Sunday, December 29, 2013

YAD Hosts Fabulous Place2Be

The Federation's Young Adult Division hosted its annual Place2Be at the House of Blues this Christmas Eve. This year’s Place2Be brought Jews together to eat delicious kosher food, drink, mingle and dance the night away. More than 350 Jews partied in style on Tuesday night with family and friends. Joseph Berman, event attendee reports “It was great to have a place to go on Christmas Eve, when otherwise I would have been sitting at home, lonely on my couch.”

The soiree featured a House of Blues DJ, an Israeli themed candy bar, a mardi gras themed photo booth and more! Party-goer Sarah Hoffman said, “There was no place I’d rather be than the Place2Be!”

Place2BE is part of Federation's efforts to build a vibrant Jewish community for young adults in San Diego. This year the party also promoted two Federation initiatives, Tribefest and Birthright. Check out pictures from the event here and here. If you want more information about these great YAD events, Tribefest or Birthright, please contact

Friday, December 27, 2013

Your Dollars at Work - Federation Goes to Washington

In 2013, your Federation dollars supported important legilisative efforts at the national level. As a resounding voice on behalf of the Jewish community, the Jewish Federations of North America's Washington office works tirelessly in promoting policies, programs and practices that benefit our Jewish community. Each year, JFNA’s Washington office establishes public policy and program priorities that reflect the needs and concerns of the Federations and their beneficiary agencies on an array of issues.

William Daroff, VP of Public Policy at JFNA said "JFNA and our partners – including advocates representing a broad range of Jewish communities, religious streams, social service providers and public policy organizations – work day in and day out with policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the Obama Administration to further the goals of our communities."

William Daroff, VP Public Policy - JFNA
In spite of the political stalemate and divisiveness within the US Congress this past year—the most notable manifestation being the 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government—JFNA succeeded on a number of noteworthy fronts and laid the foundation for additional achievements in 2014. These successes came about through the confluence of direct advocacy, collaborations, and synergies, including significant efforts by the Federation field to advocate with elected officials. Read about these accomplishments below - click for more information!

Summary of 2013 Domestic Policy Accomplishments

Health, Aging, and Long-Term Care Services

  • JFNA introduced the Responding to the Urgent Needs of Survivors of the Holocaust Act and created a new partnership with the White House to address the needs of Holocaust survivors living in poverty in the United States.
  • JFNA positioned itself this year as a vocal proponent for cost-effective reforms to the Medicare and Medicaid programs that enhance the quality of care, and several of JFNA’s recommendations were in fact included in the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care Report to Congress.
  • JFNA played a leading role in securing the introduction of the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act, which would authorize government programs that offer financial incentives to create electronic healthcare records and improve communications among providers.
  • With JFNA support, the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to permanently repeal physical, speech, and occupational therapy caps within the Medicare program. In the interim, the budget agreement that Congress is set to consider includes a three-month moratorium on such therapy caps.
  • With JFNA support, the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to bolster community mental health providers, such as Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies.

Charitable Giving & Incentives

  • Regular lobbying by JFNA-prepared Jewish groups at White House meetings contributed to a new willingness on the part of the Administration to “compromise” and “potentially abandon” its proposal to decrease the tax deductibility of charitable contributions.
  • JFNA lobbying helped to secure the extension of the IRA charitable rollover through the end of 2013, resulting in over $10 million in additional rollover contributions to Federations this year.

Disability Inclusion and Independence

  • JFNA made it a priority to introduce the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013, which would create private savings incentives for people with disabilities and their families.
  • JFNA is one of the leading faith-based organizations advocating in the Senate for ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Partnering with the Ruderman Family Foundation, JFNA established a new matching grant program to create employment opportunities for young individuals with disabilities at JFNA and five Federations nationwide in 2014.

