Friday, July 27, 2012

Don't Just Intend to... Do It! Parsha from Rabbi Janice

Federation's own Rabbi Janice Elster, 2030Project leader, was featured as a guest blogger for Religious Action Center of Reform Judiasm.  Read her reflections, below. Mazel Tov, Rabbi Janice!

Below is a meditation on last week’s parsha, Matot-Massei (Numbers 30:2-36:13)

How many times have we meant to call our legislator, wanted to sign that petition but let it fall to the bottom of our e-mail inbox, planned to sign up for a shift at the soup kitchen or intended to bring extra food to the synagogue food collection box? We have the best of intentions, but what about our actions? We say we want to volunteer more, give more charity be more civically active, but we don’t do it. We put it off, we get busy with other things.

When it comes to world repair, actions matter. Nothing will change if we don’t act. But our lethargy and our routine are more powerful. We all have made resolutions and not fulfilled them. We put things off because we don’t have time. So it is not a resolution we need to make in order to change, but something more.

In the first Torah portion of the double reading this week, Matot, the Torah talks about a serious type of commitment we can make: a vow or an oath. It says: “If you make a vow to the Eternal or take an oath imposing an obligation on yourself, you shall not break your pledge; you must carry out all that has crossed your lips” (Numbers 30:3). Jewish tradition gives us the way to make serious change. We don’t just plan to do something; we can vow to do it.

I know change is hard. We are habitual beings with full lives and responsibilities. But we have a greater responsibility beyond our little world. We have the responsibility to make changes in the world around us, to better it. We have the power and capacity to do so if we just begin to act.

Start small. Pick something that you can integrate into your life, and do that. Tell a friend or family member that you are taking an oath to begin doing whatever it is and you need them to hold you to it. Your kids or parents would like nothing better than to remind you if you are not following through.

Make doing justice part of your routine. Pick up a few extra things at the grocery store to bring to the synagogue food collection bin. Sign up for action alerts from the RAC, and call your Members of Congress when an important piece of legislation is being voted on. Sign up for a regular volunteer opportunity. Register for regular charitable contributions by monthly credit card payment.

Start small and work up from there. Vow to do it. Commit to yourself, your family, your community. Make a commitment to repair your world in some small way. You will find that social action will become habitual for you, and you will serve as an inspiration to others around you to act.

Start today. Make an oath—and once it crosses your lips, you shall not break your pledge, but must carry it out.

Rabbi Janice Elster works at the Jewish Federation of San Diego County running the 2030 Project: Connecting Jewish Young Adults to Judaism, Jewish Community and Each Other. She is a 2012-2013 Brickner Fellow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Video Update: Your Gift Helped Send these Kids to Jewish Camp

There are countless studies which show Jewish overnight summer camp having lasting effects on campers, however, none have been as comprehensive as the new study out by the Foundation for Jewish camp, which clearly identifies Jewish overnight camp as a setting that proves to inspire a lifelong commitment to Jewish life.

The study found that adults who were campers are 37% more likely to light Shabbat candles and 10% more likely to marry a Jewish partner. They are also 26% more likely to be members of a synagogue. Recognizing these strong connections between attending camp and becoming an active member of our Jewish community was the driving force to bring the One Happy Camper program to San Diego.

This year, Federation's One Happy Camper program provided grants for 160 kids to attend Jewish Camp, 33% more than last year! We also provided more than $50,000 in needs based scholorship directly for Camp Mountain Chai.  Your Federation dollars at work - providing these kids an opportunity to connect to their Jewish heritage, build our community, and change their lives. Thank you for making a world of difference for these local kids.

Below, see some great videos of some of our One Happy Camper participants who are at Camp Mountail Chai this week, and see the incredible impact camp is having on their lives.

Read more about Federation's One Happy Camper Program here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Federation Embraces Pride Week!

