rid of him. Brian was the guy
who was the replacement. I don't recall that Lou stayed on. Did
Glaser: Yes, and after one year he was given an office upstairs.
Swig: Yes, that's right, we did.
Glaser: That was a nice gesture.
Swig: Yes. It was only a way of keeping him on. I think that was an
appeasement to Frannie , if I remember correctly. I think that's
what it was. Lou was put upstairs in another office and kept away
from the main body. It was a tokenism. He was being paid a
salary, and he was paid a retirement situation. He was taken care
of so he wouldn't be harmed. Nobody wanted to harm him; that
wasn't the intent at all. We needed somebody who could do a job.
He wasn't it.
Glaser: But technically, that first year Brian wasn't the chief
Swig: Yes, but he was.
Glaser: But that's a technicality?
Swig: A technicality.
Glaser: What was your working relationship with Brian over the years?
Swig: I was now through as president, but I still worked and still did
my thing. I was still on board and still doing everything that I
had to do to help the Federation. I had a very good relationship
with Brian, still do.
Glaser: Did he rely on your financial expertise?
Swig: In part. We used to have, still did to practically the day he
left, regular meetings. I met with Brian on a fairly regular
Federation Headquarters Building
I understand you helped raise quite a bit of money for the new
I did. I got the Shorenstein group to work on the land, the loan.
That was a very important part of the whole deal, to get the land.
Walter Shorenstein and at that time Bud Levitas and Warren Epstein
owned part of the land on which the building now sits. They
contributed not entirely but a fairly good, significant part of
the land to the Federation. That's how we were able to get the
land to build the building.
But you also did fundraising.
Then we also did fundraising. It took $7 million, if I recall
correctly, at that time to build that building.
You brought in a very large amount from the Herbs t Foundation.
I don't recall exactly. Yes, we all went out and raised money and
we all gave. The Haases and Koshlands and my father and the rest
of us all pitched in and did our number, and the building carries
those three names in the hallway. They are the people that the
building was named for.
Was it a good idea to have a headquarters building rather than
renting? Because you tie up a lot of money.
It's money that probably otherwise wouldn't be raised, and we own
it free and clear. There are no mortgages on it. So it cost us
less over the years than what it would have cost to rent in that
Wavne Feinstein. New Federation Executive. 1991
Glaser: Tell me about the search committee for Brian's replacement that
you were on.
Swig: Don Seiler headed that up and he put together a good group of
people. Some were past presidents: Sinton, myself, Annette
[Dobbs], Seiler himself and some other nice younger people.
Glaser: And your sister-in-law [Cissy Swig].
Swig: My sister-in-law was on it. They asked the right questions, they
did the right research and we wound up with the best candidate.
Swig: I had a phone call this morning from Cleveland asking me who we
hired to replace Brian, and when I told him who it was he said,
"Hey, you got a good one. You did well." He knew of Wayne
[Feinstein]. I don't know whether he knew him personally or how
well he knew him but he knew of him, and he was very pleased that
we had hired such a good person.
Glaser: Is Wayne going to function much like Brian?
Swig: He learned under Brian so in part I guess he will. But as he
matures into his job he'll have his own direction, I hope.
Nothing stays static, there will be all new kinds of ideas and
other things happening, and I hope he'll move with the times and
do the best job possible. I think he will. He's young, he's
bright and he knows the community pretty well. I think he'll do a
Glaser: It will be interesting to watch.
Swig: It will be. It's tough to follow in Brian's shoes. It wasn't
like Brian following in the shoes that he followed; because so
many new things were happening at that time that Brian led the
whole thing in a new direction. As a matter of fact, he led the
country in a new direction and did a super job. But whether that
many changes will take place in the next few years, who knows?
With Brian in New York it's possible, and I hope Wayne will follow
whatever the good pattern will be.
Three past Federation presidents, Melvin M.
Swig, Benjamin H. Swig, John H.
XII JEWISH COMMUNITY ENDOWMENT FUND
Early Executives : Growth and Uses of Funds
Glaser: I want to ask you about your involvement with the Endowment Fund,
which was established in 1976 as the standing committee. Of
course, it had been in existence long before then, but then it
became a standing committee. Marshall Kuhn was the director
originally. You were on that committee starting from 1976,
weren't you? 1
Swig: I think I was.
Glaser: Would you describe the makeup of the Endowment Fund, because I
understand there are various bits and pieces in it.
Swig: Well, there are. The Endowment Fund was very small at that time,
relatively small. We had discussed over the years of building it
up and letting it do some good things in the community. I can't
remember the exact sequence of events. It's too hard to remember
those. But we started to move in the direction of getting-- I
guess Phyllis Cook had come on board later on but Carole Breen- -
Glaser: She followed Marshall Kuhn.
Swig: Carole did a good job. She did quite a nice job; she's a nice
gal. But the fund was in the growing stages at that time. We
were maturing but it wasn't turning on big numbers the way it did
later on. But the ground work was laid to do that. I think, if I
recall, Marshall passed away not too long afterwards. I forget
when he passed away but it's been quite some years now. 2 Marshall
was a wonderful guy and I have nothing but warm and wonderful
] In 1986, Mr. Swig received the first Council of Jewish Federations
Endowment Achievement Award.
Marshall Kuhn died May 18, 1978
memories of him. He and John Steinhart and I , as I told you
earlier, went to Europe together and to North Africa and so forth.
He was terrific. He always was a great supporter of the
Federation, did wonderful things and was a marvelous human being.
Anyway he started out. But then Carole came on and Carole
enlarged upon what had happened. But it really didn't truly take
off, I think, until Cookie [Phyllis Cook] was there. She just led
it to a new dimension. Carole left for a reason that I can't
remember. I think she found another thing that she wanted to do,
and that's when Phyllis came on board. She just took off like a
son-of-a-gun. Things have just sprouted since then. We're up in
the multi, multi-millions and we were in the low millions early
on. Now some of the foundations that were separate foundations
from the Federation have become a part. That was Brian's (and
Treg's) doing. They've become a part of that fund.
Glaser: Well, Mr. Treguboff brought the Newhouse Foundation into the
Swig: That's right. Treg did before he died. That's right.
Glaser: You had the Eva Kohn Helping Fund,
Swig: All the guys who are running for president, I'm getting calls from
all over the place.
Glaser: I'll ask you later on about your political activities.
Swig: The Eva Heller Kohn did come on board. I think there were two or
three. I guess the one from, not Mt. Zion, but Maimonides Health
Center came on too.
Glaser: The Maimonides Trust for a while was separate but with some
oversight from the Federation, I believe.
Swig: It always had an oversight but it was an independent authority.
Glaser: Right. Was it eventually brought in?
Swig: I think it was eventually brought in so that it became a part of
it. Now all of those foundations are a part of the Endowment
Fund. We are up to $60 odd million or something like that. Maybe
it's $70 million today. Over the years with a series of guys, the
usual crew helping, the usual crew being guys like Peter Haas,
Claude Rosenberg, Bob Sinton, Gerson Bakar, Mel Swig, and I guess
there were some other sets of names that escape me at the moment.
Oh, Merv Morris and Don Seller. All those people pitched in and
really did a job on the community. Rhoda Goldman. Today it's
just going like gangbusters. People are coming in with big
amounts of money, doing wonderful things, and our Endowment Fund
is building up, building up and building up. It's doing very
Glaser: How are the funds from the Endowment Fund used?
Swig: They are used for projects that are not in the normal budgeting
thing. They are usually one or two-time shots, sometimes as
capital funds. For instance when the community center in Marin
came in, we supplied money for that. We lent money if I recall
and got repaid, or are supposed to get repaid. I think the
Schultz Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto we are involved in.
We give special projects money. I'm not that involved with the
daily operations of that deal, but they are special projects which
are funded by the Endowment Fund.
Glaser: Does the Federation itself get support from the Endowment Fund?
Swig: Some support, yes.
Swig: For a part of the overhead.
Glaser: But you have capital funds and then you have philanthropic funds,
is that right?
Swig: Yes. A lot of people give money to the philanthropic fund, give
it and then give away their money out of that fund. For instance,
if a guy has a good year and he wants to take a deduction that
year, he will put the money into the philanthropic fund. It stays
there; he gets a deduction in that year. You don't have to give
the money away for two or three or four years or ten years . The
interest can give money away for a period of many years.
Glaser: It's almost like a holding place.
Swig: That's right. It's a reservoir of funds. I'll give you an
example. We have a foundation that we are giving to the
Federation to insure our gift in case our kids don't want to be
good kids. This will insure our gift to the Federation.
Glaser: So that's in the philanthropic fund?
Swig: That will be in the Endowment Fund. We are giving a foundation of
ours to the Federation. The Federation will have four board
members, we in our family will have three, and it will operate.
Glaser: My question was is that part of the philanthropic fund?
Swig: No. That's part of the Endowment Fund.
Glaser: I see, like the Newhouse Foundation.
Glaser: Aside from the separate foundations, separate funds, and the
philanthropic funds, is the other part considered capital funds?
Swig: Capital funds. In other words, if somebody wanted to give a
million dollars to the Endowment Fund, we will use the income
whichever way we see fit.
Glaser: The committee that sits on this, how does that work as far as
making decisions of allotting funds?
Swig: Well, there is a fairly significant committee that sits in
judgment of where the money goes. It's like a budget committee.
It makes a decision whether it's going to help this, this, this or
this. I think we use 5 percent of the income. It is available
for funding each year.
Glaser: You have separate subcommittees, don't you?
Swig: There are subcommittees, yes.
Glaser: On health, education, etc.
Swig: whatever. A variety of items. After these subcommittees perform,
it goes to the total committee , the total committee makes the
final judgment which is then presented to the board of directors
of the Federation. That is usually approved.
Glaser: Did the Council of Jewish Federations help you set up the
Swig: No. They may have some input with Cookie. I don't know. Cookie
being Phyllis Cook. [chuckles]
Glaser: In 1983 there was a new policy that the Federation proposals "must
go to the executive committee first before going to the full
Endowment Committee." I am confused whether the executive
committee means the Federation executive committee or the
Endowment Fund executive committee.
Swig: I guess it would be the Endowment Fund executive committee.
Glaser: In 1983, the Endowment Fund had a two-phase grant process because
of large capital funds outlays from the corpus to the Jewish Home
for the Aged, Schultz Center, day schools and of course the new
headquarters building. What was this two-phase grant?
Swig: I don't recall. I know we gave money to the Schultz Center; I
mentioned that. I know we gave capital money to the day schools,
both the Hebrew Academy and the Brandeis-Hillel. We gave money to
the Marin Community Center across the Bay. That's not the same
time. What was the other one you mentioned?
Glaser: The home.
Swig: Jewish Home for the Aged?
Swig: I don't recall. What year was that?
Glaser: Nineteen eighty- three.
Swig: Yes. That could have been the year that they added the wing on.
They added a new wing at that time. I'm guessing that's what it
Glaser: Then in 1989 you became the vice-chairmen of Endowment
development. That must have been quite a job.
Swig: It was. Took time. I tell you, Phyllis Cook does such a
wonderful job, she makes it a lot easier. She's a one-man gang.
She does a super job on this. The community has accepted the
Endowment Fund very well. We've just made progress in building up
this Endowment Fund. We're doing better and better every day.
Lots of money is coming in to the Endowment Fund along the lines
that I just mentioned to you.
Glaser: But what did you personally do in the development phase?
Swig: Well, we've held meetings and they are usually held in my office
among this group. Out of this group we've gotten a lot of money,
from guys like Gerson Bakar, Claude Rosenberg, Bob Sinton, Peter
Haas, Mel Swig, and other people who have donated quite
significant sums of money. Leaving it in the Endowment Fund to do
whatever they decide they want to do with it, in whichever way
they want to handle it.
I told you we gave a significant number and we're turning
over a foundation to them. We control it in the sense that they
would listen to us. We don't control it; they control it. But
they will certainly take advice from us as to where we want the
money spent. But when we're gone, if our kids don't shape up,
they could take it over and do what they want.
Glaser: Who is going to oversee it at that point, if they take it over?
Swig: The Endowment Fund and the board of the Federation.
Melvin M. Swig and Robert E. Sinton honored by Jewish Community
Endowment Fund, 1989.
XIII DISPUTE WITH JEWISH AGENCY
Support for Brian Lurle
Glaser: I want to talk to you about your support of Brian when the Jewish
Agency dispute came up. That's a big topic. Do you have time?
Swig: We have about ten, fifteen more minutes because I've got an all-
day meeting tomorrow at USF and I have got to get cleaned up. But
Glaser: Well, I think this will take more than ten minutes. Should we
Swig: No it won't.
Glaser: No? All right. [laughs] Let's talk about it then.
Swig: Brian had some ideas as to the Jewish Agency. When he was
overseas in Israel at the Jewish Agency meeting, he brought up the
subject of restructuring the Jewish Agency. He was beaten up on
at that time pretty badly by the people in charge at that time ,
the fellow from Baltimore- -
Glaser: Chuck Hof fberger .
Swig: Chuck Hof fberger. Max Fisher also took him on pretty well and
some others. Well, he came back here to this board and got very
strong support from the local community and the board of
directors. We all raised the issues that were obvious. And were
we harming support for Israel by doing what we were doing? We
finally concluded that no, we might be helping. We invited
Fisher; Chuck Hof fberger; the architect from Chicago, Ray Epstein;
and a couple of others whose names escape me at the moment. We
had a knock down, drag- out at our board meeting room. We could
see that there was a little warming up to our ideas by some
people, not Hof fberger and not Max Fisher. But other people
present, Ray Epstein, nice guy, came up on our team and were
supportive as were a couple of the other people who were there.
Then things started to break down, and it became a melting kind of
situation. But Brian got the support from our Federation very,
Glaser: Describe what it was he wanted the Federation went along with.
Swig: The Jewish Agency had become a politicized kind of agency. The
religious establishment in Israel in part was controlling it.
Lots of money was going to different things that we weren't too
happy about, still are not in many respects. That isn't resolved
100 percent yet. We felt that we should become- -well, let me put
it this way. At that time, not today, this was before the
Russians came, the rescue/rehabilitation efforts of Israel were
pretty much over. All the Jews had come out of the various
countries where they needed to come out of, substantially. Let's
say, 95-98 percent. There was no need for rescue/rehabilitation.
We had to change our direction; we had to look at where we were
going with the funding. It couldn't be business as usual like it
used to be. We didn't need to do some of the things that we were
doing. Just because we had done them didn't mean that we should
perpetuate them. Let's change and look and see if there weren't
new agencies that needed help and needed new things.
We decided in our Federation that we were going to take
$100,000 a year and we were going to allocate it. This didn't set
very well with a lot of people, obviously. But you know what?
Pretty soon, the groundswell of support around the country came in
our direction. At first there was great opposition. All of
sudden LA and Cleveland and other places said, "Hey, you guys are
okay. You're thinking right. We have duplication of expenses and
money." Agencies were duplicated; there was great waste. It
became bureaucratic like any big organization run on a quasi -
public type operation.
The result was that they brought in Mendel Kaplan, who still
is the national/international head of it. A wonderful guy,
understands the problems, and is doing things about it. They
changed the process in Israel where the government intervention
has become lessened. The government had a big action there. They
were telling everybody what to do and how to do it. We started to
eat into their operation, if you will, and we succeeded in pulling
the government out of a lot of it. It's got a long way to go yet.
Brian is now in New York and in a position where he can do much
more than he ever could working here, and I'm sure he will.
So he's on a track that I think will make more meaningful
the monies that we will present to Israel. Now, with all the
Russians coming in, it's like apple pie and ice cream today
because now we are raising money all over again for
rescue/rehabilitation, which is really what we were all about in
the first place: bringing people into Israel. That's why we were
founded. We got away from it in part.
Now we're back on the track and now we have Operation Exodus
and all those new things that are raising additional, huge sums of
money for Israel to support the new immigration process that's
going on. There will be, they say, something close to a million
Jews coming in within a five year period. That's a lot of people.
Israel's population is about 4.5 million. You take another
million; it's a big hunk of people. It's like us taking fifty,
one hundred million people into this country. When you think of
it, it's almost 25 percent of their population. We've got 250
million people; it's like us taking in 60 million people into this
country, what Israel's doing. You could imagine what the impact
would be here .
So in Israel, it is a very, very tough deal that they are
going through. Today Mr. Bush made some very bad statements about
Oh, something new?
Terrible. Watch your news tonight and you'll see.
Let me just finish up by asking you, in that meeting here with
representatives of the Jewish Agency and United Jewish Appeal, I
understand that you narrated a slide show that presented the need
for change .
Yes, I did. I had forgotten about that. You've got a lot of
information, haven't you.
It's called research, [laughter] And then you stood up and made
a family donation of $1 million. That just floored them. Even
though Max Fisher is such a big man in Detroit, he had never given
anything of that magnitude.
Then I called Max a couple of weeks later and said, "Max, how
about making a donation." And he did.
Glaser: So this whole thing turned around right then and there?
Reference is to remarks made by President Bush at a press conference,
September 12, 1991, at which he insisted that Israel postpone for 120 days
its request for $10 billion in housing loans guarantees.
Swig: Yes, we turned it around very nicely but it took some leadership
to do it, and Brian is that kind of a leader. He had us to help
and support him.
Glaser: But I understand that there was a point in which the UJA asked the
San Francisco Federation not to publicize what you were doing.
Swig: That's right. We didn't pay any attention to that.
Glaser: Then it all came out.
XIV MORE ON JEWISH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
[Interview 4: October 30, 1991 ]##
Jewish Community Bulletin. President, 1969-1971
Glaser: You served on the Jewish Community Bulletin from 1969. John
Steinhart told me that you took over as president when he became
Federation president and he resigned from the Bulletin. Is that
Swig: I believe that is true, yes. I've forgotten it but I think that's
Glaser: Then when you became Federation president, did you go off the
board of the Bulletin?
Swig: I don't remember the sequence of time. No, I think that isn't how
it happened. I don't remember the years, but I was on that board
for a number of years. I think my term on there preceded John's
arrival as president. I was on that board for several years and I
can't remember how many.
Glaser: Several years before you became Bulletin president?
Swig: Before I became president. Maybe I succeeded him as president but
not on the board per se. Do you follow what I'm saying?
Glaser: Yes. Marcel Hirsch was president for years and years.
Swig: That preceded us. I think we went on that board after Marcel went
off the board.
Glaser: He was on for years and years.
Swig: He was on for a very long time, did a wonderful job.
Glaser: He was the one who got Geoffrey Fisher as editor.
Swig: Yes. We interviewed Geoffrey. I think we all participated in
that, if I recall correctly. Geoffrey became the head of the
paper, and then Marcel retired from the paper about that time.
John and I among others were on that board together. I can't tell
you how much we overlapped but we were on it together for a number
of years. Then John became president of the paper, head of the
paper, and I guess I succeeded him when he became president of the
Federation. Then when I became president of the Federation
following him somebody else took over after that. 1
Glaser: Did you go back on to the board of the paper after your
Swig: I really can't recall. I don't remember the years.
Glaser: Who were some of the other people who were serving on the board
Swig: You are going back a long time. My memory for names is not that
good. Sue Brans ten, I think, was on there. There was a lawyer,
Larry Goldberg, who was on there. I really don't remember all the
people who were on there. You are going back probably twenty
years ago, something like that, and I just don't really remember
all the folks who were on. It changed too. I think Barbie
Isackson was on. Barbara, I called her Barbie. Sue wasn't on
there. There were other people who represented organizations that
were intermittent who weren't permanent members. I can't remember
all their names.
Glaser: Were you on the board when there was somebody who was trying to
get control of the paper?
Swig: No. I think that was during Marcel's time.
Glaser: Yes, it was.
Swig: I don't think I was there.
Glaser: There was a period of time when the newspaper needed more money as
a subvention from the Federation.
Swig: That happened during my time, I think, or maybe just afterwards.
I can't quite remember it.
J John Steinhart states that when his term as Federation president
ended in 1971, he succeeded Mr. Swig as president of the Bulletin. This
was at the time that Mr. Swig became president of the Federation.
Glaser: Was there any difficulty in getting that extra funding?
Swig: There is always a little difficulty getting extra funding but we
got it. [chuckles] I think that may have happened after I was
off. You see, I find it a little dim only because having served
on the board of the Federation for as many years as I've been on
there, I can't remember whether that was a board action of the
Federation or a board action of the newspaper. My guess is that
it was a board action of the Federation that I'm recalling. The
time of that need came at a later time, I think, as a matter of
fact after Geoff Fisher had retired. I was not present at the
time. I mean, I wasn't present on the board of the paper at the
time that Geoff retired. I did not participate in that.
Glaser: My notes show that this need for more money came after he became
editor, not after he retired.
Swig: Yes, but that was a relatively small amount of money compared to
what the bigger amount of money was during the newer
administration of the paper.
Glaser: Yes, that's quite true. My notes show from $30,000 to $50,000 was
the increase that he requested.
Swig: Yes, at least that.
Glaser: In the overall scheme that's really not a very big increase.
Swig: Well, we changed the paper. We hired more people. We were kind
of the forerunner for what subsequently happened on a much bigger
scale. We made a much better paper and a more contemporary paper
than what it had been because Gene Block- -God bless him, he was a
wonderful human beinghad run the paper in a certain way for so
many years, and it really hadn't changed very much and hadn't
contemporized itself. I guess that's the best way to put it.
So when we came on, we brought Geoff Fisher in who had come
from St. Louis, I believe. He wanted to do some better things
like putting on more management and more advertising sales,
developing a new format for the paper different from what it had
been before. We did all those things. It started an upward
movement. It didn't go far enough as it has gone today but was
certainly vastly improved over what we had. But we didn't have
the money to do what they did today. And they eventually gave
them a lot more money than what we had been given.
So it moved onward and upward. We were the first force of
change, if you will. Then subsequently there was a greater force,
which was very good. The paper today is doing, I think, a very
superb job. I don't always agree with everything they do, but it
certainly does a superb job.
Of course it's covering a much wider area.
A much wider area. At the time I was on there we tried to make a
deal with the East Bay Federation. Their paper was in trouble and
we agreed to take over and help them out. It never happened. We
initiated the discussions that time. Subsequently it happened.
Today we have Santa Rosa and that whole area in the Federation,
which we didn't have before. We now have the deeper Peninsula in
the paper, which we didn't have before. So the paper's developed.
It has a much broader readership. It has a much greater
circulation. It therefore attracts more and better ads, which is
what we were trying to do. We were just a little early at that
time. Therefore, more money can be spent on the paper. We now do
things in color, and we do a whole lot of wonderful things that
have attracted a great deal more advertising and put a lot more
people on. We had just initiated that kind of thinking at our
level, and then eventually it took over and became better.
With this increase in size and with the improvement, do you feel
that the paper is more responsive to the Jewish community?
I think it is. It certainly is not run by the Federation nor was
it ever. A lot of people identify it and think that because it is
subsidized by the Federation that it is run by the Federation. It
is not. The Federation puts ads in there and gets some
compensating advertising availability. But in terms of its
editorials or its content, the Federation does nothing, to my
knowledge, to ever influence it; it has little or no influence on
it. So it is an independent operation, and that's the way it
ought to be, in my opinion.
In 1973, the Federation was under attack by a group of people who
felt the Federation was not responsive to the needs of the Jewish
poor. This group wanted to take out ads in the paper. There was
a discussion in the Federation whether this should be permitted.
It was the decision of the board of the paper that there was not
going to be any censorship, either of ads or of letters to the
editor, unless it was just too violent. It wasn't going to censor
material. [Telephone rings.]
Would you turn that off just a second? My wife is calling. [Tape
turned off . ]
Glaser: [Resumes] I'm going to reword that. The ads were taken in the
Bulletin to urge the readers to throw out the insiders of the
Federation. The Bulletin decided to accept all ads that weren't
Swig: That's right.
Glaser: But as far as the letters to the editor, they decided that they
could not censor these. This was discussed by the Federation, but
then the Bulletin was given free rein on that.
Swig: As I recall, it was the Bulletin that initiated the discussion
with the Federation. It was a Bulletin matter and it had to do
with censorship. My recollection is that we decided that
censorship was not proper for the paper. We had to take whatever
which way it came . We elected to take those ads . I think
Steinhart was involved on the paper at that time. I think we
relied on his legal expertise to tell us about what we could
handle and what we couldn't handle as to potential lawsuit
Glaser: When you say "we," do you mean the Federation?
Swig: No, we the board of the paper. I think you had it right on. I
don't know where you get your information [chuckles] but you did
it well. We agreed to take the ads. We agreed to take the
letters to the editor. We were careful to make sure that the ads
were not inflammatory in any way that we would get in trouble
legally. But I don't think that occurred. I think the ads were
okay, as I recall. And we did it. It blew over and that was the
end. I think it was a wise decision because it did blow over.
Glaser: Probably wouldn't have if you attempted to--
Swig: If we turned it down we wouldn't have been behaving like a proper
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
You were a director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
I still am.
Is that right?
What are your duties?
Now I don't do much. I go to a meeting very
Where are the meetings held?
The meetings are held in New York. If they coincide with other
meetings I have in New York, when I am in New York I go to a
meeting. As a matter of fact, they are held in our New York
offices. My partner in New York, a fellow named Bob Arnow has
been head of the JTA for a number of years. I am still the vice-
president of JTA. I just sent a letter out accepting another term
for another three years and told them that they should get a
younger person who can attend the meetings better than I do. I
would be happy to make the swap. But I'm still on there, even to
How many years has it been?
Oh God. If you remember it, it must be a lot of years.
Well, I got it from your list of things you are active in. So it
is just a matter of raising money? Don't you oversee policy or
any - - ?
Yes, I do, as a matter of fact, check the notes, and I check the
minutes, and I check things out carefully. If I have an objection
or anything is not doing what I think, I let myself be known. But
that doesn't happen very often. They do quite a good job.
How does the Agency function?
I see the byline on articles in the
Swig: What they do is they have reporters all around the world. They
are in England, in Israel, in the United States. They were in
South America, I don't know if they are still, I don't remember.
All those people are contributors to the JTA. They disseminate
their material to all the Jewish newspapers around the country.
They send out a daily bulletin of material [searches for Jewish
Telegraphic Agency bulletin] . I read about more material in there
than I ever see in our daily newspapers. A lot of information, a
lot of material that is of interest to Jewish people all over the
world never hits the daily paper.
Glaser: Is that your waste basket you're going through?
Swig: That's what I'm looking at. I probably turned them over to my son
so I don't have it. [laughter] Those daily bulletins- -and they
have weekly bulletins- -are sent out to people around the country,
of course to all the newspapers, and to the daily newspapers, the
public newspapers. They are in my opinion the single best source
of Jewish news and information that you could imagine. It's like
a Kiplinger-type letter that-- Turn that thing off a minute.
I'll go get a copy. Here, four pages [counts them] one, two,
three, four. Two pages printed on each side so it's four pages of
For instance, I brought home to review an item just a couple
of days ago. An item having to do with anti-Semitism in the State
Department of this country and in Washington generally. It was
fascinating, something I thought I knew anyway, but it brought out
much more than I really knew. It is something that is printed in
that bulletin. You will never see it anywhere else. It never
will show anywhere else. Just interesting items that appear, news
items that we don't read in the public paper. I urge most of my
friends to try and read these things because they are really good.
Even just the Week in Review is a good paper to read, and it is
again four pages of printed material capsulizing the most
important issues that happened during the previous week.
That sounds as if it's a digest, in addition to the actual
articles that go to newspapers.
Yes. I don't know exactly what they send to the newspapers. They
send this and additional material, I'm sure. The newspapers, of
course, use it as they see fit. A newspaper in one city may use
it more than a newspaper in another city. It depends on what kind
of a format they have and what their need for material is in a
given week. But you will see it often quoted.
Our local Federation supports this JTA fairly well. We do a
pretty good job in supporting it. In fact, we're one of the
better cities in the country that supports this JTA. So it gets
to the public newspapers as well and that's important. They
disseminate this material all over the world: in the English
press, all over this country. They're in Israel, as I said. I
think they are in South America. So they have done a very good
job. It's fascinating.
Mount Zion Hospital
Glaser: I want to go back and ask you a little bit more in detail about
Mount Zion Hospital. I have the date of 1970 that you were on the
board. Were you on earlier than that?
Swig: I served a total of about twenty years. I think I was on there
originally in the early fifties or mid- f if ties . I'm guessing. So
I was there from let's say 1955 possibly, or 1956 maybe, until
about 1976, or somewhere in that vicinity.
Glaser: What was the period when you were the vice-president?
Swig: Oh, I think I was vice-president a couple of different times. I
don't recall. Probably towards the end. I'm guessing.
Glaser: Who was the president when you were vice-president?
Swig: I don't know. It could have been Rhoda Goldman. It probably was
Glaser: Did you have any specific committee assignment?
Swig: Yes. I was on some search committees.
Glaser: For the executive director?
Swig: For executive director at one time. For various heads of
departments at other times. I was on building committees as I
Glaser: That must have been a period of a lot of construction.
Swig: Yes, it was. I went through all the executive directors until the
present one, Marty [Martin H.] Diamond. I don't think he had been
here yet when I went off the board as I remember. Maybe he had
just come in.
Glaser: There was an Englishman who had served for a long time. I can't
remember his name .
Swig: That's the original guy who was here when I was just a young
fellow. He passed away. My dear friend what' s -his -name . I told
you I have a bad memory for names. Wonderful guy. He did a swell
job in the community. He did a good job in the hospital. We had
a wonderful staff. He really did well --Mark Berke .
Of course, the whole operation of hospitals today is so
drastically different from then. The HMOs and the government
interventions and all this sort of thing that has happened- -
hospitals have changed dramatically.
Mrs. Rogers did a history of the hospital.
Have you seen her
Yes. Barbara is very nice. She did a very good job on that.
You don't have a copy of that?
I don't, I'm sure. I might have but I don't know.
In the Federation board minutes of 1965, it's recorded that you
and Frannie Green were upset at not being given prior consultation
when Mount Zion decided to construct a seventh floor. Did the
Federation have to be consulted, or did this involve extra
All capital programs of Jewish agencies who were recipients of
funds from the Federations, we felt, should have consulted and
worked with the Federation because they were going to ask us to
help, as they did. And we participated in that fundraising
program. I guess at that time, as I recall, they didn't consult
very well with the Federation and should have. I guess I was on
both boards .
Jewish Family Service Agency
Glaser: I want to get some more details about the Jewish Family Service
Agency. What made you select that agency to be part of?
Swig: I can't tell you. I don't know. I probably was asked. I think I
liked the agency at the time. I still do. I think they do a fine
job. I just don't know why that happened. Somebody must have
asked me who was a friend or somebody I respected, I suppose. So
I went on that board.
Glaser: You worked up the chairs to become vice-president.
Swig: I was vice-president there.
Glaser: Did you have any specific assignment?
Swig: I can't recall. Now you are really going back. When was that?
That was in the early fifties, wasn't it?
1 The First Century : Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center, by Barbara
S. Rogers and Stephen M. Dobbs , San Francisco, 1987.
Glaser: I think, 1956. Who was the executive at that point?
