FROM OUR ARCHIVES: High Holiday ads from days days of yore J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on September 13, 2022

Recipes for baked apples, an advertisement urging you to enjoy delicious, festive dining with kosher poultry, calendar listings in boldface type.

For readers of The Emanu-El, the Jewish Bulletin or even J. The Jewish News of Northern California, seeing those features in our publication signified only one thing that Rosh Hashanah was coming.

In the 19th century, like today, the High Holidays were among the secular society of San Francisco and the Bay Area the one time of year that people went to synagogue. Or, as the paper put it in 1896: The New Year is the mass meeting of Israel. None can be absent.

This was reflected in the paper. Synagogue sermons and listings are there from the very first year of the paper, all the way back in 5656 (its now 5782). And the citizens of San Francisco duly attended this traditional call: New Years services were celebrated in all the synagogues of San Francisco in the presence of crowded houses, we said in 1896.

The coming together of Jews for the New Year also meant it was a once-a-year opportunity to reach people, and the paper was also full of advertisements. Some were for services, like in 1898, when part of a column was given over to an advertisement for a Sephardic holiday service, a rare thing in the Ashkenazi-heavy society of San Francisco.

Divine Services will be held in Fraternity Hall, Bnai Brith Building, 121 Eddy street. Tickets for seats free to all those who cannot afford to pay for them can be secured from Rev. H. J. Abraham.

But most advertisements came from businesses, either for holiday-related goods or more commonly as a way for local shops to show their Jewish customers they cared.

From Adolph Hubners Peacock Confectionery on OFarrell Street (We still make those famous hazelnuttorten and brodtorten also fancy twists for the holidays) to holiday greetings from Sinaloa Mexican Cantina and from Louis Fashion Restaurant, local businesses made sure that Jews knew they were valuable customers.

The range of businesses offering greetings was huge, from J. B. Perry & Son (coal, wood, hay, grain, fertilizer, seeds, etc.) to the Emporium (offering a box of Lyons California Glace Fruits: figs, apricots, tangerines, cherries, prunes and pineapple with their fresh flavor sealed under a glace coating, plus a photo of Temple Emanu-El (Your friends will keep the photo as a permanent memento, and will remember with pleasure their enjoyment of the fruit).

While businesses advertised during the holiday season throughout the 20th century, it was only in the 1950s that synagogues themselves started using the paper heavily to promote their holiday services. And variations on spellings for Rosh Hashanah and High Holidays were ubiquitous.

A typical one from 1953: Congregation Beth Israel announces that a limited number of memberships and seats are available in the main sanctuary for the High Holyday Services and listed the times, as well as the rabbis and cantors officiating. This continued through the decades (and endures today). But they werent always traditional services that were advertised in our paper.

In 1981, we had an advertisement to Celebrate the Creation of the World. Rosh Hashona and Yom Kippur experience. It included: Egalitarian Services Singing Dancing Group Processes Traditional Liturgy and was held at the San Francisco Womens Center, founded in 1971.

The season also meant calls for charity, either by donation or by action.

In 1918, during World War I, the Jewish Welfare Board issued an appeal to the Jews of San Francisco. They wanted families to take Jewish soldiers into their home over the holiday season: We are desirous of securing for every Jewish boy near San Francisco an invitation to eat and sleep in a Jewish home during these days, they said. Services were available, as well:

All the congregations have issued a cordial invitation to these men to attend services and will reserve seats for them. We want to make our Jewish boys feel as much at home as possible this Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Almost the same appeal was made some four decades later, in 1966.

Jewish servicemen and women in the San Francisco Bay Area will be enabled to observe Rosh Hashonah in the traditional way through the efforts of the USO-United Jewish Community Centers and the Bay Area Armed Forces and Veteran Service Committee in cooperation with the National Jewish Welfare Board, the article said.

Again, seats were being arranged for those in the armed forces, while home hospitality for those wishing it will be provided through the efforts of a committee headed by Mrs. Eva Koblenz. She reports an excellent response from the community.

That community response holds the key to the holiday, and in turn the advertisement-stuffed pages of the early paper. The High Holidays are days that are set apart, and making sure all Jews feel included in the joyous, solemn ceremonies of the New Year has always been the aim.

And whether it was informing them of the Post Yom Kippur Ball in 1953 or running an ad in 1898 for an at-home Sabbath book that was elegantly bound with an embossed cover as a New Years gift, this paper was there for them as it is today.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES: High Holiday ads from days days of yore J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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