Saturday, December 29, 2012

YAD Hosts Record Breaking Place2Be!

Jewish Federation's Young Adult Division (YAD) celebrated Christmas Eve in style this year at the Place2Be party. Young adult groups around the country hosted events for Jews on the eve of the most celebrated holiday of the year. San Diego was no exception. Jews from near and far were invited to come party the night away - after eating Chinese food of course! This year’s event was bigger than ever before- 331 attendees packing into the 207 Club at the Hardrock Hotel in Downtown San Diego. Carly Simms is an active member of the YAD Board and sits on the social committee. She said the highlights of the night included, “the photo booth was really fun and the food was good too!” Carly met her boyfriend Elwin at the Place2Be party last year and they just celebrated their one year anniversary! Mazel Tov to Carly and Elwin.

Jennifer Ahdoot commented, “Thanks for a great event! Looking forward to more of them in the future.” Mark your Calendars now for Place2Be 2013 on December 24, 2013!

Check out some great pictures here.

Hope Village: Chesed Home Open House!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Federation Launches Newtown Community Support Fund

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County, in coordination with the Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut, has launched a fund to provide comfort to those affected by last week's tragedy in Sandy Hook.  We're proud to say that 100% your tax deductible donation will be distributed to support counseling services and to the clergy who are working with the affected families and individuals. 

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County extends our prayers and support to all of the families affected by the devastating events in Newtown, Connecticut. We are committed to providing support after this unspeakable tragedy. May we all continue with prayers for strength and healing for all who are suffering. 

You can make a difference:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Federation Hosts More than 800 Mensches at "Magic" Men's Event

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County welcomed Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and more than 800 Jewish San Diegan men to the 16th Annual Men’s Event the Del Mar Fairgrounds. For the first time in history, this year’s Men’s Event was free, due to the generous underwriting of the Mizel Family Foundation. Magic electrified the crowd with his message on philanthropy, family, and the importance of community. The event was made possible by co-chairs Ronnie Diamond, Ira Feinswog, Todd Kirschen and Alan Viterbi.

Take a look at some great event photos HERE.

Read the Rancho Santa Fe coverage HERE.

Federation was elated to welcome more than 400 of the men to their first Men's Event, introduce them to Federation and share how Federation is our vehicle to care for others in our community. 

This year, Men’s Event kicked off an initiative seeking to support a stronger Jewish community by volunteering. Federation is now offering more than 25 volunteering opportunities – CLICK HERE for more!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mayor Filner Lights the Menorah with JCRC

Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) was recently invited to Chabad Hanukkah Celebration in Scripps Ranch where Mayor Filner joined Rabbi Fradkin to light the Menorah. Mayor Filner spoke to the students about miracles and the importance of being a caring community. The students sang beautifully and captured the spirit of the holiday with their Hanukkah songs. Congratulations on a great event!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lions of Judah Tour Stuart Collection at UCSD

Last week, 28 of Federation's Lions of Judah enjoyed a wonderful day together touring the magnificent Stuart Art Collection at the beautiful UCSD campus. The day included lunch at the UCSD Faculty Club, along with a walking tour with docent Jane Peterson of the Stuart Collection, who shared her in-depth knowledge of many outdoor sculptures placed throughout the campus. A visit to the Stuart Collection would not have been complete without a visit to the newest installation, “Fallen Star” by Korean artist Do Ho Suh, which is a small cottage on the rooftop of the Jacobs School of Engineering that sits crookedly on one corner, cantilevered out over the ground seven stories below.

Event Co-chairs Juli Bear and Lisa Kornfeld expressed their excitement in bringing the Lions together for a day of art and culture right here in our own backyard. Each year the Lions hit the road for a day together to explore arts and culture. In the past several years, the Lions have enjoyed day trips to Los Angeles to the Skirball Museum, the Getty Villa, as well as our own local Little Italy and downtown areas. One participant stated, “It is a great way to share an experience with other Lions, women who share a common thread of caring for our community and making the a difference in the world. 

Lions of Judah are women who make an individual minimum gift of $5000 to Federation's Annual Campaign. For more information on the Lion of Judah, please contact Debbie Kempinski, Major Gifts Officer at (858) 737-7133 or

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Local Teens “Flip” Over Chanukah Song Parody

Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, but it is also the holiday commemorating the Jewish people standing up to an oppressive bully - for themselves, each other and what they believe in.