Swig: The executive at that time was an older man who had been the dean.
Then he was succeeded by another man who just passed away
recently, Crystal. David Crystal became his successor, and it was
with David that I really worked the most. The other fellow was a
wonderful guy and was quite old when he retired. David came along
and took his place and, I think, elevated the standards and so
forth even higher than what the previous guy did. But that is not
unusual --different time, different play.
Glaser: Was there an expansion of services?
Swig: Not terribly, no. They haven't really expanded greatly. It was
like a young blood versus the old one. They come in and they
innovate, do the newer things and the new techniques and so forth.
They did a very fine job. David Crystal was in my opinion superb,
an excellent guy.
Glaser: Was there any cooperation with non- Jewish service agencies of that
Swig: There was a relationship, and I think there was a mutuality of
interest in doing community service, as I recall. I think there
still is, to my knowledge. Incidentally, we did take non- Jewish
people and did help non-Jewish people as well as Jewish people in
the Jewish Family Service Agency. But it was predominantly
Jewish. It was right across the street from Mount Zion, and it
certainly was a Jewish-oriented operation. But there were a few
non- Jewish people that were helped as well.
Glaser: I didn't realize that.
Glaser: There are some other Federation committees I want to ask you
about. You were on the overseas committee in 1983; what was
involved with your work on that?
Swig: That was the committee that in effect changed the manner in which
funds are delivered in Israel from the Federation. It was the
forerunner for a lot of drastic changes that occurred in the
Brian Lurie, of course, was the initiator of that particular
thinking. In Israel at a Jewish Agency meeting in, I guess, June
of 1982, or maybe it was June of 1983 (I can't remember), he led
the way and got a lot of flack for having had the nerve to even
suggest that some changes ought to be made. Like all bureaucratic
systems that had evolved over the period of years, it needed
change. There was a great resistance at that time by the
establishment, if you will, of the United States. There was
tremendous resistance to this idea of change. I guess because
people get in the habit of saying, "We've always done it this
way." Sometimes it changes.
As an example, the change in the need in Israel. We
originally raised funds for rescue, relief, and rehabilitation. I
can remember those words. I can't remember names but I can
remember those words. The rescue, relief, and rehabilitation was
now changing. People weren't coming in the huge numbers that had
come to Israel in the fifties and the sixties. We had taken them
in. There weren't that many left to bring in. So the needs in
Israel were changing. Those things had to be addressed and looked
at. What should we do now? What should our goals be for the
future? Where were the funds to be directed? These are things
that Brian was talking about. An inordinate amount of money was
going to religious organizations in Israel, to the ultra -Orthodox
and so forth, who were controlling schools, and still do
incidentally, to the point that the public schools were not as
good as government -supported schools over here. Controlling
through religious organizations, which we felt (and I still do
feel) is really unfair. Separation of church and state, if you
will, which obviously in this country we feel very strongly about.
They aren't doing it, weren't doing it. That needed change.
Hasn't happened yet, but it will.
So we are looking more carefully at where the funds are
going, to whom they are being directed, and with whom we are doing
business. Those were some of the issues that were coming up. The
resistance was strong. We overcame the resistance to a
substantial degree, we made and created changes in Israel. Now
guess who is heading up the UJA today Brian Lurie.
Swig: Over the objections of these very fine people, incidentally. The
old expression, "We shall overcome." And we did. Changes were
made and changes are still going to be made.
Glaser: So it was the overseas committee that brought all this about. It
was more than just seeing what was being done in the UJA office?
Swig: Well, it was a committee that was studying the proposals that
Brian had indicated. Supporting that belief, our committee
studied and worked on those things , and we came up in support of
Brian and felt very strongly he was on the right track. I had
some reasonable doubts about some of the things at the beginning
myself. But as time wore on, I saw that he was right on target as
far as I was concerned. We pushed and fought and won.
We had a big meeting out here with some of the more
prominent members of that society who were opposed to this. We
got called some names for having the temerity to fight for
something like this. But you know what? They came around to our
way of thinking eventually. We had great support from LA and most
of the western part of the United States at the beginning. Then
it spread to the east and finally it happened. Today it is
working and working better.
I think with Brian in New York now at the UJA level there
will be more refinement. That was a time when we in our
Federation decided to give a relatively small amount of money to
individual agencies in Israel that had not been supported by UJA
or the Jewish Agency. We did that and are still doing it.
Committee on Jewish Education
Glaser: Also, in 1983, you were on a committee on Jewish education that
studied the direction it should go in financing. I thought that
was rather ironic since you're not really that much in favor of
Swig: Broadly, I am not ii favor of parochial schools. As to Jewish
education, I'm not opposed to Jewish education per se.
Glaser: That's a good distinction.
Swig: I have no objection to, and as a matter of fact support, the
process of Jewish education. My emphasis, however, from my point
of view believes that it should not be a day school -type of Jewish
education. That's my philosophy, and most people don't agree with
me, so I go along with the gang. But philosophically that's my
approach. I think we live in a multi -ethnic , multi-racial and
multi- religious society and that our kids should be exposed to
that total society. I don't doubt that these day schools are an
escape from the public school system which is not adequate to meet
their needs. The people feel threatened by the public schools, by
busing, by one thing or another, and are not getting the full
education value that they ought to be getting out of public
schools. They have used our parochial schools, if you will, to
avoid the public schools. They are in fact subsidized by the
Federation to get their kids a better education than they would
get in public schools. 1 guess that isn't all bad, because if we
can better educate our kids I'm for it.
However, I do not happen to like the idea of parochial
schools. I didn't like it for Catholic people. I think they do
wrong when they do that, but that's their business not mine. For
the Jewish people, I think it's not altogether healthy. It's
segregating ourselves. I think we've fought too hard and too long
not to segregate ourselves to go back to segregation. I guess
that's part of it.
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on "Who Is A Jew 1
Glaser: You were chairman of an ad hoc committee on "Who is a Jew."
Swig: We didn't accomplish very much except that we were able to see
that the Knesset did not pass that bill.
Glaser: I know Annette Dobbs went to Jerusalem along with other members of
the whole United States community to see about that. What did
your committee do itself.
Swig: As I recall, it was not a major committee because there wasn't too
much we could-- We didn't have to influence anybody. It wasn't a
hard sell. We were obviously committed strongly to seeing that
Israel didn't make the unfortunate mistake of passing the bill
that they were proposing about who was Jewish and who was not.
We still haven't been altogether successful in changing the
extreme political views that there are in Israel about the
religion by relatively few people. It's like the tail wagging the
dog. The Orthodox people over there do not allow Reform or
Conservative rabbis to perform marriage. Probably do not
recognize a bris . I suppose, by either of those officiating
people. A mother converted to Judaism by a Reform or Conservative
rabbi is not considered Jewish in Israel. The children of that
mother are not considered Jewish in Israel. Even though they have
been brought up Jewishly and so forth and so on, they are not
rfow the devil can they tell us that these kids are not
Jewish? They want to be Jewish, their mother was converted by a
rabbi, they are brought up as Jewish. How in God's creation can
they say they are not Jewish? It's ridiculous. Furthermore, how
do they know all the millions of people who have come into Israel
conform exactly to the standards that they have established? They
can't. When they bring them in from Russia today, do they know
who the mothers and fathers were in all cases? Of course not.
Glaser: This also affects the Law of Return, doesn't it?
Swig: It affects the Law of Return. If they want to come to Israel and
be considered Jewish, they have to go through a ritual in Israel
performed only by Orthodox rabbis. I'm sure if they had to they
would. People would, and then they would tell them to go to hell
afterwards. But I mean, that's ridiculous. It's a farce and it's
part of the extremism of the Orthodox area of religion that I
found very unhealthy and very narrow, very bigoted. I don't
accept it and I try, and I will continue to try, to change it if I
can. In my lifetime I doubt if it will change.
American Friends of Haifa University
Glaser: I want to ask you about some of the other Jewish organizations you
have been involved in. I have got a list here- -I sound like
Senator Joe McCarthy. [laughter] This is your list of
organizations. It's so tremendous. I wanted to ask you why you
chose to serve on these various organizations, the aim of the
organization, and what was accomplished during your term of
service. The first one is the American Friends of Haifa
University. You were on the board of trustees.
Swig: I was. I didn't do a lot for Haifa. We formed a chair at Haifa
in my father's memory. It was going to be a hotel school. We
tried to get Cornell to joint venture that with us and were
unsuccessful. We therefore decided that it ought to be a business
school rather than a hotel school, and that's what it is. I
visited Haifa several times. I did not participate in their board
meetings or was not terribly active.
American Jewish Committee
What did that entail?
Well, the American Jewish Committee is something that I worked on
for a number of years. A matter of fact, it was John Steinhart's
father who asked me first to get involved with it. It was fairly
new in San Francisco at that time. I think the chapter was formed
by Edgar Sinton, Jesse Steinhart, and some other people whose
names escape me.
I think Marcel Hirsch--
Marcel Hirsch. Those people started the chapter. Although it is
one of the oldest defense agencies in the country, the chapter
here did not begin until about 1948, * I think it was, something
like that. About 1954 or so, Jesse asked me to get involved.
John, I guess, was involved at that time and got working on it.
I liked what they preached, so to speak, and I liked the
things that they were doing it, appreciated the work that was
being done by them. I enjoyed the people who were involved with
it. There were some very fine people from all over the country
who were involved. The contacts and meetings I had with those
people were the most exhilarating. I enjoyed that work very, very
That must have been the period when John Slawson was the executive
John Slawson was, that's right.
I was rather surprised that you were never a local chapter
president but were on the national board.
I was a chapter chairman.
According to Edgar Sinton, the first chairman of the San Francisco
Chapter, it was founded in 1945. Edgar Sinton, Jewish and Community
Service in San Francisco, a Family Tradition. Regional Oral History Office,
University of California, Berkeley, 1978, pp. 38-43, 137-145.
Glaser: You were?
Glaser: That's not on your list.
Swig: It may not be on the list but I was at a point in time. Some
years ago. I can't tell you when but I was. 1
Glaser: And your son Steven also.
Swig: Steve. Now he's through; he's already served his term. There
were three generations of my family involved with AJC because my
father was a member of that too. He wasn't as active as we were
but he was involved.
State of Israel Bonds
Glaser: When you were general chairman of the State of Israel bonds in
1956, who was the executive?
Swig: Lou Stein.
Glaser: Way back then?
Swig: Oh sure. He was from the beginning. 1951 he started, I think.
Glaser: A long, long time then. I didn't realize you went back that far.
Swig: That was the infamous year of the Suez Canal situation when
England and France and Israel went after Egypt for taking over the
Suez Canal from England. Egypt took it away from her. So France,
England and Israel attacked Egypt to try and recover the canal. I
think, if my memory serves me, it was in the fall of the year. At
that time Eisenhower was president and a man by the name of John
Foster Dulles was secretary of state.
John Foster Dulles, who was a no -good, anti-Semitic S.O.B.
said to these three countries, "You will refrain or we will have
economic sanctions against you." This was 1956. The war [World
^r. Swig was chairman of the local American Jewish Committee chapter
from 1960-1962; chairman, western region, 1964-1968; honorary chairman,
1969; national vice-president, 1967; on the national board of governors,
War II] was not that much over to where all those countries had
recovered very well. Of course they backed away. Anthony Eden
was Churchill's prime minister, and it cost him his job.
At that time we were selling Israel bonds, and some of my
dear Jewish friends .said that I was a traitor to my country to be
selling Israel bonds at that particular time. I have never
forgotten that. As you can see, I can forget names but I don't
forget that. But there were people in this community who accused
us of being traitors because we were selling bonds. Not too many,
thank goodness, and we still sold bonds and continued, and we had
a very good year in spite of it. But that was a very eventful
year, obviously, and I remember it very well, as you can see.
Glaser: After that year, how did the community take to the purchase of
Swig: We went onwards and upwards. Bonds continued to sell and
increase. We did very well. Lou Stein was an inspiration in this
community in terms of the work he did for it. In bonds he was
Glaser: In 1986 the Swig and Dinner families were honored with a Golda
Meir Leadership Award.
Swig: What year was that? 1980?
Swig: They wanted to honor me as an individual, and I wouldn't do it. I
don't allow myself to be honored. I've got a fetish about that.
Because the whole family was involved in Israel bonds (my brother
served as chairman, I think my sister-in-law served as chairman,
and my father had been chairman, so it was a family deal), I said,
"If you honor the whole family, then we'll do it." And we did.
Moshe Arens, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and
formerly Israel's defense minister, was the speaker. It was a
very nice evening.
United Jewish Appeal
Glaser: Another Jewish organization was the United Jewish Appeal. In
1973, you were on the executive committee, and then you were a
Glaser: What di'd that entail?
Swig: At the time the western division of UJA was a much stronger
organization, I think, than it is now, although they are trying to
recover it. But at that time we had a lot of regional meetings.
We had one major one, usually in Palm Springs, in February or
January or something like that. We did a lot of good work in all
the communities up and down the coast in bringing people in to
support UJA, raise funds and do the job.
Glaser: Being on the executive committee, did you have to go back to New
Swig: The executive committee was back in New York.
Glaser: How did you function on that committee?
Swig: Not very well. I participated but I was not that active. Going
back to New York, like they would want you to go back: they would
call me and [snaps finger] in five minutes. We just couldn't do
that from here. I had other obligations and other trips to New
York that I would take, on business. To be going back and forth
and then going to these meetings too was very difficult. So I
wasn't that strong a participant. I worked on the coast; that is
what I did.
Glaser: Were you called upon to go to smaller communities to address them?
Swig: I did. I made the trips. I remember going to Tulsa. I had been
up to Seattle. I went to Portland. I was in LA. Where the devil
else did I go? Denver. So I did make trips and I did go out to
raise money. I did do that. But it is very difficult to go back
and forth to executive committee meetings in New York.
American Association of Ben Gurion University of the Desert
Glaser: One of the Jewish organizations that you are active in now, as
opposed to those in the past, is the American Association of Ben
Gurion University of the Desert. You are on their board. If you
couldn't go back to New York, I'm sure you don't go to their
meetings very often.
Swig: No, I don't. I help in this community. I was in a meeting for
the Ben Gurion deal last week, I think. We had a nice meeting
with a Dr. [Louis] Sullivan, a black man who was here and spoke to
a whole group of people. We must have had 300-350 people,
something like that.
Glaser: You mean the doctor who is the head of the Department of Health
and Human Services?
Swig: Yes. He was very good, spoke very well, a delightful man.
Glaser: It's obviously a fundraising organization in support of the
Swig: Oh yes. You bet. [Laughter]
Glaser: I think by the way you are chuckling you mean, "Aren't they all.
Swig: Yes. The answer is yes. [Laughter]
Ant i- Defamation League of B'nai B'rith
Ant i- Defamation League of B'nai B'rith; you are on the regional
Yes. I don't go to meetings. I help them wherever I can, give
money, raise a few bucks. I don't anymore but I used to. I guess
I'm just honorary now.
Now, tell me, what is Atalanta Sosnoff?
It is a company that invests money for stock, bonds, and so forth-
-an investment banking company. It has a portfolio of customers
and manages their investments. If you had a million dollars and
you wanted to invest money and didn't know what to do, they advise
you. They get a fee for doing that.
Oh, this is not a philanthropic thing.
Oh no, no. This is business. [Laughter]
I got that from your list of organizations.
Yes, but that's business.
Oh, forgive me. [Laughter]
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Glaser: You're on the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Swig: I was.
Glaser: You are on the executive committee and were reelected in 1987 to a
third three -year term. But that sounds as if you have been on
that for quite a while.
Swig: I was. I'm not anymore. I was on it for a while, and I used to
attend some meetings in New York on occasion. It's more honorary
than active. It's not the executive committee part. Is that the
one you are talking about?
Glaser: Well, I show you as being on the executive committee.
Swig: The Joint Distribution Committee? Yes, I was on it for a while
but mostly I was on the board of directors. But I just couldn't
attend the meetings for the same reason.
Glaser: Did you help establish policy?
Swig: They did. I didn't.
Glaser: Now, tell me about Brandeis University.
Swig: Brandeis University, I've been on that board for, I guess,
forever. As a matter of fact, the new president of Brandeis will
be here next week. I've met him. I am unable to go to too many
board meetings now these days because I am on too many other
boards that have a conflict of time schedule. I have told them
they ought to take me off that board, and I am going to talk to
them again about doing it.
Brandeis is near to my heart. My father was one of the
founding members of it. It is in the neighborhood, relatively
speaking, where I was brought up. I remember it being an old
broken down medical school, not a very good one. It was the first
Jewish sponsored non- sectarian university in the country. It has
developed into a perfectly marvelous educational institution. The
student body is not all Jewish. It's about 65 percent Jewish
undergraduate and is about 30 some odd percent graduate. They
have three chapels on campus. It's a Jewish sponsorship, of
course, but nonetheless it is non- sectarian.
They were appointed Phi Beta Kappa in the shortest time ever
given to a university at that time. Their academic standards and
their quality of education is among the highest in the country.
It is not yet quite in the Ivy League standard but very damn
close. So we're very proud of having accomplished something that
has never been done in this country before. It's a wonderful
Have you been honored by them?
No, I don't think so. My father got an honorary degree from
there, but I haven't been honored by them. Madeleine Russell
serves on that board too. From out here, it's awfully hard to be
as active in a university back there, as you can imagine with all
the other things that have been going on
I know there is a lot of money raised for Brandeis in this part of
the country. Also, when I was living in the Middle West, women
would have huge book sales to raise funds for Brandeis.
The women are very active. They do a great job. My mother was
one of the founders of the women's division out here.
Oh, is that right?
That book selling business that you are talking about.
So the Swig family is very closely identified.
Very strongly, and we've given a lot of money to Brandeis, raised
a lot of money for Brandeis over the years. Still do.
Melvin M. Swig, Dr. Abram L. Sachar, first president of Brandeis
University, and Marvin G. Morris, circa 1972.
XV INVOLVEMENT IN NON-JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS
University of San Francisco
Glaser: I want to talk to you now about non- Jewish organizations that you
are involved in. I imagine the first one would be the University
of San Francisco when in 1979 your family endowed a chair in
Judaic studies. That was the first at any Catholic university,
and I think it was the first endowed chair that the University of
San Francisco had.
Swig: It was founded in 1855, I think, and this was 1979, so that was
124 years later. It was the first endowed chair in the
university. That was a year before my father died. We all
worked, and I particularly worked very hard to get that done.
How it started was that Rabbi David Davis, who is still out there,
was a professor at the school in the theological department
teaching courses on Judaism. One of the more favorite courses in
that department, which was attended better than any of the other
classes, I understand, was "Jesus the Jew."
Rabbi Davis had, and still does, have a Lutheran minister (I
have forgotten his name right now) who works with him in teaching
that class, which is still one of the most popular classes that
they have over there. He got me interested in working with Father
Lo Schiavo, the president of the university, in developing a chair
in Judaic studies. We did that. We got it going. I forget how
much it was, probably $300 ,000-$400,000 that we raised, and that
was an endowed chair. It wasn't fully -endowed, as most chairs
are. A fully endowed chair would probably be around $700,000-
$800,000 at that time. Today they are a $1.25 million- $1.5
million. They have gone through the roof like everything else.
But that was my first contact with USF and it was very attractive.
I enjoyed it.
Glaser: In 1985 you became chairman of the board of trustees.
Swig: I had gone on the board shortly after that because Lo Schiavo
asked me to. I went on the president's council at one point and
then I became a member of the board. I became chairman when?
Swig: Yes. That's about right.
Glaser: What was accomplished during your administration as chairman.
Swig: A whole bunch, thank goodness, I'm happy to say. The endowment of
the school when I went on that board was probably around $4
million. By the end of this year or by the middle of next year,
it will be over $50 million. During that same time, we paid off
the debt of the university, which was at the time I went on maybe
$4 or $5 million. We paid that off. We balanced the budget all
the rest of the years, including paying off the debt. We also
built the Koret Center, a $22-23 million dollar building, which is
a health and recreation center, a marvelous addition to the
We changed the format of the board at my suggestion from
almost a fifty-fifty balance with Jesuits and lay people. Today
we have the same number of Jesuits, which is thirteen I believe,
and we have increased the lay people up to thirty- two people, I
think it is. We improved the caliber of the board accordingly,
and made it a much more attractive board to serve on. We brought
a lot of good people in who could raise money and help run the
institution better. We have done that, so it has been a very
rewarding several years .
Just recently Lo Schiavo retired and we hired a new
president. We searched the country for a new president. I made
sure that we got out of the politics, if you will, of the Catholic
priests who like to pick their own people. We had a lay board and
we had priests on the board. We selected a guy who is absolutely
terrific. The result is that we have a new man in place who
started June 1, I guess. We had the inauguration ceremonies last
weekend. He is just a terrific guy.
Glaser: What is his name?
Swig: His name is Schlegel.
Glaser: Were you on the search committee?
Swig: Yes. I appointed the search committee and I served ex officio on
it. I made sure we had the right kind of search committee that
was going to go out and get the right kind of guy. And we did.
He will be a breath of fresh air for the whole university and the
Glaser: Where did you find him?
Swig: We found him in a little school in Cleveland, Ohio, called Carroll
College. He is an educator, he is an administrator, and he is
smart. We are very happy with him.
Glaser: Then in 1987 there were two new programs you helped to establish:
the Melvin M. Swig Graduate Program in Judaic Studies, the first
in any Catholic university, and the Dee Swig Israel Scholarship
Fund to aid Judaic studies program participants who want to study
Swig: Right. That was done, I guess, on my seventieth birthday. I
wouldn't allow any honors; I told you I don't like that kind of
nonsense. But what we did do is, I allowed them to establish this
graduate program in my honor and my late wife's scholarship fund.
So in concert between the two programs we get to send these
students over to Israel. The students are educated. We have a
program for a master's degree, and then some of those students are
able to go to Israel to study. We've sent quite a few.
Glaser: Do they study for a year?
It's not a calendar year. It's a class year.
Glaser: You've been very active in Grace Cathedral.
Swig: Yes, I am.
Glaser: You are a trustee and chairman of the development committee.
According to Bishop [William E. ] Swing, whom I talked to--
Swig: Oh, really?
Glaser: Yes. Rave reviews, Mr. Swig, rave reviews.
Swig: You know what's interesting about it? I used to serve at one time
on the board of Temple Emanu-El, and the problems of running a
temple and running a church are no different. This is an
Episcop'al church, very nice people having the same kinds of
things. They have to raise money to keep the payment to their
rabbis and/or priests (or whatever they are) taken care of, and to
upgrade the quality of the plant, and do all the same kinds of
things. That's what they are about. I was head of development
committee and I raised a lot of money for them- -from among their
people, not our people. I gave, of course, of myself, but from
the congregants and the community, we raised quite a few bucks and
did a good job on it.
Bishop Swing told that. Incidentally, he said that when people
get confused about his name, he tells them that you put them to
sleep down the hill and he puts them to sleep up the hill,
That's right. And people do confuse our names once in a while:
Swig and Swing.
He said that you were the driving force in getting community
support for the cathedral as well as the congregational support.
Well, I did do that. We went outside the congregation and we did
get some community support. It's not broad but it was more than
they had before.
He said that you pushed them to become solvent.
We did balance the budget pretty well, yes.
Are you involved in the capital campaign now to improve the
I am somewhat involved but not majorly because my term of office
is up very soon, I think. So I am not enrolled in that terribly.
I will be involved financially but not a* a fundraiser. My wife
is somewhat involved in that. Steve Giliey of our company here,
whose wife happens to be the president of the congregation now, is
very involved, obviously, and he has worked very hard to put all
this plan together for the new development. They do it here in
this office, and I have been a little bit involved on the
You were the person who suggested the golf tournament,
Was that a
It sure is. Yes, we raise about $20,000 a year on that golf
tournament. It is still going on.
Glaser: I know you were unhappy with the resolution that was adopted at
the 1991 General Convention of the Episcopal Church that urged the
United States to withhold funds from Israel equal to the amount
Israel spends on Jewish settlements in the territories and East
Jerusalem. What was the outcome of your discussion with Bishop
Swig: I had heard, frankly through the American Jewish Committee, that
they were going to present in Phoenix a very damaging set of
expressions against Israel. The bishop of Jerusalem is a man by
the name of Kafiti or something like that, who happens to be a
Christian but happens to be also a Palestinian. He is responsible
for Syria, Jordan, I think Iraq and Israel, and maybe other
countries I'm not sure of. He's a Palestinian, he's an Arab, and
his whole identification comes from the Arab countries. He runs a
large church in Jerusalem. He is generally responsible for the
Palestinian line, which is obviously anti- Israel.
I got a hold of the material that they were sending out and
I was very upset about it. So I had lunch with Bill Swing and we
talked about it. I gave him a lot of facts and information about
some of the things they were presenting and told him how wrong
their history was, that they hadn't done their homework. Because
I know it like the back of my hand, and I know that he doesn't
know it like the back of his hand although he has been to Israel
two or three times. A matter of fact, I sent him to Israel the
first time with Father Lo Schiavo of USF and Rabbi Davis. The
reason I didn't go was because my wife was then quite ill and I
couldn't go, and I sent Davis in my place because I wanted them to
have a Jewish escort. The three of them got along famously and
did very well .
But Bill has been somewhat influenced by this Kafiti fellow,
who, incidentally, came here a couple of years ago and was here on
the pretense of raising money for his hospital in Ramallah, I
think it was, to help Arab people. Nothing wrong with that. The
only problem was that he spoke around here and gave out the
Intifada line and the pro-Palestinian line against Israel,
knocking Israel. That upset me quite a little bit and I had a to-
do with him [Bishop Swing] about that. Not that Bill and I ever
had a to-do because we are too friendly for that, but at least we
had a dialogue about what was going on and how I felt that that
was very unlike the church to do.
Then I reflected back on the fact that during Israel's War
of Independence in 1948, the English weren't the best damn people
to the Jewish people at that time. They supported, in effect, the
Arabs and were very harmful to the Jewish people. But thank
goodness the Israelis overcame and they existed. So there has
been a bit of problem throughout the years with England generally.
Obvipusly, the Anglican Church is the Episcopal Church. There has
been a bit of a problem there, and I felt that they weren't
handling themselves too well. So I discussed all that with Bill.
It just happens I brought [a document] 1 from my house by the
way, and I didn't know this was going to be covered today. There
was a member of this bishop's committee by the name of John Burt
whose remarks I could have written, they are that pro -Israel,
where he told all the facts of what caused some of the problems in
Israel and how the Jewish state certainly was not the responsible
party in the things that they were discussing.
[Quotes from document] "We need to be aware that Israelis
and Jews generally are rightly offended when we Christians seem
not to understand that the underlying issue for the Jewish state,
whether it be for the West Bank or Gaza, is the reality that
twenty Arab nations are still in a declared state of war with
her." This was his speech at that meeting. "For Israel, it is
difficult to respond effectively to the changes we urge in the
occupied territories until those Arab nations make peace." Now he
is telling all the people about that. "The very secure borders we
say we favor for Israel is simply not possible until peace is
negotiated, at least with Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. How
can Israel, for instance, possibly vacate or demilitarize the West
Bank until she is guaranteed security by those Arab powers." You
and I could have made the same statement.
He says that Baker understands it and so does Bush. I don't
think they do. Anyway, the result is that while the statement was
not perfect that the bishops came up with, it was watered down
tremendously over what the initial statements were to have said.
This man helped and Swing helped. So an effective thing occurred
as a result of the relationship that I had with Bishop Swing, who,
incidentally, is a wonderful guy. I think very highly of him.
He thinks very highly of you.
Well, we're good friends.
I have a long list of non-Jewish organizations you have been
involved in in the past and now.
There is one that you haven't asked me about that I still do and
that is Brown University.
] See Appendix
Swig: That's one of my favorites.
Glaser: That's under the heading of "Now."
Swig: Okay. "Now." All right.
Glaser: Shall we do the ones in the past?
Swig: Whatever you want.
President. California Association for American Conservatory
Glaser: You tell me what you were doing with these organizations. The
first one is the California Association for A.C.T. You were
president and were on the board of directors.
Swig: Yes. That was one of the more interesting things that I was
involved with. I was on the board of the Chamber of Commerce at
the time. I had run the film festival for the chamber in 1965. I
didn't know a damn thing about a film festival, but they assured
me they had put together a whole body of people for me to help me.
They did. I ran the film festival and it was very successful. It
was run for the Chamber.
So along came a thing called A.C.T. Cyril Magnin was
president of the Chamber at the time. He and I were good friends,
had been for a long time. A.C.T. was performing at Stanford
University, and it was thought that it might be a wonderful idea
to bring a company like A.C.T. to San Francisco. We had no
theater of that type here. We had the traveling road shows but we
had no repertory theater.
So we took a bus and went down to see the show that was
performing at Stanford by these people. A fellow named William
Ball was the head of it. We all liked it very, very much.
Glaser: It was headquartered at that time in Philadelphia, or was it in
Swig: I think they were in Pittsburgh at that time. But they weren't
headquartered anywhere really. Ball was from Pennsylvania and
they were kind of looking for a home. So we set about to try and
create that home. Thanks to Cyril, Mortimer Fleishacker, and
we did the first initial funding out of our own pockets to cause
A.C.T. to come here. We negotiated with Ball, who was most
difficult to deal withhe was the whole time he was here. We
kicked it off and got it going and here we are all these years
later. That was about 1967 I guess, something like that. They
are still here. As a matter of fact, I think they are now about
to celebrate their twenty- fifth year.
So Cyril, Morty, and I did all the work. No, Morty became
the first president, then I became president, and then Cyril
became president. I'm not sure of the order; it doesn't matter.
I was the new kid on the block at that time compared to them. But
they were so supportive and so helpful, and I was charged, as I
say, with doing this thing. Morty came in a little later on. But
it worked very well and became very successful.
It's still here and doing quite well. They had that
terrible earthquake problem a couple of years ago that knocked out
Yes. It still isn't being used, is it?
No, but I think they are about to raise a whole bunch of money.
That was the Geary. The Curran is all right, isn't it?
The Curran is fine but the Geary got knocked out. It has to be
rebuilt. Anyway that was a very exciting experience and very
rewarding to have been able to bring an organization like that to
Civic League of Improvement Clubs and Associations of San
Glaser: The Civic League of Improvement Clubs and Associations of San
Francisco. What is that all about?
Swig: Political Organization. It was formed initially by Mayor Elmer
Robinson and a whole bunch of political people, non- denominational
(they were Republicans and Democrats) . They sent out a mailer to
the community in support of candidates who, in the judgment of
these people, were the best candidates to run for office for the
city of San Francisco. Supervisors, mayors, propositions on the
ballot, all those kinds of things they dealt with. It was a
highly political situation and very powerful.
Glaser: It sounds as if this was a non-partisan organization.
Swig: It was non-partisan. It got to be a little partisan from time to
time, but everybody would make an eloquent speech about their own
personal beliefs and strengths and there was a vote taken. It was
very democratically done, and the majority won. They were pretty
much on target.
