Friday, August 31, 2012

Celebrating Sha’ar HaNegev, with Shimon Peres and Your Federation

On June 26th, the San Diego Federation and our partners in Sha’ar HaNegev celebrated the opening of the Yitzchak Shavit School and the special dedication of the Alexander Joseph Viterbi Arts Center. International and Israeli dignitaries, including Israeli president, Shimon Peres, attended the school’s opening and lauded the school’s state-of-the-art campus.

At the grand opening, Shimon Peres was received by students waving Israeli flags and holding out long stemmed red roses. He praised the students for their courage and for their commitment to their studies, despite the frequent rocket attacks from Gaza.

“I see here a wonderful and strong stance in the face of rockets,” Peres said. “This fortified school inaugurated today is the least that can be done for you. In response to the rockets you are making a strong statement.”

Peres sat down at a desk in a 9th grade classroom and happily joined in the activities. He took notes, smiled, and raised his hand when seeking permission to speak. The teachers said afterwards that over all, he was “a very good student.” Peres could have easily gone to a school much closer to his home in the Jerusalem area. But despite the rocket attack the previous day, he celebrated the opening of the Yitzchak Shavit School with the students of Sha’ar HaNegev. The students were clearly thrilled that he was there.

Over the past 10 years, the Federation and San Diego Jewish community have contributed more than $11 million to Sha’ar HaNegev. Since the escalation of rocket attacks in 2008, schools have often been shut for long periods, with parents fearing for the safety of their children. The San Diego Federation took a bold step as the first organization to commit its support to building this safe, specially shielded school.

This fall, the Yitzchak Shavit School opened its doors to over 1,200 students. For many, it will be their first opportunity to study in safety. The sprawling school grounds include a science center, synagogue, archeological park, concert stage and the special Alexander Joseph Viterbi Arts Center -- and chemical warfare safety rooms, 28 bomb shelters, and a unique architectural plan designed specifically to absorb and deflect rocket fire.

“The State of Israel is proud of you,” Shimon Peres said to the students of the Yitzchak Shavit School. And we at the San Diego Jewish Federation can be proud of our community’s generous support of the children of Sha’ar HaNegev.

Click here for more great pictures.

The Peter Chortek Leadership Award

We are proud to announce our partners at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego are facilitating the second annual Peter Chortek Leadership Award, recognizing Jewish teens who have dedicated themselves to exemplary community service. Together with the Foundation, the Chortek Family created the Award in memory of Peter Chortek to shed light on Jewish teens in our community working on service projects that are having a profound impact locally and globally.

The Award

· $3,600 Cash Prize

· $1,800 to give away to a charitable organizations

Please help us get the word out!

To nominate a teen – click here

Applicants – click here

You can also view videos of our first annual Peter Chortek Leadership Award winners here. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2012.

Thank you for assisting us in distinguishing excellent teen leaders in our community!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sha'ar HaNegev Gets International Press!

We're so excited to share that Sha'ar HaNegev's rocket-resistant school was featured on the front page of Yahoo news this morning! With its first classes and presidential visit this week, it's getting a lot of attention!

This summer, after many years of planning, fundraising and construction, the opening of the Yitzhak Shavit High School of Sha’ar HaNegev was enthusiastically celebrated amid hundreds of Israeli and international dignitaries. Following the escalation of rockets into Sha’ar HaNegev in 2008, it was decided that the region needed a specially shielded high school that would provide a safe haven for pluralistic Jewish values. The Jewish Federation of San Diego County took a bold step as the first organization to commit its support to building the school while still in its early planning stages.

Built to educate up to 1,800 students, the school features state-of-the-art security technology, including bullet- and shatter-proof glass, chemical warfare safety rooms, and 28 bomb shelters around the schoolyard. In addition, the Alexander Joseph Viterbi Art Center, funded through the generosity of the people of San Diego and the Jewish Federation, was dedicated by Andrew and Erma Viterbi in memory of their late son.

Through this very special partnership between San Diego and Sha’ar HaNegev, mutual understanding is growing between Americans and Israelis, and the promise of a stronger global Jewish identity is being realized.

Read Yahoo's article here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Federation's JITLI in the Times of Israel!

Yesterday The Times of Israel ran an article highlighting Federation's Jacob's International Teen Leadership Institute (JITLI) program and local Jewish teens on their eye opening trip in Israel! Your gift to Federation allows us to run these important and transformative programs that inspire San Diegan teens to feel meaningful, lifelong connections to the Jewish State.