Did you know that Israel is the only LGBT friendly country in the Middle East? Forty-two volunteers from nine Jewish organizations staffed a booth at Gay Pride this weekend to share this message. It is so rare to see so many Jewish organizations and synagogues work together for a shared vision and goal to educate about Israel. What an extraordinary community we have. Our booth was one of the busiest! We educated and had fun – and we were thanked by so many. Thank you to all the volunteers for their dedication and enthusiasm.

Elaine Moser - One of the original JCRC members and JCRC Director Linda Feldman


Toni Atkins, Linda Feldman and Marty Block

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Federation and Jewish Agency to Provide Financial Assistance to Bulgaria Terror Victims

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County and our partners at the Jewish Agency have mobilized in response to yesterday's attack in Bulgaria.

The Fund for the Victims of Terror, operated by The Jewish Agency for Israel and made possible by contributions from Jewish Federations across North America, will provide financial assistance to Israelis wounded in the attack in Bulgaria and to the families of those killed.

Bulgarian authorities have now established that a suicide bomber, carrying an apparently fake U.S. passport, blew up a bus carrying newly arrived Israeli tourists, outside the airport of the resort city of Burgas. Shortly before the attack, security cameras caught the terrorist on tape that can be seen here.

Six Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed in the attack, as was the suicide bomber.

A team of Israeli doctors and first responders, led by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center Dir.-Gen. Prof. Gabriel Barbash, along with Foreign Affairs Ministry professionals and security personnel flew directly to Burgas last night, and an extended team from Israel arrived this morning. Shortly afterwards, Israel Air Force Hercules transport planes airlifted 32 of the wounded Israelis back to Israel. Another plane load of the injured will be flown back to Israel later today. An additional three Israeli victims in critical condition will remain hospitalized in Bulgaria. Footage of the Israeli team’s arrival can be seen here, and footage of the Israeli Zaka team can be seen here.

The Victims of Terror fund will help those affected by the attack address supplemental needs not covered by Israeli government bodies. Any family that experienced the loss or injury of a loved one in the attack may request assistance from the fund.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible attack,” said Kathy Manning, chair of JFNA's Board of Trustees. “We hope the support we are able to offer through the Victims of Terror Fund will provide those whose lives have been devastated with assistance and comfort in their time of need.”

The Fund, established in 2002, provides financial assistance to victims of terror in Israel. Since its establishment, the fund — which is sustained by contributions from Jewish Federations, philanthropic foundations and donors around the world — has enabled The Jewish Agency to provide thousands of terror victims and their families with assistance at a scope of more than NIS 100 million.

In relation to the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “All signs point towards Iran. Over the last few months we have seen Iran’s attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other countries. Exactly 18 years to the day after the horrendous attack on the Jewish Community Center in Argentina, deadly Iranian terrorism continues to strike at innocent people. This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react firmly to it.”

President Barack Obama called Netanyahu last night to express his condolences over the "barbaric" attack, which he called "outrageous." 

Contributions to the Victims of Terror Fund can also be mailed to:
Jewish Federation of San Diego County
4950 Murphy Canyon Road
San Diego, CA, 92123

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breaking News: Terror Attack in Bulgaria

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County received breaking news from Secure Community Network (SCN) a national Jewish security agency affiliated with the Federation movement.

The Jewish Federation and JCRC of San Diego County condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s heinous attack on a tour bus carrying Israeli travelers in Bulgaria.

An explosion rocked a tour bus carrying Israeli travelers at the Sarafovo International airport in the Bulgarian vacation city of Burgas earlier today. The attack occurred shortly after a charter flight arrived from Israel and the 170 passengers boarded buses to shuttle from the plane to the terminal. Initial reports indicate that at least 7 Israelis and a Bulgarian tour guide were killed and over 30 others were wounded in the bombing.

This horrific act of terrorism comes on the 18th anniversary of the Iranian sponsored bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in which 85 people were killed.