Glaser: Sounds interesting.
Swig: I'll give you a funny story. I'll tell you a story which I think
is interesting. A young lady by the name of Dianne Feinstein had
her first run at the board of supervisors. I happened to be her
finance chairman. I had known her since she was that big and her
folks were friends of mine. She asked me to be her finance
chairman and I did. Elmer Robinson, the former mayor and the head
of this organization, and my father, who was very active in it,
said to me, "You've got to get that girl out of the race. She's
only going to muddy the waters." I said, "I'm sorry, gentlemen,
she ain't getting out of the race. I hope you are going to
support her before this is over." "No way. Got to get her out of
the race." "Sorry, ain't going to happen."
As time went on they supported her. She won the board of
supervisors race and became president of the board of supervisors.
She got more votes than anybody else and ran a terrific race. Of
course they became friendly thereafter.
Glaser: Was that a prejudice against women in general in politics?
Swig: No, I don't think it was that so much. There were women on the
board of supervisors over the years. I don't think it was that.
They just wanted to narrow the gap to some of their own people, I
Commonwealth Club of California
Glaser: Commonwealth Club of California. Was this just a membership, or
were you active?
Swig: No. I was on the board and I was on the executive committee, and
I worked at it. Helped wherever I could in fundraising and other
judgmental things that needed to be done before the board.
Glaser: What do you mean by that? Would you expand?
Swig: I mean whatever the problems were of running an organization I was
involved with. I cast my votes, made my judgments. An example:
they were talking about building a new building or buying a
building, and doing this and doing that. Obviously I became
involved in that. Just the general operations. I was always
there, and I had served fairly well until recently. I had to
resign because I just couldn't do the work anymore. I just
couldn't handle all the things I was doing.
Crescent Porter Hale Foundation
Glaser: Crescent Porter Hale Foundation. Did Mr. Treguboff get you
involved in that?
Swig: Not at all. It's a Catholic institution.
Glaser: I know that Florette Pomeroy before did she died--
Swig: I hired Florette.
Glaser: Oh, is that right? When I did Mr. Treguboff 's oral history 1 the
foundation had its name on the doorway and Florette was managing
Swig: She was. She was a wonderful lady, marvelous lady. That
organization was started by two people by the name of Hale in
Oakland. They lived in Piedmont. A friend of mine, Ed Keil, was
a lawyer here in town with whom I had worked, not as a legal
adviser but just in civic affairs. He said, "Mel, I need you to
serve on this board. It's a small foundation and I would
appreciate it if you could help us out. We need some people who
know a little bit about fund giving." I liked the guy very much.
He has passed away. He was a lovely man who lived in Woodside, I
think. Anyway, he asked me to serve on it. I went over there,
golly, I don't know how many years ago, a long time ago. I served
on their board for quite some time. All of these older people who
were on there finally left, and I became the president because I
was about the only one left who knew anything about it.
Then the lady who had given this money, Mrs. Hale, passed
away at age 101 . She was out of it for years , and she was always
in bed and always with nurses and everything. When I first knew
her she was reasonably with it and was a nice person but couldn't
*Sanford M. Treguboff, Administration of Jewish Philanthropy in San
Francisco, Regional Oral History Office, University of California,
navigate. So I finally became the president of this thing. We
gave away very little money, and when she died all the additional
money from her estate came to this foundation. They had one
child, the Hales did, but he had passed away so there was nobody
else to leave the money to. They were Catholic and we
predominantly gave money to Catholic institutions, although we did
civic things as well.
I stayed as president. I must have been there for I don't
know how long, fifteen or twenty years I suppose. Finally I went
on the Koret board, and I got so many other things to do I just
couldn't continue on it. But I did hire Florette Pomeroy at a
point in time and she handled it. That's when the new money came
in, and we needed to be a lot more careful of where we were going
and what we were doing. She did a superb job. She was wonderful.
Then I had the fortunate experience of introducing her to
Ulla Davis, Rabbi Davis' wife. Ulla was looking for a change in
her business career. She wanted to get into this kind of field.
I introduced her to Florette and the two of them just fell in love
with each other. Florette needed an assistant. Ulla was it.
Florette was in partnership with Treguboff and Treg, of course, at
that time was not as active as he had been. He wasn't as well as
he could have been. So she needed additional help. Ulla stepped
in and did the work.
Then, unfortunately, Florette died and Ulla became the head
of the foundation. She ran it and she's done a marvelous job ever
since. But she learned from Florette. Florette was her teacher.
Chairman. Easter Seal Campaign. 1963
Glaser: The next one I want to talk to you about is the Easter Seal
Campaign. In 1963 you were the chairman.
Swig: Yes, for one year. It was a fundraising job just for the year
Glaser: You didn't continue with it?
Swig: No, I didn't continue with it. I remember we had that blond
comedienne, Phyllis Diller. She helped us raise money, I
remember, that year and I was very impressed with her.
National Conference of Christians and Jews
Glaser: National Conference of Christians and Jews. You were on the board
of directors for a long time I think.
Swig: Quite a few years. Yes. I still help.
Glaser: Oh, you're still on it.
Swig: No. I'm not on the board. I still help them. It's a fundraising
deal. They are a social service type organization. How it got to
be named, "Conference of Christians and Jews," I don't know. The
Christians and Jews got together in order to do some work in the
community in a social service manner. The presentation was very
good. The brotherhood type of thing occurred. They performed
pretty well. They are not as strong as they ought to be. They
need help. But it was fun working on it. We did a pretty good
Foreman. San Francisco City and County Grand Jury. 1969
San Francisco City and County Grand Jury foreman in 1969.
were your functions?
In those days particularly, it's changed a little now, the grand
jury was selected by presiding judges. All the judges put in
names and there is a presiding judge. The judge that year was a
Judge O'Day. He was more of a friend of my dad's than he was
mine. He was much older than I was. A lovely man, Ed O'Day. My
name was submitted by him and then one is selected by lot. All
the names are thrown into a jar, and they are picked out, and
that's how you get to go on the grand jury.
Finally, nineteen out of 100, or God knows how many, names
are selected by lot. The presiding judge was Ed O'Day and I
happened to be his selection, so I became foreman of the grand
jury. That is a one-year job, a tough job. It requires being
there Monday night, starting from seven until twelve, one, two
o'clock in the morning, hearing various criminal cases that are
presented by the district attorney's office. It requires study of
all the city departments and making judgments as to their
capabilities, where there were strengths, where there were
weaknesses, suggestions and ideas. It requires a lot of committee
work during the year to come to these conclusions. You have got
nineteen people to deal with who are from all walks of life, and
Melvin M. Swig, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, and Professor William Haber, 1980.
you have to come to a common denominator, an essay if you will, at
the end to discuss all the things that you have done all year.
As to the government operation, in addition to hearing all
these cases, which you do every Monday night, on Thursday you
return the indictments . If you are down at City Hall around
eleven o'clock, you're out of there by twelve fifteen. You return
the indictments and the cases either go to trial or not, as the
case may be. But you have to sit as judge and jury in deciding
whether or not there should be an indictment returned against an
individual. It isn't a trial but you hear evidence only presented
by the district attorney, not by the defendant. So it's kind of
an interesting job.
Glaser: How do these criminal cases differ from those that go to an
Swig: These eventually go to an ordinary court. The question is whether
these cases should be tried or not. That's what we determine. We
don't determine guilt. We determine only if the case should be
tried or not. Like we had a murder case once, a husband killing a
woman, a woman killing her husband, I forget which way it went.
We threw it out. It was certainly a case of self-defense in our
opinion. We said it should not be tried.
It's interesting. Even in those days, 1969, we were hearing
a lot of drug cases back then. The first I ever saw marijuana, it
was right in front of me on my desk. The foreman brought the
stuff up, and I showed it to the jury. "This is marijuana. This
is cocaine." I had never seen the stuff before and there it was.
Those kinds of cases, robbery, and breaking and entering
types of cases. Friends of mine over on Washington Street who
lived next to my brother, their house was ransacked. Their maid
was tied up, they were tied up, and the house was robbed. They
came in and they were witnesses, and I was cross-examining them
and so forth. It was fun; it was interesting.
Incidentally, our grand jury, who were nineteen (now I think
there are ten or eleven left of us), we meet twice a year every
year. I think we are the only grand jury to my knowledge that
Glaser: As a social event?
Swig: As a social thing. Twenty- two years later we still meet.
Glaser: That's interesting. So you became very close then.
Swig: We all stayed together and we're still friends
Vice-President . San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
Glaser: When you were vice-president of the San Francisco Chamber of
Commerce, what was going on and what were your functions?
Swig: My functions for that were city planning. We did a lot of good
things for the city and could have done more had we not met some
opposition. One of the things we did was to run the one-way
streets: Geary, Ellis, Eddy, Post Streets.
Swig: Pine and Bush already were one-way. We made all those one-way
streets so they could increase the traffic flow through the city.
Swig: We created the first truck-only loading zones in the city. We
then created bus lanes of traffic, I remember, on Geary Street, on
Sacramento Street, on Post Street. We made a bus -only zone at
certain hours of the day for buses to have exclusive use of those
zones to move the buses through the city in a better way. Those
were some of the things that we were responsible for.
We had a wonderful plan that was going to connect up- -you' 11
be happy to hear this --that stub of a road that comes in on
Highway 280 extension. We had a plan to come around through the
city, tear down the Embarcadero Freeway, submerge it (very similar
to what the mayor has proposed now) , and then connect up
eventually by going out Bay Street and then out into the Bay,
underneath the Bay, outside of the St. Francis Yacht Club, coming
up to the Golden Gate Bridge and meeting the Golden Gate Bridge.
This would have circumvented the entire city with all that traffic
around the city.
Swig: It was a marvelous plan. The only reason we would have been able
to do it was that the state at that time, if we created bus -only
lanes as a part of this, would give us $200 million dollars. That
was a lot of money in those days . There was also federal money
involved that would have helped this thing too at that time. We
had a public hearings on it. Gosh, we did all kinds of wonderful
things. At that time BART was finishing up on Market Street. I
don't know whether you recall how much devastation there was to
the city doing that: the upsetting of traffic, and retailers
having trouble, and all the people along Market Street complaining
about the terrible upset that they were in. But that's the only
way the thing could have been built.
Well, all the people out at Fisherman's Wharf and in the
Marina District remembered this BART thing. They opposed this
thing like you can't believe. I guess I can't blame them really
because I knew it would have been upsetting. But that would have
been such a wonderful plan for the city that it would have been
well worthwhile to have done it. It was a once only chance
because all this money was available to do it. Otherwise it
couldn't have been done.
So we worked and we worked and we fought and we fought, and
we met with the police departments and the traffic departments and
God only knows what. We went to Sacramento to meet with Reagan's
people (he was governor at the time) , trying to get him to get
this money and get the approval from the state, from the U.S.
Army, from everybody else we had to get approval from. And we
did, we had it through except for the opposition within the city.
That was one of the more exciting plans that I think we did that
The other that I told you about we accomplished. We did
that and it was successful. Still is, even to the zones of
pedestrian-only traffic, some of the downtown streets along
Did you have anything to do with height limitation on new
No. We didn't. That was not something that came up at that time.
We had our hands full doing what we did. It was fun though. It
All you have to do is go down Lombard Street at commute time and
you will know how much that was needed.
Oh yes, and still is. All the accidents that happen on the
approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.
We would have eliminated that.
San Francisco Citv Parking Corporation
Glaser: San Francisco City Parking Corporation. You were president of the
board of directors. Did that consider building new underground
Swig: Yes. The city in its infinite wisdom decided they didn't like
garages in downtown. The reason they didn't like garages was they
wanted people not to bring their cars downtown. What they didn't
know, however, was that people were going to bring their cars
downtown anyway. So we got together. Cyril Magnin was involved
with me too, and that's where I first met this lawyer on the
Crescent Porter Hale Foundation, Ed Keil.
So we put together a non-profit garage. We had to go
through the parking authority to get this done. We were going to
increase the tolls on parking meters from 5C to IOC, which would
have raised $5- $6 -$700, 000 a year. With that, through bonds, we
could build some short-term parking garages downtown to get the
traffic off the streets and move the traffic through the streets
in a better way. That was our whole purpose.
Now I have to recall back why the damn thing never went
through. There was opposition to it. We had it all set up; we
had the parking authority done. I guess we just never were able
to sell it to the board of supervisors properly, and they turned
it down. They just didn't want garages downtown. They put such
restrictions on them, made it so difficult, it never happened.
They passed the increase of the meters. [Laughter] That went
into the city budget. It never went to what we wanted to do.
Glaser: Where would you have put these garages?
Swig: Wherever we could find land and build them. We were going to
build one down near the waterfront, where it would have been
tremendous for today's purposes. We had one over here at the end
of Sansome Street, near Sansome Street somewhere. Those were two
sites I remember we looked at. Wherever we could have fit,
wherever we could have afforded to buy land and build a garage.
Glaser: This was more on the periphery?
Swig: More on the periphery.
Commissioner. San Francisco Housine Authoritv. 1962-1965
Glaser: Now this is an interesting one: San Francisco Housing Authority.
You were a commissioner.
Glaser: That must have called for a lot of time on your part.
Swig: It did. I was young then though. That was about 1962 or 1963, I
believe. Something like that, in that vicinity. I was appointed
by George Christopher. I was playing golf one day out at Lake
Merced on a Friday afternoon. I got a call on the telephone and
was told, "Please call the mayor immediately." I called him. He
said, "Mel, can you come right down to see me?" I said, "Yes, but
I'm on the golf course." He said, "I want to talk to you about a
commission. I need to discuss it with you."
So I got dressed and went down to see him. He said, "I want
you to serve on the housing authority. A couple of your friends
have recommended you very strongly, and I think it would be a good
idea." "Tell me what it's all about." He explained it and I
said, "Well, that sounds interesting. Okay, I'll do it." I was a
fairly young kid at that time and it seemed like a good thing to
do . It was .
So I served on there for about two or three years , I guess .
It was somebody's unexpired term as I recall. Then Shelley came
in. The interesting thing was that Christopher I had not
supported when he ran for governor, but I was a friend. He wasn't
really anybody that I had supported very strongly. Shelley came
in, whom I had supported for a reason that I'll mention in a
minute. He didn't reappoint me and I'll tell you why. On that
board were some people, one of whom is a black fellow whom I still
correspond with: Sol Johnson. He lives in Hawaii. Another fellow
was a Chinese fellow, Dr. T.K. Lee, a lovely man. Another one was
Joe Mazzola, the head of the plumber's union. Another guy was a
good friend of George Christopher's, and I can't quite remember
his name. And myself. There were five of us.
All the meetings are open to the public. There were problems
in the housing authority. I went to meetings in Denver and I went
to Washington. I was learning all about housing and what you do
and how you do it. I think I was a pretty good director. We
decided that we needed some social -worker type to handle our
community relations with the tenants. In a private meeting (about
personnel, you can hold private meetings. The Brown Act says you
can't hold private meetings except about personnel.) The rest of
us go into this private meeting with Mazzola and decide to hire
this lovely black lady. She was a doll. He was raising hell
about it because she was black and all kinds of racial things, and
it was just a total disgrace. But we outvoted him three to two.
We came out to the public meeting later on to do this, and
Mazzola talked totally different from what he had talked in the
meeting. I was turned off terribly. He was eloquent in praising
that she was black, all the opposite things to what he had said
just a half hour before. Well, that turned me off pretty good.
He was that kind of a man. He wasn't doing the housing authority
the best job in my opinion. Not only that, but some other things.
But this guy Johnson, the black fellow, and I (and he was a
lawyer incidentally, a very nice guy) , and we had one other vote
we could always count on, I think it was the Chinese fellow, Dr.
T.K. Lee, and on occasion we would get the fourth. But Mazzola
was always the guy who was causing the trouble.
Anyway, it was an interesting couple of three years that I
put in there. When Shelley called me up one day he said, "What do
you think about reappointment?" I said, "Well, I'll tell you
Jack, I won't take it if you keep Mazzola as president. You've
got to put on somebody else as president of that board. It just
isn't going to work well if he is president as far as I'm
concerned." So guess who they kicked off. I was. Mazzola had
the juice, if you will, the political clout, to keep himself on
and I went off. But it was an interesting two or three years.
I'm glad I served on it; it was good experience.
Glaser: During your term of office, was public housing constructed?
Swig: Oh yes. We built the housing for seniors over on Sacramento
Street near Presbyterian Hospital. You know that apartment house
on Sacramento? Well, you may not know it. You live on the other
side of the bay, don't you?
Glaser: There is a Jewish complex, Menorah Park, but you don't mean that.
Swig: No, not Jewish. It's public housing for seniors. Still is. And
we built other buildings around the city. We had a police
department of our own. We tried to take care of the apartments as
best we could, do them right. They had some real problems, as you
can imagine. There were a lot of drugs starting out in that area
at that time. There was vandalism and all the usual things that
you have in a low income kind of environment. But we did a pretty
good job by and large, and we took care of a lot of people who
needed a lot of help.
It seems to me that public housing has fallen into disrepute.
Wasn't it some years ago in St. Louis that they actually tore down
some public housing?
I visited that in St. Louis. I was there.
I think in Chicago they have found that it is--
What happens is that you try to help people but it gets to be a
way of life, and not a very healthy way of life for people.
You're clustering a whole bunch of people in a bad environment,
really, because drugs and robbery and other things occur and have
occurred, which has deteriorated the whole living environment.
People live in fear in those housing developments.
Especially the high rises.
Especially the high rises. The theory today is that people ought
to try to find a way to buy them, then they take care of them. So
there is a move afoot to try and work along those lines. So they
have deteriorated over the years, but at that time it wasn't that
bad. I said we had a police department and we ran them pretty
well. There is always going to be vandalism. There was
vandalism. There was the beginnings of these things that later on
occurred. They were beginning to happen. There were some serious
problems in running them. It was very difficult, but it was, in
our opinion, quite worthwhile.
Chairman. San Francisco International Film Festival. 1965
[Interview 5: November 21, 1991 ]////
Glaser: We were talking last time about your involvement with non- Jewish
organizations in the past. I would like to pick up with some more
of those. You were the chairman of the San Francisco
International Film Festival in 1965. How did that come about?
Swig: I was on the board of the chamber of commerce and a man by the
name of Bill Bird was president at that time. He wanted someone
to run this film festival and he said, "You're it." I said, "I
don't know anything about films. I don't even go to the movies at
all." He said, "You're it. I'll put together the staff, you'll
have all the support in the world, and we want you to take that
on." Bill was a good friend and I found it hard to say no so I
did it. I learned a lot about film festivals.
Glaser: What was involved in being chairman?
Swig: Everything. We had to start from scratch out here. There was a
film festival that had run here before and it had been moderately
successful but not completely so. A fellow named Levin was the
guy who ran it.
Glaser: Was that Mel Levin who had movie houses?
Swig: He had movie houses. Not Mel, Bud. Anyway, he was having
financial difficulty running the festival. Somebody asked the
chamber to take it on and the chamber agreed to do that. They
needed people to run it, so they gave me a great staff of people.
We went to Cannes to the film festival and there a man from
MGM whose name I've forgotten, a wonderful guy, helped me
tremendously. He helped me and the others, but I personally met
with him a few times before we got the others involved. He was
just tremendously helpful in guiding us how to do what and why and
We did it. We had people on our board who were just
terrific, particularly Barnaby Conrad II, Shirley Temple Black,
Dave Sacks who was in at Channel 5, I guess. I'm trying to think
of some of the others who were on there. Claude Jarman, a good
friend. He won an academy award as a child star. Stanley Mosk,
who is now a judge, Patty Costello, Marianne Goldman. A fellow
named Albert Johnson, a professor at the University of California
who was a walking encyclopedia of film. Those last four I
mentioned plus a man by the name of Bill Boyd who was on the staff
of the chamber at that time went to the Cannes festival together
and just did a great job. We put that whole package together, and
lo and behold we turned out a film festival at the Masonic Temple
that was really a star here in the city.
Glaser: How did you select the films that were shown?
Swig: We went to Cannes. Part of our rules, as I recall, was that they
must be foreign films, no domestic films. I take that back. That
isn't quite true. They had to be shown at the film festival, not
introduced in this country prior to the time of our showing the
film, including domestic. They could not have been shown in this
country before the festival. It was truly an international film
festival with international film festival rules.
Melvin M. Swig and Danny Kays at Cannes Film Festival, 1968.
We went to Cannes, as I said, and we learned a great deal
from this man who was just terrific to us. With all the knowledge
of the other people who were on our board and on our committee , we
gained a great deal of insight and knowledge. We had very good
people who helped us in the promotion of it and the work and the
detail of the local community involvement in the film festival.
It wasn't just that we wanted to show it for international flavor
but we wanted the community to be involved. We had parties for
every socialite in town all over the place, you know, and
different events going on at different times. We had
retrospectives of old movie stars and introduced them here in
afternoon sessions which, incidentally, were very successful. We
had over the years some of the top names in the business.
It was really an exciting gathering and an exciting event
for San Francisco. It ran for about ten days, as I recall, and we
just had wonderful audiences, and it became an important event in
San Francisco. I ran it for that first year. These people later
succeeded me as chairman of the event. I know I'm not thinking of
all of the names on there, but they were a very fine group of
Were you involved in subsequent years?
I was involved but not running it, and not to the extent that I
was that year. Once the pattern had been developed, it was a lot
easier to keep the thing going because the good things we found
out that we were doing we continued, the bad things we changed.
There weren't too many bad things, though. It worked amazingly
Glaser: You were on the board and treasurer of the San Francisco Life
Swig: Before we get there, back in the film festival, that's where I
first met the gal I'm now married to.
Glaser: Is that right?
Swig: She was then going with Jack Mailliard, who became her husband a
short time later. Jack and Charlotte and my later to-be-wife,
Dee, became good friends over the years. When we both lost our
spouses, we finally wound up getting married.
Glaser: I did the mathematics and that is now twenty- five, twenty- six
years ago .
Swig: Twenty-six years ago, yes. Anyway, you were asking about the San
San Francisco Life Insurance Company
San Francisco Life Insurance Company.
Well, that was a company owned by a man by the name of Karl Bach,
or started by him. He asked me to join in the company and I did.
I think I was treasurer of the company. It was a fairly
successful venture and subsequently sold to another company. We
all made money on it. It was fun doing it.
I've heard about Mr. Bach and I understand he was a refugee who
got his start by selling insurance to other refugees and was very
Actually, he got his start before that.
house Fuller brushes.
Oh really? Interesting.
He was selling house to
He was a refugee; he was from Germany. He was a butcher in
Germany, or his family was. I guess he was. He was pretty young
when he came here. He managed to get out before the onslaught and
came to San Francisco and did start selling insurance finally to
other German people. He became one of the most successful life
insurance salesmen in the country. A wonderful guy, kind,
charitable, a good person all the way, very bright, very able; he
did a wonderful job in the insurance business.
State SavinEs and Loan Association of Stockton
State Savings and Loan Association of Stockton,
board of directors at one point?
You were on the
I was there for a fairly short time with a friend of mine by the
name of Sonny Marx, who is still around. Others of us made an
investment in State Savings and Loan. He asked me to serve on
that board and I did. It wasn't for too long, though. He
subsequently sold the company and that was the end of that.
Stanford University Jewish Studies Program
Glaser: You were on the advisory board of Stanford University's Jewish
Swig: Yes. I wasn't terribly active in it but it's a very good
department. It's a Judaic study program and it's doing a very
fine job at Stanford. It is very well attended and is becoming
stronger and stronger each day, from everything I know about it.
They work very closely with the program at USF [University of San
Francisco] and at Cal and at G.T.U. [Graduate Theological Union].
They share speakers, for instance, who come through. Each of
these organizations use those speakers so that it is good for all
of the Judaic studies programs. There is a network of Judaic
studies in this community now that is very, very strong. Stanford
is one of the finer ones there is in the country today.
Glaser: I think it was expanded several years ago.
Swig: Yes, it was.
President. Lake Merced Golf and Country Club
Lake Merced Golf and Country Club,
that. What did that entail?
You were the president of
I was many, many years ago. I've forgotten how long ago it was;
I guess it must be over thirty years. I merely acted as
president. I was on the board and they elected me president.
That meant I had all the duties and obligations of a president
running an organization. Of course, they had other people on the
board with me. I merely ran the meetings and we all dictated
policy in effect together. I was the supposed leader of the group
for that time.
There were a lot of things going on at that time. Highway
280 came right through our property and took about thirteen,
fourteen acres away from us. So we had to build a new club house
and redesign the golf course and do all those things. I was at
the beginning of that and began to get thinking going on what we
would do and how we would do it at that time.
Glaser: What sort of policy did it have for accepting members?
Swig: We accepted everybody. We have, and do have at that club today,
male,* female, black, white, yellow, whoever is a good person can
Glaser: The only standard being that you can afford the membership?
Swig: You can afford it and you have to be a reasonably good, decent
United Way of the Bay Area
Glaser: You were on the board of directors of the United Way of the Bay
Area. Were there problems during that time?
Swig: There are always problems. No major ones. It was interesting, I
enjoyed it, met some good people. I think I served two terms on
that if I'm not mistaken.
Glaser: Was there anything unusual going on during your period on the
Swig: Yes, but I don't remember. We had nothing major, nothing
Bay Area Council
Glaser: Now (I'm going into current memberships on boards) you are on the
Bay Area Council. What is that?
Swig: The Bay Area Council is an organization (and I'm not on that
anymore; I've recently gone off it) of people around the Bay- -it's
mostly corporate types --who deal with the growth of the Bay Area,
the environment of the Bay Area, the housing of the Bay Area, the
transportation of the Bay Area, and all the major things affecting
the Bay Area. Trying to use that organization in concert with all
these people to promote the good welfare for the Bay Area. It is
more practically a study group than anything else.
Glaser: In yesterday's paper, there was an article about a push for
regionalism. Would this organization be involved in that sort of
Swig: Yes, very definitely.
Glaser: Are you in favor of regionalism?
Swig: I think you have to be in today's climate.
Bov Scouts of America
Glaser: Boy Scouts of America, on the advisory board.
Swig: Peripherally involved. Merv Morris and I have given a lunch that
we sponsor each year for the Boy Scouts. We've been a little
remiss. Remiss is not the right word. We've been a little upset
about the fact that they had some policies that we didn't care for
too much this year. Maybe you've noticed that they have talked
about gay young men and wanted to exclude them from becoming
members of the Boy Scouts. Merv and I have a different opinion on
Glaser: This is something that is near and dear to you: Brown University.
You've been a trustee since 1974.
Swig: Is that correct? Yes, I guess that's about right. I was a
trustee for one six-year term. It was 1974. I'll have to look
and see myself. No, I was a trustee from 1981 to 1987 and then
went back on again in 1989 and that goes until 1995 if I am still
Glaser: And you are a member of the Brown Foundation?
Swig: Is that right? I don't think so.
Glaser: You helped to run the--
Swig: I helped run the Brown fundraising campaign for a couple of years,
which would be maybe 1985, 1986, or 1986 and 1987. I think 1985
and 1986. I ran the fundraising campaign nationally for Brown
while I was a trustee. I did do that. But the Brown Fund doesn't
ring a bell to me.
Glaser: But you received the--
Swig: The Brown Annual Fund is a part of that campaign if that's what
you mean. Maybe that's it. But that's a part and parcel of the
total campaign. It's the alumni fundraising part of the campaign.
Glaser: You received the L.E. Leonard, Jr., Distinguished Achievement
Swig: I did.
Glaser: That must have given you a great deal of pleasure and
Swig: It did. But the honorary degree I got a couple of years ago was
even better. That I enjoyed more for obvious reasons. I received
another minor honorary something or other from Brown as well, so
I've been well rewarded for my work at Brown. It's been very
Glaser: You are very close to the university.
Swig: I am and still am. I am on that board still. The new president
is a man by the name of Vartan Gregorian who came in a couple of
years ago, almost two years now, and who's doing a super job at
Brown, a wonderful guy. The previous president, Howard Swearer
(whom I knew), just a month ago passed away, unfortunately, a
young man fifty- eight years old, from cancer. He had done a
marvelous job at Brown. He had really done great things. He had
decided that he had been president for about eleven years,
something like that, and that he had burnt himself out a little
bit. So we brought in this new guy by the name of Gregorian, who
is just a totally different kind of person but equally remarkable
and who will, I think, carry Brown on to bigger and better things.
Civilian Advisory Committee
Glaser: You are on the board of the Civilian Advisory Committee, the
department of the army that has to do with the Presidio.
Swig: I was more active in that, I'm not very active in that at all
today. With the Presidio going out of business, it's academic
Glaser: What did the board do?
Swig: We met with the generals over there and did everything in our
power locally to build up a good quality relationship between the
civilian population and the military.
Columbia Park Boys' Club
Would you talk about the Columbia Park Boys' Club,
You were on
Columbia Park Boys' Club is out in the Mission. They have about
fifteen hundred young men who are helped in their athletic
endeavors or artistic endeavors and have a place to go where they
can elevate the quality of life for those young people who are
coming mostly from a very poor and humble background. The
organization has been in business for a long, long time. My
father was on that board long before me, and it has been in
business for, gee, I don't remember how long, but a very, very
I have enjoyed the work on that and now it's about to become
a boys' and girls' club, so that they are joint venturing with the
young ladies out there. I think the board just voted two or three
weeks ago for this change. I know I voted for it. It will
require some fundraising, obviously, to make the changes necessary
to have women there as well as men, or girls as well as boys, I
should say. They are not adults yet. It has done just a
wonderful job in that community in elevating life for all those
What are the age groups?
They run anywhere from about eight to eighteen, something in that
Glaser: You were appointed to the board of the Koret Foundation in 1986;
this was after the lawsuit. 1
1 A legal battle for control of the multi-million dollar Koret
Foundation was settled out of court in June 1986. Mrs. Susan Koret,
chairman of the foundation, had sought to remove the three directors, who
Glaser: Were you involved in the lawsuit at all?
Swig: No. Not at all.
Glaser: When the audit was done, was there anything wrong that came to
Swig: No. There were a couple of relatively minor things that did come
to light. The people involved paid their dues and the attorney
general ruled on it and that was the end of it.
Glaser: What do you mean, they paid their dues?
Swig: They paid some penalties or fines or what have you.
Glaser: For wrongdoing?
Swig: For some relatively little wrongdoing. They paid a lot of
attorneys' fees too.
Glaser: I imagine so. What was the effect of your serving on both the
Koret Foundation and the Federation Community Endowment Fund? Was
there a conflict of interest there?
Swig: No, no. The Koret Foundation has nothing to do with the
Glaser: It gives it a lot of money.
Swig: That's a different story. It's a separate foundation having
nothing to do with the Federation. It's intent is to help the
Jewish community. No less than 50 percent of its money goes to
Jewish causes, both domestically and overseas. It gives a little
over fifty percent each year, usually 51, 52 percent, to all these
causes. But it has no relationship to the Federation; only in the
compatibility. It enjoys, likes, and appreciates what the
Federation does and gives it a fair amount of money each year.
countersued to have Mrs. Koret removed as chairman
allegations of financial mismanagement.