Disaster & Emergency Relief and Protecting the Economically Vulnerable
  • In 2013, JFNA led efforts to secure an additional $10 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, $9 million of which was awarded to enhance the physical security of Jewish communal institutions in 21 high-risk areas across the nation.
  • JJFNA maintained its leading role in advocating for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program’s annual allocation, helping to avert a $20 million cut in the program.
  • During the past calendar year, the JFNA Emergency Committee’s top priority remained responding to Superstorm Sandy, including $2.6 million in aid.

Federal Budget & Appropriations

  • JFNA was vocal all year against certain across-the-board cuts mandated by Sequestration. At year’s end, Congress agreed to a modest budget deal that will provide a two-year, short-term relief to the cuts, which may help to alleviate some of the more devastating cuts to safety-net programs.

 Advocacy & Capacity Building Initiatives

  • In 2013, JFNA launched the “HSPP Ambassador Program,” which brings trained lay leaders to communities to hold interactive discussions about domestic human service needs and trends and the work of JFNA’s Washington office.

William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America, is a leading advocate for the American Jewish community’s agenda in the nation’s capitol. As the chief lobbyist and principal spokesperson on public policy and international affairs for the 154 Jewish federations and more than 300 independent communities, Daroff ensures that the voice of Jewish federations is a prominent force on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch. He can be found on Twitter at @Daroff

Save the Date - Lou Dunst: My Bargain with G-d

Friday, December 20, 2013

Federations Responds to New Iran Sanctions Legislation

"We applaud all efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  We share your conviction that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Of course all of us would prefer to prevent a nuclear Iran through diplomatic means and given Iran's record of duplicity, we need to be as vigilant in verifying Iran's adherence to the provisions of the accord as it was in pursuing it. Further, we continue to believe that all options, including an intensification of economic sanctions, must remain on the table in order to ensure that Iran is never able achieve a nuclear weapons capability."  said Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of Federation.

From JFNA:
The Jewish Federations of North America support the bipartisan introduction of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act in the United States Senate today. If negotiations with Iran for a comprehensive agreement fail or if Iran violates the terms of the interim agreement with the P5+1, the legislation would impose tougher sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"We believe a diplomatic solution to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capacity, a threat to the entire world, is vital. We stand firmly with President Obama as he and our P5+1 allies seek to negotiate a comprehensive agreement," said Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees.

"We recognize economic sanctions have been successful in bringing Iran to the negotiating table, as well as in expressing the resolve of the global community," Siegal added. "The threat of additional sanctions, with the appropriate Presidential waivers in this legislation, ensures that Iran knows this and all other options are on the table should negotiations fail."

The Senate bill is consistent with the resolution passed by the Jewish Federations last month, after the JFNA General Assembly in Jerusalem, which called for the "complete dismantling of Iran’s capability of producing nuclear weapons."

We are encouraging Senators to co-sponsor the legislation, and to swiftly pass it upon their return to Washington in January.

Dr. Ruth Calderon of the Knesset Hosts Special Briefing at Federation

Michael Sonduck, Ruth Calderon and Debbie Kornberg

On Thursday, December 12, Jewish Federation of San Diego County was proud host to Member of Knesset Dr. Ruth Calderon for a special briefing. Calderon, a member of the Yesh Atid Party, is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, serving on the State Control Committee, member of the Education and Culture Committee and Acting Chair for the Lobby of Jewish Renewal. 

Calderon’s pioneering work to pave the way in religious pluralism has contributed to the changing nature of Israeli civil society. While most new MK’s discuss their political aspirations in their inaugural address in the Knesset, Calderon chose words of Torah and emphasized the importance of uniting all Jews and showing how all of us --, both secular and religious -- can learn from one another.

During her talk at Federation, Calderon spoke of the Jewish renaissance taking place in Israel. She discussed her efforts as a Knesset member to make the state more democratic, while acknowledging the challenges of navigating religious pluralism in a Jewish state. 