This is exactly the message that San Diego's Jewish teens want the world to see this Chanukah, so they created an amazingly entertaining Music Video to accompany their Chanukah parody of the song "Drive By" by Train. The song is called "Am Yisrael Chai" (The Jewish People Live On) and tells the story of the Maccabees standing up to their oppressors.

Steven Wechsler, a Junior at San Diego's SCY High School, is on vocals along with NCSY Advisor, Natan Winkler - who also recorded the instrumental track and helped master the song.

When student Directors, Adina Cohen and Sivan Zuzan (both Juniors at Torah High School of San Diego) started story-boarding the music video, they knew that they wanted to tell the Chanukah story in a relatable and fun way. From there they worked together to come up with the incredibly creative flip-book animations featured in the video (drawn by Channa Loebenstein, a Torah High Junior as well) as well as the playful, modern story-line with it's anti-bullying message. "We just wanted to show everyone the lesson of Chanukah and standing up for each other..." said Adina Cohen, when asked about her motivations for making the video.

This inspiring, teen created, project will have you humming along and leave the song stuck in your head all (8) day(s)...just as the teens intended.

Check it out below!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Your Jewish San Diego Mobile App

Your Federation is excited to announce the launch of our new mobile app, Jewish In San Diego! Download our free app today for on-the-go, instant access to:
  • Community Events
  • Community News
  • Breaking News Alerts
  • Kosher Restaurant Maps
  • Synagogue Maps
  • Day School Maps
  • Community Calendar 
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Social Media Streams
  • and more!

Now available for iPhone and Android. Just scan the QR code above, or search "Jewish San Diego" in the app store!

Thoughts? Feedback? We'd love to hear it! Feel free to post a review via the app store, or on this blog post! Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

BE THE MAGIC : Volunteer Your Time, Expertise, Talent

San Diegans seeking to support a stronger Jewish community by volunteering now have 25 different opportunities available to them, through a new Federation Volunteer Initiative kicked off at last night’s Men’s Event. Federation is teaming up with several local partners including Jewish Family Service, Hillel, San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, Seacrest Village Retirement Communities, G’Mach Jewish Gift Closet, Friendship Circle, National Conference of Synagogue Youth, Tarbuton - Israeli Cultural Center, and other organizations to facilitate greater volunteerism and increased engagement. 

Options range from helping Hillel SDSU move to a new site, to providing professional guidance to start-ups seeking help with business planning, budgeting, website development, viral marketing or media relations. To see the spectrum of opportunities to share your expertise and help build a stronger San Diego Jewish community, please click the big volunteer button. 

Volunteerism, philanthropy and advocacy are three ways that you can support your community. For more information, please contact the Community Planning & Innovation Center at 858.737.7152 or email

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nominate a teen you know to receive a $36,000 community service leadership award

Meet Liza Gurtin.

We bet you know a teen like Liza.

As a high school freshman, Liza walked in Project Concern International’s Walk for Water. The following year, Liza was offered a leadership position as a member of the San Diego Walk’s student board.

One billion impoverished people lack access to clean drinking water. Liza’s passion for solving this problem inspired her to envision how the Walk could be more successful in raising funds to build water wells throughout the world.

Liza pioneered a sponsorship component to the Walk, drafting a letter and making calls to 100 prospective supporters. She also convinced the board to institute a participation fee to raise funds.

When Liza was nominated, her sponsorship efforts had raised more than $40,000 over two years. This past year, under Liza’s leadership as student board president, the Walk raised nearly $50,000!

The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards celebrate Jewish teens across the United States who have demonstrated remarkable leadership and are actively engaged in projects that "repair the world."

Past recipients have focused their passion on a variety of causes, from fundraising to poverty relief, community building to environmental protection. Teen projects may focus on the Jewish community or the general community.

Nominations are open now through January 6, 2013, and it only takes a few minutes to give an exceptional teen the chance to win $36,000. Teens (age 13-19) may be nominated by anyone familiar with the value of their project, or may nominate themselves; family members are not eligible to nominate.