Also involved were
Not only the Federation in San Francisco but also Oakland and San
Glaser: But your serving on the board of the endowment fund and the Koret
Foundation, would that have an impact on decisions as to how the
funds should be used by the endowment fund from the Koret
Swig: No. The money that is given by the Koret Foundation to the
Federation goes to its annual programs, not to the endowment fund,
Glaser: I see, to the Federation itself.
Swig: Yes. It had nothing to do with the endowment fund.
United Negro College Fund
Glaser: You are on the advisory board of the United Negro College Fund.
Glaser: Where does that fund meet?
Swig: It doesn't meet very often. I meet with its director. Shirley
Matthews is her name. I'm not as active as I once was but I have
raised every year quite a lot of money for them. It goes to forty
different black colleges in the United States, and supports those
Glaser: Do you have anything to do with policymaking?
Swig: No. Each college runs its own show, but this fund, throughout the
country, raises money, and each of those schools is given money
from this fund.
United Services Organization fUSOl
Glaser: I see. You are on the World Board of Governors for the USO, the
United Service Organization.
Swig: I was until June of this year, I think it was, when my term
expired. I think I was for eight or ten years maybe.
Glaser: What was the function of the board of governors?
Swig: Well, the board of governors was a board that supported, helped,
and advised for the USO throughout the world. As you know, the
USO is not only a Bob Hope show type of operation but helps all
service people. And now, with the way things run, it helps their
families, in Europe, in Israel, in the Mediterranean areas, Korea,
the Philippines, and all the local bases where those people come,
like San Francisco. We have out at the airport an office and all
the folks coming into this port are met by the USO. Family advice
is given where to stay, where to go, do you need money, what can
we do to help you, all that kind of service, how the kids are
handled. All that takes place at each port all over this country
and all over the world. A huge work.
Glaser: Mr. Swig, that sounds like the Red Cross' function.
Swig: Oh no, not at all. Red Cross has nothing like that at all that I
know of. The Red Cross functions mostly in the handing out coffee
and doughnuts type of thing as far as the military is concerned.
This is a family function. We have people over there helping
families, helping with schools, helping with all kinds of
emotional problems with families being transplanted all over the
place. A whole bunch of things that they do that are over and
above the entertainment process that takes place.
Glaser: I'm a little surprised to hear this because USO to me meant a
meeting place where you could play ping pong, get a free hot dog,
and that was about it.
Swig: That's what most people think. That was World War II. That's how
it started. The USO is only fifty years old now, that's all it
is. It is, relatively speaking, a young organization. It started
during World War II; people like Bob Hope and all those wonderful
entertainers who went out all over the place. Entertaining the
troops was the first order of business. You remember all the
dance places that the boys and girls --
Glaser: Stagedoor Canteen?
Swig: That's right; all that stuff took place at that time. Anything to
help the troops. We were in wartime, that kind of environment.
But after the war ended the USO continued. We have a permanent
military force that was not like it was prior to World War II,
where we had practically no force. Our troops were all over the
world at that time. We had troops in Germany by the bucketful.
The Korean War started early in the fifties. We had troops over
in Korea, still do. Troops in Japan. We are all over the world.
Our folks then began to travel with families, their kids,
the wives. It was a whole social service aspect that took place
that we never had before. The USO does that and does it very,
very well. I used to scream at them a lot, telling them, "We
don't tell our story. Everyone thinks of us still as just the
entertainment part. We don't do that. We are a social service
agency providing huge services for the military all over the
world, doing a wonderful job."
I guess I thought of the Red Cross because I know that during
World War II if a service man needed compassionate leave because a
family member was dying or was very ill, the Red Cross handled
Yes, they did that. But that was a relatively minor kind of thing
compared to what's going on today.
I want to move on to ask you about Israel. Why is it so central
to your life?
Why? I guess you have to go back to my earlier beginnings, which
occurred in the thirties, when the Father Coughlins of the world
and the Nazis--
I have to interrupt you.
There was one more thing I wanted to ask
Swig: All right. Go ahead.
Fundraising for San Francisco's New Main Library
Glaser: You and Mrs. Swig are co-chairmen to raise funds for the new main
library in San Francisco.
Glaser: Would you tell me about that?
Swig: Okay. A year and a half ago, I suppose, Ann Getty and Marjorie
Stern and some others had us over to the Getty house and unloaded
on us this program of raising money for the library (the bond
issue had then been passed for the city to fill the library) .
They asked us to raise the money to complete the interior of the
building, which was going to be a $30 million project, $5 million
of which was to be an endowment. We thought it over and kind of
liked the idea. The library is such a necessary part of our
community, and it deals with education in all facets of it, we
thought it would be good if we did it.
So we agreed to take on a project of raising $30 million in
this community. We're well on our way. We already have over $12
million raised and we're working on the next five or six. We hope
to get in a few more million before the end of the year. We are
working on that and I hope we will be very successful.
So it's going to be a new building,
renovation of the old building.
It's not going to be the
That's correct. The new building will go down where the planning
department used to be at Civic Center, nearer to Market Street.
It will front on the Civic Center and be compatible with the
present library in its design. It will be much bigger and much
better laid out than the present library and therefore much more
useful. It's a magnificent new building. The city passed a bond
issue for $109 million and received a 77 percent positive vote on
it, which is unheard of for that. To get 55 or 58 percent is a
terrific victory and this got 77 percent. So it is very largely
supported by the community.
The problem for us is that it has no alumni, it has no
boards, it has no people whom you can get out to raise money for
it. Everybody loves the library, but there aren't that many
people involved with it who can go out and raise the funds.
Martin Paley was hired to be the professional for fundraising with
his staff. Charlotte and I and Martin and his staff have raised
the bulk of the money, practically all of the money so far, and it
looks as if we're going to have to do the bulk of it ourselves.
It is very hard to get volunteers to go out and raise money for
I imagine so .
Is Martin Paley connected with the San Francisco
Used to be.
When you refer to his organization, what is it?
He has himself and several other people, three or four other
people, who assist him in his organization. They are hired by the
library foundation to be the fundraising professionals for raising
Glaser: So he's acting as a consultant.
Swig: That's correct. Yes.
Glaser: What's going to happen to the old building?
Swig: The talk is, and it. hasn't been decided yet, that the Asian Art
Museum will take that over, have its own drive, restore it, and
make an Asian Art Museum out of it. The one that is out in Golden
Gate Park now.
XVI MORE ON ISRAEL
Centralitv of Israel
Glaser: I interrupted you when you had started to talk about Israel.
Let's go back now.
Glaser: And I asked you why it has played such a central role in your
Swig: I guess part of it is the fact that I was brought up and was a
young man during the thirties when Hitler took over Germany and
persecuted the Jews. I was humiliated very many times by my
peers, in terms of anti-Semitism. I fought my way through school
part of the time.
Then, of course, World War II came along and all the
terrible atrocities that we heard about occurred. Finally, the
opportunity to have a place where Jews could call home became
possible in 1947. The state was formed in 1948 and it just
enveloped me as far as being the right thing to do, and the right
place to go, and the right thing they had for our people. The old
expression of the Wandering Jew has been prevalent for so many
generations; here was a place to settle down, build roots, and
make something that was very, very good. Had they been left alone
and allowed to do all the things they wanted to do, it would have
prospered much better than it has. But having been burdened with
terrible wars and atrocities that they have had to experience,
they have been slower in their development than they might
otherwise have done, but still have done a remarkably fine job.
Glaser: You and your family have been very involved. What have you done
in Israel? By that I mean your contributions.
Swig: You mean financial?
Swig: Gosh. The first thing, of course, is that we support the
Federation very strongly. Depending on what year you are talking,
a fairly good percentage of the money goes to Israel. Over and
above that, we have endowed chairs at the universities, we've
built buildings and raised tons of money for it, gotten deeply
involved in the Israel bond program as well as the Federation. So
we've made what I hope are significant and continuing
contributions to the State of Israel.
Glaser: How many times have you visited?
Swig: I don't know how many times, but I guess it's over twenty. I
don't know how many; I've never counted.
Glaser: What do you think about the current political situation in Israel?
Swig: I think that it's a very difficult one. I tend to get very upset
with the extreme religious parties over there who are like the
tail wagging the dog. As a matter of fact, at Koret Foundation,
we are working to help to change the electoral system there so
that they don't have those splinter groups controlling the balance
of power. So that a government can be formed that will be
independent of those people, because they are very extreme in
their points of view and the bulk of Israel is not extreme. I've
heard that 80, 85 percent generally would approve of an electoral
reform that would eliminate that problem.
Interesting that in all the history of Israel, when Ben
Gurion was alive and Go Ida ^ir and so forth, they never had an
absolute control of the go\ nment by votes for their party.
There always were the splinter parties that they had to deal with
in order to make the government function. They never had control
and it's high time, it seems to me, that they elect one party and
that party has control- -that they elect the individual, not the
party. That's what we're working for and eventually, if that
becomes successful, then hopefully the Knesset members will also
be elected in the same way. That will give them an opportunity to
accept or reject whoever is in the party, the elected official.
If they like him, they keep him in; if they don't like him, they
vote him out.
Glaser: You're talking about the direct election of the prime minister.
Swig: They were Jews. Jews living in Israel were Palestinians the same
as these people were. They all lived in Palestine. So Jews are
Palestinians as well.
Glaser: Oh yes, but the Palestinians are Arabs, they are not Jews.
Swig: No, Palestinians are Jews. They have become Arabs. The Arabs
call their people the Palestinians, but the Jews were Palestinians
just as much as the Arabs were.
Swig: We have all forgotten that because the term Palestinians means
today Arabs. But Jews are Palestinians too; there were a whole
bunch of Jews living with those so-called Palestinians at that
time before Israel became a state. Those people are Palestinians
So when Israel became a state, Jordan was living next to
what became Israel, and Jordan was the fighter that took over
Jerusalem and so forth. The people who were then living in
Palestine decided to call themselves Palestinians, those Arabs.
That's how the name was founded, I think. They became a symbol.
The ones who were living in what is now Israel were told by the
Arabs, "Get out of there. Come with us. Fight the Jews. We'll
get back in. You'll take back over. Don't worry about it."
Well, they didn't win the war. Israel fought them off. So
they used those people, those Palestinians, as symbols of the
terrible thing that Israel had done to them. They kept them in
camps. They didn't have to keep them in camps. I was in Amman,
Jordan, with my father and my late wife in 1977. I don't know
whether I told you this or not. We were there as guests of the
then queen; she provided a car and driver. There in the middle of
Amman, Jordan, was a Palestinian camp, three generations of people
living in it. Why do they keep that there? Why don't they let
them be a part of their whole community? Only for one reason.
They want to keep it as a symbol to show what the Israelis have
done , the Jews have done .
Right in the heart of Amman, Jordan, we saw it. The driver
described it to us. That was the kind of thing that was occurring
down near Jericho. They had a whole bunch of camps down there.
They kept them there for years. Why? Gaza- -the Israelis tried to
give it back to the Egyptians; they wouldn't take it. Israel
tried to build housing there; the United Nations wouldn't let
them. What are you supposed to do with it. Israel didn't want
it; Egypt didn't want it. But Israel was forced to hold onto it
How are you working for this?
We are working with some organizations as a study group to find a
way to do this. We are allowed to do that and we are. Hopefully,
something good will come of it. It may be that I'll go over there
next spring and work on it myself. We already have hired some
people to do that for us up to this point, and organizations who
are working in that regard. If necessary, I would like to
participate in it because I feel very strongly about it. I
shouldn't be as dramatic as saying the survival of Israel depends
on it, but I think that to a large extent that its good survival
will depend on it. I think that if they overcome their rigid
rules today, they will prosper and benefit more than they might
Are there any other changes you would like to see brought about in
Yes, I would like to see some peace over there. I hope they can
find some way to make peace , because they spend an inordinate
amount of their money and their budget into warfare kinds of
elements. Having to keep a very large standing army, to buy all
the weaponry that they have to buy, it's not exactly what you
would call a wealthy community. They don't have the natural
resources there that the oil rich nations do. That's what takes
so damn much money from all the people around the world to support
them and help them. If they didn't have that unusual burden, they
could develop their own industries in a better way and become much
Glaser: How much land would you be willing to give up for peace?
Swig: I would be willing to give up enough land for peace to keep their
security, to keep it strong, and to give an element of feeling for
the Palestinians to have their own symbol, if you will. They are
really attached to Jordan, they always have been, so I don't feel
like-- I could get in a long discussion about that one, but they
are Jordanians. The Palestinians are also Jews; they don't
mention that .
Glaser: You don't mean Jews; you mean they are Semitic.
Swig: Syria, for gosh sakes, is worse than Saddam Hussein.
Glaser: I wanted to ask you about the Golan Heights. When we talk about
giving up land for peace, that would be very dangerous, wouldn't
Swig: I don't know if you remember or not, but before the 1973 war, and
I visited there many times and I've seen it, they barricaded the
concrete abutments that were put in to hold their guns so that
they could shoot at the land down below. Is Israel going to let
them do that again? You know damn well there won't be peace.
There can't be peace with a guy like Assad. Assad is worse than
the guy over in Iraq, and God knows he's bad enough. But Assad is
It's interesting that the world doesn't care that he took
over Lebanon, destroyed a beautiful city, a wonderful place which
lived in relative peace with Israel for many, many years. He took
over and Arafat took over in there and destroyed the country. The
world doesn't seem to care about that. Only about Israel do they
care and make a fuss. There is Lebanon and Beirut, its great
city, it was the Paris of the Middle East, if you recall. It was
destroyed, totally destroyed. Nobody raises a hand. Nobody says
So give them something? Yes, give them a token, but that's
about all I would want to give, if it mean peace. If it meant
peace, I would give them something, but it would have to be a damn
good peace .
You see the Arabs today. Did anybody raise a question about
Iraq and Iran in the war that went on for eight years and killed
1.7 million young people. Mr. Bush, our great president, was
supporting the Iraqis because they were fighting the Iranians.
There everybody was feeding them arms and plowing everything into
them. The same thing will happen again, I believe, because there
will be some other reason why to help them. Now, they are playing
the same game with Syria. "If you make peace, we're going to give
you this, we're going to give you that." All the same kind of--
Will there be peace over there? I don't think so. First of
all, the Arabs kill the Arabs more than they kill the Jews. The
only thing that they have in common is that they hate the Jews .
That's the only thing that I know of that they have in common.
Other than that they butcher each other like mad.
I remember I had dinner one night in Israel with a friend of
mine, and he brought along a general and his wife. That general
and take all the abuse of the Gaza Strip. Most of those Gazans
were working in Israel; that's where they made their living. The
Egyptians didn't take care of them, but Israel did.
But when that non- Palestinian Arafat got involved and built
up the emotions of all these people, they had a symbol to fight
for and they were going to kick the Jews out. They never liked
them anyway, let's face it- -for the most part.
So what are we talking about, the Palestinians? But the
world doesn't know about that. The world never remembers the
history of Jerusalem, which our great Randolph Hearst said should
be made an international city in an editorial the other day-- He
doesn't remember, or little cares, that that city was forbidden to
Jews during the occupation by Jordan of that city. They took the
cemeteries on the Mount of Olives and made roads out of the marble
gravestones and destroyed and desecrated the Jewish cemeteries.
Mr. Hearst doesn't remember that. Now he says, "Internationalize
It's been internationalized and is internationalized. Every
religion is allowed to go there, and yet Mr. Hearst says it should
be internationalized. Christians have their churches, Armenians
have their churches, these have their churches, all of them have
churches, and all of them live side by side. If they weren't of
the Arafat type of mentality, they would be living reasonably
When Mr. [Teddy] Kollek became mayor of that city, look at
the wonderful things he did for the Arabs. He built roads,
schools, and houses, and gave them water every day. They used to
have it maybe two or three times a week when they lived under
Jordan. They became part of the community. Mr. Hearst says
I get on a stand on this, I guess, but what should they
have? I've said many times to friends of mine, "Let's negotiate
with those people. Give them some land for peace. I'll predict
for you that it won't happen because they will get so demanding
and so outrageous, with a guy like Arafat, that it would be
impossible to live under the conditions that he would set for his
people." Who aren't his people; he was born in Egypt. He doesn't
come from Palestine.
You don't hold out any hopes for the current peace conference?
No, not too much.
What about the Golan Heights?
is now the chief of staff of the Israeli army. The Lebanon
invasion by Israel had just finished. He said, "We were sitting
in Lebanon and we sat with all these Lebanese people, bright,
intelligent, educated, lovely people. We sat, we had dinner, we
went home. The next day those same people were out butchering."
That was that massacre that happened where--
Glaser: Sabra and Shatilla?
Swig: Yes. "These same people were out butchering the next day. We
couldn't believe. How could you figure these wonderful people
could do a thing like that." That's the history of the Arab
nations. They butcher each other. Iraq knocked off Kuwait.
Saudis fighting off Iran; although they are not Arab, they are
Moslem. Saudi Arabia is having a helluva time with the
fundamentalists again and worrying about Iran. The
fundamentalists killed Sadat in Egypt. How do you make peace over
there under those conditions?
The Israelis showed their desire for peace when they made
peace with Egypt. They gave up a huge amount of stuff, including
oil that they themselves had discovered, for the benefit, as it
turned out, of Egypt. They gave it all up for peace. They showed
their intent. Give up Jerusalem? No way. They can't. Have you
ever been there?
Glaser: Oh sure.
Swig: Okay. Well, you know you can't give up Jerusalem. It's part and
parcel of the whole of Israel. The Wailing Wall, so-called, was
not available to Jews prior to 1967. A Jew couldn't set foot over
there. You were not allowed to. You could almost see it from the
King David Hotel but you couldn't stand over there and go to the
wall. How are you going to have peace and give up Jerusalem? I
don't see it.
Glaser: Well, I'm sure that's not going to happen, but I think it is
really a step forward that people are meeting.
Swig: I'm delighted with that, of course I am. I don't trust it too
much, to be honest with you. I don't think it's going to work too
well. That's my gut feeling.
Glaser: But it's always better to talk rather than--
Swig: Talk rather than shoot, absolutely. I'm for that all the way. As
I said to you, I urged at times that the government speak even to
the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]. They'll only kill
themselves. They'll screw themselves into the ground because
their demands will be so preposterous that Israel will come out
looking good and say, "Hey, we tried. We failed." That was my
philosophy. Nobody listened to me but that's what I felt ought to
have happened way back.
I'm going back quite a few years now, when I first
enunciated that. I felt that if Israel had talked to the PLO--I
know that's not popular, but if they had talked to the PLO and sat
down and tried to negotiate with them, that the PLO would be so
demanding and so absolutely impossible to deal with that Israel
would look the better for it. It didn't happen.
Glaser: Yes, but Arafat has now screwed himself into the ground, to use
Swig: That's right. And I think that's what would have happened in a
better way for Israel had they done it at that time. But there
was no way anybody would ever think of that. I understand the
emotion that goes with an Arafat. Even today the world forgets
all the atrocities that he committed and his whole group. There
are several divisions of them apparently. They have committed
Glaser: I have never been able to understand the vast amounts of money
that he was given by other Arab countries like Kuwait and Saudi
Swig: They were scared of him. It's a payoff.
Glaser: But why were they scared him?
Swig: He's a terrorist. He can commit mayhem.
Glaser: I suppose you're right.
Swig: And that's a part of it. It -aay not be all of it, but it is
certainly a major part of it.
XVII POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT
Northern Californians for Good Government
Glaser: I want to talk to you about politics in this country now.
Glaser: You are involved in the San Franciscans for Good Government that's
now the Northern Californians for Good Government. How did this
come about and when, and what does it do?
Swig: It came about five, six years ago maybe. Seven. I don't remember
exactly. Five or six anyway. These PACs [political action
committees] started to form around the country to provide funds
for candidates who were friendly to Israel, in Congress, in the
Senate. In our particular case, we would not support anybody in
California, only outside of California. We didn't want to get
into partisan politics within the state. We support with an
emphasis, incidentally, on those areas in the country that have
very few Jewish people, because here in San Francisco, as an
example, we have plenty of people who can support whomever they
want. But in outlying areas, in the Dakotas and the Midwest
generally, there aren't too many Jewish families out there. We
felt that we wanted to make an impression with those people. We
support them; we hope they'll support us and support Israel.
We've been very successful in it. We've done a very good
job. Our people in this community have been one of the better
communities in the country in showing its support on a non-
partisan basis to those people who support Israel. That was the
genesis, that's how it formed, and that's what its present
Glaser: You are the chairman now.
Swig: I'm the president. I guess it's president now. But I'm about to
go out of office on that too. You see, I'm getting older. I'm
cutting down. [Laughter]
Glaser: I don't think so, not when I see all that you're involved in.
This is aside from AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs
Committee] , which you are also very active in.
Swig: But AIPAC is different. AIPAC is a political action group in the
sense that it tries to influence decisions among the present
Glaser: It's a registered lobby.
Swig: They're registered lobbyists for the State of Israel, which is
different from what we do. They don't give any money to
candidates or anything like that. They merely try to sit down and
discuss issues with people and influence them in a way like any
Democratic Party Politics
Glaser: I know that you are very involved with the Democratic party.
Swig: I am.
Glaser: You knew Jack Kennedy.
Swig: I did.
Glaser: Can you tell me about that.
Swig: I didn't know him really well. It is interesting that he and I
were the same age. We came from the same section of the country.
We lived not very far away from each other, actually, relatively
few miles. As a matter of fact, he lived on the same street that
my grandmother lived on, and I never met him when I lived in
Boston. When I first met him he was a senator. I think about
1957 maybe was when I met him, 1958 possiblywhatever it was. He
was a very nice guy and we had nice chats and talked about our
upbringing and where we came from. I went to Brown; he went to
Harvard. As I said, we lived probably within eight or ten miles
of each other and never met.
I found him relatively shy, kind of standing off in a
corner. That's how I happened to go up to him. I saw him
The Northern California Jewish Bulletin
September 13, 1991
S.F.'s pro-Israel PAC expands
to include N. Calif.
By LESLIE KATZ
Of the Bulletin Staff
With the football season upon
us, if s a shame Northern Califor-
nians for Good Government
won't be predicting the odds. It
seems the S.E-based political ac
tion committee has a knack for
The winners it picks, though,
aren't teams they are members
of Congress with strong pro-Is
rael voting records.
During the 1989-90 election cy
cle, for example, NCGG allocated
more man $125,000 to candidates
running for both the Senate and
the House. More than 85 percent
of the candidates it supported
won their elections.
Now, NCGG is gearing up to
repeat its track record in 1992.
While $125,000 might not seem
like much in the big-bucks world
of campaign financing, ifs a lot
"when you put it in perspective,
compare it to a lot of little [pro-
Israel] PACS around the coun
try," according to NCGG execu
tive director Barbara Kaltenbach.
Most give much less, she says.
The Jewish PAC already has
donated $35,000 to campaigns for
the upcoming elections.
Kaltenbach, a former legisla
tive assistant, admits that "a lot
of people are against PACs."
Those critics say the $5,000-per-
candidate-per-PAC allowance di
minishes the relative influence of
Even so, Kaltenbach believes
pro-Israel PACs are essential for
the Jewish state at a time when
pro-Arab lobbyists are gaining in
numbers and influence.
Unlike some pro-Israel PACS
around the country, NCGG es
tablished in 1981 is bipartisan.
But members say there are no
conflicts between Republicans
and Democrats over supporting
candidates from rival parties.
"The one issue of this PAC is
that it is pro-Israel, and that tran
scends party lines," says Mel
Swig, chair of the PAC and one of
its founding members.
Formerly San Franciscans for
Good Government, the PAC,
which has more than 100 board
members, recently became
Northern Californians for Good
Government when it incorporat
ed smaller pro-Israel PACS from
the East Bay and Peninsula.
By joining the San Francisco
group with other smaller PACS,
"we decided we could raise more
money than has been raised be
fore," Swig says.
The reason the word Israel
does not appear in the group's
name, according to Kaltenbach, is
that organizers wanted to main
tain a low public profile to avoid
being the target of anti-Israel at
tacks. Still, Kaltenbach says, she
has received a number of anony
mous threatening phone calls.
Some have accused Israel of
Though people sometimes con
fuse NCGG with the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), Kaltenbach says that
unlike AIPAC which is not a
PAC but a national lobbying
group prohibited from contribut
ing or endorsing candidates
NCGG's influence is solely finan
NCGG campaign contributions
collected through traditional
fund-raising tactics such as
events and mailings are allo
cated according to the type of
race, difficulty of the opposition,
and how strong support for Is
rael in a given geographic area
appears to be.
In fact, many "pro-Israel" sen
ators and members of Congress
now in office received at least
some aid from NCGG, Swig says,
earning it "a reputation as one of
the strongest pro-Israel PACs in
the country. People respect us,
come to us and ask for our sup
Some of the politicians now in
office who have benefited from
NCGG's support are Sens. Joseph
Biden (D-Del.), Tom Harkin (D-
lowa), John Bingaman (D-N.M.),
Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) and Larry
Surprisingly, though NCGG is
California-based, it contributes
only to electoral campaigns out
side its home state. That's be
cause there already exists strong
support for pro-Israel candidates
within California, with its sub
stantial Jewish population, ac
cording to Swig.
The group instead focuses its
attention on candidates in parts
of the country where pro-Israel
sentiment is harder to come by.
"There is an emphasis on states
with low Jewish populations, like
the Dakotas, Minnesota, Utah,"
Swig explains. "We don't miss
Swig: Yes, philosophically I'm a Democrat. I think Mr. Cuomo best
expressed it in a speech he made in the 1984 convention here in
San Francisco, when he made what I thought was one of the great
speeches I have ever heard in politics. That speech expressed
very clearly why I am a Democrat. It had nothing to do with
individuals. It had nothing to do with anything except
philosophy. And philosophically, that's where I come from.
Glaser: Do you think that Governor Cuomo will run for the office of the
Swig: It's beginning to look as if he will, but it's awfully hard to
tell for sure. I think the fact that he hasn't said no, up to
this moment, an absolute no, and from talking to some people I
know who happen to know him, it appears that he might run and make
that decision within the next couple of weeks.
Glaser: He's getting a bad press for waffling yes or no on it.
Swig: I think that's appropriate. I would prefer to see him get out and
do his thing and, if possible, keep other candidates from
announcing. And maybe some of the present ones would retire from
the race, which would save everybody a lot of money and a lot of
Glaser: What do you think is the future of the Democratic party?
Swig: I think that the future is as good as it's always been. It
controls the governors, it controls the Congress, it controls the
Senate. I think we have put up poor candidates for president, and
I think we've gotten our ears bent back. Our poor candidates for
president, however, might have been a helluva lot better than what
I have seen in Washington in the last ten years. I think our
country has gone down the tubes in many respects due to the fact
that the Republicans have done just a terrible job.
Reagan, as popular as he was when he was president, I think
the real truths of the matter are beginning to come out and
emerge, and he's not as popular as he once was. I don't think
Bush is as popular as he once was when the war was going on a year
or so ago. I think the domestic policy is absolutely in a
shambles. We are in a recession. We have a debt that is mind-
boggling. The bulk of it occurred in the last ten years, and I
think we are in deep trouble unless we can find ways, and I'm sure
there are and I can think of some, and I have discussed some with
our politicians. There are ways, I hope, that we can emerge out
of this thing, if we had leadership.
standing that way so I decided that somebody ought to be talking
to this guy. I went up and introduced myself and we had a nice
chat. Time went by, and now the guy came back and he was running
for president, and we met again. I went to a dinner; I think it
was at the Palace Hotel. A big crowd was there, and the guy was
dynamic. He wasn't the shy, fairly young man that I knew then.
He was a real dynamo at that point. Captured the crowd, did a
great job. So I met him and chatted for a few minutes and that
was it. That was the total of my experience with him. Then of
course he was elected and unfortunately was killed.
Glaser: You are on the executive committee of the National Jewish
Swig: Where did you find all this information? That just happened
Glaser: Well, I got a letter from them. That's how I found out.
Swig: Oh, I see.
Glaser: I wouldn't have known otherwise. [Laughter]
Glaser: Tell me about that.
Swig: A fellow by the name of Morton Mandel from Cleveland heads that
up. There are a lot of nice people around the country whom I
respect who formed together to get a Jewish point of view across.
It's almost like another lobbying job, I guess. It lets
candidates know that we are alive and kicking, that we want to
talk about our issues, and that we are going to help and support
those people who support us. And that's what we're about.
Glaser: As a Democrat, do you support the party or the man?
Swig: Well, philosophically, I'm a Democrat. That's the first essence.
If the candidates are good as Democrats, I will support them. On
several occasions, when I felt that the candidates were not
particularly good and if the Republicans were better, I supported
the Republican. Most of the time I support Democrats.
Glaser: So then yours is really a pragmatic approach.
Official Newsletter of the National Jewish Democratic Council
NJDC Executive Committee member Mel Swig has
made his home in the western part of the United States, as
have many NJDC leaders. He is Vice-Chairman of the
Board of Fairmont Hotel Management Company and
Chairman of the Board of Swig, Weiler, and Dinner
Development Company in San Francisco, California. His
current civic affiliations include Brandeis University
(Trustee), Brown University (Trustee), Stanford University
Jewish Studies (Advisory Board), United Negro College
Fund (Advisory Board), and United Service Organizations
(World Board of Governors).
I think one of the major problems we have is that our
leadership in this country, on both sides, has been severely
damaged. It's been damaged by a thing like the Thomas situation, 1
which vilified people and caused good people not to want to be
involved. So good people don't run for office as much as they
used to. We have rules and regulations that have made it so
difficult for good people to run. We've tried so hard to be so
purely democratic that I think we loused it up.
An example: in my opinion we used to get much better
candidates, much stronger candidates, when we had smoke-filled
rooms. Today we nominate, and we play politics, and we make it so
difficult for people. We make them expose their whole lives to
the whole world. Good, high quality, intelligent people don't
want to put up with that kind of nonsense. In the old days, we
used to get people who felt strongly about their government,
wanted to serve in Washington to help the government on the
cabinet level, or what have you. You look at the kind of cabinet
people we get today. It ain't very good. They're pretty well
second raters, most of them. We need to get back that good
businessman from here, there, or elsewhere who is willing to
sacrifice something to go into government, not to be maligned for
doing it. I think we have to change the rules.
We've also made it so difficult in trying to be democratic
by restricting the amount of money that these individuals can
raise from any one person. The result is that our congresspeople
(they are elected every other year) have to spend half their time
raising money all over the country in order to run a campaign. We
put in a law in 1975, I think it was, that a thousand dollars was
the most any one person can give for a single campaign. That is
worth about maybe $150, $200 today, I don't know. In the
meantime, things have gone through the roof in expenses. So these
poor people have to go out all over the country and raise money.
That's all they do, raise money. Every time they go out they have
to raise money. It takes too damn much time and effort to do
Glaser: But Mr. Swig, if you allow unlimited funds, don't you also get
influence peddling like what happened to Senator Cranston?