It was an honor to host Calderon, and to hear her discuss her journey from a “nondenominational Jewish” home, to an academic career in Talmudic studies, and finally a to her position in the forefront of Israeli politics as a Knesset member. Her unique perspective on moving Israel forward while staying true to the religious and Zionist values encouraged thoughtful questions and dialogue, as she reminded the audience that each of us has a part in the story of Israel.

Ruth holding her newly English
translated edition, Bride for One Night
It is with deep gratitude that Federation acknowledges and thanks Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the Executive Director for the Israel Movement for Progressive and Reform Judaism (IMPJ) for his efforts in coordinating the morning briefing with MK Ruth Calderon. The Israel Movement for Reform & Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) is the umbrella organization of all the Reform communities and institutions in Israel. They seek to integrate Jewish tradition with the realities of modern life, and believe in the right of each individual to shape their own Jewish way of life through a process of study and reflection. The Reform movement emphasizes the commandments concerning relations between humans, religious tolerance, and full equality between women and men in the synagogue and in all walks of life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Partners in Torah Launches in San Diego!

A new San Diego program for Torah study! Every Monday night at 8 pm, men and women are invited to learn one-on-one with a chavrutah (study partner) for 55 minutes in a study hall environment. 

San Diego's new Partners in Torah program has chavrutas and mentors for everyone, on all levels. Light refreshments will be provided. There is absolutely NO cost to participate. Congregation Adat Yeshurun in La Jolla has kindly allowed us to use of their beautiful Beit Medrash as our study hall.

Affiliated and non-affiliated individuals looking to probe the Jewish topic of their choice at any level are welcome. Participants customize their learning experience at their own pace, stopping for questions, comments and discussion. 

Pairs may choose to study: Torah; Prophets; Talmud; Jewish History; Jewish Philosophy or any other subject in which they are interested. And learning is enhanced through each partner’s experiences, whatever their levels of Torah observance. The common thread is a desire to study and explore in an inviting, intellectually stimulating atmosphere.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

YAD to Host Place2BE at the House of Blues!

IAN Calls American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

The Israel Action Network (IAN), a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, has been working with many of you over the last several months on a behind-the-scenes strategy to identify and mobilize American Studies Association (ASA) members to oppose a proposed resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As we noted from the start, this was an uphill battle in a small association with a leadership actively committed to an academic boycott of Israel, and where the process was neither balanced nor transparent. As anticipated, following this unusual and troubling process, the ASA today announced its endorsement of the resolution by its National Council to institute an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It should be noted that this decision represents a narrow fraction of overall members, approximately less than 20 percent of ASA membership took part in the vote. Further, it follows a condemnation of the boycott by eight former presidents and more than 70 concerned ASA members, who signed onto a letter in support of academic freedom and in opposition to the resolution. In addition, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), an influential body of higher education professionals committed to preserving academic freedom, unequivocally oppose academic boycotts, and issued both a statement and a letter urging ASA and other organizations to seek alternative means to pursue their concerns.

IAN issued the following statement below in response. We are thankful for the valuable contributions from our network of Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils and our allies, including AJC, ADL, ICC, SWU, and in dialogue with the Israeli embassy. As a practical matter, this resolution will have little impact. It will have modest symbolic significance and will embolden the opposition in other settings. The next association meeting where these issues will be raised is the Modern Language Association to be held in Chicago on January 9-12, 2014.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Federation Hosts Young Adult Leadership Retreat

On Thursday, December 12, over 20 members of The Network convened for a (half-day) retreat. The goals for the day were to strengthen relations, define collaboration among the group and begin digging into the challenges they are faced with in their work. 

For the first part of the retreat, the participants were joined by a facilitator who led the group in team building exercises that served as metaphors for their work. Over lunch, the Network members spent time in small group conversations exploring topics relevant to their work (e.g. what do young adults find meaningful, what do you professionals in this field need to be successful). Lastly, the group closed the day defining collaboration and building a community of practice. 