2012 Recipients of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Exciting Program for Interfaith Couples and Families

The Light of Chanukah - Greetings from Federation

Dear Friends,

Chanukah is the festival of lights that comes at the darkest time of the year. It reminds us of our potential to bring that light into the world. Through your generosity, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County transmits light at the darkest times. We provide programs and services to our partner community of Sha'ar HaNegev, which has recently been bombarded with rocket attacks from Gaza. With our partner JDC, we deliver food and medications to elderly Holocaust survivors in Russia who live without the bare essentials. We work to engage young people disconnected from Jewish life through Birthright Israel and One Happy Camper, where participants are immersed in meaningful Jewish experiences.

Through your generosity we raised urgently needed funds for Hurricane Sandy Relief, and the Israel Terror Victims Fund. We came together at a rally to show solidarity with Israel. Your donations funded our traditional partners and enabled innovative new programs to do a world of good in our communities, in Israel, and around the world. Here at Federation, we support a lifetime of help and bring light into the dark times in our community and our world.

The light of caring, community and continuity.
The light that brings hope and reassurance.
The light that supports our community into the next generations.

We wish you and your family the happiest Chanukah.

Together, we do extraordinary things.

Claire Ellman Board Chair
Michael Sonduck 
Interim President & CEO

Check out our new Chanukah site with recipies, music, traditions, interesting articles, and more!

Watch our 2012 Chanukah Video

Friday, November 30, 2012

2030 Project Presents: Crazy Nights of Chanukah!

Chanukah is right around the corner! The first night begins December 8! Looking for something to do? There is a plenty going on for Jewish 20’s and 30’s in San Diego - and we have events for each night of Chanukah to fit with your schedule. From dinners to Jewish Heritage day with the Los Angeles Clippers! All the events for Chanukah are all listed on our Crazy Nights of Chanukah page on the 2030 Project website! Check it out for all the details and information to make your Chanukah celebration truly special! 

The 2030 Project is dedicated to involving young Jews to the community and to each other. The 2030 Project serves as an umbrella for all the groups or organizations working with 20s and 30s Jews in San Diego to help support them and get out information about their programs and events to a larger audience. In our Jewish community calendar we strive to involve Jews from singles, couples, to young families.

JCRC Hosts William Daroff at the JCC

JCRC Director Linda Feldman and William Daroff
Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) held its Fall meeting last night in the theater of the Lawrence Family JCC.  Tad Parzen, JCRC Chair, and Linda Feldman, JCRC Director, welcomed more than 60 community leaders with an informal dinner in the beautiful art gallery.  JCRC community updates were provided by Jennie Starr, Leslie Caspi, Barry Klein, Lisa Pearl, Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Caridad Sanchez and Jessica Nare.  They spoke about current projects related to Israel Advocacy, Public Policy/Legislative Advocacy and Interfaith/Intergroup Relations and encouraged participation from all those interested.

William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America addressed many diverse issues presented to him by Rabbi Philip Graubart of Congregation Beth El.  William spoke about the presidential elections and whether the administration was really pro-Israel, how Jews vote and their influence in Congress, the threat of a nuclear Iran, implications of the latest UN vote and the fiscal cliff.  He also answered many related questions from the audience.  One very important message he left us with is that advocacy matters; we must understand and know that it is the average citizen whose voice is often heard by Congress over the lobbyists that knock on their doors ever day. We can make a difference.

For more information on the Jewish Community Relations Council, and to learn how YOU can make a difference, visit

Find more great pictures of the event on our Facebook.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NCSY’s Project Chazon Presents: Real Greatness

A Multimedia Experience for Teens Powered by The Jewish Federation’s Community Innovation Center

Greatness. Conflict. Potential. What do these words mean? What do they mean to today's Jewish teen? How do they impact our lives? What does it mean to be truly great?

This Winter Break over 300 Jewish teens will gather as a part of NCSY’s Project Chazon to explore these questions and potential answers.