Swig: That's a totally different issue in my opinion. Mr. Cranston did
not take the money for himself. That's very clear. Mr. Cranston
used the money for the Democratic party to get out the vote and
that type of thing, but he did not take the funds himself because
'The Clarence Thomas hearing in Congress when Judge Thomas was
nominated to sit on the Supreme Court.
that was illegal, number one. Yes, you can get influence
peddling, if you want to call it that. I guess you could, but I
remind you that back when that influence peddling occurred we were
getting better candidates to run for office than we get today, in
Call it what you will. I don't know what the pure line is.
I wouldn't like to see the government supporting all these people
in terms of their fundraising. Maybe that's a way to do it. But
then you would have every Tom, Dick, and Harry and his brother Joe
running for office, and that would louse up the situation. So
there is no perfect way to do this. Don't get me wrong; I'm not
suggesting that one way is more perfect than the others.
I do think that maybe we shouldn't have it unlimited, but we
sure should have a CPI [Consumer Price Index] cost of living index
kind of thing to allow them to have more than the thousand dollars
they have. It would reduce the amount of time that these people
have to spend on raising funds and would keep pace with inflation
and the cost of running a campaign, which is huge today.
Glaser: Do you think if Patrick Buchanan enters the race he is going to
help the Democrats by pulling votes away from President Bush?
Swig: Any time you get into that kind of an event, I think it helps the
other party. Pat Buchanan is an extremist, not very friendly to
Jewish people. Tends to be a little like this fellow Duke, I
think, although I don't think Buchanan has been a member of the
KKK [Ku Klux Klan] . But I think his actions or words are somewhat
akin to what they believe. I think he puts Bush in a terrible
position. Maybe he moves Bush a little more toward center, takes
away the right-wing element and clearly divides the party, which
in some ways may be a benefit because then the Republicans, or a
guy like Bush, who, I think, has tried to play up to the right-
wingers to too much of an extreme, now won't have to play that
game with them because they have got Buchanan to back. So Bush
has to go more to the middle to get that element of the people.
So it may be a blessing in disguise in a way.
Then if he happens to get elected, or nominated even, the
right-wingers are almost legislated out of the party. They hurt
him. They don't have as much influence within. Bush talked
about, as I recall, voodoo economics before Reagan was nominated
and now is a participant in that voodoo economics situation, which
he aptly described before, he doesn't have to play that game with
them anymore. It might be better if he happens to be reelected.
I see Buchanan helping the country, not hurting it.
Glaser: I want to ask you now about your family. I have observed that
children, especially the sons, of fathers who have achieved a
great deal find it hard to live up to the example that is set by
the father. Not necessarily that the father is trying to
manipulate the children, but he raises a high standard for the
children. Has that been true in your family?
Swig: Yes, I guess there is an element of that but I don't see it as
sharply in my family, at least, as in other families. My father
could be described as one of those, obviously, and I should have
therefore gone the opposite route as so many kids do and say, "The
hell with him, I'm going the other way. I've got to do my own
thing." But I didn't take that attitude. My father I loved and
respected, obviously, and I thought he did wonderful things. I
think I gained from that and learned from that and I hope I
followed the same patterns. And I think I have. I didn't do it
maybe in exactly the same way that he did it, but conditions are
different in each generation so there is no way, it's always going
to be the same thing.
Sons' Community Involvement
Swig: I like to believe that my children-- I know there is a
compatibility with my thinking and my father's thinking in terms
of Jewish life and Jewish ways, if you will. My oldest son,
Steve, is very active in the Jewish community, sits on the board
of the Federation, and does a lot of good things. My son Bob is
still very young; it's a second family so he is much younger than
Steve, but I know what his thinking is and what his feelings are
and where he puts his money. My son Kent lives in New York,
active in the Jewish community and doing his thing. They all
belong to the same temple and contribute to it. So I have a
feeling that they will continue to do it. I'm very pleased about
Glaser: Tell me about your wives. You were first married to Phyllis
Diamond, and were divorced, and she died subsequent to the
divorce. Whom did you then marry?
Swig: I married a girl named Marcia Hove who was the mother of my twin
Glaser: Bob and Kent are twins?
Swig: Bob and Kent. Yes. She was a buyer for Joseph Magnin and I met
her when I was involved with Cyril Magnin. She was a lovely gal.
Unfortunately she was an alcoholic and that led to serious
problems between us. It ended in divorce, unfortunately, but she
was a good gal and a very nice person. She had this terrible
affliction which I couldn't control nor could she. And as a
matter of fact, when the boys were thirteen she died as a result
of her alcoholism.
Glaser: Did you have custody of your sons?
Swig: Yes I did.
Glaser: How old were they when you assumed custody?
Swig: They were five or six, I think it was, when we were divorced. I
didn't have legal custody. I took illegal custody of them but was
never challenged. She understood her weaknesses, I think, and
realized that she couldn't handle it very well.
Glaser: It must have been difficult for you, with such children so young.
Swig: Oh boy, yes. When I took them, I guess they were about seven at
the time. I built a house over in Marin where I could take care
of them, and we lived there, and we did very well.
Glaser: And your third wife?
Swig: She was a wonderful gal whom I met in 1971, which was about six
years after I had been divorced. She was just a wonderful human
Benjamin Swig being Bar Mitzvahed in Israel by Rabbi Simon Greenberg, July 1975
San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos , Melvin M. Swig, Mary and Steven Swig, May 5, 1988
Melvin M. Swig and son Robert, 1989.
Glaser: She was known as Dee. Was her full name Dolores?
Swig: Dolores, yes.
Glaser: What was her last name?
Swig: Cochrane. That was her married name; she had lost her husband.
Glaser: She shared a lot of your political activities.
Swig: She shared all my activities very well.
Glaser: I used to see her with you at American Jewish Committee
Swig: Yes. She had a strong commitment to the good things of life. She
was a bright, attractive, marvelous human being. There wasn't
anything that I participated in that she wasn't there for
everything. Everything good. She adopted my children after their
mother died. She was very active at their bar mitzvah, helped put
it on and do all the work. Their mother died, as I recall, within
two or three weeks after their bar mitzvah. Their natural mother
was not present at the bar mitzvah; she was dying at that time.
Dolores was their mother.
Glaser: Did she have children of her own?
Swig: She had two daughters of her own and six grandchildren. You know,
she just did a swell job. It was a very happy marriage; we were
married for almost seventeen years very happily. She died from
lung cancer. She smoked to the day she died, I think. There was
nothing anybody could do about it. She was terribly sick for a
couple of years, in pain, great discomfort. It was a very bad
Then as I told you, I had met this lady by the name of
Charlotte in 1965. Actually I knew her before I met my wife Dee.
Not too long after Dee died, just by accident, we happened to be
sitting together one night at a dinner.
Glaser: According to Bishop Swing, it wasn't an accident.
Swig: Oh, it was quite an accident.
Glaser: [Chuckles] Well, he takes a little credit for seating you
Swig: Actually he had nothing to do with it. If he says that, he's
wrong. I think he would like to take credit for it; I don't blame
him. It was kind of a romantic thing, I suppose. But at a Grace
Cathedral dinner, which was I guess about a month or so after my
wife died-- I am on the board there, as you know, and so a woman
by the name of Cathy Bellis asked me who did I want to sit with.
I said, "Cathy, I don't know who's going to be there." Poor Cathy
died not long after that; a fairly young woman too. Anyway, she
said, "Who do you want to sit with?" I said, "Well, who's going?"
She mentioned some names. I don't remember the other names but
she came to Charlotte. I said, "Well, why don't you put me with
Charlotte because we are old friends." I thought it would be fun.
Practically the first person to come to ray house when Dee
died was Charlotte. My wife Dee used to cook for her husband when
he was dying. She made things that Jack Mailliard liked. She
used to bring them over to their house, and Jack would like them
very much. It was that kind of a relationship.
Anyway, so I just sat with Charlotte. That evening we
danced a dance or two, and we said good night and that was the end
of it. There was no romance; there was nothing happening. But a
few weeks later I thought, "Why don't I take Charlotte to dinner?"
And that's how it started. That's where it all happened- -like
friends. She is, and was, a really dear friend. That's how the
Charlotte M. Swig and Melvin H. Swig, 1989
XIX PHILANTHROPIC DECISIONS
People in Need
Glaser: You are involved with so many organizations. How do you choose
what to give your time and money to?
Swig: Gosh, I don't know the answer to that. I don't choose it per se.
Money is given, to a large extent, to people. Outside of my
Jewish charitable stuff, which I've explained to you comes out of
my heart and soul, the other charitable things are certainly
people in need that you care about. But the other things come as
a result of who asked you. As my father used to say, "It's a good
thing he was not born a woman. He doesn't know how to say no."
[laughter] I guess I must have inherited it. It's a little
difficult to say no to your friends . So you tend to give to a
fair extent to those organizations with which your friends are
Then also when you ask for money, as I do very often, you
become then obligated in a sense when they come to ask you to
return the favor. So it happens that way too. I happen to do a
fair amount of asking, so I'm asked also as well to give and you
But basically it's those things that touch you, like in
today's world the homeless people. You want to make sure they are
cared for as best you can, although I think it's band-aid
treatment what we do. I think we have to get to the causes of the
thing. Take away the causes of why we have homeless as opposed to
doing what we're doing. We're just helping like a little pimple.
We don't do anything really major in reconstructing their lives
and helping the way I think we ought to be. But those are things
that we care about.
We care about education so we help educational facilities.
We care about the library. We care about the Museum of Modern
Art. We care about universities and that's where a good
percentage of our money goes .
Glaser: In all these activities, all of the calls upon your energy and
funds, what gives you the most satisfaction?
Swig: You know, one of the things that gave me the most satisfaction
that I can think of, that comes quickly- -there are other things
that do, don't get me wrongbut one of the most is the
scholarship fund that I did at Brown University, where I am
sending kids through school who otherwise wouldn't be able to go
to school. When I get letters from those kids, it brings tears to
my eyes to think that those kids (and they are from Northern
California mostly) are going to school, to a fine university, and
getting help because of a scholarship that I was able to give. I
think that is one of the most important things I've done. I like
When I got my honorary degree from Brown, the president of
the university alluded to the fact that I wasn't able to complete
my education because I had to go work. There was a Depression on
and my father wasn't all that well-to-do, and I went out and went
to work and didn't complete my schooling. He alluded to that.
When he talked about it, because I gave this money to Brown, the
kids got up and cheered. I had never seen that before in any
graduation I had been at where I was present. The kids got up and
cheered. That gave me such tearful warmth that I think it is the
best thing I have ever done.
I just love the fact that it is still going on and it will
continue ad infinitura. Any money tiat I give again to Brown will
go into that fund to embellish it and make it bigger because I
think that is the best thing I have ever done at Brown. I have
given money to a lot of different things at Brown, but that is the
Glaser: What brought you to become so involved in and concerned about
Swig: I got that out of the American Jewish Committee as a part of my
education with them. From experience, I feel that the non-Jewish
community to a large extent doesn't really understand the Jewish
community and understand Jewish people as well as they might. The
ghettoism, if you will, in both communities is such that they
don't really get together enough. They don't socialize together;
they don't meet together enough. Banks have excluded up until
fairly recently Jews. Clubs excluded them. Universities used to.
All those things happened. It seemed to me that as long as 1 was
an identified Jew-- Everybody in the world knows I am. I don't
hide it as some people have done in the past and tried to join the
other side because they didn't like being Jewish. Contrarily, I
am Jewish and everybody knows what I am, and I am all those things
that I've talked about. I felt that if I could become a part of
the other community, identified as a Jew and helping that
community and working with that community, they would find out
that we don't have horns, that we are rather nice people, that we
can have a lot in common and do a lot of things together. I think
it has worked pretty well that way.
Bishop Swing invited me to serve on his board at Grace
Cathedral and we've got a wonderful relationship. I have a fine
relationship with those people. They have treated me beautifully.
My experience at USF has been similar. Great friends. Nice
people. I think I told you this, we formed the first and maybe
the only chair in Judaic studies in a Catholic university. The
courses that are taught there are a turn-on to the students. They
flock to those courses almost more than they do to their own. I
think not almost more, they are definitely more. So those things
are helpful, I think, in establishing relationships. If I can
contribute to that, then I have done something good for people.
That's what it is all about.
XX A LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Direction of the San Francisco Jewish Community
Glaser: In looking at the Jewish community of San Francisco, in what
direction should it be going in the future that it is not now?
Swig: You know, for so many generations the Jewish community has done so
much good for its own people I don't think they could change an
awful lot. I think they are going to continue in that mode, and I
think they are doing the right thing when they do do that. They
take care of their people. They watch out over them. I just hope
that they don't lose that identity and continue with doing that
same kind of thing, because it is very important.
Swig: A lot of people are worried about assimilation. I think if the
Jewish religion isn't strong enough to hold its people there is
something wrong with the Jewish religion. But I think it is
strong, and I think the Jewish religion will hold its people
together. It is a fine religion, a very good religion, in my
opinion. I don't like some parts of our religion, but I like most
of it. I respect it and I think it is easy to take, comfortable,
and yet teaches good. But all religions teach good, of course.
But I think it is a comfortable religion to live with and not so
demanding that it overpowers one. But it teaches the rights and
wrongs of a way of life, and this is a comfortable place to be.
I think the inter-marriage question which bothers a lot of
people is-- What is it? Thirty- three percent of marriages today
are to Jews?
Glaser: No. Much more.
Swig: Is it more than that?
Glaser: Yes. I think it is almost 50 percent.
Swig: I don't think it is that much. I think it is somewhere around- -
Maybe it is 40 percent that are inter-marriages. But an awful lot
of gain is made as well as loss.
Glaser: Oh yes.
Swig: I've seen a lot of converted Jewish people who become more Jewish
than the people to whom they are married and actually are very
I'll give you an example of a young lady who took Jewish
studies at USF. She went to Israel as a result of programs that
we've established. She came back and converted to Judaism. She
said, "My Catholicism really didn't do the thing for me that
Judaism does. I just felt I wanted to do that." I happened to be
very fond of this young lady. She moved to New York and went to
work when she got there for a Jewish organization. Subsequently
she moved to New Jersey. I just heard the other day she is
marrying a Jewish guy. I don't know what she's doing right this
moment or who the guy is, but that is an interesting story. The
Jewish courses that she took, her interest in Judaism, and her
study of Judaism versus Catholicism was a satisfying experience
Swig: It made her feel that she wanted to be a Jew. The point of it is
that Judaism does have strength and can hold people and should
hold people and will hold people. Those who don't like Judaism
will assimilate, I suppose. But that's been true for a long, long
time. We've lost a lot of Jewish people by assimilation and will
continue to. But when we talk about other religions, other
religions lose their people too. Catholics go to other religions,
Protestants go to different religions, Protestants become
Catholics, Catholics become Protestants, some of them become Jews.
They switch around. And people take no religion or want no
religion. But that's been going on for a lot of years, I'm sure.
So I don't see why we should get overly cut up and act worried
about how we're going to lose Judaism. I don't think we will.
Are there any changes that you would like to see in the
Nothing special. I think they are doing a good job.
are working in the right direction.
I think they
Should non-Jews be solicited for funds for Federation institutions
and agencies, like the Centers and the hospitals?
Yes. I think we should. I don't think we are going to get very
far because I find that even in the Episcopal Church, for
instance, when you go out and search money for their church from
other than Episcopals, it's not forthcoming very much. So the
Jews have no different problem in that regard than do the
Episcopals. Jews tend to be a little more liberal in giving to
non- Jewish things, religiously non- Jewish things, than do other
people. But I think that is part and parcel of their station in
life, if you will, and the impressions that they felt. It's a
Tzedakah. which Jewish people feel more than most people.
And you feel that toward the greater community as well.
What suggestions would you make to a newcomer who wishes to become
involved in the Jewish community and in the greater community. I
ask you that because obviously you went through that yourself.
Well, only to a relatively minor extent, but the first thing I did
was to work for the Federation. It was not called that then. I
got involved and I just went through all the chairs and worked my
way through it and made a lot of wonderful friends. It's a part
of growth and development, and I think I would recommend that to
anybody, to become involved in the Federation.
One of my first activities was through an agency, the Jewish
Family Service Agency, and it was one of those that I worked with.
Out of it grows the growth and development of young people. So I
think that being a part of charitable affairs and civic events and
so forth is part of growth. People coming to this community who
want to meet people and be a part of the community and have a good
feeling about civic and social and charitable life must do those
things in order to become a part of it.
Glaser: That was my last question.
TAPE GUIDE- -Melvin Swig
Interview 1, July 9, 1991
Tape 1, side A
Tape 1, side B
Tape 2, side A
Tape 2, side B
Interview 2, July 30, 1991
Tape 3, side A
Tape 3, side B
Tape 4, side A
Tape 4, side B
Interview 3, September 12, 1991
Tape 5, side A
Tape 5, side B
Tape 6, side A
Tape 6, side B
Interview 4, October 30, 1991
Tape 7, side A
Tape 7, side B
Tape 8, side A
Tape 8, side B
Interview 5, November 21, 1991
Tape 9, side A
Tape 9, side B
Tape 10, side A
Tape 10, side B
APPENDICES --Melvin M. Swig
A. Report of the President presented at the annual meeting of the 172
Jewish Community Federation, 1971.
B. Report of the President presented at the annual meeting of the 181
Jewish Community Federation, 1972.
C. Remarks made by Melvin M. Swig at the annual meeting of the 189
Young Adults' Division, December 5, 1972.
D. 1973 Standing Committees, Jewish Community Federation. 194
E. Jewish Community Federation Committees, 1986. 195
F. Members, Ad Hoc Committee on "Who is a Jew," 1988. 204
G. Endowment Committee, Jewish Community Federation, 1989. 205
H. Executive Search Committee, Jewish Community Federation, 1990. 206
I. Endowment Committee, Jewish Community Federation, 1990. 207
J. "Mel Swig Heads Bulletin," San Francisco Jewish Bulletin. 208
December 8, 1978.
K. "Jewish leader becomes S.F. Catholic university chairman," 209
Northern California Jewish Bulletin. July 26, 1985.
L. "Swig gets award for endowment work," Northern California 210
Jewish Bulletin. January 24, 1986.
M. "Settlement Reached On Koret Foundation," San Francisco 211
Chronicle. June 24, 1986.
N. "The Swigs Build a Bigger Empire," San Francisco Chronicle. 212
September 8, 1986.
0. "Family of S.F. philanthropists get community's thanks," 216
Northern California Jewish Bulletin. October 31, 1986.
P. Dinner honoring the Swig-Dinner family, November 9, 1986. 217
Q. Remarks made by Melvin M. Swig before the Anti Defamation 218
League, June 11, 1987.
R. "USF president Melvin M. Swig honored at testimonial," 221
Northern California Jewish Bulletin. July 31, 1987.
S. Honorary degree, Brown University, 1989. 222
T. The Presiding Bishop's Committee on Christian-Jewish Relations, 223
July 29, 1991.
ANNUAL REPORT 1971
1971 HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL YEARS WE HAVE EXPERIENCED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE FEDERATION. FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE RAISED THE LARGEST SUM
IN HISTORY, SIX MILLION DOLLARS. TO ME THIS PROVES THE FAITH AND COMMIT-
MENT OF OUR FEDERATION'S JEWS TOWARDS ISRAEL'S SURVIVAL AND THE MANY LOCAL
AND NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS WHICH WE SERVE.
I WILL MENTION ONLY A FEW OF THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS CAMPAIGN
THE SUCCESS THAT IT WAS: OUR CHAIRMAN, JERRY BRAUN, HAD THE IMAGINATION
AND THE DRIVE TO OVERCOME THE OBSTACLES OF APATHY, INDIFFERENCE AND BAD
ECONOMIC CLIMATE. HIS DEDICATION WAS INSPIRATIONAL. HIS CO-CHAIRMEN,
FRANNIE GREEN AND HENRY BERMAN* DIVISION LEADERS, JAY FRIEDMAN, LARRY MYERS
AND PHYLLIS GINSBERG AND ALL THE OTHER HARD WORKING PEOPLE THAT TIME DOES
NOT PERMIT MENTIONING, WORKED TIRELESSLY IN AN ALMOST SUPERHUMAN EFFORT,.
GETTING EVERY CARD COVERED ACCORDING TO EACH PERSON'S ABILITY TO GIVE.
WE OWE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF THANKS TO THOSE OF OUR CONTRIBUTORS WHO,
WHEN THE CAMPAIGN NEEDED THEM MOST, WHO, WHEN THEY HEARD OUR STORY, WHO,
WHEN THEY REALIZED ISRAEL'S SURVIVAL WAS AT STAKE, WHO, WHEN THEY UNDER
STOOD THE ENORMITY OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES, CAME THROUGH WITH TREMENDOUS
INCREASES FROM THE VERY TOP TO THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE LIST. THIS WAS A
CAMPAIGN WHERE ALL JEWS WHO WERE WILLING TO ADMIT OPENLY THAT THEY WERE
JEWS OF CONSCIENCE, GAVE LIKE THEY NEVER GAVE BEFORE AND WORKED LIKE THEY
NEVER WORKED BEFORE, ALL FOR THE ONE COMMON AND WONDERFUL CAUSE.
THIS YEAR ALSO SAW US TAKE A SEVERE CUT IN THE APPROPRIATION FROM UBAC.
IT WASN'T AN ISSUE OF WHETHER OUR AGENCY NEEDED MORE OR LESS; OUR NEEDS
WERE MORE, "WE UBAC RAISED MORE, BUT UBAC WAS CHANGING AND ITS "NEW
DIRECTIONS" WAS TO BE THEIR SIGN OF THE FUTURE. OUR AGENCIES, LIKE THE
HOMEWOOD TERRACE, THE CENTERS *) HOME FOR THE AGED^AND THE FAMILY SERVICE
AGENCY ALL TOOK THEIR PART OF THE LOSS. WE HOPE IT WON T HAPPEN AGAIN. WE
HAVE BEEN TALKING TO THE LAY AND PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP OF UBAC, WE HAVE
BEEN PARTNERS WI7N THEM SINCE 1923 AND HAVE ENJOYED A VERY FINE RELATION
SHIP DURING ALL THESE YEARS. HOWEVER, WE HAVE SUGGESTED TO THEM HOW
SERIOUSLY WE VIEW THEIR CHANGE IN DIRECTION. WE HAVE BEEN PROMISED A NEW
BUDGETING APPROACH DURING THIS COMING YEAR. WE WILL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE
WHAT HAPPENS... BUT, IF THE CUTS CONTINUE WE WILL HAVE TO REAPPRAISE OUR
NOW LET'S LOOK AT SOME OF THE THINGS WE WERE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH IN TERMS
OF BUDGETING. A SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN HELPS US IN THIS REGARD:
#1. WE WERE ABLE TO SEND OVER $^,500,000 OVERSEAS, COMPARED WITH A
LITTLE OVER $3,000,000 IN 1970. AN INCREASE OF OVER 51%.
#2. WE WERE ABLE TO INCREASE OUR ALLOCATION TO JEWISH EDUCATION FROM
$116,000 TO $15**, 000. A 32 1 ^ INCREASE. WE WERE ABLE TO SEE, FOR THE FIRST
TIME, A MARKED INCREASE IN THE ALLOCATION WHICH WENT TO THE TWO DAY SCHOOLS...
$12,500 to $33,750.
#3. WE WERE ABLE TO INCREASE OUR ALLOCATION TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
RELATIONS COUNCIL FROM $9^,000 to $116,000. AN INCREASE OF ALMOST 23%.
THIS ENABLED US TO EARMARK $12,500 BOR THE BAY AREA COUNCIL ON SOVIET JEWRY.
THIS IN ADDITION TO THE INCREASED MONEY BEING SPENT BY JCRC IN THIS FIELD.
THEREBY INCREASING SUBSTANTIALLY OUR COMMITMENT TOWARD THE PROGRAM OF HELP
TO SOVIET JEWRY.
#k. WE WERE ABLE TO SHOW OUR CONCERN FOR COLLEGE YOUTH BY PUTTING
INTO OUR BUDGET $12,000 FOR THE HILLEL PROGRAM AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE AND
CITY COLLEGES. THROUGH ENDOWMENT FUNDS, WE GAVE SUPPORT TO THE STANFORD
HILLEL JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM.
#5. WE WERE ABLE TO PUT THE FEDERATION CHAPLAINCY PROGRAM ON A
PERMANENT BASIS BY AN ALLOCATION JOINED IN BY MOUNT ZION AND SEVERAL
LOCAL FUNDS AND FOUNDATIONS.
#6. WE WERE ABLE TO MAKE UP SOME OF THE UBAC CUTS SUFFERED BY OUR
AGENCIES AND WE WERE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF SOME OF THE INCREASED NEEDS OF
THE CENTERS, THE HOME FOR THE AGED AND OTHERS OF OUR LOCAL AGENCIES.
#7. NATIONALLY, WE INCREASED ALLOCATIONS TO THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
FOR JEWISH EDUCATION, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE, AMERICAN JEWISH CONGRESS,
ANTI -DEFAMATION LEAGUE/ JEWISH WELFARE BOARD. WE WERE ABLE TO PROVIDE
ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR THE WHOLE JEWISH CULTURAL AGENCIES FIELD.
DURING THE TERM OF MY PREDECESSOR, JOHN STEINHART, WE CHANGED THE METHOD OF
BUDGETING AND SOCIAL PLANNING. IT WENT INTO EFFECT FOR THE FIRST TIME
DURING THIS YEAR. I BELIEVE THE SYSTEM IS WORKING WELL AND WE WILL, OF
COURSE, CONTINUE IT. I CANNOT BEGIN TO COUNT THE NUMBER OF HOURS THAT
WENT INTO THIS WORK. THE MEETINGS HELD, THE BUDGETS REVIEWED, THE
CONFERENCES HELD WITH AGENCIES. OUR COMMITTEE OF 100 PEOPLE WORKED TIRELESSLY
DURING THIS YEAR AND OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, I THINK, SPEAK WELL FOR THEIR EFFORTS
OUR THANKS GO TO RENNIE COLVIN, CHAIRMAN, AND SAM LADAR, VICE CHAIRMAN
AND THE 98 COMMITTEE MEN AND WOMEN. BUT, TO PARAPHRASE A POPULAR SONG,
"THEIR WORK HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN". WE HAVE SOME SERIOUS PROBLEMS FACING
US WITH REGARD TO THE PHYSICAL PLANTS OF MANY OF OUR INSTITUTIONS. WE
HAVE POSTPONED, FOR MANY YEARS, THE CAPITAL FUNDS CAMPAIGN, BECAUSE OF
WHAT WE FELT WERE THE MORE IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS OF OUR OVERSEAS NEEDS.
FOR EXAMPLE, THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER'S MAIN BUILDING IN SAN FRANCISCO
HAS BEEN CRYING OUT FOR REPAIRS AND MODERNIZATION. THE CENTERS ON THE
PENINSULA AND IN MARIN HAVE HAD TO DO WITH INADEQUATE SPACE, THE BROTHER
HOOD WAY CENTER OVERFLOWED ALMOST FROM THE DAY IT OPENED. THE BUREAU OF
JEWISH EDUCATION HAS POINTED OUT A GREAT NEED FOR MORE CLASSROOMS, OFFICE
SPACE, LIBRARY, AND EQUIPMENT DESIGNED TO IMPROVE TEACHING SKILLS. MOUNT
ZION HAS NEEDS THAT WOULD STAGGER THE IMAGINATION, THE JEWISH HOME FOR THE
AGED PLEADS FOR MORE BEDS. THE SITUATION IN ISRAEL STILL REMAINS SERIOUS
AND THE BUILDING NEEDS OF OUR INSTITUTIONS HAVE BECOME INCREASINGLY WORSE.
I BELIEVE WE HAVE THE CAPACITY AND WILL TO DO BOTH JOBS ... TO RAISE THE
SUM NECESSARY TO MEET OUR OVERSEAS NEEDS AND TO PROVIDE OUR LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
WITH THE IMPROVEMENTS THEY NEED TO SURVIVE.
I HAVE ASKED OUR PLANNING AND BUDGETING COMMITTEE TO GET THE FACTS AND
FIGURES DEALING WITH THESE NEEDS AS SUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. A POPULATION
STUDY FINANCED BY US WILL GIVE US UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ABOUT WHERE OUR
PEOPLE LIVE, WHERE THEY EXPECT TO LIVE, THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN TO BE PLANNED
FOR, THE NUMBER OF AGED FOR WHOM PLANS MUST BE MADE. WE WILL HAVE SOME SORT
OF ESTIMATE OF WHAT OUR NEEDS ARE, CONCERNING WHAT WE NOW PROVIDE AND WHAT
WE SHOULD PROVIDE. AT THAT POINT, WHEN THE PLANNING L^DONE, WE WILL
INITIATE A SUCCESSFUL CAPITAL FUNDS CAMPAIGN.
THE HISTORY OF OTHER COMMUNITIES PROVES TO ME CONCLUSIVELY THAT WE CAN HAVE
A VERY SUCCESSFUL CAPITAL FUNDS CAMPAIGN AND, IN NO WAY, INTERFERE WITH OR
JEOPARDIZE OUR REGULAR OR EMERGENCY CAMPAIGNS.
THE JEWISH WELFARE FEDERATION, IN MY OPINION IS THE KEY CENTRAL JEWISH
AGENCY IN THE COMMUNITY. IT TRANSCENDS ALL BRANCHES OF JEWISH LIFE. IN
ORDER TO DO THE KIND OF FUND RAISING THAT IS NEEDED, BOTH HOME AND ABROAD,
OUR FEDERATION MUST BE TUNED IN. IT MUST BE TUNED IN TO THE DESIRES OF ITS
CONTRIBUTORS AND TO THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY. FOR THAT REASON, YOUR
FEDERATION SEEKS EVERY POSSIBLE MEANS TO BE CERTAIN THAT THE CONTRIBUTORS
ARE WELL SATISFIED WITH THE WAY THEIR MONEY IS SPENT. THIS IS WHY WE
DEVELOP SUCH ELABORATE MACHINERY TO STUDY THE PROGRAMS AND BUDGETS OF THE
AGENCIES WE SUPPORT. THIS IS WHY WE SEEK OUT EVERY AVAILABLE PIECE OF
INFORMATION WE CAN FIND TO JUSTIFY NEW PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS TO EMBARK
UPON. THIS IS WHY YOUR FEDERATION IS TRUSTED AND HAS THE ABILITY TO RAISE
MONEY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ITS MORE THAN 50 LOCAL, NATIONAL AND OVERSEAS
AGENCIES WHICH NEED OUR HELP.
