Friday, September 28, 2012

Federation's Weekly Newsletter Goes Public

After several weeks of tweaking, testing and feedback, your favorite weekly newsletter of Federation events, accomplishments and aspirations is going to live to the public!  Starting mid-October, this communication will go out to our community as weekly email blast.

This decision was made after surveying our pilot sample of Federation stakeholders, who have provided feedback via an email survey.  The results generally told us that the weekly email was working and we received some great feedback from our test group!

Thank you all for your participation!

To sign up manually, visit

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Governor Brown Signs Historic Measure to Reject Iran Trade

This week Governor Brown signed a historic measure that prohibits California-based insurance companies from scoring indirect investments in Iran. As a member of Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in the nation, Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) participated in advocacy efforts in Sacramento that supported this legislation. Our efforts enabled our collective Jewish voice to be heard and make a real and lasting difference in policy. The bill passed critical votes in the Assembly and Senate despite objections from the insurance industry. We are proud to share that California is a national leader in this legislation.

For more information click here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New Beginnings In Israel - Yitzchak Shavit High School in Sha'ar HaNegev

As so many children around the world return to school this month, and with our recent celebration of Rosh Hashanah, we are reminded that the autumn serves as a time for new beginnings – for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities.

Nowhere was this concept more vivid than in Sha’ar HaNegev in southern Israel, where students recently filed for the first time into the Yitzchak Shavit High School, a fully fortified eight-building complex where kids can learn and play, safe from the fear and uncertainty that often plagues their daily lives amid rocket attacks from the nearby Gaza Strip.

The school was funded by generous donations from the global Jewish community, including World ORT, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, the State of Israel and others, and is named after Yitzchak Shavit, z”l, a passionate supporter of Israel and consummate advocate and fundraiser for the Jewish State.

The Yitzchak Shavit High School represents everything its namesake campaigned for throughout his lifetime: education, development, and the promise of prosperity and security for the children of Israel. He worked tirelessly for The Jewish Federations of North America and United Israel Appeal, ensuring that millions of dollars benefitted Israelis through new schools, business centers, athletic facilities and other community enhancements. He was devoted to The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, establishing programs that renovated distressed neighborhoods and brought hope and prosperity to those in desperate need. Yitzchak’s indelible imprint continues to be felt throughout Israel.  Check out our new video, featuring President Shimon Peres:

As a tribute to Yitzchak, Israel’s President Shimon Peres attended the school’s opening ceremonies, where he praised the 1,200 students for their courage and commitment to academics.

Nothing would have made Yitzchak prouder than to see the young faces that make up the future of Israel, waving Israeli flags as they welcomed in the school year. Nothing would have pleased him more than to know that each student will receive the high-quality education that every child deserves.

We invite you to share in these moving photos of President Peres’ visit to the Yitzchak Shavit High School, which will bring new beginnings for so many young Israelis, for generations to come.

Shana Tova!

Magic Johnson to Speak at the 2012 Men's Event

The Men’s Event, Underwritten by the Mizel Family Foundation, is excited to announce its keynote speaker for the event – Earvin “Magic” Johnson!

As one of the greatest NBA players who ever lived, Magic Johnson garnered five titles, multiple MVP awards, 11 All-Star game appearances, and an Olympic gold medal. Now, as founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, he awards monetary grants to other nonprofits that work to meet the health, educational, and social needs of those residing in the inner city. Johnson's organization, the Magic Johnson Foundation, also awards money to those in need and has been a charitable organization since 1991.

As a sports speaker who is both an entrepreneur and a person living with HIV, Magic Johnson delivers a presentation that is captivating and inspiring. He is a leading spokesperson on HIV education, and speaks passionately about creating business opportunities in the communities that need them the most.

Join us Thursday, December 6th at the Delmar Fairgrounds. 

For the first time in history, the Men’s Event couvert is free, thanks to the generosity of the Mizel Family Foundation! 