Chazon is a Hebrew word which means vision; Project Chazon uses mixed-media - like video, live-action and music - to create an amazing performance to enhance conversations about Jewish issues. For a taste, check out the trailer for last year’s production, “Children of Anarchy”, which took place at the LFJCC Garfield Family Theater:
For the last seven years San Diego locals, Rabbi Adam Simon and Josh Cohen, have been developing Project Chazon as a medium for Jewish teens to explore relevant issues through mixed-media and discussion. They have worked with San Diego theater artists including San Diego REP’s Todd Salovey, among others, to upgrade the theatrical components to its highest form. They have also worked with renowned educators to develop discussion and experiential education content for the teens. With over 20 individual shows over the last 10 year, there has never been a production in which the entire audience was not deeply affected by the performance. This fusion of the arts and relevant Jewish issues is one of the most powerful tools in Jewish education.

As part of the Jewish Federation’s of San Diego County’s commitment to innovation and building a vibrant Jewish future, the Community Innovation Center has selected Project Chazon as a grantee and aided in bringing the program to San Diego’s Jewish teens.
This year's production, to take place in San Diego’s Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, will present "Real Greatness", which follows the life of Nate, a teenager struggling with the true meaning of greatness, who is faced with an amazing opportunity...or is it a challenge?
The production will be followed by some snacks and an informal discussion group, which will explore the show and its messages from a Jewish perspective.

Teens should RSVP for this free event on Facebook at

Transportation from individual schools can be accommodated with sufficient interest.

For more information contact Adam Simon at or

Since it was founded in 1954, NCSY has been engaging Jewish teens around the world and reconnecting them with their heritage. Through the decades, NCSY has evolved and found new ways to make Judaism relevant to teens. Today, under the leadership of Rabbi Adam Simon, NCSY in San Diego has become the place for Jewish teens to connect with their Jewish heritage and be inspired by Jewish role models who empower them to become the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. For more visit or

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Join Us at OPTIONS 2013!

OPTIONS, the centerpiece of the annual calendar of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County’s Women’s Philanthropy and the largest gathering of Jewish women in San Diego, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary!

Scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 13, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, OPTIONS will feature special guest speaker Campbell Brown. Brown, the Emmy-winning journalist who gained national recognition with her CNN program, Campbell Brown, will discuss her television news career, including covering the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, as well as her personal story of meeting and marrying Start-Up Nation co-author Dan Senor. She will also discuss her conversion to Judaism and establishing a Jewish life with Senor, as well as the challenges of balancing her personal life with her profession.

Jessica Effress, Leslie Fastlicht Russo and Danielle Shulman
Co-chairs Jessica Effress, Leslie Fastlicht Russo and Danielle Shulman announced that OPTIONS is being generously underwritten by Pauline Foster and the Foster Family Foundation. Jewish Federation Interim President and CEO Michael Sonduck commented, “We are deeply grateful to Pauline Foster and the Foster Family Foundation. Thanks to their incredible generosity, OPTIONS will be affordable and accessible to our entire community. We look forward to welcoming younger women, first-time attendees, as well as longtime OPTIONS attendees to this exciting evening.”

For information on OPTIONS, go to or contact Deena Libman at or 858-737-7131.

See the Facebook Event here.

For great photos of the kickoff event, click here!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

THANK YOU for Showing Solidarity with Israel!

More than 1500 San Diegans representing 45 synagogues, schools and other Jewish organizations gathered peacefully on Sunday to show solidarity with the people of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, and to show support for the Israel’s right to self-defense. THANK YOU to all of our partners who collaborated in this genuine community effort, and to all of the San Diegans, religious and secular leaders who made it a priority to come together as a community in support of Israel and make our voices heard!

For great pictures of the event click here.

Over the last 10 days, more than 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israel, with 120 just yesterday. World leaders, particularly from the U.S. and Egypt, are working together to with Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, to reach a ceasefire agreement, if possible. More than 110 rockets have been launched since Wednesday at our sister city for the past 14 years, Sha’ar Ha Negev. Kibbutzim Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Or Haner and Erez have been the main targets. Businesses and schools remain closed, including the Yitzchak Shavit High School, which the Jewish Federation supported through our generous donors, and which houses the Alexander Joseph Viterbi Art Center.