"The Network Retreat was an amazing opportunity to build energy and form stronger bonds among the professionals. The momentum created will allow is to innovate, collaborate and facilitate a community of learning." said Heather Wolfson, of Federation's NextGen.

The Network members will reconvene in January 2014 and look forward to opportunities to collaborate on community-wide initiatives to engage young Jewish adults throughout San Diego.

For more information about The Network, contact Heather Wolfson, Federation’s Next Gen Strategic Partnerships and Leadership Manager.

See some event pictures here.

The Network is for professionals who manage programming and outreach for young Jewish adults. It serves as a platform to mobilize the San Diego Jewish community around serving the NextGen (Gen X and Y) population. Through networking, professional development and collaboration, it is the goal to build capacity to better serve more Next Geners and their interests. Organizations/programs represented include: Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Family Service (Emerging Leaders, Jewish BIGPals, North Coastal Jewish, Paiche’s Place), JDC (Entwine), Congregation Beth El (Chai Group), San Diego Center for Jewish Culture (CJC in the Mix), Tarbuton, Hillel of San Diego (North County, Parent/Alumni Engagement), Moishe House/Moishe House Without Walls, the JCC (Shalom Baby, PJ Library), Beth Israel (San Diego Jewish Experience), ADL (GLASS Leadership Program), NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, StandWithUs, and the Jewish Federation.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan Update

Dear Community,

Your support is so important and instrumental to ensuring the Federation’s ability to serve our community. We are so very appreciative of your continued generosity! 

As you may know, the Jewish Federation is dedicated to helping our Jewish neighbors and Israeli community. But did you know that we also work closely with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to make sure that those who are affected by unforeseen disasters are not left alone?
We are happy to report that our ongoing response to the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has been a success, and we couldn’t have done it without your support. To date, $1.6 million has been raised for the JDC Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund, and 100% of the funding will directly impact those who are waiting to rebuild their lives. We're proud to report that more than $40,000 of that came from our San Diego community!

Just a month ago, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines and left millions hungry, homeless and scared. Families were displaced, water wasn’t potable and food was scarce.

The focus was clear to us and JDC: help the most vulnerable (especially women and children), provide food, clean water and other supplies necessary for shelter and personal hygiene. 
We are proud to report that once again the IDF Field Hospital was deployed to provide international aid to the very sick and injured. The JDC has reported that “Working alongside the IDF team, JDC’s emergency response team repaired the roof of a nearby school so children can return to their classroom, teachers to their jobs, and both to some semblance of normal living. Moving forward, JDC and Magen David Adom (MDA) are sending experienced MDA volunteers to join an international Red Cross and Red Crescent team and are working closely with the Israel Trauma Coalition and local partners to implement training programs that will deliver psychosocial support to those most affected in traumatized communities.”
We are deeply grateful for your support and pledge to be good stewards of your donation. There are many worthy causes in our community that are dependent on philanthropy, and we are honored that you have chosen the Jewish Federation.


Tarbuton Highlighted in eJewishPhilanthropy

Federation innovation grantee Tarbuton was once again highlighted in the national outlet eJewishPhilanthropy. The article discusses the latest PEW study and the importance of programs like the Tarbuton in capitalizing on the pride Jews have in being Jewish, and bringing Jews in the door and engaging them in Jewish life.

Read more here

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Federation Fights for Jewish Justice in Nazi-Looting Trial

A federal appeals court has handed a major legal victory to a Jewish San Diego family amid a decades-old struggle to recover a $20 million painting confiscated by the Nazis.

Federation, a plaintiff in the case, is celebrating Monday's appellate court ruling that paves the way to a civil trial. 

Federation President and CEO Michael Sonduck said this battle is about recovering not just a piece of art, but recovering the legacy of generations of Jews destroyed by the Nazis.

"You can't rebuild it, but every effort to recover a piece of that life is for the families, and through them, for the Jewish people, it's quite important," said Sonduck.