Register online at:

Friday, September 14, 2012

L’ shanah tovah u metukah - Wishing You a Good & Sweet New Year!

L’ shanah tovah u metukah - Wishing You a Good & Sweet New Year!

We would like to extend our best wishes to you and your family for a joyful, meaningful, healthy and reflective year of growth and the sweetest things in life. The arrival of the New Year is a time for families to be together, reminding us that our community is really an extension of our families. As in all families, the ties that bind us are much more significant than any of the issues that divide or challenge us. The central focus of our work at Federation is to bring us together as a community, as a people, for the mutual benefit of all.

In the year that has passed, we have indeed found strength as a community, pulling together to serve, to help, to heal and to take care of one another, honoring the traditional Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam. Together, we have built a school in the Gaza region of the Negev, expanded unique, impactful services, enhanced our vibrant community, and addressed the needs of our people here at home, in Israel and around the world. And at this special time of year, we wish the world a happy birthday!

We are filled with gratitude for all we have achieved. You have made all this possible through your generosity and your committed support for the things we all care about. In this time of reflection, we are particularly thankful for everything our donors, volunteers and community members do to make our Jewish community thrive. We hope the coming year of 5773 will be filled with the desire to fulfill our share of responsibilities to tikkun olam, to one another and to all of Israel.

L’ shanah tovah u metukah

May you, and those you love, be written in the book of life for a sweet New Year.

May you know the blessings of health, happiness and prosperity.

Claire Ellman
Board Chair
Michael Sonduck
Interim President & CEO

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stories from Camp Mountain Chai

Check out this great new video of San Diego kids at Camp Mountain Chai!  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.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kicking off the 2012 International Lion of Judah Conference

San Diego's Lions at Dinner in NYC
Today, a record 1,700 Lions of Judah philanthropists are convening in New York City to kick off the 2012 International Lion of Judah Conference (ILOJC) at the Times Square Marriott Marquis Hotel. The three-day Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) conference, coincides with the Lion of Judah’s 40th anniversary and is the first-ever ILOJC in New York City. Eleven Lion of Judah philanthropists from San Diego are in attendance sharing their pride and passion for the Jewish community, and inspiring and energizing one another continue to make an impact in the global Jewish community.” 

Featured speakers include Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J.; Nancy Lublin, CEO of and founder of Dress for Success; Larry A. Silverstein, president and CEO of Silverstein Properties, Inc., which is developing the World Trade Center site; and Dr. Einat Wilf, a member of Israel’s Knesset.

Sessions will address critical issues affecting the Jewish community and women’s philanthropy, including five specific themes including Body, Mind and Spirit; Business, Women and Charity; Family and Generational Philanthropy; Israel and Overseas; and Women’s Leadership.

The conference brings together Lions of Judah worldwide who are involved in the highest echelons of leadership and philanthropy in Jewish communities. The Lions are a diverse group of women philanthropists giving $5,000 or more to our Federation.

This year’s conference will also feature Norma Kipnis-Wilson, co-founder of the Lion of Judah, as a speaker. Kipnis-Wilson will take part in an awards presentation honoring winners of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Awards – named after Kipnis-Wilson and Lion co-founder Toby Friedland, z"l – which recognize extraordinary women who have set a high standard for philanthropy and volunteerism. San Diegan Terri Bignell will be bestowed this honor on Wednesday evening.
Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award Recipient
Terri Bignell
To commemorate the 11th anniversary of 9/11, participants will join a National Day of Service during the ILOJC, doing all sorts of projects ranging assembling care packages for people in need, creating emergency preparedness kits, literacy kits, food packages, shelter packages and job-skills tutorials.