In a statement made today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the attack: “All signs point towards Iran. Over the last few months we have seen Iran’s attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other countries. Exactly 18 years to the day after the horrendous attack on the Jewish Community Center in Argentina, deadly Iranian terrorism continues to strike at innocent people. This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react firmly to it.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama’s “thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured.” Carney added that the US stood with the Israeli people and the people of Bulgaria.

The Federation and JCRC condemn the loss of life and stand in solidarity with Israel on this tragic day. The Jewish Federation of San Diego County extends our sympathy to the families of the victims of this heinous crime. May the victims and their families be comforted and may the wounded find a speedy and full recovery.

Click for the story in Jerusalem Post.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TEAM Brunch Session: The Presbyterian Church and Divestment

T.E.A.M. (Training and Education About the Middle East) San Diego, our community partners and your Federation are proud to announce our upcoming brunch to discuss the Presbyterian Church and the divestment of Israeli Business. Join us on August 12th! Details below:

In 2004, the Presbyterian Church (USA) surprised the world when its General Assembly adopted a resolution favoring selective divestment of US companies doing business with Israel.

What the outside world didn't know, though, was that the overwhelming majority of the Church's own members were also taken by surprise and didn't appreciate the stance their Church had taken.

Thus started a remarkable movement within the Church to repeal the 2004 divestment resolution. One of the national architects of this counteroffensive was San Diego-based Mediator Jim Roberts. Jim formed a broad based coalition of liberal to conservative Presbyterian ministers and lay leaders, including former CIA director James Woolsey, a life- long Presbyterian.

This "band of brothers" succeeded against enormous odds in overturning divestment as Church policy in 2006.

Their success helped stop similar divestment efforts in the Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran churches. Beginning in 2008, again in 2010 and culminating a few weeks ago at the 2012 General Assembly, the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) Movement pulled out all the stops to try to reverse course and re-impose divestment in PCUSA because historically it was the most receptive to their efforts and with the hope that once again it could become a precedent for other campus and church divestment votes. Once again, they lost.

This is a story that everyone in the Jewish community needs to hear. The dangers that both the Christian and Jewish communities are facing are serious. We can make a difference, and Jim will outline how.

Don't miss this unique event!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Doing a World of Good - Our Key Accomplishments

© Academy of Television Arts and Sciences 
As we wrap up the annual campaign, we wanted to take a minute to share with you some key accomplishments of the last fiscal year that we're proud of and we feel you can be proud of supporting!

Thank you for all that you do - it's YOU who enable us to do a world of good, and make a world of difference!

2012 Campaign 
This year, your Federation raised $7,203,267 to do a world of good, including $1,803,174 of Customized Gifts. Our amazing staff of philanthropy professionals and lay solicitors/leaders touched more than 2,318 donors in the annual campaign, with 312 customized gifts. This includes $2,138,434 from Women’s Philanthropy which once again set the “gold standard” in engagement and stewardship. 

2030 Project
In 2012 the 2030 Project launched as a community-wide resource to connect Jewish San Diego young adults to the Jewish community and to each other. The research portion of the 2030 Project culminated in a successful summit and in-depth report summarizing the
 research and recommendations of next steps. The 2030 Project built a network of leaders of all the groups that serve young adults. In June, the 2030 Project launched the new Jewish young adult web portal and awarded its first round of program grants. 

Federation Launches New Website 

The year the Federation officially re-launched its website – - offering the latest news, community events and Jewish resources here in San Diego. The website features RSS feeds from breaking news sources on Israel, engaging blogs, a local news feed from our partners and programs, new interesting videos and social media integration. You will also find the most up-to-date information on critical Federation programs, missions and opportunities to do a world of good! 

Innovation Grants 
Based on last year’s success, Federation opened up funding to all
Jewish non-profit organizations in San Diego. This year we provided first year innovation funding to 
7 new projects that will provide programs and services to children, teens, adults and seniors. We provided 2nd year funding to 9 continuing projects. Federation offered technical workshops and one-on-one services for all grantees in budgeting, goal-setting, outcomes and impact evaluation, fundraising and leveraging addition funding, and marketing, which were highly rated by grantees as critical to their success. 