DURING THE PAST YEAR, YOU HAVE READ AND HEARD A GREAT DEAL ABOUT JEWISH
EDUCATION IN SAN FRANCISCO, PARTICULARLY WITH REGARD TO PRIVATE,
INDEPENDENT JEWISH DAY SCHOOLS. THE CRITICISM HAS BEEN LOUD AND IT HAS
BEEN CARRIED ON BY METHODS OF DIRECT CONFRONTATION, SUCH AS PICKETING
THE FEDERATION, APPEARANCES AT MEETINGS OF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS, AND
CRITICISM IN THE PRESS, INCLUDING CRITICISM OF SPECIFICALLY NAMED OFFICERS
OF THE FEDERATION, MYSELF BEING ONE OF THEM. IT CULMINATED FINALLY IN AN
UNSUCCESSFUL EFFORT TO NOMINATE A SLATE OF PEOPLE WHO WOULD RUN FOR THE
OFFICE OF DIRECTOR OF THE WELFARE FEDERATION IN OPPOSITION TO THOSE
NOMINATED BY THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE OF THE FEDERATION.
YOU MAY WONDER WHY I SINGLE THIS OUT FOR MENTION IN MY ANNUAL REPORT. I
00 SO BECAUSE I THINK THAT WHAT HAS HAPPENED COULD CAUSE DISTASTEFUL
DISSENTION WITHIN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY, A BAD IMAGE OF THE JEWISH
COMMUNITY IN THE EYES OF THE GENERAL COMMUNITY IF CONTINUED, AND I THINK
IT'S ABOUT TIME THAT WE PUT THE SITUATION IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE.
I BELIEVE WE NOW HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DETERMINE THE APPTOiRiATE SIZE OF THE
GROUP WHICH HAS BEEN SO CRITICAL OF THE FEDERATIONS SUPPORT OF JEWISH DAY
SCHOOLS. AS I JUST STATED, AN EFFORT WAS MADE TO NOMINATE A SLATE OF
PEOPLE TO RUN FOR DIRECTORS. IN THE PROCESS OF ATTEMPTING SUCH NOMINATIONS,
IT WAS NECESSARY THAT A PETITION BE FILED AND THAT THE PETITION CONTAIN THE
SIGNATURES OF NOT LESS THAN 250 QUALIFIED MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION. THE
PETITION WHICH WAS FILED, EVEN AFTER ADVERTISING FOR SIGNATURES IN A NEWS
PAPER, CONTAINED ONLY 39k SIGNATURES, OF WHICH 8 WERE DUPLICATES AND OF
WHICH LESS THAN 250 WERE QUALIFIED AS MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION. BASED
UPON THESE FIGURES, OUT OF A TOTAL JEWISH POPULATION OF THE AREA COVERED
BY THE FEDERATION WHICH IS ESTIMATED AT 75,000, AND A FEDERATION MEMBERSHIP
OF APPROXIMATELY 10,000, PERCENTAGE-WISE, THE PETITION SHOWS THAT THIS GROUP
REPRESENTS ONLY ONE-HALF OF 1% OF THE TOTAL JEWISH POPULATION IN THE AREA
SERVED BY THE FEDERATION AND LESS THAN 2% OF THE MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION.
THE FEDERATION HAS MET WITH THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THIS GROUP AT SEVERAL
LEVELS. THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE HAS HELD A MEETING WITH THIS GROUP AT
THEIR REQUEST AND EACH OF YOUR OFFICERS HAS MET WITH THEIR REPRESENTATIVES
ON ONE OR MORE OCCASIONS. THEY HAVE, THEREFORE, HAD AMPLE OPPORTUNITY
TO EXPRESS THEIR VIEWPOINTS AND TO CONVINCE THE FEDERATION AND ITS LEADERSHIP
OF THE VALIDITY OF THEIR DEMANDS. THEIR DEMAND IS SUBSTANTIALLY THAT THEIR
SCHOOL BE HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED WITH FEDERATION FUNDS. HOWEVER, THEY MAKE IT
CLEAR THAT WHILE THE FEDERATION IS TO SUPPORT THEIR SCHOOL, IT IS TO HAVE
NO VOICE IN THE SCHOOL PROGRAM, CURRICULUM OR ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS.
JEWISH EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT AND SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO
WISH THE BENEFITS OF IT OR WISH THEIR CHILDREN TO HAVE A FORMAL JEWISH
EDUCATION. BUT, IT MUST BE MADE AVAILABLE AS A PART OF THE ENTIRE
JEWISH COMMUNITY ACTIVITY ON A PLANNED BASIS AND AS A PART OF OTHER
FEDERATION PROGRAMS, IF FEDERATION FUNDS ARE TO BE USED FOR ITS SUPPORT.
IT IS MY BELIEF THAT THIS GROUP OF CRITICS WITH THEIR CONFRONTATION
TACTICS DO A DISSERVICE TO THE CAUSE OF JEWISH EDUCATION AND A GREAT
DISSERVICE TO OUR JEWISH COMMUNITY GENERALLY. IT MUST BE STATED THAT, OF
THE 10 PEOPLE WHO WERE PUT FORTH AS A POSSIBLE SLATE IN COMPETITION TO THE
FEDERATION'S, 5 WERE NON-CONTRIBUTORS TO THE FEDERATION. IT IS A SAD
COMMENTARY WHEN SO FEW PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED
PRACTICALLY NO TIME OR EFFORT TO OUR ORGANIZATION, WHO HAVE ONLY ONE CAUSE
THAT INTERESTS THEM, GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO CREATE AS MUCH CHAOS TO OUR
FEDERATION AS THEY CAN. THIS ONLY INTERFERES WITH OUR IMPORTANT FUND-
RAISING ATTEMPTS. WE HAVE IMPORTANT MONIES TO BE RAISED. WE MUST GET ON
WITH OUR WORK. I HOPE THESE PEOPLE WILL JOIN US IN MAKING SURE THAT ALL OF
OUR AGENCIES ARE SUPPORTED AND THAT WE DO EVERYTHING TO HELP OUR FELLOW
JEWS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. WE WILL PLEDGE THAT WE WILL, IN TURN, STUDY THE
NEEDS AND DO THE PLANNING NECESSARY TO DETERMINE OUR FUTURE POSITIONS ON
BECAUSE I KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THE MATTER OF SOVIET JEWRY IS TO ALL OF US,
I WANT TO DISCUSS WITH YOU HOW DEEPLY THE FEDERATION IS INVOLVED IN THIS
MATTER AROUND THE WORLD. EARLIER I TOLD YOU WHAT WE ARE DOING ON THE
LOCAL SCENE, NOW I WANT TO GO DEEPER INTO THIS MATTER.
MUCH HAS BEEN SAID IN OUR COUNTRY THIS PAST YEAR ABOUT HOW BEST TO HELP
SOVIET JEWS WHO WANT TO BE~REUNITED WITH THEIR PEOPLE IN ISRAEL OR WITH
FAMILIES IN THIS COUNTRY.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT THIS ISSUE IN ITS ENTIRETY. ONE PART OF THE
PROBLEM IS TO AROUSE THE OPINION OF THE WORLD TO THE PLIGHT OF THE SOVIET
JEWS IN THE HOPE THAT THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT WILL RESPOND TO AN AROUSED
WORLD OPINION AND PERMIT JEWS TO LEAVE. TO THIS END, FEDERATION HELPS
SUPPORT LOCAL PROGRAMS LIKE THE JCRC AND THE BAY AREA COUNCIL ON SOVIET
JEWRY. NATIONALLY, WE SUPPORT THE NCRAC, THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE,
THE AMERICAN CONFERENCE ON SOVIET JEWRY AND SIMILAR ORGANIZATIONS WHICH,
NATIONALLY, WORK TO AROUSE THE OPINION OF THW WORLD TO THE CONDITIONS
OF SOVIET JEWRY. IT'S ALSO A FACT THAT MANY INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THESE
ORGANIZATIONS HAVE DONE MUCH BEHIND THE SCENES WORK IN HIGH POLITICAL PLACES
OF THESE EFFORTS COMBINED HAVE ALREADY CREATED A CLIMATE MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR
THOUSANDS OF JEWS TO LEAVE RUSSIA.
THIS IS ONLY A PART OF THE STORY. WHAT LIES HIDDEN BENEATH THE SURFACE IS
EVEN A MORE DRAMATIC STORY. THOUSANDS OF SOVIET JEWS ARE NOW COMING TO
ISRAEL. A STORY IN THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE LAST WEEK SPOKE OF TWO
PLANE LOADS ARRIVING EVERY DAY. THE COST OF THIS RESCUE EFFORT IS ALMOST
INCALCULABLE. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT IT COSTS ABOUT $35,000 TO RELOCATE A
FAMILY OF FOUR. MULTIPLY THIS BY THE THOUSANDS INVOLVED AND YOU GET AN
IDEA OF THE ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY REQUIRED. THE DETAILS OF HOW THE
SOVIET JEWS ARE BEING RESCUED CANNOT BE REVEALED IN FULL, PUBLICLY. WHAT
IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW IS THAT THE RESCUE IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE FUNDS
WHICH ARE RAISED BY THIS FEDERATION AND SIMILAR FEDERATIONS THROUGHOUT THE
I COULD NOT CLOSE THIS REPORT WITHOUT EXPRESSING OUR DEEPEST THANKS TO OUR
GREAT STAFF, HEADED BY OUR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, LOU WEINTRAUB AND HIS
ASSISTANT, MURRAY SHIFF. THE HOURS OF WORK AND THE LOVE AND DEVOTION TO
THEIR JOB, MUST NOT GO WITHOUT OUR DEEPEST FEELING OF APPRECIATION AND
THANKS TO ALL OF THEM. I WANT THEM TO KNOW THEIR WORK IS APPRECIATED.
IN CLOSING LET ME ONCE MORE THANK JERRY BRAUN FOR HIS GREAT SUCCESS IN
THE > CAMPAIGN AND WISH OUR FIRST LADY CHAIRMAN OF THE CAMPAIGN EVER,
FRANNIE GREEN, OUR BEST WISHES FOR THE HUGE SUCCESS I KNOW 1972 WILL BE.
RFPQRT OF TUF PRESIDENT Appendix B
To BE PRESENTED AT THE
FEDERATION'S ANNUAL MEETING
DECEMBER 12. 1972 - 12:00 NOON
GOLD ROOM - FAIRMONT HOTEL
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO OUR ANNUAL MEETING, I
APPRECIATE VERY MUCH YOUR ATTENDANCE HERE TODAY,
I WOULD LIKE AT THE OUTSET TO REVIEW WITH YOU WHAT HAPPENED
DURING THIS YEAR, GENERALLY, IT HAS BEEN A VERY SATISFYING YEAR,
OUR 1972 CAMPAIGN PRODUCED THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF MONEY IN OUR
HISTORY, SOME EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PROJECTS CAME OFF OUR PLANNING
BOARD AND WE BEGAN MAKING PLANS FOR WHAT APPEARS TO BE THE BUSIEST
YEAR WE HAVE EVER HAD TO FACE,
NOW, LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS YEAR'S CAMPAIGN, WE HAD A FIRST
THIS YEAR BY HAVING OUR CAMPAIGN HEADED BY A WONDERFUL WOMAN,
FRANNIE GREEN, THE RESULTS WERE GOOD, WE RAISED THE LARGEST AMOUNT
EVER, ALMOST $6,600,000, NATURALLY, THE CAMPAIGN WAS NOT ENTIRELY
FRANNIE GREEN, BUT SHE SURE WAS A LARGE PART OF IT,
STRONG ASSISTS WERE GIVEN HER BY HENRY BERMAN AND LARRY MYERS
AS VICE-CHAIRMEN, HANK KAUFMAN AND DOUGLAS HELLER, ADVANCE DIVISION
CHAIRMEN, AND LLOYD SANKOWICH, THE B&P CHAIRMAN AND BY MRS,
ANNETTE DOBBS, THE WOMEN'S DIVISION CHAIRMAN, KEN COLVIN, DONALD SEILER,
RABBI TEITELBAUM, MARTY CARR AND RICHARD ROSENBERG AS DIVISION CHAIRMEN
AND GEORGE EDELSTEIN AS TELETHON CHAIRMAN,
I COULD MENTION MANY MANY MORE NAMES BUT TIME DOES NOT PERMIT IT,
SUFFICE TO SAY WE WANT TO THANK ALL THOSE WONDERFUL PEOPLE FOR
WORKING SO HARD AND CONTRIBUTING SO MUCH,
DURING THIS PAST YEAR, OUR CAMPAIGN LEADERS AND TOP DONORS MET
THE TRUE TEST OF DEDICATION AND GENEROSITY, CONSEQUENTLY, THIS
COMMUNITY AND FRANNIE GREEN HAD A CAMPAIGN WHICH WAS ONE OF THE
VERY BEST IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, WE THANK ALL OF YOU AGAIN FOR
MAKING THIS POSSIBLE,
WITH REGARD TO OUR LOCAL PROJECTS, ONE WOULD THINK, WITH OVER
$600,000 MORE TO SPEND THAN THE PRECEDING YEAR,THAT OUR SOCIAL
PLANNING AND BUDGETING COMMITTEE WOULD HAVE A RELATIVELY EASY TIME,
SOME THINGS, OF COURSE, WERE EASY BUT MUCH STUDY TOOK PLACE, OUR
AGENCIES HAD SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASED NEEDS, SO MUCH SO, THAT ONLY
PART OF THE NEEDS WERE MET, WE HOPE THAT WITH THIS YEAR'S CAMPAIGN
WE WILL BE ABLE TO DO EVEN BETTER IN MEETING THOSE NEEDS, WE DID,
HOWEVER, INITIATE SEVEN NEW PROGRAMS OF FUNDING FOR THE FIRST TIME:
(1) BAY AREA JEWISH YOUTH COUNCIL
(2) HILLEL PROGRAM AT STANFORD
(3) HILLEL FOUNDATION AT BERKELEY
(4) NORTH AMERICAN JEWISH STUDENTS APPEAL
(5) NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SOVIET JEWRY
FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE TWO LARGEST LOCAL ALLOCATIONS WENT
TO LOCAL PROGRAMS WITH DISTINCTIVELY RECOGNIZABLE JEWISH CONTENT,
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTERS AND THE BUREAU OF JEWISH EDUCATION,
SUPPORT OF TWO DAY SCHOOLS INCREASED FROM $32,000 TO $52,000,
FURTHERMORE, OUR SUPPORT OF SOVIET JEWRY THIS PAST YEAR INCREASED
CONSIDERABLY, WE ARE NOT ONLY TAKING CARE OF OUR LOCAL NEEDS IN
REGARD TO SOVIET JEWRY BUT SUPPORT MANY NATIONAL AGENCIES WHO HAVE
MANY WORTH WHILE PROGRAMS BOTH HERE AND OVERSEAS,
WE OWE A GREAT DEBT OF GRATITUDE TO REYNOLD COLVIN AND SAM LADAR,
WHO HEAD UP OUR SOCIAL PLANNING AND BUDGETING COMMITTEE TOGETHER
WITH ONE HUNDRED PEOPLE ON THAT COMMITTEE WHO WORKED DILIGENTLY AND
WELL TO 'BALANCE OUR BUDGET WITH THE AMOUNT OF FUNDS AVAILABLE, AT
THE SAME TIME, MEETING THE DESIRES OF THE CONTRIBUTORS AND THE NEEDS
OF A CHANGING COMMUNITY,
SPEAKING OF A CHANGING COMMUNITY, WE WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT
WE ARE IN TUNE WITH THE NEEDS FOR CHANGE, FOR EXAMPLE, WE NOW HAVE
A COMMUNITY SHALIACH, HE IS AN EMISSARY FROM ISRAEL, AND MEETS
WITH GROUPS YOUNG AND OLD, BUT PRINCIPALLY YOUNG, THROUGHOUT THE
BAY AREA, HE ENCOURAGES VISITS TO ISRAEL AND INTERPRETS ISRAELI
AND AMERICAN JEWISH RELATIONSHIPS,
FURTHERMORE, WE INTRODUCED TWO YEARS AGO A PROGRAM TO HELP
HIGH SCHOOL YOUTH TO STUDY ISRAEL AND THE ISRAELIS, WE ALSO
FINANCE SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS SO THAT RELIGIOUS SCHOOL CONFIRMANTS
CAN SPEND SEVEN WEEKS A YEAR IN ISRAEL UNDER TRAINED SUPERVISORS,
IT HAS BEEN A MOST REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE,
WE HAVE UNDERTAKEN A STATE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM IN CONCERT WITH
THE SEVEN LARGEST COMMUNITIES IN CALIFORNIA, IN THIS MANNER, WE
ARE ABLE TO GET INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO OUR STATE LEGISLATURE
ABOUT THOSE MATTERS WHICH AFFECT JEWISH HEALTH AND WELFARE PROGRAMS,
OR THREATS TO CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION AND OTHER MATTERS PERTINENT
TO JEWISH PEOPLE,
OUR CHAPLAINCY PROGRAM IS NOW WELL ESTABLISHED AND RABBI OLES,
FEDERATION CHAPLAIN, HAS BEEN DOING A FINE JOB IN OUR COMMUNITY,
HIS HEADQUARTERS ARE AT MOUNT ZION HOSPITAL,
GROUNDS OF THE JEWISH HOME FOR THE AGED AND HAS TAKEN CARE OF AGED
PEOPLE WHO ARE OF GOOD HEALTH, THE EXPERIMENT HAS BEEN COMPLETED
AND PINECREST HAS BEEN DONATED TO THE JEWISH HOME FOR THE AGED, WHO
WILL CONTINUE TO RUN PINECREST ALONG THE SAME LINES AS DID THE
FEDERATION, WE WISH TO THANK ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE,
FOR SOME TIME NOW, WE HAVE BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT THE INCREASING
NUMBER OF JOB REQUESTS DUE TO INCREASED UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG JEWS,
THERE ARE MANY HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS, COLLEGE STUDENTS AND COLLEGE
GRADUATES WHO NEED VOCATIONAL COUNSELING IN ORDER TO DETERMINE
CAREERS AND FIND JOBS, MANY OTHER PEOPLE IN ADDITION, SOME HANDICAPPED,
NEED THIS KIND OF TRAINING, AFTER CAREFUL STUDY, YOUR FEDERATION
DECIDED TO SET UP"A JEWISH VOCATIONAL AND EMPLOYMENT COUNSELING SERVICE
ON A TWO-YEAR EXPERIMENTAL BASIS, AT THIS MOMENT, THE BOARD OF
DIRECTORS IS BEING CREATED AND A SKILLED TECHNICIAN IS BEING SOUGHT
TO HEAD UP A SMALL PROFESSIONAL STAFF, WE HAVE GREAT HOPES FOR
THIS PROGRAM AND YOU WILL BE HEARING MORE OF IT,
THERE ARE TWO NATIONAL MATTERS THAT SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO YOUR
ATTENTION, ONE IS THE FLOOD LAST SUMMER IN WILKES BARRE, PENNSYLVANIA,
WHICH ALMOST WIPED OUT THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY, FOURTEEN HUNDRED OF
THE 1,600 JEWISH FAMILIES IN THAT CITY HAD HOMES WHICH WERE BADLY
DAMAGED OR COMPLETELY DESTROYED, THIS APPLIED TO ALMOST ALL OF THE
JEWISH BUSINESSES, THE RED CROSS DID HELP, AS DID THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT, BUT THE NEED FOR PROVIDING ASSISTANCE WAS IMPERATIVE,
AS A RESULT, THE NATIONAL JEWISH COMMUNITY, THROUGH THE COUNCIL OF
JEWISH FEDERATIONS AND WELFARE FUNDS, PROVIDED $2,000,000 WORTH OF
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES AND WE OF THIS
FEDERATION, OF COURSE, ARE PROUD TO HAVE MET OUR SHARE WITH A
CONTRIBUTION OF $50,000,
THE OTHER NATIONAL MATTER RELATES TO JEWISH IDENTITY,
PARTICULARLY AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE, THROUGH THE COUNCIL OF JEWISH
FEDERATIONS AND WELFARE FUNDS, A THREE-YEAR EXPERIMENTAL PROJECT
HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED TO ADDRESS ITSELF TO THE FULL RANGE OF PROBLEMS
IN JEWISH LIFE, WITH EMPHASIS IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES WHERE JEWISH
LIFE IS LIVED, YOUR FEDERATION HAS PROVIDED ITS SHARE IN THIS
NOW, LET'S LOOK AHEAD, WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE?
1973 IS ISRAEL'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY, MANY EVENTS ARE BEING
PLANNED BOTH HERE AND OVERSEAS, WE RESOLVE ALWAYS TO KEEP ISRAEL
STRONG AND WE HAVE SET UP WHAT WE FEEL IS AN EXTREMELY CAPABLE TEAM
FOR OUR ANNUAL CAMPAIGN, HENRY BERMAN IS THE CHAIRMAN OF THAT
FUND-RAISING TEAM, HE HAS ALREADY BEEN HARD AT WORK ORGANIZING A
GREAT CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, I KNOW THAT UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP WE WILL
MAKE GREAT STRIDES FORWARD, HENRY, STAND UP, HE HAS THREE
EXTREMELY COMPETENT VICE-CHAIRMEN, DOUGLAS HELLER, LARRY MYERS AND
LLOYD SANKOWICH, IT IS A MAJOR RESPONSIBILITY AND A LARGE CHALLENGE
TO ULTIMATELY REACH HEIGHTS NEVER BEFORE ATTAINED, I BELIEVE WE CAN
DO IT AND I KNOW THE LEADERSHIP WILL DO ALL THEY CAN TO SEE THAT IT
IS DONE, JUST TO INDICATE HOW SUCCESSFUL WE HAVE BEEN TO DATE, WE HAVE
ALREADY RAISED $2.800.000. WHICH IS APPROXIMATELY 43% OF THE MONEY RAISED
LAST YEAR, I BELIEVE THIS IS THE EARLIEST PERIOD IN WHICH WE HAVE RAISED
THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY IN THE HISTORY OF THE FEDERATION,
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT OUR CAMPAIGN STARTS AND ENDS
AT AN EARLIER DATE THAN EVER BEFORE, BECAUSE 1973 IS ALSO GOING TO
BE THE YEAR FOR OUR CAPITAL FUNDS CAMPAIGN, IT HAS BEEN 13 YEARS
SINCE WE HAVE RAISED ANY MONEY FOR OUR LOCAL INSTITUTIONS FOR
CAPITAL NEEDS, OUR JEWISH CENTER BUILDING ON CALIFORNIA STREET
CRIES OUT FOR MAJOR RECONDITIONING, OUR OTHER CENTERS ARE WOEFULLY
INADEQUATE TO MEET TODAY'S NEEDS, THE NEW WING OF THE JEWISH HOME
FOR THE AGED WAS BUILT WITH BORROWED MONEY, AND NEEDS ARE GROWING
EVEN MORE, JEWISH EDUCATION NEEDS SPACE IN WHICH TO LIVE AND GROW,
THEIR FACILITIES ARE NOT IN KEEPING WITH TODAY'S NEEDS, MOUNT ZION
HAS BUILDING NEEDS OF IMMENSE PROPORTION,
; SAN FRANCISCO IS PRACTICALLY THE ONLY MAJOR CITY IN THIS COUNTRY
THAT HAS NOT HAD A CAPITAL FUNDS CAMPAIGN DURING THIS 13-YEAR PERIOD,
MANY CITIES HAVE HAD MORE THAN ONE, I BELIEVE, AND HAVE EVERY
CONFIDENCE THAT WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO BE SUCCESSFUL BOTH IN OUR
ANNUAL CAMPAIGN AND MEETING OUR BUILDING FUND NEEDS, I KNOW WE ARE
GOING TO DO IT,
NOW ON A PERSONAL NOTE, MY WIFE AND I JUST A COUPLE OF MONTHS
AGO WERE IN ISRAEL, WE WERE TREMENDOUSLY IMPRESSED WITH THE CONTINUING
AND GROWING NEEDS OF THAT MARVELOUS COUNTRY; WE HAVE COME BACK WITH
A FEELING THAT WE MUST CONTINUE TO WORK EVEN HARDER THAN IN THE PAST
TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT WE RAISE THE AMOUNT OF MONIES NEEDED TO CARRY
ON THE PROGRAMS WITH WHICH YOU ARE SO FAMILIAR,
FORTUNATELY, WE DON'T HAVE THE EMOTION OF WAR TO STIR US,
BUT WE HAVE THE EMOTION OF BROTHERHOOD AND RECOGNITION OF A
WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO ARE SETTING MARVELOUS EXAMPLES OF COURAGE
AND DEVOTION THAT I AM SURE WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS ONE OF THE
GREAT MOVEMENTS OF ALL TIME,
AND NOW IN CLOSING, LET ME SAY THAT IT HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL
TWO YEARS FOR ME WORKING AS YOUR PRESIDENT, I HAVE ENJOYED THE
CLOSE ASSOCIATIONS WITH THE MARVELOUS PEOPLE WHO HAVE WORKED
TOGETHER WITH ME FOR THE MOST WORTH WHILE CAUSE THAT I KNOW,
IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE OFFICERS
AND DIRECTORS OF THIS FINE ORGANIZATION AND OUR STAFF,
LOU WEINTRAUB HAS BEEN A TREMENDOUS HELP TO ME, WE HAVE PARTIALLY
RE-SHAPED OUR STAFF AND IMPROVED IT AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO,
I THINK WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED MUCH DURING THESE PAST TWO YEARS AND
I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR MAKING IT POSSIBLE,
C '.EMARKS OF KELVIN M. SWIG
AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE
YOUNG ADULTS 1 DIVISION Appendix C
TUESDAY. DECEMBER 5. 1972
I AM DELIGHTED TO BE WITH YOU TONIGHT AND TO BRING YOU GREETINGS 2
FROM THE OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS OF THE JEWISH WELFARE FEDERATION,
YOU ARE VERY MUCH ONE OF'OUR FAVORITE UNITS; YOU HAVE GIVEN US I
"ADULTS" A SIZEABLE NUMBER OF GOOD LEADERS; YOU ARE A GREAT ASSET !
TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY, j
I SHOULD LIKE TO JOIN IN OFFERING CONGRATULATIONS TO YOUR
OUTGOING PRESIDENT, STEVE COOK, AS WAS TO BE EXPECTED, THE YAD \
ATTAINED NEW HEIGHTS DURING HIS TERM OF OFFICE AND HE LEAVES BEHIND j
HIM A SET OF REMARKABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, HIS IDEA OF HAVING YAD
MEMBERS PARTICIPATE AS OBSERVERS IN MEETINGS OF THE BOARDS OF
DIRECTORS OF FEDERATION AGENCIES IS A GREAT ONE AND IT IS MEETING
WITH ENTHUSIASTIC ACCEPTANCE BY ALL OF THE AGENCIES INVOLVED,
I CONGRATULATE ALSO YOUR INCOMING PRESIDENT, DAVID WEINER,
WHO I UNDERSTAND IS A PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AT USF
AND WHO WAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL CO-CHAIRMAN OF YOUR ANNUAL RETREAT,
I WAS TOLD TO TALK BRIEFLY ABOUT THE FEDERATION, WHAT IT IS,
HOW IT REACTS TO THE CHANGING NEEDS OF A CHANGING COMMUNITY AND
HOW YOU, THE YAD, FIT IN,
TO UNDERSTAND THE FEDERATION, YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT IT DOES NOT
OPFRATF IN A VACUUM, THAT IT ACTS ONLY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OTHERS
AND THAT IT WOULD CEASE TO EXIST IN THE EVENT THERE WERE NO NEEDS
TO BE MET,
FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN OUR FEDERATION WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1910, ^
IT WAS ONLY BECAUSE THERE WERE ALREADY IN EXISTENCE A GROUP OF
AGENCIES -- A HOSPITAL, SEVERAL FAMILY HELPING SOCIETIES, THE I
PREDECESSOR TO HOMEWOOD TERRACE, ETC, - WHICH IN THE OPINION OF
THE LEADERS NEEDED TO HAVE THEIR FUND-RAISING COORDINATED, SO THE J
FEDERATION WAS FORMED, TO GO AFTER THE CONTRIBUTORS ONLY ONCE FOR A
LARGE GIFT TO MEET THE DEFICITS OF A NUMBER OF LOCAL AGENCIES,
IN 1925, WHEN IT BECAME OBVIOUS THAT OVERSEAS NEEDS REQUIRED
A VEHICLE SIMILAR TO FEDERATION FOR LOCAL NEEDS, THE JEWISH NATIONAL
WELFARE FUND WAS CREATED, THE TWO, FEDERATION AND WELFARE FUND,
RAN PARALLEL UNTIL 1955 WHEN GOOD SENSE AS WELL AS THE TIME DEMANDS
UPON LEADERS DICTATED A MERGER BETWEEN THE TWO INTO THE JEWISH
WELFARE FEDERATION AS WE KNOW IT NOW,
THIS FEDERATION, AS WELL AS THE FEDERATIONS OF THE MORE THAN
250 SIMILAR FEDERATIONS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, BASICALLY HAS A
TRIO OF RESPONSIBILITIES, FUND-RAISING, BUDGETING, AND PLANNING.