Gail Norry, chair of National Women’s Philanthropy expressed her enthusiasm about the history-making event. “I know it will be incredible to stand in a room with 1,700 women who are among the most caring, committed Jewish leaders in the world,” she said, “and feel the excitement and inspiration, knowing that together we can change the world.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sharing Stories of an Adult Birthright Mission

Zach and Ali Shuman at the Mega Event!
San Diego community members Zach and Ali Shuman recently went on their first ever Birthright Adult Mission, and wanted to share their experince with the community!  Read about their journey, their new appreciattion, and renewed dedication for the preservation of Israel and Jewish life! Zach and Ali shared:

It is the "apparent" random intersection of events in one's life that many times leads to profound and permanent changes in the course of your life. Such is the case for us as we recently completed the first ever donor mission to Israel sponsored by Taglit Birthright Israel. Several years ago we encouraged our daughters to apply for a Birthright trip, not because we thought it would have profound impact on their lives or ours, but because it seemed like a nice opportunity for them to see Israel, and to understand a bit more about their heritage. The girls went, and we began to fully realize the impact of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Their enthusiasm for Israel, their heritage was evident and lasting and we were able to witness first-hand the life altering experiences brought to these children of the Diaspora. As time passed, we became more convinced of the importance of Birthright for Israel, for the Diaspora and for us. So, the Unintended Consequence of our encouragement to our daughters to go on Birthright produced our decision to join the first Donor's Mission to Israel on behalf of Birthright. 

We timed our arrival in Israel to meet our eldest son who was completing his Birthright trip. We met in Tel Aviv and spent about five days together before the meeting up with the participants in the Birthright Donor mission. We watched in amazement as our son took to Tel Aviv (and Israel) like a fish takes to water; we were sad to send him home, but excited to meet our fellow travelers and to begin, what turned out to be an extraordinary trip. If you are reading this memoir you likely don't need a play by play of our trip as we visited many of the sites that people visit while in Israel. What was extraordinary for us on this trip was meeting with, talking with and dining with some people that we knew of in Israeli society, and meeting with the young soldiers (IDF members) who had themselves participated in the Taglit program. It is this latter experience that was the most moving, the most poignant, powerful part of our journey; more on that in a moment.  
Our fellow mission members were a generational and political cross-section of American Judaism; the cast of characters included the elderly matriarch with the energy and spirit of a woman 1/4 her age, to a former Taglit participant who seemed to be strangely afflicted with a condition allowing him to tour with the Donor group during the day, and visit interesting sites into the wee hours of the nights… and all manner of persona in-between. 

Bithright Mission Dinner with IDF Soldiers
For us the highlight of the trip was meeting with the young soldiers who had participated in the Taglit program by joining a group of Diaspora youth for generally five days of a Birthright trip. The personal stories of these “kids” were fascinating; from the Ethiopian born Intelligence officer to the Army bomb disposal officer (I could not help but ask, “Don’t your parents worry about you?) to the submarine officer, all of these bright, articulate “kids” reported several consistent themes when discussing their Birthright experiences. First, it is considered a desirable“assignment” to be allowed to participate in Taglit. Second, for most of them it seemed to positively change their perspective on Diaspora Jewish “kids”. Third, they all reported back to their units with more enthusiasm, which was notable and beneficial to their units. 

Anecdotally, we heard stories of soldiers who participated in Birthright have felt an even greater sense of purpose after their Birthright experiences as they understood in real terms how they serve not only for the benefit if Israel, but, they serve and defend for Jews in the Diaspora as well. 

The tour organizers made sure that we had the opportunity to interact with participants on Birthright trips while we were in Israel. All the “kids” were very appreciative and had that youthful electricity running through their eyes as they explained to us the deep and profoundly moving their Birthright experiences had been to that point. 
Birthright Mega Event
So, as far as the Law of Unintended Consequences goes…it is alive and well in our lives as we commit ourselves to insuring that those “kids” of in the Diaspora have the experiences that our “kids” have had with Israel, their heritage and their souls.

Israel Plays Ball: San Diegan Brad Ausmus Hired as Team Israel Manager!

For the first time in history, Israel has been invited to be a contender in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Under WBC rules, any team member can represent a country if the team member or parent is eligible to become a citizen of that country. Israel's Law of Return grants citizenship to a team member if the team member has a Jewish parent or grand-parent. As a result, Jewish American Major and Minor League players are eligible to compete for Team Israel.