Federation's JITLI, founded by community leader Gary Jacobs, realizes the vision of its founders to create a program dedicated to the education and leadership development of young people in the context of interaction with other cultures. The ultimate goal of JITLI is to create a partnership between the communities of San Diego, Sha’ar HaNegev, Segev Shalom and Lakiya. JITLI aims to break down stereotypes and build lasting relationships leading to a vibrant and meaningful co-existence.

JITLI offers the opportunity for the participants to appreciate their similarities, acknowledge their differences and understand each other’s cultures. JITLI impacts the lives of the young participants forever, imbuing them with the knowledge, the tools and the will to affect their own futures and those of their peers and communities.

Read the article here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Birthright San Diego 2012: The Experience of a Lifetime

Follow the journey of 39 young adults from San Diego who just returned from the experience of a lifetime on the Jewish Federation of San Diego’s community Birthright trip. In ten days they travelled all over Israel, learning, experiencing and discussing all the amazing things they encountered. They visited the new Alexander Joseph Viterbi Art Center in our partner community in Sha’ar HaNegev and had a very moving experience learning about life there under the constant threat of rocket attack and how the new school was built to protect children from incoming Kasaam missiles. 

They visited the newly renovated Yad Vashem museum and had a moving tour there, finding so many personal connections to the holocaust amongst the group. Six participants from the trip even chose to commit themselves to living a more engaged Jewish life by becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. For more photos and reflections check out the group blog:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kathy Manning on the JFNA Global Planning Table

This morning, two separate bloggers posted pieces about the Global Planning Table. Both make a range of allegations about the GPT specifically, and JFNA generally. 

The first piece is on the website Arutz Sheva:

JFNA and several Federations have already issued clear and consistent statements refuting various ill-informed and malicious charges about the GPT ( and The central accusation is that the word Zionism was removed from a GPT document. That is completely false. There was a discussion in a GPT subcommittee about language for a subcommittee vision statement. No final decision was reached. No document was created. The notion that a GPT document was issued is simply wrong. The allegation that JFNA and Federations are moving away from Zionism and Israel couldn’t be further from the truth. 
Kathy Manning, Chair, JFNA Board of Trustees

Zionism is a core value of JFNA and Jewish Federations. As Zionists we will always care for Israel, in action and deed. Motivated by those deeply held values, we embarked on an ambitious, bold and challenging path with the GPT, to generate broad new engagement and meet growing global Jewish needs in Israel and around the world. 

We at the Jewish Federations recognize that change threatens those who wish to maintain the status quo. Nevertheless, Federations understand that we must evolve and grow in order to strengthen our community in Israel and around the world for generations to come. From that mission, we will not be deterred.

- Kathy Manning, chair, JFNA Board of Trustees

Friday, August 17, 2012

Federation Editorial on Gaza in Today's Union Tribune!

Did you know that the needs of the Gaza population are being met daily with the arrival of hundreds of trucks allowed in by Israel carrying tons of food supplies, medications and other necessities? Did you know that the tunnels of Gaza are illegal, dangerous and will never be a step toward achieving peace?

Today the San Diego UT newspaper published an opinion piece, “The tunnels of Gaza: Going underground to survive” by UCSD Professor Gary Fields. Federation's Jewish Community Relations Center (JCRC) published a counter op-ed, “The tunnels of Gaza: Terrorist attacks won’t lead to peace” alongside it. The JCRC wishes to thank the Israel Action Network (an initiative of JFNA and JCPA), Aaron Truax of Federation and J.J. Surbeck of T.E.A.M. San Diego for their help in crafting a powerful response.

Through advocacy, organizing, service and partnerships, the Federation's JCRC pursues social justice, ensures a vibrant Jewish community, and builds a network of support for Israel. The JCRC promotes its goals through its programmatic work focusing on government relations, Israel advocacy and international affairs, interfaith, ethnic and inter-group relations, and Holocaust remembrance and education, always with an emphasis on consensus-building among diverse groups.

Read more about your Federation's JCRC here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tarbuton Featured in eJewishPhilanthropy!

We are so happy to share that Federation Innovation Grant recipient Tarbuton recently received international coverage in the ubiquitous eJewishPhilanthropy.

Tarbuton, the Israeli Cultural Center founded by the tenacious Jennie Starr of San Diego, provides subsidies for a dozen students to attend educational programs, with the goal of increasing cultural understanding between Israelis and Diaspora-born Jews.

Federation's investment in community innovation aims to strengthen Jewish caring and to increase Jewish engagement, by supporting and incubating amazing ideas like Jennie's Tarbuton. This year Federation provided a total of $100,000 in micro-grant funding, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, to help 16 mostly small and emerging community organizations find new and effective ways to reach Jews at different stages of their lives and to help them deepen their Jewish journeys.