IN OUR FEDERATION, WE HAVE DEVELOPED TO A FAi .Y HIGH ORDER THESE
THREE FUNCTIONS AND, EVEN THOUGH WE ARE NOT THE BEST OF THE LARGE
CITIES IN OUR FUND-RAISING ACCOMPLISHMENTS, THE LAST TWO YEARS
HAVE SEEN US RAPIDLY ECOME OF AGE, BUDGETING AND PLANNING HAVE
BEEN COMBINED INTO A SINGLE OPERATION, MANAGED BY A COMMITTEE
OF 100, AND EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE STILL SNAGS TO REMOVE, ON THE
WHOLE I THINK WE DO A MOST CREDITABLE JOB,
IN FUND-RAISING, WE TRY TO DO AS THOROUGH A JOB AS POSSIBLE 3
BUT I WOULD BE LESS THAN HONEST WITH YOU IF I DID NOT ADMIT THAT
IT IS BASICALLY THE TOP GIVERS - THE SLIGHTLY OVER 700 INDIVIDUALS j
WHO CONTRIBUTE MORE THAN 80% OF WHAT WE RAISE - WHO CARRY THE BALL,
WE'VE GOT A LONG WAY TO GO TO BRING UP THE SIGHTS AND THE DOLLARS
OF THE REST OF THE COMMUNITY,
IN PLANNING, WE HAVE HAD NUMEROUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS, CLOSING J
AGENCIES WHEN THEIR PROGRAMS WERE NO LONGER NECESSARY (MAIMONIDES,
EMANU-EL RESIDENCE CLUB) AND CREATING AGENCIES WHEN THEY WERE j
CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL (PINECREST, THE NEW JEWISH VOCATIONAL SERVICE,
CHAPLAINCY PROGRAM, ETC,),
THE KEY TO BUDGETING IS WHAT OUR BUDGETEERS ANTICIPATE THE
WISHES OF THE DONORS TO BE, OBVIOUSLY, 100 PEOPLE CAN'T REALLY
KNOW WHAT 14,000 PEOPLE WANT BUT THE 100 ARE SELECTED SO THAT THEY
REPRESENT A GOOD CROSS-SECTION OF THE COMMUNITY AND, IF THEIR WORK
TO DATE HAD NOT BASICALLY MET THE WISHES OF CONTRIBUTORS, THE RESULT
WOULD HAVE SHOWED UP IN SUBSEQUENT FUND-RAISING CAMPAIGNS,
OUR COMMUNITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN OVERSEAS ORIENTED, THAT IS WHY
APPROXIMATELY 75% OF WHAT WE NOW RAISE GOES OVERSEAS AND, EVEN
BEFORE THERE WAS AN ISRAEL EMERGENCY FUND, WE WERE GIVING MORE THAN
50% OF WHAT WAS RAISED TO THE UNITED JEWISH APPEAL, AMONG THE
CITIES WITH WHICH WE ARE COMPARED, WE ARE SECOND IN THE PERCENTAGE
OF AMOUNT RAISED WHICH GOES OVERSEAS,
AMONG LOCAL AGENCIES, WE HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN HEALTH
AND WELFARE ORIENTED UNTIL RECENT YEARS, LOOKING AT A LIST
OF ALLOCATIONS MADE FOLLOWING CAMPAIGNS SEVERAL YEARS BACK, YOU
WOULD HAVE NOTICED HEALTH AND WELFARE - JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE
AGENCY, MOUNT ZION, ETC,, RECEIVING THE HIGHEST ALLOCATIONS,
BUT A FEDERATION CAN SURVIVE ONLY IF IT IS RESPONSIVE TO CHANGING
NEEDS, THUS, A LOOK AT THE ALLOCATIONS FOR THE 1972 CAMPAIGN
SHOWS UNMISTAKABLY THAT THOSE AGENCIES WITH DISTINCTLY JEWISH
CONTENT IDENTIFICATION ARE IN THE ASCENDENCY,
THUS, THE JEWISH CENTERS AND THE BUREAU OF JEWISH EDUCATION
ARE NO, 1 AND 2 RESPECTIVELY IN LOCAL ALLOCATIONS, MOUNT ZION
IS NO, 3 - BECAUSE OF ITS FREE AND PART-PAY PROGRAM - AND THE
JCRC IS NO, 4, BECAUSE OF ITS FOCUS ON SOVIET JEWRY AND THE
MIDDLE EAST, NEW AGENCIES ACCEPTED DURING THE YEAR PROVIDE
ADDITIONAL INSIGHT INTO THE TREND TOWARD MORE JEWISH ORIENTED
PROGRAMS - BAY AREA JEWISH YOUNG COUNCIL, ISRAEL TOUR AND STUDY
PROGRAM, NORTH AMERICAN JEWISH STUDENT'S APPEAL, NATIONAL CONFERENCE
ON SOVIETY JEWRY, JUDAH L, MAGNES MEMORIAL MUSEUM,
WE HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE IN THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP ATTRACTED TO
THE FEDERATION SINCE 1910 BUT FINDING GOOD LEADERSHIP IS NOT EASY
NOR ARE THEY NECESSARILY KNOWLEDGEABLE WHEN FOUND, THUS, WE AS
WELL AS OTHER FEDERATIONS HAVE HAD INTERMITTANT LEADERSHIP TRAINING
PROGRAMS WHERE A SELECTED GROUP OF POtTENTIAL "YOUNG LEADERS" ARE
PUT THROUGH A SEVERAL MONTHS COURSE OF INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
-5- 193 i|
PLUS A PERIOD OF APPRENTICESHIP ON THE BOARDS OF OUR LOCAL
AGENCIES, WE ARE LONG OVERDUE ON A NEW COURSE BUT HOPE TO START ]
ONE BEFORE LONG, |
IT IS PARTICULARLY GRATIFYING TO THE FEDERATION THAT THERE
EXISTS IN OUR MIDST THE YAD, TRAINING GROUND FOR THOSE OF fr
EXCEPTIONAL TALENTS AS WELL AS GOOD JEWISH MOTIVATION, YOU HAVE
ALREADY GRADUATED INTO OUR "ADULT" RANKS SOME EXTREMELY COMPETENT
PEOPLE, I DON'T HAVE TO NAME THEM -- THEY SIT ON OUR BOARD AND
OUR COMMITTEES AND YOU KNOW WHO THEY ARE AS WELL AS WE DO, j
WE WANT MORE OF THE SAME AND FROM THOSE SITTING HERE TONIGHT, *
AS WELL AS THE MANY OTHERS WHO FUNCTION WITH YOU THROUGHOUT THE
YEAR, WE OF FEDERATION EXPECT GREAT THINGS IN THE WAY OF f
LEADERSHIP AND VITALITY FOR OUR FEDERATION,
I WAS TOLD TO LEAVE TIME FOR QUESTIONS - AND SO I WILL CLOSE
BY EXPRESSING MY DEEP APPRECIATION FOR THE INVITATION TO BE WITH
YOU TONIGHT AND SIMILAR DEEP APPRECIATION FOR THE EXCELLENT WORK
YOU ARE DOING, \
Jewish Welfare Federation
220 Bush Street, Suite 645
San Francisco, California 94104
1973 STANDING COMMITTEES
Melvln M. Swig, Chairman
'Jerome I . Braun
Reynold H. Colvln
-Mrs. William H. Green
Walter A. Haas
Douglas M. He I ler
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE
Douglas M. Heller, Chairman
Henry E. Berman, Vice Chairman
Lloyd W. Dlnkelsplel, Jr.
'Robert E. Slnton
John H. Stelnhart
Melvln M. Swig
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUB-COMMITTEES
Sub-Committee on Investments
Mortimer Flelshhacker, Chairman
Warren H. Berl
Jack S. Euphrat
Daniel E. Koshland
Robert E. Slnton
Carl W. Stern
Robert M. Lev I son, Chairman
Abraham Bernstein, M.D.
Lewis B. Levin
Stuart Sei ler
Jerome I. Welnsteln
Louis Welntraub, Secretary
FUND RAISING COMMITTEE
Mrs. WllllamH. Green, Chairman
Lloyd Sankowlch, Vice Chairman
Henry E. Berman
Abraham Bernstein, M.D.
Jerome I . Braun
Mrs. Morrl s Cul Iner
Mrs. Jay Darwin
Lloyd W. Dlnkelsplel, Jr.
Richard S. Dinner
Mrs. Harold Dobbs
Nathan Jay Friedman
Richard N. Goldman
Peter E. Haas
Douglas M. He I ler
Haro Id J . Kaufman
"Wi I I lam J . Lowenberg
Robert A. Lurie
Mervin G. Morris
Dr. Donald Newman
Claude Rosenberg, Jr.
Donald H. Sel ler
Peter F. Sloss
Mrs. Richard Swig
Mrs. Robert Taubrr.an
Mrs, Marilyn Warshauer
Melvin B. Wasserman
Bernara G. Werth
Arthur B. Zimmerman
JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION COMMITTEES*
(Some Committees are in Formation)
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (as of 8/19/86)
(Proposed officers nominated by Board Officers Nominating Committee a
June 18, 1986.) No other slate was nominated. Elections will take
place at the first board meeting after the annual meeting which was
held June 17, 1986.
Composition of the Executive Committee is mandated by the Federation
Bylaws, Section IV, B. , 1.
President, Laurence Myers
Judith Chapman, President, Women
Kenneth Colvin, Vice President
Adele Corvin, Chairman, Capital Funds Committee
Annette Dobbs , Chairman, Personnel Committee
Rhoda Goldman, Chairman, Endowment Committee
Barbara Isackson, Assistant Treasurer
Geoffrey Kalmanson, Secretary
Ron Kaufman, Immediate Past-President
Dr. Donald Linker, Chairman, Fundraising Committee
Dr. Donald Newman, Chairman, 1986 Campaign
Raquel Newman, Vice President
Claude Rosenberg, Chairman, Investment Committee
Albert Schultz, Treasurer
Donald Seiler, Vice President
Stuart Seiler, Chairman, 1987 Campaign
Roselyne Swig, Vice President
Melvin Wasserman, Chairman, Planning & Budgeting
Ronald Wornick, Vice President
Ronald Berman , Chairman, Communications Committee
Richard Goldman, Chairman, Overseas Committee
George Saxe, Chairman, Demographic Study Committee
Annette Dobbs (Personnel)
Michael Podell (Building)
Dr. Andrew Rosenblatt
Ex-Of f icio:
Ex-Of f icio
William J. Lowenberg
CAPITAL FUNDS COMMITTEE
Dr. Donald Linker
Allan Kaplan, Intern
Ex-Of f icio:
ommittee - continued
Sora Lei Newman
CASH COLLECTIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
Loren Basch/Seymour Kleid
Dr. Donald Linker
William J. Lowenberg
COMMUNITY PLANNING/AGENCY RELATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
Bureau of Jewish Education
Jewish Community Relations
Jewish Family & Children's
Jewish Home for the Aged
Jewish Vocational Service
Mount Zion Hospital
Northern California Jewish
United Jewish Community
Prof." Edwin Epstein
Steering Committee (Local and National)
Steering Committee (Local and National) - continued
Family, Health & Elderly
Group Work and Campus
Dr. Joel Renbaum
JEWISH ELDERLY PROFESSIONAL SUBCOMMITTEE
Chairman: Barbara Solomon
Members: Professionals working in agencies dealing with
Jewish Elderly and key lay representatives.
William J. Lowenberg
DEMOGRAPHIC STUDY SUBCOMMITTEE
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein
Peter Haas*, Development
Donald Seiler, Allocations
Rabbi M. Barenbaum
Jesse Feldman *
Morgan Gunst, Jr.
William J. Lowenberg
L. Jay Tenenbaum
Ex-Of f icio:
Intern: Don Abramson
*Federation Past Presidents
**Reappointed for second three-year term.
EVA HELLER KOHN SUBCOMMITTEE
Goldie Cutler, National Council of Jewish Women
Carolene Marks, Hadassah
Dr. Donald Linker
Dr. Jeffrey Carmel
Dr. Donald Newman
Dr. Joel Renbaum
Dr. Andrew Rosenblatt
Ex-Of f icio:
Investment Committee - continued
NEW GIFTS SUBCOMMITTEE
Victoria Rhine Dobbs
William J. Lowenberg
Dr. Barry Oberstein
Dr. Garry Rayant
Dr. Andrew Rosenblatt
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein
Vice Chairman: Albert Schultz
Staff: Loren Basch
Members: Betty Dreifuss
PHILANTHROPIC FUND ADVISORY SUBCOMMITTEE
PLANNING & BUDGETING COMMITTEE
Vice Chairman: Randy Dick
Staff: Gene Kaufman
PROJECT RENEWAL COMMITTEE
Chairman: Alan Rothenberg
Vice Chairman: Roselyne Swig
Staff: Steven Haberfeld
REAL ESTATE SUBCOMMITTEE
Real Estate Subcommittee - continued
William J. Lowenberg
Ex-Of f icio:
Dr. Julian Davis
ACTION: F. It was moved, seconded and passed to appoint the
following individuals to serve on the Ad Hoc
Committee on "Who Is A Jew":
Melvin Swig; Ad Hoc Chair, Endowment Vice Chair
Max Bernstein; Project Renewal Chair
Jerome Braun; Past President
Annette Dobbs; Ex-Officio
Dianne Feinstein; Delegate
Jesse Feldraan; Past President
George Foos; Current Camp Chair
Stewart Foreman; B & A Chair
Sam Gill; Project Renewal Vice Chair
Richard N. Goldman; Past President
Frances D. Green; Past President
Peter E. Haas; Past President
Ron Kaufman; Past President, Overseas Chair
Robert Kirschner; Delegate
Samuel A. Ladar; Past President
Alvin Levitt; Overseas Vice Chair
William J. Lowenberg; Past President
Laurence E. Myers; Past President
Sora Lei Newman; BJE Chair
Dr. Andrew Rosenblatt; B & A Vice Chair
George Saxe; Strategic Vice Chair
Donald Seiler; Endowment Chair
Robert E. Sinton; Past President
Peter F. Sloss; Endowment Vice
Rabbi Malcolm Sparer; Board Of Rabbis
Ronald Wornick; Strategic Planning Chair
IX Executive Committee Report
A. Stuart Seiler delivered the December 6
Executive Committee report making specific
mention of the Soviet emigre resettlement
status. There was also an update made on the
Marin Campus project and the South Peninsula
X Overseas Committee Report
A. Due to time constraints, it was agreed to
postpone the Overseas Committee report until the
January 17 Board of Director's Meeting.
Assistant to the Executive Director
(in formation as of 9/18/89)
For this committee only, the following key applies
+ Notes Federation Past Presidents
Vice Chairman: Melvin Swig-t-, Development
Peter Sloss, Allocations
Rabbi M. Barenbaum
Jerome Braun +
Jesse Feldman *
Richard Goldman +
Frances Green +
Peter Haas +
Ron Kaufman +
Samuel Ladar *
William Lowenberg +
Laurence Myers +
Robert Sinton +
John Steinhart. +
Melvin Swig +
L. Jay Tenenbaum
EXECUTIVE SEARCH COMMITTEE
(in place as of 9/18/90)
Rabbi Michael Barenbaum
(in place -- as of 9/18/90)
Sora Lei Newman
Dr. Andrew Rosenblatt
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein
Albert L. Schultz
Roselyne C. Swig
Ronald C. Wornick
Dr. Harold Zlot
(in place as of 9/18/90)
Mervin G. Morris
Melvin M. Swig, Endowment Development
Peter F. Sloss, Endowment Allocations
Rabbi M. Barenbaum
Ernest A. Benesch
Douglas M. Heller
Alvin T. Levitt
William J. Lowenberg
Jack G. Schafer
Albert L. Schultz
L. Jay Tenenbaum
Claude Rosenberg, Chair, Investment Committee
Andrew Rosenblatt, Chair, Planning & Allocations
San Francisco Jewish Bulletin
December 8, 1978
SUCCEEDS JOHN H. STEINHART
Mel Swig Heads Bulletin
Mel via M. Swig, San Francisco
real esUte developer, sportsman
land community and civic leader,
h*j been elected president of the
San Francisco Jewish Bulletin's
Board of Directors.
Swig, who first served on the
jiewspaper's board in 1970, sue-
ceeds John H. Steinhart who has
&Veo associated with the
^publishing of the Bulletin for 22
./ears. His father, Jesse H.
Steinhart was one of the small
3poup oY Jewish community
leaders who bought the publica
tion from San Francisco attorney
Sol SUverman -in -1946 and
established it as a community
Other officers elected are at
torney Milton Jacobs as vice-
president, Bernice Glickfeld as
"treasurer and Sue Sransten as
secretary. .. ; . """
Swig, who served as president of
the Jewish Welfare Federation of
San Francisco, Marin County and
the Peninsula in 1971-72, is active
In numerous civic and community
Organizations both locally and na
tionally. He is a former owner of
the California Golden Seals and
the Cleveland Barons of the Na
tional Hockey League. He is a
director of the Fairmont. Hotel on
NobHiH. ' .V '">,"'-"
The BuBetinJs the only weekly
newspaper in northern California
serving the Jewish community. It
Aas escalation of some 17,000
copies weekty. It is served by the
^)ewish,"^eVgraphic Agency, a
^ world wifle news service, of which
~ Swig & a director, by the London
Jewish Chronicle feature Service,
by the National Religious News
Photo Service 'and the Israel Press
and Photo Agency.
< ob "=
Northern California Jewish
July 26, 1985
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Northern Californa Jewish Bulletin
January 24 , 1986
Swig. gets award for endowment work
I Melvin M. Swig, a long-time
leader of the San Franciso Jewish
'community and past president of
* "the Jewish Community Federation
of San Francisco, the Peninsula,
Marin and Sonoma Counties, has
been named a recipient of the first
Council of Jewish Federations
. endowment achievement award.
Since 1980, Swig has been chair
man of the Jewish Community En
dowment Fund of the JCEF. The
committee develops new sources of
endowment funds, and reviews all
grants and emergency allocations of
The award is geared for "those
who have, through their leader
ship, vision and dedication, helped
-in the successful growth" of their
federation endowment funds, ac
cording to the citation.
The awards were announced re
cently at the General Assembly
meeting of the CJF in Washington,
Robert E. Sinton, a member of
the )CEF's allocations committee
and former chairman of the JCEF,
presented the award to Swig in San
Francisco earlier this month.
"Among the many accolades I
could lavish upon Mel Swig, ' ' com-
.. mented Sinton, "are for his
: warmth and his generosity. He has
proven again and again his commit-
*"' Inent to assuring the quality and
f the continuity of the Jewish com
The Swig Foundation recently
made a gift to the Endowment
Fund of $500.000.
Over the five years Swig had
; headed the JCEF, the total assets of
the fund have grown from less than
$23 miHion to more than $50 mil-
goal to build -a $100 million endow
ment fund that would give us the
flexibility to handle crises [ranging]
from fires to floods to persecution
of Jews abroad. That remains my
Swig's father, the late Benjamin
Swig, was chairman of the first be
quest development committee,
when the endowment fund offices
were located on California Street in
San Francisco. The JCEF was reor
ganized in 1976 with Sinton as
Swig, 69, who was instrumental
in helping establish the JCEF 20
years ago, is president of the Fair
mont Hotel Company and is a
trustee or member of the board of
directors of some 20 Jewish and
civic organizations, including the
University of San Francisco, the
American Jewish Joint Distribution
Committee, the regional board and
the national commission of the
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith, Brandeis University, Mount
Zion Hospital and Medical Center,
and the JCF.
..-Upon accepting the award. Bwig '
aid, 'Twenty years ago I set as our
Bpord to Be Expanded
On Koret Foundation
San Francisco Chronicle
June 24, 1986
.. By Evelyn H$u
A legal battle over control
of the nearly $200 million Koret
Foundation has been settled
t oat of court, it was learned yes-
*" lend a y.
" ' The dispute, involving one of
; ffie country's largest philanthropic
foundations, included allegations of
^proper spending and attempts by
three directors to remove the
founder's widow. Susan Koret, as
chairman. Mrs. Koret, in turn, tried
t2> fire the three directors.
, Under terms of the settlement
\ tfiat ended the dispute. Mrs. Koret
will be reinstated as chairman and
\ ike ether board members will re-
; main as directors, but the board will
b expanded to 10 members from
\ the present four.
T * The new board members will
Include attorney William Coblentz;
investor Richard Blum, the hus-
1 band of Mayor Dianne Feinstein;
J Businessman Melvin Swig, whose
I family owns the Fairmont Hotel;
businessman Stanley Herzstein, and
I Bernard Osher, head of the Butter-
; field and Butterf ield auction house.
the sixth new board member has
I yt to be selected.
I - In addition to the composition
o) the board, one of the major dis-
t putes between Mrs. Koret and the
I diner directors was how much of
tile organization's largesse should
I bfe directed to Jewish charities.
I The foundation, created by the
' lite clothing magnate Joseph Koret.
had been directing half of its gifts to
I Jewish causes. But the original
;tfcree directors developer Tad
*^ube, businessman Eugene Friend
!a*d attorney Richard Greene
wanted to give more money to Jew-
; tfh organizations.
T } , Mrs. Koret, who married the
: p^flanthroptist a year before he
: dfed at the age of 79 in 1982, said her
late husband wanted only half of
1 Ufe money to go to Jewish organiza-
* The foundation, established
! from the estate of Koret's first wife
'in-' 1978, gave away 16 million last
;ySar .and has about $8 million to
' gY?nt this year.
f The settlement, which was
;- ripened on Friday, calls for half of
the foundation's annual donations
;to,go to Jewish charities, said Herz-
; ifcin. The agreement is expected to
bnng an end to legal actions filed by
' bjth sides in April.
! Despite the often acrimonious
tc&arges that were made during the
legal dispute, Herzstein was confi-
idgnt the new board could work to-
gether. "You're dealing with a
i group of very mature adults who
lean put it all behind them." he said.
"The foundation has great po
tential for growth and good," said
Coblentz. "I'm sure reasonable peo
ple can work together to earn, out
the wishes of Mr. Koret."
Taube, who will remain as pres
ident of the foundation at a salary
of $60.000 a year, said: "We are very
pleased with the resolution of this
conflict. This will allow us to put our
problems behind us and focus our
energies and attention on helping
worthwhile organizations in our
The settlement does not halt an
audit of the foundation's finances
by the state attorney general's of
fice, said Carol Kornblum, assistant
The audit began after the legal
dispute raised questions about fi
nancial transactions between the
foundation and its directors.
Among the charges were accu
sations by Mrs. Koret that Taube
wrongly benefited from foundation
grants that were used to buy tickets
to Oakland Invaders football games.
Taube was a co-owner of the now-
defunct football team. His attorney,
Jerome Falk, has denied any wrong
doing by his client
San Francisco Chronicle
September 8, 1986
The Swigs Build a
The push is on
to increase the
BY STEPHEN MA IT A
At his table in the Fairmont's Brasse
rie restaurant, Mel Swig munches a
Cobb salad and fields rapid-fire
calls on union troubles, charitable projects
and real estate ventures. The last call spoils
Millionaire Phillip Anschutz, who is ne
gotiating to sell Swig the 550-room Denver
Fairmont, is arguing about who will get the
hotel's "air rights" for future development
After quietly stating his side, Swig con
cludes, "Well, Phil, maybe we can't do busi
ness." He hangs up and sighs, 'The Denver
deal is off."
August wasn't a great month. Two
weeks before the Denver deal disinte
grated, Swig pulled out of a planned 185
million resort project in Hawaii, citing spi-
raling costs. But he has no time to dwell on
nich "deal breakers." "The Denver market's
been hurting anyway," Swig rationalizes.
"If we don't add Denver, we'll add some
thing somewhere else."
Such is life these days for Melvin Swig,
the 60-year-old San Francisco hotelier, de
veloper, checkbook Democrat and philan
thropist who shares the throne of the Swig
hotel and real estate empire with brother
'Richard, 60, and brother-in-law Richard
Unlike the Rockefellers and some other
old-line families whose descendants have
changed their focus from building to cash
ing in their assets, the children and grand
children of the late financier Benjamin
Swig are intent on adding to the family
business already valued by some at more
than $450 million. In the past 24 months
The jewel of the family fortune, the
elegant Fairmont hotels, are amid their big
gest expansion. Two new hotels one with
583 rooms in San Jose, another with 700
rooms in Chicago will be completed in
1987, bringing the number of Fairmonts the
Swigs own or operate to six. And they're
looking at other cities, too.
In June, the Swigs bought Arco Cen
ter, Long Beach's largest office building.
The acquisition of the 14-story, twin-tower
complex came after the family missed out
on its boldest bid ever for the 52-story
BankAmerica world headquarters in San
Francisco. Developer Walter Shorenstein,
ironically a partner on several Swig ven
tures, walked away with the mammoth
complex for I860 million. By most indica
tions, this has been the Swigs' most aggres
sive real estate year since 1984, when they
added office towers in New York and New
Jersey. ^^ ....
In all, the Swigs now own hotels in San
Francisco, Dallas and New Orleans, operate
the Denver Fairmont and have sizable
stakes in 15 office towers in New York, San
Francisco, Dallas and Houston.
Together, the Swigs have amassed one
of San Francisco's biggest family fortunes,
bankrolled prominent Democrats from for
mer California Governor Edmund Brown
Sr. to Mayor Dianne Feinstein, and devel
oped one of the nation's most presti
gious hotel chains.
Because the business is closely
held, calculating its value is diffi
cult. But Forbes magazine last fall
said Mel and Richard Swig and
Richard Dinner are among the 400
richest Americans, with an estimat
ed wealth of 1150 million each.
That's up from $100 million each
'just two years ago, according to the
magazine's rough estimates.
Although the family's real es
tate is overshadowed by the assets
'of developers like Shorensteln and
<New York's Donald Trump, the
holdings still add up to an impres
sive 8 million-plus square feet of
space the equivalent of 18 Trans-
But they haven't done it alone.
The foundation of the business was
laid in Boston a half century ago
when Ben Swig, then a discount re
tailer, became partners with Jack
Weiler. a New York property own
er. The two built and purchased
buildings throughout the East be
fore venturing west in 1944.
It was purely by accident that
Swig entered the hotel business. On
a trip to San Francisco to buy an
office at 111 Sutler Street, he
learned that the St. Francis Hotel
was for sale. The office deal fell
through, but Swig didn't come back
to Boston empty-handed. He pur
chased the Union Square landmark
hotel with several partners; one
year later he sold his half interest in
it and bought the Fairmont nam
ed after James Fair, a California
gold miner whose daughter built
Since Ben Swig's death in 1980,
inanacement of the family business
'lias been neatly divided among his
two sons and son-in-law.
Mel Swig heads the family busi
ness as chairman of Swig Weiler
and Dinner Development Co. An av
id athlete and backer of Jewish and
community causes. Mel Swig runs
the real estate operations while his
brother operates the hotels. Rich
ard Dinner, the husband of the
Swigs' late sister. Betty, co-manages
the family's holdings.
During an interview in his mod
est, single-window office on the
mezzanine level of the Fairmont,
Mel Swig said the company once
regarded as a staid, alow-moving
family business has embarked on
its biggest expansion. .
The catalyst to tbe recent
growth came in 1962, when the
Swigs bought out the Weilers' stake
in the hotel business for a reported
1200 million. The move marked a
fundamental change in direction
for the business. "They were non-
growth oriented and we felt differ
ently," Swig said. .
"It's simply a matter of econom
ics," said Swig. "We needed to ex
pand to remain competitive. In the
hotel business, you need to develop
referrals from city to city. One hotel
tends to feed off another."
' -But Swig stressed that oWptte
the recent growth, tb* upscale Fair-
*numt till never &e another Shera-
l ton or Hilton. "The** duty a limit-
' ed number of cities in this country
- where you can build Fairmonts,"
^sald Swig. "Not every city can af
' iCnown Tor Its large rooms, ex
pansive lobbies and nightclubs, the
Fairmont has never come cheap. In
San Francisco, a double room starts
at $170 a night and goes to $225.
Suites can run several hundred dol
lars more, and the tab on the Fair
mont's three-bedroom penthouse,
Ben Swig's former residence,
fetches $4000 a night.
Although Swig has made it
clear he'd like to spread his hotel
and real estate arms to New York
and Los Angeles, he insists that he
-has not set any specific .goals for
future development or investments
in those cities. 'The Swigs don't go
out seeking business," Weiler, 82,
said in a recent telephone inter
view. "Business comes to them,"
... 1 As much as he wouW like to be
to certain cities. Swig is quick to
Jump on a perceived bargain any-
__wheje. "It's hard to have a precise
game plan because you never know
where lightning's going to strike
next," he said.
When it comes to building or
investing, Swig adheres to certain
Move qvtekly. "If you wait,
the good deals are gone, he ex
plains. On his desk, a bronze plaque'
emphasizes that philosophy: "Noth-
"ing will ever be attempted if all
'possible objectives are first over-
That quick-moving style helped
Swig land the SOOtfJO-aquare-foot
jArco Center in Long Beach for
jaore than 160 million, regarded as a
, good buy by industry experts.
When .a real estate partnership
packed out at tbe last minute, Swig
~wsn asked to make an offer. He im
mediately set his lawyers working
around the dock; by week's end
In another example of a quick
deal, Swig received a call on a Mon-
day morning in 1964 saying 80 Maid
n Lane, a 550,000-square-foot office
building in New York, was for sale
at *a good price because a large ten
ant Continental Insurance had
moved out By Wednesday, Steve
Qilley, president of tbe family's real
estate operations, was on a plane to
New York. By Friday, the papers
Don't go it alone. In many
cases, Swig has formed partner
ships with regional developers who
can provide capital and local exper
tise. In San Francisco, the Swigs and
developer Walter Shorenstem have
formed a powerful real estate alli
ance over the years, buying the
Russ and Merchants Exchange
buildings together as wen as various
other prime downtown sites. In San
Jose, Swig is building the Fairmont
with local developer Kim Small
And in Chicago, Metropolitan Struc
tures, a prominent Midwest builder,
is Swig's partner.
Be choosey. As in the hotel
business. Swig won't build or invest
in real estate just anywhere. He has
virtually sworn off San Francisco,
where he owns a stake in 1.5 million
square feet of office space, includ
ing the Mills Building at 220 Mont
gomery and 633 Folsom.
Between a 16 percent vacancy
rate, special city fees and taxes tack
ed onto developments, and a loss of
locally based businesses, Swig ar
gues that it just doesn't make eco
nomic sense to plow money into San
Francisco right now.
"I wouldn't build a building
here now and I'd think twice before
buying one," he said. "I don't see
new people coming into- town.
We're not a Houston, thank God,
but we've had some severe dam
age." Instead, the family is focusing
its attention on Southern California,
where H believes the financial ser
vice center of the West Coast has
been drifting. '
Unlike some other real estate
1 financiers, Swig is more likely to
flrop a project rather than compro
mise on terms or quality.' In the
Hawaiian project, for example, he
-pulled out of *n $85 million resort
on the island of Motokai after deter
mining If wouM cost $125 million to
"do it right" that is, add two
additional 18-hole -golf courses and
upgrade the neighboring Sheraton
IB a profession characterized
by the crafty and the cutthroat
v ;Swig doer match the stereotype
tat even wile** o^alls gottg down
the tabea. "He** tow profile, that
you wouldn't know be runrUtefcind
: of -empirt *e do^s," aaid Al King-
myii exeeuUye Jriee president at
Pim Interstate Bank, which often
kelp* nance,Swig deals, v -
"* VTbiJe miny devdoperetah af
1 ^locd to be ieneroiii the Swigs actu-
E ally are, Soatn Bnibeck, a^broker
wKb Grvbb.lt EHis, said abe was
. -absolutely atunned** whea^wig
-paid bar a 1280.000 commiatian for
taking Pacific Stock Exchange off i-
' dak by onexrf bis buildings several
\ ' years ago. PSE signed a lease some
1 time after the tour, .negotiating di-
jttctly with Swig. . - TV.-
v f "Nlwiy percent of the other
'landlords in this city mould not
bave paid a commfesion tn that case
and still would have had; a dear
conscience.** Brubeck-said; '. .
But union leaders in SanPran-
cisco say the Swig children $nd
grandchildren haven'l been is char-
* iuble to tbem. Contract talks with
the Hotel and Restaurant Employ
ees Unkm Local 2 are becoming
strained. aaldTeter pen'anles. di
.rector of staff for the Union. He said
Abe Swigs for ihe first 4inw hate
.aligned themselves with national
2>otel chains, like the Sheraton and
t^BUton, who hive taken a hard-iiae
ttand on concessions. -----
a '^Ha'B breatb away
^ from a viraikout. %aid Cervantes
f * "Ben wata't a softie; but we newr
came tifis close to strike with
f there's one thing that Mel Swig
- "I learned from his father, the late f inan-
der BeBi*tp Swig, it's that business
> The ioftfpbkcn, (-year-old chair-
f man of the family's hotel and real estate
-empire works as hard giving money
.way as he does making it. He's good at
It's still very exciting to me," said
Swig, who hasn't slowed down since his
econd cancer operation in March. "I
love the fact that I can be talking about
hotels one minute, real estate the next
and charities after that."