JCRC Launch 

The new Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) held its first community wide meeting of more than 70 participants representing all facets of the San Diego Jewish community including synagogues, non-profits, agencies, schools as well as active Jewish community members. The JCRC named its first Executive Committee and received micro-grant funding from the Israel Action Network. 

JSSC Aging Symposium  
The newly formed Jewish Senior Services Council (JSSC) held its first Aging Symposium to learn about topics critical to seniors in our community and to identify our next initiatives, following the success of On The Go. The symposium included an all-star list of experts in the realms of senior care, medicine, technology and health, which led to a robust discussion about the needs and concerns of our senior community, as well as opportunities for action. The symposium brought over 50 participants and created momentum for working together to improve quality of life for seniors.  

One Happy Camper

The Federation’s One Happy Camper Program was awarded a $10,000 marketing grant, from the Foundation for Jewish Camp as well as inspiring Federations donor to give $41,704 for Jewish campers. This year, our One Happy Camper program brought 120 first timers to overnight Jewish summer camp, a cornerstone of Jewish identity. 

San Diego Celebrates Israel 

This year’s San Diego Celebrates Israel Festival was attended by 2,500 to 3,000 San Diegans, and featured partnerships with 78 schools, synagogues, Jewish organizations, and businesses. The celebration of Israel’s 64th year of independence was front and center at Ski Beach, Mission Bay. Federation partnered with Friendship Circle Walk to raise funds for children with disabilities in Sha’ar HaNegev and here in San Diego. The celebration also featured numerous corporate underwriters including a complimentary El Al round-trip ticket to Israel.

Read More

Sha’ar HaNegev Opening 

On June 26th, the Federation and our partners in Sha’ar HaNegev will celebrate the opening of the Yitzchak Shavit School and special dedication of the Alexander Joseph Viterbi Arts Center. Over the past ten years, the Federation and San Diego Jewish community have contributed more than $11 million to the embattled region, which is under constant threat from Gaza rockets. The school will open its doors for the first time to over 1,200 students, and for many, it will their first opportunity for exposure to the arts, music, design and drama. The dedication ceremony will be attended by several families from San Diego as well as dignitaries from the Israeli government.

Read More

TribeFest 2012

This March, the second annual TribeFest was held in Las Vegas. TribeFest is a JFNA conference for Jews in their late 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, and was attended by over 1,500 young adults, including 30 from San Diego. Organizers and partner organizations crafted a program of break-out sessions that tapped into hot issues in the Jewish community such as sustainability, social entrepreneurship, LGBT, Israel & Zionism, dating, and the upcoming Presidential elections.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Federation Awarded Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator!

We are proud to announce that the Jewish Federation of San Diego County has just earned the coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. Thanks to the diligence of the Board, staff and volunteer leadership, your Federation can now count itself among the top 25% of charities in the nation!

Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator, highlights the fine work of efficient, ethical and open charities. They do this by evaluating two broad areas of performance; Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency. The ratings show donors how efficiently a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent. In the world of charitable giving, a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator is the ultimate stamp of approval, signifying that an organization is a sound social investment for prospective donors.

We are so very proud of our board, our staff and our volunteer leadership for making this all possible. We have worked hard to make sure we’re creating the greatest possible impact as efficiently as we can, and we’re proud to have earned this distinction. We’re grateful to all of you for supporting our work, and we’re glad to show you that we’re using your donations responsibly.

We’d like to invite you to visit our rating page at Charity Navigator, here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Israel Action Network: Presbyterian Church (USA) Rejects Divestment And Stands For Peace

The Israel Action Network, a shared initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, expressed appreciation together with JFNA and JCPA, to those who stood for peacemaking and against divestment at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. The PCUSA rejected a resolution to divest from three American companies because their products are used by Israelis.