Read more and see the video here:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Reporting live from Birthright!

See below San Diego community participants on their ongoing adventure on Birthright Israel!  For more on this critical program go to!

Friday, December 6, 2013

San Diego Mayoral Candidates Address Jewish Community at Chanukah Breakfast

Thank you for your support of the first of many successful Community Connection programs!

The first event of its kind in our community, this forum, hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Center of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, and Jewish Family Service,brought together nearly 40 community organization partners and over 120 attendees to connect with our two San Diego Mayoral candidates about the issues we care most about. From the City’s finances and infrastructure, to its relationship to Israel, the separation of church and state, and the importance of reducing homelessness—Council Members Alvarez and Faulconer thoughtfully responded to our most pressing questions while sharing how their own values will inform their work.

The program began with a welcome and state of the city from Interim Mayor Todd Gloria who said, “The breakfast provides a tremendous opportunity for San Diegans and the candidates to get to know one another better; “I believe lasting connections will be made at the breakfast, which will fortify the collaborative approach that is necessary for additional progress for our City.” Senator Marty Block commented “I appreciate all the work these organizations do to promote civic discourse and engage our communities in my district”.

This event, the flagship of our new Community Connections series, aims to engage and educate the Jewish community around public policy and government affairs issues. Rabbi Phillip Graubart of Congregation Beth El, served as an excellent moderator. Our hope is that this event represents the beginning of a strong relationship between the Jewish community and San Diego’s next mayor.

Join us for the 2nd program in the Community Connections series—The Implications of the Silver Tsunami: A Senior Policy Panel, Featuring State Senator Marty Block!

We know that by 2030, California will be home to 4 million more residents over age 65 than we have today—pushing the number of seniors to nearly 20% of the state’s population. The consequences are huge, with a potentially greater economic impact than the recent financial crisis. This panel will shed light on the growing needs of this population, and opportunities to address these needs through strategic advocacy and policy solutions. Mark your calendar for this special event on February 21 from 8:00-9:30 at Congregation Beth Israel!

YAD Presents The Ninth Night of Hanukkah: Just Duet

Over 150 young Jewish San Diegans filled the Shout House downtown to celebrate the ninth and craziest night of Hanukkah.  The evening was rich in cheers and songs including a rendition of “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Hava Nagilah.”  An amazing evening of networking and socializing was had by all.  
See more photos from the event here

Don’t miss the next YAD event, the annual Place2Be party at House of Blues on December 24.  
Buy tickets here.

Visit the American Technion Society in Israel

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inspiring the Next Civic Generation: $36,000 Award for Jewish Teen Leaders

Know a teen with a passion for creating change? The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards is seeking nominations of Jewish teens who are actively engaged in social action. Up to 10 teens from across the country will be selected to receive $36,000 each for their exceptional leadership in projects that embody the value of tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.”

Community members can nominate young leaders now for the 2014 Diller Teen Tikkun OlamAwards through a simple online form. Since 2007, this annual program of the Helen Diller Family Foundation has recognized 40 Jewish teens with nearly $1.5 million to further their projects and education. To nominate a teen or learn more about the program, All Jewish teen volunteers who are 13 to 19 years old at the time of nomination are eligible

For questions, contact or (415) 512-6432. Deadline for nominations is January 5, 2014.

Caption: 2013 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipients honored by the Helen Diller Family Foundation on Monday, August 26, 2013 at a celebratory luncheon held at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. (pictured with Jackie and Dan Safier)
Photo Credit: Tim Williamson

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tzedakah Monday!

Tzedakah Monday!

Federation has joined AmazonSmile!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your Federation every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to the Jewish Federation.
Simply go to and shop away!
Tzedakah made easy.

Happy Shopping, and Chag Sameach!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Federation Launches Thanksgivukkah Website!

Looking for some great kosher recipes, fun Chanukah facts and traditions? Look no further than Federation's new Chanukah website!