Congratulations to Jennie and Tarbuton - together, we do extraordinary things!

Read the full article here.

Read about our Innovation Grants here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Community Shlicha Shoshi Bogoch Bids San Diego Farewell

This week the Jewish Federation of San Diego County says a heartfelt farewell to our dear Community Shlicha, Shoshi Bogoch, who returns to Israel this week.  We'd like to share with you, our Jewish community, her parting words.  She will be missed.

Shoshi wrote:

 אם אשכחך ירושלים תשכח ימיני 

This prayer is one of the most famous in Judaism, we say it under the Chupa right before the groom breaks the cup. For years this sentence that was turned into a song symbolized the longing for Israel. I didn’t know and didn’t feel how meaningful it is till I came here. I discovered a different side of my Jewish identity and I can definitely say that even though Judaism is a way of life for me, I was born and raised in Israel, speaking Hebrew, lived in Jerusalem; my Judaism changed and was shaped here.

In San Diego I discovered how Israel can bring unity and closeness from so far and how a school, a synagogue or a JCC Yoga class can be both a family-like community and a source of warmth and support. I learned how Judaism survived without land but with constant effort by active community leaders to make it relevant and accessible. I feel lucky to be a part of it. Every day I felt fortunate to work with you for the Jewish people and for Israel from the platform of the Jewish Federation of San Diego and I would like to thank you for that.

My Shlichut tenure began in August 2009, continuing the work of the first three Shlichim at the Jewish Federation since 1997.

The main areas in which I have focused my energies are in Israel Travel, Partnership Development with Sha’ar HaNegev, Yom Ha’atzmaut/San Diego Celebrates Israel, and Israel Advocacy. Briefly, I will describe a few accomplishments that I think made an important difference in unifying the Jewish community in San Diego with Israel:
In Israel Travel – I led teens in a life changing community teen trip , I provided more than 100 MASA participants with personal guidance to find the right travel program for them in Israel, and helped award $170,750 to 156 applicants ages 13-26 in my three years here.

In Partnership Development with Sha’ar HaNegev–I was honored to work closely with Jon Schneider, then-Chair of the Israel & Overseas Partnership Committee, and Lisa Haney, then-Acting Director of the I & O Center (as well as Community Planning Director) to join the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2Gether to deepen our connections and build enduring ties between our communities and through several collaborative projects . 

With San Diego Celebrates Israel – In 2010 for the first time, we moved Yom Ha’atzmaut to a highly visible location in Mission Bay Park and collaborated with 40 community partners plus merchants to celebrate Israel as a community, in the largest 1-day gathering of the SD Jewish community.

In the area of Israel Education and Advocacy – We at the I&O Center, together with Linda Feldman, the Jewish Community Relations Center Director, initiated the Israel Advocacy Leadership Forum(IALF), which has grown to 18 organizations, convening monthly to plan San Diego Community advocacy and action on behalf of Israel.

And now I would like to say few personal notes:

First I would like to thank my dear husband, Yoel, for his endless support for teaching me what a real friendship and dedication is, To my kids that for three years had to tell their friends how great Israel is and for being little but very effective Shlichim.

To Lisa Haney, that came to our house three and a half years ago and chose us to be the bridge from San Diego to Israel and for her guidance in the past three years.
I would like to thank Dana for being so helpful through all the way, to Nurit that step up whenever it was needed and both of you for putting this great celebration together. Thank you Debbie for taking the lead on the Israel and Overseas Center I wish you luck and may the Israel Center will grow and prosper.

I would like to thank Federation leaders and my colleagues in the past and present for their dedication for Israel and for this Jewish Community and for Jewish communities around the world.

Going back to Israel knowing that there are so many people who care so much for us is a pleasure. Strong Jewish communities around the world will make Israel stronger. Please keep your connection to the Community and to Israel.

King David wrote:

How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together

הנה מה טוב ומה נעים שבת אחים גם יחד 

As I said to many friends that came to say good bye to us in the past weeks our home in Israel is your home, please take a magnet and keep in touch we would love to see you in Jerusalem.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you and Lehitraot.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moishe House Receives $6M Investment

Seeking to help Moishe House implement a new Strategic Growth Plan to broaden and deepen its impact on Jewish young adults in their 20’s, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF), Leichtag Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group, Maimonides Fund and the Jewish Federations recently announced a $6 million investment to the international organization.

The grants are a significant, collaborative investment of second-level funding to Moishe House, which has 46 residences in 14 countries that engage more than 50,000 attendees a year. The combined efforts of the five foundations demonstrate a common goal to expand proven initiatives that reach young Jewish adults and foster vibrant Jewish lives.

Not familiar with Moishe House? Watch this short video by the Economist.