Hundreds of children have been bused out of the region through the Jewish Agency, though many residents have chosen to remain in the region. Tomorrow, 550 children and teens will be bused to other locales further from Gaza, and one bus of senior citizens will head to Jerusalem. Fortunately, only one person in Sha’ar HaNegev has been critically wounded, a firefighter who was responding to one kassam when another fell. Major issues include the limited size of shelters where many people are living full time, and the intense and chronic trauma that is prevalent. There also has been significant damage to homes, vehicles and businesses.

Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the network of 157 Federations in 300 communities throughout North America including the Jewish Federation of San Diego, has enacted its emergency protocol and is focusing its efforts on immediate relief to regions that have been under attack in Israel, direct services to vulnerable populations, and reinforcing local capacity under fire. JFNA is working with the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Social Welfare, mayors in the South, municipal and regional councils, RAHEL (Hebrew acronym for the Israeli Government’s National Emergency Authority within the Ministry of Home Defense), Israel Trauma Coalition and our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (Jewish Agency) and the American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) to continue to meet immediate crisis needs in the south of Israel, including Sha’ar HaNegev.

1. Donate to the Israel Terror Relief Fund
At this time, the news indicates that a ceasefire may be imminent. We hope this comes to pass, and leads to a lasting peace in the Middle East. However, a ceasefire will not erase the damage that has been done, and the needs that will continue to emerge from this devastating conflict.

As we sit around our respective Thanksgiving tables and count our blessings of home and health, love and friendship, let’s think of those whose thanks are focused on a brief respite from the air raid sirens and the threat of falling rockets. Our brothers and sisters in Israel need your support now. In a little more than the 15 seconds Israelis have to get to a bomb shelter once the alarms go off, you can make your gift today to the Israel Terror Relief Fund. Together we can help our overseas partners on the ground continue delivering immediate assistance. The needs are urgent. Your investments in helping Israel through this crisis are 100% tax deductible and 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to Israel.

Give Israelis hard hit by the current crisis even more to be thankful for.
2. Stay Informed - The better informed we are, the more intelligently we can speak to our friends and neighbors and take an active part in impacting public opinion. For continuing updates, please access the following links:

3. Send supportive messages to Sha’ar HaNegev

You can show support to our sister community in the south of Israel on our
Partnership2Gether Facebook page.

The Jewish Federation of San Diego today sent $50,000 in emergency funding from our reserves to the Israel Terror Relief Fund to help those most in need in the south of Israel. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those who have suffered through this conflict and to our extended family in Sha'ar HaNegev. We fervently pray for them all, for their safety, for the safety of all Israelis, for a lasting peace and also for the safety of Palestinian civilians.

At the rally coordinated by Federation Sunday, we collected hundreds stuffed animals to help comfort the children of Sha’ar HaNegev as well as Palestinian children. These will be sent to the region this week.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving this year, we can count on the blessing of a strong Jewish community to help those who are less fortunate at home and around the world. As we think about our cherished family members, let’s also take a few moments to help our brothers and sisters in Israel rebuild their lives by giving to the Israel Terror Relief Fund. Together, we do extraordinary things.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving,
Claire Ellman
Board Chair, Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Michael Sonduck
Interim President & CEO,
Jewish Federation of San Diego County

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San Diego Jewish Academy Raises $22,000 for Sandy Relief

In response to the incredible amounts of work that still need to be done for communities on the eastern seaboard, last week the San Diego Jewish Academy held the MOTHER OF ALL GARAGE SALES, inviting the Jewish community to donate, shop and volunteer to raise funds and awareness for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Their momentous effort, and the out pouring of tzedakah from our community allowed them to raise more than $22,000, half of which was generously donated though Federation's Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, which, to date, has raised over $100,000!

A HUGE todah rabah to SDJA for their hard work, dedication, and generosity
On behalf of the thousands of people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, who will benefit from the extraordinary generosity of the students, faculty, staff, parents and volunteers of SDJA, we would like to say todah rabah, thank you!  It was an honor to receive your gift to the Hurricane Sandy Relief fund of the Jewish Federations of North America.  100% of your donations will go directly to agencies involved in disaster relief and recovery in the affected parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Respectfully yours,

Claire Ellman, Board Chair & Michael Sonduck, Interim President and CEO Jewish Federation of San Diego County

See great photos of the garage sale here