Chag Sameach from your Federation!

Create Your 8 this Chanukah

Federation partner NCSY announcing - "Create Your 8" a submission based Chanukah Art Project.

There are 8 nights of Chanukah, 8 is above the natural order, above the 7 day of physical creation, it symbolizes a certain level of transcendence. Create something - it can be a song, video, painting, poem, photo, or anything else which expresses your “8” as it relates to the Chanukah story and WIN awesome prizes every night.

Click Here To Learn More and Submit Your Art!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgivukkah Reading from the Rabbinic Cabinet of JFNA

Stuck on a great prayer for this once in a lifetime juxtaposition of Chanukah and Thanksgiving?  Look no further!  

Modim Anachnu Lach
We give thanks to you, Oh God

On this, our nation’s Day of Thanksgiving and on this festival of lights Hanukkah, we take stock of the gifts and bounty we enjoy living in this blessed country. As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meal and the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, our tradition teaches us the importance of saying todah, of thanking You, oh God, for our lot and for the religious freedom we enjoy in America.

As you are generous to us, so may we show our appreciation for the goodness we experience by being sensitive to all and by extending our hand to those who are less fortunate. Help us to appreciate the blessings of health and the fragility of our own existence by remembering and being Your messenger to those in our community who may be without food and shelter.

Let us remember the blessings and responsibilities of the ties which bind us together as a Jewish people and as Americans. May we always show appreciation for all those around us, and let us remember to cherish the people in our lives while they are with us.

We ask You for security – for our families, our communities, our Nation, and the Jewish people. We pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel and those who serve this nation in all capacities. May we all know the blessing of peace.

Finally, we ask you to shine the light of freedom, as it emanates from the Hanukkah menorah, into all corners of our land so that Your light of peace and protection spreads over everyone on this day of Thanksgiving bounty and Hanukkah freedom.


The Rabbinic Cabinet of JFNA

Danny Sanderson is coming to San Diego on December 10!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Men's Event Breaks Records (again!)

On Wednesday, November 20th the Jewish Federation of San Diego County’s Men’s Event, which was underwritten by the Mizel Family Foundation, took place at the famous Del Mar Fairgrounds.  With close to 1,000 men in attendance, this year's event broke previous records as the largest gathering of Jewish men in San Diego!  

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, wowed those in attendance with an impassioned talk on Jewish peoplehood and the importance of community.  The food, which even included multiple carving stations, was spectacular with catering provided by Crown Kosher Catering of Los Angeles.  We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the over 100 table captains who filled the hall with nearly 1,000 philanthropists.

Special recognition is due to the event co-chairs Daniel Ellman, Ira Feinswog, Jack Maizel, and Ron Zollman who worked tirelessly for months to make Wednesday night a success.  Another very special thank you is due to our generous underwriter Steve Mizel without whom this free community event would not have been possible.

Some of the photos from this excellent event are up on our Facebook, feel free to tag your friends, and stay tuned for more great pictures next week!

For more information about special events for men and other upcoming community events like FED Talks, please contact Joseph Berman at

World Renowned Sex Therapist Dr. Ruth to Keynote Options 2014

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Netanyahu Won't Yield

Michael Oren discussed Iran, Jewish peoplehood and Israeli policy in last night's keynote to 1000+ San Diegans at the Men's Event.  See his Op-ed today from the  Los Angeles Times

Why Netanyahu Won't Yield
The prime minister's hard line on Iran reflects his deep sense of duty to defend the Jewish state against an existential threat.

By Michael Oren

November 21, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been labeled a warmonger, a wolf-crier and an opponent of peace at any price because of his policies on Iran.

Here's what Netanyahu's critics say: His warnings of a bad deal are designed to undermine measures to slow Iran's nuclear program and test its openness to long-term solutions. His insistence on strengthening, rather than easing, sanctions will weaken Iranian moderates and drive them from the negotiating table — precisely what Netanyahu allegedly wants. Similarly, his demands for dismantling Iran's uranium enrichment facilities and removing its nuclear stockpile are intended to replace diplomatic options with military ones.