Moishe House San Diego, supported by your Federation, has become a vibrant center of young adult Jewish life in just two short years. Since opening in 2010, Moishe House San Diego has reached more than 2,600 Jewish young adults through more than 118 programs. Consistent success is a testament to the void it is filling for thousands of young Jews in the greater San Diego region. It has built a diverse Jewish community for young adults, reaching an average of more than 130 participants every month and creating a welcoming environment for pluralistic Jewish expression.

Moishe House San Diego Bithright Next Shabbat
Said David Cygielman, Founder and President:

"Through the local success of Moishe House in developing and engaging young Jewish adults, national funders have come together with $6 million in growth support to Moishe House over the next 4.5 years. Half of the support is a challenge grant through Federations and individuals, and as one of the first Federation partners, San Diego has been a key in making all of this possible.”

This morning it was announced that Moishe House will be launching two communal residences in Detroit and Chicago.

via eJewishPhilanthropy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Federation Extends Condolences to the Sikh Community

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the six Sikhs murdered in a heinous attack on their temple near Milwaukee. We are outraged over this inhuman assault and its effect on Sikhs not only in Milwaukee, but also in San Diego and throughout the world.  Violence against a house of worship is an assault on the core values that lie at the foundation of American society.

We maintain a strong commitment to tolerance and respect for all the religious traditions in our great country.  The tragedy in Milwaukee shows painfully the need for Americans of all faiths to learn about one another and embrace the diverse religious tapestry of the United States.

It is with the deepest sympathy that we with and extend our prayers to the Sikh community following this weekend’s deadly attack.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Federation's Live 2012 Birthright Blog!

Rabbi Janice Elster, 2030 Project Leader, is in Israel leading the Summer 2012 Birthright Trip! Throughout the 10 days, participants will be live blogging about their experiences, adventures and revelations in Israel.  Your Federation dollars help fund these important, life changing trips, ensuring the next generation develops a meaningful, lasting connection to the Jewish state.

Taglit-Birthright Israel, supported by Federations across the nation, offers the gift of a free, 10-day educational trip to Israel for Jewish adults between the ages of 18 to 26. Since its inception in 2000, Taglit-Birthright Israel has sent more than 300,000 Jewish young adults to Israel. They come from 54 countries, all 50 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, and from nearly 1,000 North American colleges and universities.

The trip aims to strengthen participants’ Jewish identity; to build an understanding, friendship and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel; and to reinforce the solidarity of the Jewish people worldwide.

Check out our Birthright blog below!

JCRC Hosts Latino and Jewish War Veterans

The Jewish Federation is all about connecting our community. The Jewish Community Relations Center (JCRC), a function of your Federation, is building bridges, and honoring our veterans. The Latino-Jewish Coalition (LJC) of the Jewish Community Relations Center enjoys a longstanding relationship that promotes greater communication, cooperation, understanding and respect between the communities. The LJC recently sponsored a talk on Latino and Jewish Veterans: Stories of War and Peace, inviting two Latino war veterans and two Jewish war veterans to share their stories. They spoke about their experiences in the Vietnam era and how their lives were impacted.

Click here to read the article by Lou Kaplan.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

8th Annual Yom Limmud: San Diego’s Community Day of Learning

The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture is extremely pleased to present the 8th Annual Yom Limmud: San Diego’s Community Day of Learning, co-sponsored by Jewish Federation of San Diego and featuring Keynote Speaker: Ambassador Dennis Ross.

Seventeen notable international, national, and local authors and scholars will speak on subjects ranging from the middle east, Islamic art, spirituality, and much more.

The vision for Yom Limmud: San Diego’s Community Day of Learning is to create an environment in which the community comes together to participate and celebrate Jewish education. Yom Limmud is a one-day major event, bringing together different elements of the community, including Jews and non-Jews, adult learners and educators, teens and college students. This year’s outstanding line-up of speakers includes Ambassador Dennis Ross, Maggie Anton, David Brog, Rabbi David Dalin, Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Dr. Ron Wolfson, and many more.

Speaker topics and biographies can be found at

Sunday, August 26, 2012

8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS

4126 Executive Drive • La Jolla CA 92037 

Adult: $32/JCC Member; $38/Non-Member 
Teen: $14/JCC Member; $18/Non-Member 
VIP: $100/person. Reserved parking, access to the VIP lounge, Priority Seating in the first 2 rows of all sessions held in the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre and donor recognition 

All tickets include kosher bagel lunch bar .

Group rates available! 

Box Office (858) 362-1348 

Help others attend Yom Limmud! Ask about sponsoring a teen, college student, or Jewish Community Educator.