Swig rises by 6:30 every morning at
bis five-acre summer estate in Woodside,
- grabs a quick breakfast and then drives
nfc Jaguar sedan to the Fairmont office
on Nobtp to begin work by 7.30. Before
bis day is over 11 hours or 12 hours
later, he's likely to have met with
developers about a joint venture.
worked on a fund-raising drive for
the state of Israel and presided over
the University of San Francisco's
Board of Trustees, of which he is
He attacks his free time with
the same zeal. A college hockey star
and former owner of the predeces
sor of the Minnesota North Stars,
Swig swims and plays tennis at his
Woodside home. And nearly every
weekend, he's on the golf course at
the Lake Merced Country Club in
Daly City, whittling away at a nine
Like his father, Swig is ada
mant about giving. One of the city's
leading philanthropists, the Brown
University graduate serves on the
board of 14 college and civic organi
sations. -We've been brought up to
believe we're obligated to give"
. something back to the community.";
j* be sakUArtdlhe Swigs do more
^ than $2 million a year to Jewish^
r educational, political and civic or pa
ftiaizations, by some accounts.
f *Tm a Democrat and work verV
P bard for Democratic candidates,'
* be said. "But the state of Israel is a if'
^overriding devotion of mine. A
' most recently, USF has been occu<
1 Pying more of my time." ii
- Philanthropy is something the;
Swigs learned from their father.
. Once dubbed "the fastest check-
r^boOk iathe West," Ben Swig regu-
flatly gave to Catholic and Jewish
^organisations alike, as well as youth
; groups, universities and community
'My father used to tell his
friends. tJivc it away while you're
alive, because there are no pockets
hi shrouds,' " Swig recalled.
Who's Waiting in the Wings
Whenever brothers Mei and Richard Swig and
brother-in-law Richard Dinner retire, the
grandchildren of the late financier Ben Swig are
ready to take over the family enterprise.
Three of Mel's children and one of Richard's,
ranging in age from 25 to 44, are involved in the
family's real estate and hotel operations, believed to
be worth more than $450 million.
The eldest is Stephen Swig, a 44-year-old San
Francisco attorney with the law firm of Titchell
Maltzman. Born to Mel and his first wife, Phyllis
Diamond, Stephen represents the family in many
ventures. His brother-in-law. Robert "Ted" Parker,
also is an attorney with Titchell Maltzman.
Richard Swig Jr.. 35. has followed his father into
the hotel business. He is now vice president and
managing director of the Fairmont Hotel Manage
ment Co.. which oversees operation of the San Fran
cisco, Denver. Dallas and New Orleans hotels.
Twin brothers Kent and Robert Swig, 25. Mel's
sons bv his second wife, Marcia Hove, also are active
ly involved In the day-to-day operation of the hotel
and real estate businesses.
Kent is vice president of Swig Weiler and Din
ner Development Co., the real estate arm of the Swig
empire. Robert is the resident manager of the San
Last year. Scott Heldfond, 40. Richard Dinner's
son-in-law, stepped down as chief operating officer
at Dinner Levison Co., the insurance firm co-found
ed by his father-in-law, to start his own firm. Held
fond joined Doug Sborenitein, the 31-year-old son of
developer Walter Shorenstein, in forming DSI Insur
ance Services, a full-line insurance brokerage in San
Despite the active involvement of four third-
generation Swigs, family members insist there is no
jockeying for position and no heir apparent.
"Everyone is equal here," said Kent Swig. "The
percentages (of family holdings) are equal, we all
have equal say in decisions. And nothing has been
decided" about future positions.
STEPHEN MA IT A
Family of S.F. philanthropists
Northern California Jewish Bulletin
October 31, 1986
A decade ago, Melvin Swig ac
companied his ailing father, Ben
jamin Swig, to Israel, where the fin
ancier was to receive an award from
Hebrew University. At the cere
mony, the 81-year-old Swig told Is
raeli officials about how he was
raised in a small town outside Bos
There were so few Jews that they
couldn't form a minyan, he joked.
There were so few Jews that he
never had a bar rrutzvah, he noted
with a tinge of sadness.
Less than 40 hours later, Mel
Swig and his wife Dee had orga
nized a bar mitzvah for his father at
the Western Wall.
Many people would say that that
kind of heartfelt commitment is the
mark of the Swigs, not only within
their family but in community giv
ing and in Jewish life.
"The Swig family members put
out their emotions as well as their
resources," says William Lowen-
berg, genera] chairman of Israel
Bonds for Northern California.
"They portray menschlichkeit.
"If it weren't for the Swigs, we
would have a void here. They
never have to be asked twice to
The Swig-Dinner family Dee
and Melvin Swig, Roselyne "Cis
sie" and Richard Swig, and the Ri
chard Dinner family will be hon
ored for their generosity and
commitment at the international
state of Israel Bonds dinner Sun
day, Nov. 9 at the Fairmont Hotel,
California and Mason streets, S.F.
It will be the first time a family
will receive the much-coveted
Golda Meir Leadership Award,
which is the only award in her
name authorized by the family of
the late prime minister of Israel.
"I have had the great personal
privilege of meeting and working
with the members of the Swig and
Dinner family," says Brigadier
Gen. Yehudah Halevy, worldwide
president and CEO of state of Israel
Bonds. "Few families can equal
"They have established a family
Tradition of selfless activity for
many worthwhile causes, which
they inherited and have passed on
to the next generation. Israel Bonds
honors them with great pride and
gets community's thanks
The Swig family estimates it has
contributed "tens of millions of
dollars, with approximately 60 per
cent going to Jewish causes," since
the late Benjamin Swig, once
dubbed "the fastest checkbook in
the West," moved to San Francisco
from Boston in 1946.
With him, Ben Swig brought a
sense of democratization to the San
Francisco Jewish philanthropies,
showing that "those who came up
the hard way can join the leader
ship of the community," recalls
Lou Stein, director of Israel Bonds
when it was first created and when
Ben Swig served as its first chair
Following in his footsteps, Mel
Swig served as general chairman in
1956, Richard Swig in 1964 and
1965, and "Cissie" Swig in 1982
The Swigs and Dinners aren't
"just checkbook philanthropists,"
says Stein, noting that they partici
pate in the planning, program
ming, telephoning from begin
ning to end of any project.
"They're not clones of Ben or of
anyone else. Their interests cover
the whole fabric of the commu
Like his father, Mel Swig is ada
mant about giving. "Business is not
everything," says the businessman
and real estate developer. "We've
.been brought up to believe we're
obligated to give something back to
"My father used to tell his
friends, 'Give it away while you're
alive, because there are no pockets
in shrouds/ "
With gentle humor, Mel Swig de
fines frustration as "not meeting
your fund-raising goal," and he de
fines tzedakah (charity) as a form of
Jewish self-defense, prescribed in
The other Swigs are as doggedly
committed to their volunteer activi
Most people think of Richard
Swig as the president of the world-
famous, family-owned Fairmont
Hotels. But Rabbi Brian Lurie, exec
utive director of the Jewish Com
munity Federation of San Fran
cisco, the Peninsula, Marin and
Sonoma Counties, will always re
member Richard Swig snievping two
of the fattest suitcases during a mis
sion to Czechoslovakia, Poland,
Hungary and Israel despite a bad
back. The suitcases, Lurie relates,
were filled with gifts for needy Jews
throughout Eastern Europe and Is
rael; nothing could be left behind.
That trip affected the Swigs more
profoundly than any other experi
ence. "It brought us to our heri
tage, our roots, and confirmed with
a fervor why we do what we do,
and why we will continue," says
When it seemed like an Israel
Bonds show being written and pro
duced by a talented San Francisco
artist might fall through, "Cissie"
Swig sent her husband boating by
himself and, in her living room,
marshalled her troops, the commu
nity women working on the event,
to write the script themselves. "If
you're a leader, you have to be a
catalyst," she says.
Volunteer work is also a lifestyle
for the Dinners, who support Tem
ple Emmanu-El, Hebrew Union
College, the San Francisco Sym
phony, and the San Francisco Gi
ants. "We don't give it a second
thought," says Richard Dinner.
"It's a way of life for us."
Married to the late Betty Swig
and currently to Joan Withers Din
ner, he devotes most of his day to
civic activities. He has undertaken
responsibility and leadership on be
half of a host of organizations and
institutions that contribute to the
stature of San Francisco Pacific
Presbyterian Hospital, the San
Francisco Zoological Society, and
the Salvation Army. He was also
the founder of the San Francisco
Chapter of American associates of
Ben Gurion University.
"I get more out of this than I put
into it, and in this way, I find deep,
personal fulfillment/' says Dinner.
Each family member has been ac
tive in philanthropic organizations
outside the Jewish community, giv
ing then all tremendous visibility.
"They care about the Jewish com
munity but also about the entire
community," says Lowenberg.
"The credibility they give to the
Jewish community is something
very few can duplicate."
THE NORTHWN CAOFORNJA-JEWBH BULLETIN
takes great pleasure in inviting yoii
to join in honoring
The Swig <^> Dinner Family
1986 Recipients of *
Xfcfcvrf orf /mn Dtawr
TAie Go/da Me/r Leadership Award
Gala International Dinner
Distinguished Guest Speaker
Israel's Ambassador to the United States, 1982-1983 i
Israel's Defense Minister, 1983-1984 , . , .
Sunday evening, the ninth of November
Fairmont Hotel v ; .;.
'. '": -
Cocktails at si'* o'clock .- . - ,
Dinner at seven o'clock
Couvert $60 per person
Dietary Laws Observed
Walter H. Shorenstein, Dinner Chairman
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION FOR ISRAEL
47 KEARNY STREET, SUITE 705, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 94108
For reservations and information, contact 781 "32 1 3
The Golda Meir Leadership
Award, authorized by'jhe
family of- the , late beloved
Prime Minister of Israel, -is
presented once each year 1 to
a nationally prominent
leader for exemplary service
to Israel, the Jewish people
and the community-at-large.
The first family to receive
this prestigious award, Dee
and Mel Swig, Roselyne and
Richard Sung and the Richard
Dinner Family represent con
tinuation of a tradition of
service that has passed from
generation to generation.
Their tireless efforts on
behalf of the State of Israel
and Jews everywhere have
earned them a well deserved
place in the annals of world
As individuals and as a
family, they- have created
lives of distinction and
responsibility and involved
themselves in a wide variety
of philanthropic, humanitar
ian and community endeav
ors. There is virtually no sig
nificant leadership role in
both the Jewish and general
communities that a member
of this distinguished and
energetic family has not
served with dedication, gen
erosity and integrity.
In the spirit and measure
of Golda Meir, we honor the
Swig-Dinner Family with great
pride, respect, gratitude and
affection in recognition of a
lifetime of involvement.
They serve as an inspiration
to us all.
An Exciting Weekend
in San Francisco For r
Saturday Evening Party
Tours of San Francisco
and The Wine Country
Meeting on Sunday
Women's Division Tea
Walter H. Shorenstein
. Robert E. Sinton
Eugene E. Trefethen, Jr.
William J. Lowenberg
MELVIN SWIG'S REMARKS
ANTI DEFAMATION LEAGUE
June 11 , 1987
I AM PRIVILEGED AND HONORED TO SAY A FEW WORDS
ABOUT MY FRIEND, FR. JOHN LO SCHIAVO, PRESIDENT OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO. AS MANY OF YOU
KNOW, FR. LO SCHIAVO IS AN EDUCATOR, A MOTIVATOR AND
A CARING AND WARM HUMAN BEING. IT HAS BEEN A
PRIVILEGE FOR ME TO WORK WITH HIM IN MY CAPACITY AS
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD AT USF AND TO SEE JOHN IN
ACTION. USF IS ON THE MOVE AND MUCH OF THE MOTION
HAS COME AS A RESULT OF FR. LO SCHIAVO.
HE HAS ENRICHED USF'S GENERAL EDUCATION PROGRAM,
HELPED TO FURTHER SENIOR EDUCATION THROUGH THE FROMM
INSTITUTE, AND HAS BROUGHT AN INTERFACED DIMENSION TO
THE UNIVERSITY. MY FAMILY HAS HELPED TO ESTABLISH
THE MAE AND BENJAMIN SWIG CHAIR IN JUDAIC STUDIES
WHICH IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE ECUMENICAL PRESENCE THAT
FR. LO SCHIAVO HAS BROUGHT TO USF. IN ADDITION, HE
HAS STRONGLY SUPPORTED OUR EFFORTS IN CREATING THE
KORET CENTER, A MULTI PURPOSE HEALTH AND RECREATION
BUILDING WHICH IS PRESENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
JOHN LO SCHIAVO HAS WORKED WITH ALL SAN
FRANCISCANS TO MAKE USF A TRULY UNIVERSAL EDUCATIONAL
INSTITUTION WHERE ALL ARE WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED TO
STUDY. PRESENTLY, THERE ARE STUDENTS FROM 85 NATIONS
ATTENDING USF. FR. LO SCHIAVO HAS SERVED ON NUMEROUS
BOARDS AND ADVISORY GROUPS THROUGHOUT THE BAY AREA.
IN 1977 HE WAS NAMED MAN OF THE YEAR BY THE SAN
FRANCISCO FORWARD FOR FOSTERING IDEALS AND TRADITIONS
THAT HAVE MADE SAN FRANCISCO ONE OF THE GREATEST
/- ., ^-y ff-^fff^i^^^ _^i-f* <5c^
CITIES IN THE WORLD. FR. LO SCHIAVO HAS SERVED AS A
TRUSTEE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO SINCE
1964. HE WAS ELECTED THE 25TH PRESIDENT IN 1977 AND
CELEBRATED HIS 10TH ANNIVERSARY IN FEBRUARY. THE MAN
BUT WHAT DO THESE ACHIEVEMENTS TELL US? THEY
INFORM US A BIT ABOUT THE PUBLIC MAN. BUT, AFTER
SEVERAL YEARS HAVING WORKED1WITH FR. LO SCHIAVO, I
CAN TELL YOU IN A WORD ABOUT THE PRIVATE MAN HE IS
GENUINE. TONIGHT WE HONOR THIS SPECIAL AND UNIQUE
PERSON - THROUGH HIS ACHIEVEMENTS, HIS EXAMPLE, HE
BRINGS EXCELLENCE TO THE UNIVERSITY AND GENUINENESS
TO THE STAFF, FACULTY AND STUDENTS. THE MAN WE HONOR
IS AN HONORABLE, UPRIGHT AND DECENT H-UM/ffT-B^J^. HE
IS AN ACHIEVER, A DOER, AND ONE WHO UPHOLDS BY
EXAMPLE MORALITY AND DECENCY.
I AM PRIVILEGED TO INTRODUCE MY FAVORITE JESUIT,
OCIETY or~jEStre) FR. JOHN LO SCHIAVO.
WILL FATHER LO SCHIAVO JOIN ME AT THE PODIUM
ALONG WITH STANLEY HERZSTEIN, AL KINGMAN AND LEE
Northern California Jewish Bulletin
July 31, 1987
*rf 'S-ESl c.SS S u
BY MARK NICKEL
Former Notre Dame president The Rev.
Theodore Hesburgh and Emmanuel de
Margerie, French ambassador to the United
States, will be among seven recipients of
honorary degrees at the 221st Commence
ment They will participate in one of the
nation's oldest academic traditions. Since
its first Commencement in 1769, Brown has
honored men and women who are leaders
in their fields, from George Washington
(h!790) and Thomas Jefferson (hl787) to
modern-day astronauts, poets, world lead
ers, scientists and artists.
The 1989 honorary degree recipients:
Mel vin M. Swig, real estate develop
er, businessman and philanthropist.
Swig, a native of Boston, has built a
successful career in real estate de
velopment on the West Coast Swig is
chairman of the board of Swig, Wieler &
Dinner Development Company of San
Francisco and chairman of the board of the
Fairmont Hotel Management Company.
His many civic affiliations include higher
education, religious organizations and civic
During his long service to Brown Uni
versity, Swig served as director of the Third
University's highly successful capital cam
paign (the Campaign for Brown) and the
Athletic Center Committee. Swig was elect
ed a trustee of the University in 1981 and
served until 1987. He received an honorary
Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the
University in 1982.
Swig, a member of Brown's riass of
1939, will receive his honorary doctorate in
front of classmates assembled for their 50th
THE PRESIDING BISHOP'S COMMITTEE
CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS Appendix T
July 29, 1991
To: Members of the House of Bishops
From: John H. Burt, chairman, P. B. Committee
I write to you in the aftermath of the General Convention to reflect a
bit on the struggle all of us experienced at Phoenix to craft and adopt
what we hoped would be fair and "balanced" resolutions on the Middle East.
A number of you, along with many clergy and lay deputies, expressed
astonishment to me that one of our Jewish guests, Rabbi Robert Kravitz,
should have publicly voiced such dismay over the wording of what we voted
(especially the final form of Resolution DOOSs ) in his remarks before both
Houses. Some bishops were even irritated at me personally since it was I
who had introduced the rabbi in both of his appearances.
I trust it is obvious that I neither authored his words nor encouraged
him to say what he said. My role was that of hosting the Jewish visitors
on behalf of the Presiding Bishop because I currently chair his Committee
on Christian-Jewish Relations. You should know, incidentally, that the
rabbi did not just "drop in" on Convention to make a statement. He had
been with us the entire week, attending hearings, talking with committee
people, doing his best to influence those writing the Middle East
resolutions in the directions of what he considered to be greater
fairness. In a way, it is a compliment to our hospitality toward him that
he felt free to "speak his mind."
Whatever the propriety of his words, however, it now seems to me
important for each of us to try to understand (and help our clergy and our
people understand) why many an American Jew (and perhaps a lot of the rest
of us who are students of the Middle East) feel that our General
Convention resolutions did turn out to be less than fair.
Especially in these coming days when Middle East peace negotiations
may get under way, it is particularly crucial for us to understand and to
empathize with the pain and dilemmas of both Israeli and Palestinian
alike. Let me illustrate why our work at Phoenix seemed to lack balance.
1. First of all, though our resolution DOOSs begins in its first
resolve to address the peace problem in the entire Middle East, the fact
is that it quickly evolves into a narrow resolution dealing with the
relation of Israel to the West Bank and Gaza. We need to be aware that
Israelis and Jews generally are rightly offended when we Christians seem
not to understand that the underlying issue for the Jewish State (whatever
it may be for West Bank and Gaza residents) is the reality that 20 Arab
nations are still in a declared state of war with her. For Israel, it is
difficult to respond effectively to the changes we urge in the occupied
territories until those Arab nations make peace. The very "secure
borders" we say we favor for Israel are simply not possible until peace is
negotiated at least with Syria, Jordan, Iraq and the Lebanon. How can
Israel, for instance, possibly vacate or demilitarize the West Bank until
she is guaranteed security by those Arab powers? Secretary Baker
understands this. So does President Bush. Why cannot we understand,
also, when we write resolutions? Are we unaware that the strip o( Israel
territory lying between the western edge of the West Bank and the
Mediterranean sea is only nine miles wide in one place? An invading
Jordanian tank assault could cut the State of Israel in half in 15
minutes! Thus, Israel's currently expressed willingness to talk with West
Bank and Gaza representatives about some form of sovereignty, even as she
negotiates simultaneously with those Arab powers over the larger peace
issue, is for her a very big concession.
2. To advocate a Palestinian state, as the Episcopal Church and the
Anglican Communion constantly do, rather than to speak simply of a
"Palestinian homeland" (as the Roman Catholic bishops do) or "Palestinian
sovereignty" or "Palestinian, self-determination" seems to many an American
Jew as asking Israel to concede some of her precious peace "bargaining
chips" even before the Arab powers have been asked to concede anything at
all! In the eyes of Israelis and most American Jews, therefore, this
feature of our General Convention resolution, along with our demand that
settlement construction be stopped forthwith, makes the Episcopal Church
appear to be clearly prejudiced to the Arab side of the peace equation.
Why, they wonder, do we only make demands on Israel? Why no call for an
end to the Arab boycott of the Jewish State, for example? Why no call for
human rights and justice in the conduct of Syria?
3. The omission from our resolution of any hint that we appreciate
Israel's provision of a safe haven for millions of oppressed Soviet Jews
and the omission from any Convention resolution of appreciation for
Israel's miraculous rescue of 15,000 black Ethiopian Jews (especially at a
Convention dealing with "racism") is a silence Israelis and American Jews
simply cannot understand especially since we speak with concern for
refugees everywhere else on the planet but in Israel. That Ethiopian
refugee rescue, incidentally, may be the first time in history that a
predominantly white nation imported black Africans for the sake of their
freedom rather than for their slavery! Why can't we celebrate that?
4. When we refer to "East Jerusalem" as having the same status in our
opinion as the occupied West Bank and Gaza, we appear to give the
impression that Episcopalians think the unifying of the city by the Jews
in 1967 was morally wrong and that we prefer once again a divided holy
city (with all the memories of barbed wire and a "no man's land" running
through its heart as from 1948 to 1967). Jews wonder if members of our
General Convention have forgotten the way the Jordanian occupying army,
back in 1948, drove all Jews from the eastern part of the city (where the
Jewish quarter had stood for centuries), des'.royed their homes, wrecked 13
of their synagogues and paved roads with me rial markers from desecrated
Jewish graves? Israelis and American Jews w nder if we recall that,
during the those 19 years of Jordanian occupation, not a single Jew was
allowed to visit the holiest Jewish shrine on earth (the Western Wall of
the Temple) and that even Israeli Christians and foreign Christian
visitors to Israel were unable to visit Bethlehem, Calvary and the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre. Do we forget that Jerusalem has never, throughout
human history, been the capital of any other people but Jews? Since
Israel has for the last 24 years done a modestly good job in letting both
Muslim and Christian authorities supervise their own holy places in East
Jerusalem with access open to all of their devout, why (our Jewish
friends wonder) does the Convention resolution suggest the old city and
its suburbs should be considered under the same rubric as the other
occupied lands? After all, both Christians (except for one year) and
Muslim populations have increased in number within the reunited Jerusalem
every single year but one since 1967 -- and this despite the intifada
insurrection and the struggles over the Temple Mount and St. John's
Hospice. Jews, therefore, wonder why our Church conclave appears to favor
either a return to a divided city or (perish the thought!) a Jerusalem
that is the capital of a Palestinian apartheid state from which Jews would
be banned as Yasir Arafat and the PLO have proposed.
5. Since Israel, like every other nation receiving U.S. Aid, must
already account to our government for its use of both loans and grants,
Israelis and American Jews wonder why our resolution about accountibil i ty
would have the United States force on Israel economic strictures which we
do not insist be also placed pn Israel's sworn enemies. Why do we forget
that Arab powers have abused our aid? Why, Jews wonder, do we say nothing
to protest the U. S. decision to continue Syria's status as a beneficiary
of the GSP trade program despite substantial evidence of worker rights
violations and support of terrorist activity by the Syrian government?
Why do we continue to arm Saudi Arabia which is no friend of democracy and
freedom and where women are little better than chattel?
~ . The resolution D-008s also seems to Israelis and American Jews
sel ontradictory . On the one hand, it goes "on record in support of
Sec try of State Baker's efforts" yet, on the other, it would impose
pre-. -?otiation penalties on Israel that are not part of the Baker plan!
The Bilker peace initiative, for example, does not make ending settlement
construction a precondition (even though Baker dislikes them); it does not
call for the establishment of a Palestinian state; in interpreting United
Nations Resolution 242, it does not reject the Israeli claim that, having
already given up the entire Sinai with its oil fields and part of the
Golan, the Jewish State may have already demonstrated it has given up
sufficient "land for peace." In other words, Baker understands that many
Israel/Arab counter-claims must be negotiated at the peace table. Why do
we urge pre-negot iat ion concessions on Israel without urging similar
concessions by her enemies?
7. We rightly call for "justice" for Palestinians but why limit the
call only in behalf of those Palestinians living in the West Bank/Gaza?
Before the Gulf War there were 400,000 Palestinians in Kuwait and even
more in Iraq. All of these have suffered dreadful Gulf War injustices.
Kuwait's Ambassador to the United States said publicly on July 4, on the
eve of our Convention, that his country has a plan to expel tens of
thousands of Palestinians. And he said this just days after the UN
Security Council condemned Israel for deporting four -- yes four --
Palestinians involved in instigating violence. No wonder Israel distrusts
the fairness of the United Nations at the forthcoming peace negotiating
8. We rightly call on Israel to reopen universities in the West Bank
(something it is in fact now doing) but make narry a peep when Jordan in
early July suspended pre-universi ty exams in the West Bank with the result
that Palestinians will not be accepted at universities in any Arab state.
Peace negotiations in the Middle East will be successful only to the
extent that the United States (as one of the two convenors) reassures a
skeptical Israel that it will be even-handed toward all parties at the
peace table. Alas, the advice of our General Convention resolutions, if
heeded by the President and the Congress, would (in the opinion of
Israelis, most American Jews and many of the rest of us) serve to tip the
scales in favor of the Arab powers -- powers that reflect very little of
the democratic heritage, independent judiciary, freedom of speech and
press, inter-racial understanding, equality for women and universal
suffrage which the United States and Israel share in common.
We need not agree with our Jewish fellow-countrymen on all issues nor
with Rabbi Kravitz on the several points he made. We need not and should
not cease our call for justice toward West Bank/Gaza Palestinians nor our
support for Bishop Samir Kafity and the intrepid witness of the Anglican
Church in the Middle East. But we do need to understand the risks which
Israel must take if permanent: peace is to come and to recognize the
virtues of the Jewish State along with its warts, warts not entirely
dissimilar to those we also have here in this American nation we all love
/Oohn H. Burt *
Chair, P. B. Committee*
* This statement represents the sentiments of its author and is not issued
as a statement by or on authorization of the entire Presiding Bishop's
You are welcome to share the sentiments I have suggested above with
your clergy and your people if you are so moved.
INDEX- -Melvin M. Swig
American Association of Ben Gurion
University of the Desert, 107-
American Conservatory Theatre ,
American Friends of Haifa
American Jewish Committee, 104,
American Joint Distribution
anti-Semitism, 41, 45
Aronovitz, Hyman, 1
Aronovitz, Ida, 1
Bakar, Gerson, 81, 84
Ball, Williama, 117
Bay Area Council, 134
Black, Shirley Temple, 130
Brandeis University, 5, 109-110
Breen, Carole, 80-81
Brown University, 16-18, 135-136,
Civic League of Improvement Clubs
and Associations of San
Columbia Boys' Club, 137
Commonwealth Clubs of California,
Cook, Phyllis, 80-81, 83, 84
Crescent Porter Hale Foundation,
Crystal, David, 39, 99
Curly, Mayor James Michael, 12-
Davis, Rabbi David, 111, 115
Davis, Ulla, 121
Dinkelspiel, Lloyd, Jr., 75
Dinner, Betty Swig, 12
Fairmont Hotel, 26, 30
Feins tein, Dianne, 119
Feinstein, Wayne, 78-79
Feldman, Jesse, 59-60, 74-76
Fisher, Geoffrey, 90-91, 92
Fisher, Max, 86, 88
Fleishhacker, Mortimer, 117-118
Ford, Joe, 4-5, 18
Grace Cathedral, 113-116
Green, Frances D. , 59, 75, 76, 98
Haas, Peter, 81, 84
Heller, Douglas, 75
Hoffberger, Chuck, 86
Israel, 35-36, 50, 57, 69-70, 87-
88, 100-103, 144-151
Jewish Agency, 42, 46, 86-89
Jewish Community Bulletin, 90-94
Jewish Community Federation of San
Francisco, the Peninsula, Mar in
and Sonoma Counties, 33ff 109,
ad hoc committee on "Who is a
committee of 100, 62-63
committee on Jewish education,
encouraging newcomers , 168
executive committee, 55
headquarters building, 78
Jewish education, 65-69
Jewish identity, 65
leadership development, 56-57,
overseas committee, 99-101
public relations committee, 55-
search committee for new
Jewish Endowment Fund, 80-85
Jewish Family Service Agency, 39,
Jewish National Welfare Fund, 32-
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 94-96 ,
Jewish Vocational Service, 63
Kaplan, Mendel, 87
Keil, Edward, 120, 126
Kennedy, John F. , 1, 13, 153-154
Kennedy, Joseph, 1, 13
Koret Foundation, 137-139
Kuhn, Marshall, 40-46, 80-81
Ladar, Samuel A., 72, 76
Large Cities Budgeting Conference,
Lipner, Rabbi Pincus , 66-67, 69
Lo Schiavo, Father John, 111, 115
Lurie, Rabbi Brian, 60, 63, 64,
74-77, 86, 87, 89, 100-101
Magnin, Cyril, 117-118, 126
Mazzola, Joseph, 127-128
missions, 40-46, 57-58
Morocco. See missions.
Morris, Mervin, 82, 135
Mount Zion Hospital, 37-39, 96-
National Conference of Christians
and Jews, 122
National Jewish Democratic
Northern Californians for Good
ORT (Organization for
Robinson, Mayor Elmer, 118-119
Rosenberg, Claude, 81, 84
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce ,
San Francisco City and County
Grand Jury, 122-124
San Francisco City Parking
San Francisco Housing Authority,
San Francisco International Film
San Francisco Public Library,
Sinton, Robert, 50, 51, 72, 75,
Stanford University Judaic Studies
State of Israel Bonds, 105-106
Steinhart, John, 40-46, 76, 90-
Swig, Ben, 5-6, 8-10, 19, 26,
104-106, 109-110, 119, 137, 159
Swig, Charlotte Mailliard, 131,
Swig, Dolores Cochrane , 160-162
Swig, Fanny, 4, 6
Swig, Kent, 6, 159
Swig, Mae Aronovitz, 2, 27, 110
Swig, Melvin M. ,
early years, 12
employment, 28, 25-26, 28
family, 20, 159-162
fundraising, 107-108, 111-112,
114, 121-122, 135, 139, 141-
military service, 20-25
Swig, Richard, 12, 26, 106
Swig, Robert, 159
Swig, Simon, 4, 6-8
Swig, Steven, 20, 105, 159
Swing, Bishop William E. , 113-
Treguboff, Sanford M. , 32, 81
United Jewish Appeal, 89, 106-107
United Way, 49, 71, 134
Weintraub, Louis, 32, 60-61, 76-
Eleanor K. Glaser
Raised and educated in the Middle West. During World
War II, spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps Women's
Senior year of college was taken in New Zealand, consequently
A.B. degree in sociology from University of Michigan was
granted in absentia. Study in New Zealand was followed by a
year in Sydney, Australia, working for Caltex Oil Company.
Work experience includes such non-profit organizations as
Community Service Society, New York City; National Society
for Crippled Children and Adults and National Congress of
Parents and Teachers in Chicago.
After moving to California in 1966, joined the staff of a
local weekly newspaper, did volunteer publicity for the
Judah Magnes Museum and the Moraga Historical Society, and
was the Bay Area correspondent for a national weekly newspaper,
Also served as a history decent for the Oakland Museum.
Additional travel includes Great Britain, Europe, Israel,
Mexico, and the Far East.
U.C. BERKELEY LIBRARIES