The critics claim that he is again playing the doomsayer, the spoiler of efforts to avoid conflict and restore Iran to the community of nations.

Why would any leader subject himself to such obloquy? Why would he risk international isolation and friction with crucial allies? And why, as some commentators assert, would Netanyahu jeopardize a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear threat and drag his country — and perhaps not only his — into war?

The answers to these questions are simple.

Netanyahu is acting out of a deep sense of duty to defend Israel against an existential threat. Such dangers are rare in most countries' experience but are traumatically common in Israel's, and they render the price of ridicule irrelevant.

Moreover, when formulating policies vital to Israel's survival, the prime minister consults with Israel's renowned intelligence community, a robust national security council and highly specialized units of the Israel Defense Forces. Netanyahu may at times appear to stand alone on Iran, but he is backed by a world-class body of experts.

In 2011, these same analysts predicted that the Arab Spring, which was widely hailed as the dawn of Middle Eastern democracy, would be hijacked by Islamic radicals. They foresaw years of brutal civil strife. Netanyahu publicly expressed these conclusions and was denounced as a naysayer by many of the same columnists who are now lambasting him on Iran.

Yet it is precisely on Iran that Israeli specialists have proved most prescient. They were the first, more than 20 years ago, to reveal Iran's clandestine nuclear activities. They continued to scrutinize the program, emphasizing its military goals, even after 2003, when weaponization was purportedly halted.

Throughout several attempts at diplomacy, these experts have disclosed the ways that Iran systematically obstructed United Nations observers, lied to world leaders and hid nuclear facilities, such as the one at Fordow, which can have no peaceful purpose. Israeli intelligence has accurately tracked Iran's support for terrorist organizations, its role in the massacre of thousands of Syrians and its responsibility for attacks against civilians in dozens of cities around the world.

This does not mean that Israeli estimates are infallible. Since the failure to foresee the 1973 Yom Kippur War, intelligence officials are wary of long-standing conceptions and rigorously question them. Nevertheless, Israeli experts agree that for hegemonic purposes and internal security, the Iranian regime wants and needs the bomb.

Consequently, it will employ any ruse to preserve the ability to produce a weapon in a matter of weeks while obtaining some relief from sanctions.

Iranian leaders know — and Israel's analysts agree — that lessening the economic pressure on Iran will send an incontrovertible message to foreign companies, many of which are already seeking contracts with Tehran, that the sanctions that took years to build are ending. Iran could drag out any confidence-building period indefinitely while producing fissile materiel for multiple bombs.

Top-flight intelligence helped Israel grapple with the challenges posed by the Arab Spring, but the stakes regarding Iran — the lives of 8 million Israelis — are vastly greater. Pundits may posit that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate, but Israelis cannot indulge in speculation. Our margin for error is nil.

Knowing that, Netanyahu is duty-bound to warn of Iranian subterfuge, to insist that Iran cede its centrifuges, cease enrichment, close its heavy-water plant and transfer its nuclear stockpiles abroad.

He has a responsibility to explain that although Israel has the most to gain from diplomacy, it also has the most to lose from its failure. He is obliged to stress that the choice is not between sanctions and war but between a bad deal and stronger sanctions. And as the prime minister of the Jewish state, Netanyahu must assert Israel's right to defend itself against any existential threat.

Critics can call him militant or intransigent, but Netanyahu is merely doing his job. Any Israeli leader who did less would be strategically and morally negligent.