Brad Ausmus, San Diego Padre Special Assistant, 1999 All-Star, and former Major League San Diego Padre catcher has been selected to lead as Team Israel Manager. Shawn Green, the best Jewish player since Sandy Koufax, will be player/hitting coach and Gabe Kapler will be player/bench coach. Team Israel will compete against South Africa in Jupiter Florida on September 19 and against France or Spain on September 21.

Read more in the Del Mar Times.

Written by community member Sara Appel-Lennon

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Congregation Beth Am Presents - Gloria Steinem on Feminism: The Longest Revolution

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is proud to sponsor Gloria Steinem on Feminism: The Longest Revolution on Wednesday, October 3.  Get your tickets today!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Discount High Holiday Tickets for Young Adults!

In partnership with fourteen San Diego area congregations, the 2030 Project and Federation’s Young Adult Division, we are offering discounted High Holiday Tickets for San Diego Jewish young adults 22-39. This is a wonderful partnership to help engage our young adult population in Jewish life in San Diego by facilitating participation in high holiday services.

For more information or to purchase tickets please go to

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jewish Federations Respond to Hurricane Isaac

Your Federation and the Jewish Federations of North America have opened the JFNA Disaster Relief Fund to contribute to local recovery and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

Federations are urged to direct donors to the JFNA Disaster Relief Fund’s online donation form or via your mobile device by texting RELIEF to 51818. Donors can also send checks to our national mailbox at The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Please indicate "JFNA Disaster Relief Fund" on all checks or in the designation box online.

Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans and the surrounding area this week with torrential rains and winds up to 80 miles per hour. Though it was downgraded to a tropical storm, Isaac deluged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, whipping 12-foot surges, flooding streets, downing trees and leaving more than three-quarters of the city without electricity. In some areas, such as Plaquemines Parish, water levels rose even higher, filling homes and trapping people inside. There were three reported deaths, and tens of thousands were evacuated to shelters.

“The Jewish community of New Orleans has been tested again,” said Michael Weil, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. “Through resilience, creativity and the support of Jews around the world, the Jewish community of the Crescent City will thrive and grow.”

Local Jewish organizations and agencies sustained minor damages and remained closed this week, but are expected to reopen in the coming days. The Jewish communities in nearby Hattiesburg, Miss. and Lake Charles, La. reported no major damage.

Residents in Louisiana and Mississippi have begun cleanup and recovery, as coastal warnings have been discontinued and Isaac weakens in its travels north. “I sincerely hope that within a couple of days we will be back to near normal. This time round, the long Labor Day weekend will indeed be one of ‘labor’ as we all spend that extra time fixing up our homes,” said Weil.

Isaac arrived exactly seven years after the devastating Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed much of New Orleans when storm surges overflowed levees. Following Katrina, Jewish Federations raised more than $28 million to help the city – and the local Jewish community – rebuild and revitalize.

“In an area that has been so hard hit by natural disasters, we are awed by the strength of the people of the Gulf region,” said Cheryl Fishbein, chair of JFNA’s Emergency Committee. “We send our support and prayers to those affected by Hurricane Isaac, and will stand beside them as they recover and rebuild.”

Although the damage to Jewish institutions in the Gulf region appears to be relatively minor in comparison to Hurricane Katrina, JFNA will work with the New Orleans Federation to assess impacted areas and determine where our dollars can make a difference in both the Jewish and greater community.

JFNA and Jewish Federations are committed to care for victims of global natural disasters, and have emergency relief plans in place to aid people in need. Last year, Jewish Federations raised funds for those affected by widespread storms around the U.S., and more than $1 million for victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. Federations also raised $10 million in the aftermath of the southern Asia tsunami in 2004. Please visit JFNA’s Hurricane Isaac Relief page to keep updated about the situation and the Federation response. JFNA will continue to provide reports as necessary.