“This was not just a major defeat for the divestment movement,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “It was a victory for peace. The church adopted a path of creative peacemaking and investment in positive outcomes. Delegates recognized that divestment is a path toward division, not reconciliation. We are gratified even as we recognize that there is still much hard work ahead of us.”

“The American Jewish community came together,” added Geri Palast, IAN Managing Director. “A letter in hope was signed by over 1,500 rabbis with the support of the religious streams and over 22,000 members of the community. Groups from across the spectrum of our community were a part of a tremendous effort. We are deeply touched to know that Presbyterians from an equally broad spectrum agreed, worked tirelessly, and sought positive rather than negative paths forward.
"The Presbyterian Church (USA) now joins the other major mainline Protestant churches in rejecting divestment,” continued Palast. “It is becoming clear that divestment has found no home in the Christian community. It remains the choice of those who ignore Israel’s legitimate security needs and instead blame only Israel for the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are incredibly appreciative of the hard work that went into this meaningful victory from both JCPA and IAN staff on the ground at the General Assembly. But the real success goes to our friends in the PCUSA who were tireless in speaking out against divestment and standing for peacemaking.”

“Once again, the better angels have prevailed, said JCPA Vice President Ethan Felson, who spoke against the divestment resolution before the General Assembly’s Middle East Committee. “While we have deep concerns about some actions taken by the General Assembly and the role of church institutions in promoting extreme measures and rhetoric, we once again have seen that, given the choice, Presbyterians will choose peacemaking over partisanship.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Exploring Your Options: A Guide to Making a Career Change

July 11 • 10:00am − 12:00pm

Oceanside Public Library • 330 North Coast Highway • Oceanside 92054
Do you feel like your career is at a dead-end? Not sure if your experience fits today’s job
market? Are you searching for a meaningful occupation? Are you struggling to identify
your transferable skills?

This workshop is designed to help guide you through the necessary steps to changing your career. Topics will include:
  • Is it really a career change or a job change?
  • Why change careers?
  • Exploring your likes and dislikes
  • Researching careers
  • Developing a career plan
  • Educational options
  • Networking before job hunting
  • Explaining career changes to prospective employers
FREE and open to the public!

Registration Required • (858) 637-3360

About the Presenter
Dr. Stan Schatt has had a number of careers and worn many different hats. He has been a college professor, a software trainer, a retail store manager, a salesman, a market research executive, a medical lab assistant, and an autopsy assistant. He has even worked in law enforcement. Schatt is co-author of Paint Your Career Green: Get a Green Job Without Starting Over, and 24 other books.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Shalom from Israel!

Shalom from Israel!

Michael and I are here in Sha'ar HaNegev, Israel, for the special dedication earlier this week of the Alexander Joseph Viterbi Arts Center and the opening of the Yitzhak Shavit Sha'ar HaNegev School. We were joined by more than 75 San Diegans who made the journey to Sha'ar HaNegev to celebrate the culmination of 14 years of hard work, philanthropy and partnership. We proudly represented the San Diego Jewish community, which is making a tangible difference in empowering the children of Sha'ar HaNegev to flourish in their educational and artistic endeavors in a safe, state of the art school dedicated to building Jewish identity.

The first overseas organization to commit to funding the school, Federation – through your generous contributions– has provided more than more than $1 million to the Alexander Viterbi Arts Center and $11 million to the region. We were blessed to be joined by the Viterbi family, as well as Larry Acheatel, Federation's new Israel Center Chair, who was instrumental in working with the head of the school promoting for this visionary project.
 Through our San Diego-Sha'ar HaNegev P2G partnership we are undertaking new initiatives and projects which, on a daily basis, inspire deeper understanding and connections, make lives on both sides more meaningful and unify us in a thriving and fortified common destiny for the Jewish People.

Please see links below with some great photos and news coverage of the dedication. We'd also like to share with you a special message from Mayor Alon Schuster thanking you, the San Diego Jewish community, for making a life-changing difference for thousands of children and families in Sha'ar HaNegev.

Click for More Great Photos

See Great News Coverage