Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chag Pesach Sameach from the Federation!

Dear Friends: 

As the Rabbis tell us, Pesach is a time of redemption, not just the historical redemption of the Israelites   from the ancient Egyptians, but of our own redemption, in each generation. Every year we are instructed to experience the Passover as if we were there, because in fact we are, as the recent events in Israel, in Toulouse, at UCSD and throughout the world remind us every day.

As the Board Chair and new Interim President & CEO of your Federation, we'd like to take this opportunity to wish you, your family and our extended Jewish community Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Passover. May you be surrounded by family and friends and experience the joy of your own redemption this season. May the words of the Shechehyanu prayer be real for all of us. May we each remember and be grateful for life, for sustenance and for the ability to celebrate the season of our redemption.

As most of you know by now, this is also a time of change at Federation. Claire Ellman has been our Board Chair for four months and Michael Sonduck has been our Interim President & CEO for two weeks. While we each are in our new roles for only a short time, we have known each other and worked together for more than seven years. We are both committed to seeing Federation through the challenges of this transition and are embracing this as an opportunity to improve it in every way. We'd now like to report to you on what we're doing with the able assistance of the Federation Board of Directors and staff.
This month, we launched a transition plan to focus volunteer and staff attention on the most important work we have to do and issues we have to face. These include successfully closing this year's annual fundraising campaign; preparing grant recommendations to support the more than 40 organizations in San Diego and throughout the Jewish world that receive funds from Federation; preparing next year's budget; assuring staff continuity and morale; and addressing the myriad daily management and leadership challenges all organizations face.

With the leadership of Caryn Viterbi, we're planning for the review and renewal of Federation's vision and mission, a process last undertaken in 2001 and 2004 respectively. Our Board feels strongly that engaging community leaders and members is essential in this process. We will complete this work within the next four months and look forward to reporting to you on our progress.  

The search for a new President and CEO will follow shortly on the heels of the vision and mission work. Brian Tauber and Theresa Dupuis, both long-serving members of the Federation Board, are co-chairs of the search committee. They are already at work selecting committee members, screening search consultants and refining the process. While the transition, vision and mission, and CEO search work launches, we are also striving to fulfill Federation's commitment to maintaining a strong, vibrant Jewish community in San Diego and throughout the world. Here are a few highlights:

More than 50 community representatives and leaders met on February 29 to launch the new Jewish Community Relations Council. The JCRC will be our Jewish community's "external affairs" arm, focusing on intergroup and interfaith relations, media and government relations, advocacy for Israel and the Jewish people locally, in California and nationally. 

Last week, 35 YAD (Young Adult Division) members from San Diego joined over 1,500 other Jewish young adults from across North America for the second annual TribeFest in Las Vegas from March 25 to 27. Dan Weiss, San Diego’s TribeFest coordinator said "Tribefest was an incredibly worthwhile conference for everyone who attended. We discussed topics on how to motivate and involve Jews in their 20s and 30s, become active in the community, embrace our culture and spirituality, network, and give back. We met other young Jews just like us to learn how their communities are thriving while promoting the ingenuity of San Diego's Federation, YAD events, Clusters, and programs. And Vegas certainly showed us a good time!"

On March 23, 15 local Jewish organizations gathered to receive $100,000 in grants from Federation's Innovation Fund and to listen to David Cygielman, founder and President of Moishe House (Federation's first Innovation grantee), speak about the power and future of innovation in Jewish communal life.

On Sunday, April 15, at 1:30 p.m. the San Diego community will present a special Holocaust commemoration (Yom Hashoah) program. On Tuesday, April 24, at 7 p.m the Israel & Overseas Center of Federation will host Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance. Both events will be held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.
More than 40 community partners and event underwriters are working with Federation’s Israel & Overseas Center in the final planning stages for this year's San Diego Celebrates Israel Festival to be held on April 29 at Ski Beach in Mission Bay Park. Last year more than 2,000 people attended the annual free event, and more are expected this year. 

In March, the Partnership Together (P2G) joint committee of San Diego and Sha'ar HaNegev leaders met in Sha'ar HaNegev, Israel, to determine which projects will be jointly supported through Federation's Israel & Overseas Center grants.

With funding from an anonymous donor, Federation launched The Mitzvah Makers, a new program in collaboration with area synagogues that inspires values of tzedakah and tikun olam for bar and bat mitzvah-aged young people.

Please take a few moments to follow this link to the Federation website to learn more about these programs and all the work of Federation made possible by your generous support. Your gift to the 2012 annual campaign makes our work possible.

Please take a moment to watch this one minute youtube video as together we celebrate our freedom.

If you haven't yet made your gift to the 2012 Campaign, please click on this link to DONATE NOW!

May your Passover holiday be filled with love, blessings and the joy of freedom.

Thank you, Chag Pesach Sameach,

Claire Ellman
Board Chair

Michael M. Sonduck
Interim President & CEO


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