Via the Los Angeles Times

Federation Board of Trustees Approve Resolution on Iran

Yesterday, the JFNA Executive Committee, based on a directive by the JFNA Board of Trustees and Delegate Assembly meeting Nov. 12 during the 2013 GA in Jerusalem, discussed the issue of ongoing negotiations involving the U.S., Canada, the P5+1 nations and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The Executive Committee today approved a resolution on Iran that urges the “complete dismantling” of Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons. The resolution sends a clear message on behalf of the Jewish Federation system to the U.S., Canada and the P5+1 nations currently negotiating with Iran.

We will be sending a more detailed briefing on this resolution to Federations, and providing it to media, but we wanted to alert you first. Below is the complete text of the resolution, as unanimously approved by the Executive Committee.



[Nov. 20, 2013]


WHEREAS, since the 2000 General Assembly, the Jewish Federations of North America have issued a series of resolutions speaking out against Iran developing nuclear weapons; and

WHEREAS, a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, as reflected in U.S. government policy, to Israel, to Canada, and indeed the entire world; and

WHEREAS, the U.S., and the P5+1 countries are engaged in discussions with Iran regarding the future of its nuclear program; and

WHEREAS, at a meeting of the Board of Trustees and Delegate Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, Inc. of November 12, 2013, the Delegate Assembly authorized the Executive Committee to pass a resolution in support of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Jewish Federations of North America urges the United States, Canada, and the P5+1 nations to insist that any diplomatic solution results in the complete dismantling of Iran’s capability of producing nuclear weapons and ensures mechanisms for ongoing verification of Iranian compliance.

Friday, November 15, 2013

JCRC Hosts Jewish Community Coffee with Senator Marty Block

On Friday, November 15, the JCRC hosted a Jewish Community Coffee with Senator Marty Block.  After providing an overview of the priorities of both his local and Sacramento offices, Senator Block reported that for the third consecutive year, the legislature delivered an on-time balanced budget.  We were briefed on priorities of the 2013 legislative session, the new Jewish Legislative Caucus, the Capitol Knesset and anti-Semitism on campuses, particularly the UC system.  Marty provided further insight during a q&a session with attendees.  For more information please visit:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Western Wall proposal no one can object to

Paul Segal and April Angeloni at the Kotel.  Photo by Tali Mayer

Enough room for all religious practices as veritable parade replete with clowns, bongo players, and shofars marches through Jerusalem's Old City to Kotel.

By Danna Harman Nov. 13, 2013 | 1:17 AM via Haaretz

Paul Segal and April Angeloni from San Diego arrived in Israel this week to participate in the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America. But before jumping into any conversations about Jewish peoplehood or debates on the future of the Diaspora, they headed for the Kotel.
And there, in the large main plaza, Segal got down on his knee and - little box with massive diamond ring all prepared - proposed.
The happy couple then each went their separate ways: Angeloni covered herself and went over to the women’s section to pray for health, happiness and peace; Segal did much the same across the divide, in the men’s section.
“That part was a little sad,” she says. “I wish we had been together.”
Less than a week later, Segal and Angeloni made a second, different visit to the Kotel - this time joining in as the GA concluded its three day gathering in Jerusalem with a celebratory mass march from city hall into the Old City.
Led by a brass band and accompanied by soldiers, clowns on stilts, bongo players and shofar blowers in flowing white tunics and turbans - the marchers, waving mini Israeli, American and Canadian flags and hoisting placards reading “A Trip of a Lifetime,” set out across King Solomon Street, stopping the not-so-appreciative traffic along the way.
A blur of name tags, baseball caps, sunglasses, “I am a Zionist, ask me why” lapel pins, and very sensible walking shoes – the marchers then weaved around Jaffa Gate, along the perimeter paths and through Zion Gate of the Old City.
From there, snapping photos of Hassidic school children peering out through windows, and making pit stops to purchase Armenian pottery candy dishes along the way, the crowd swept across the Jewish quarter parking lot, and - no security checks needed - right into the famed plaza.
And then, if only for a moment, everyone looked a little lost. “What’s the program,” the marchers asked GA volunteers milling around in lime green T-shirts reading “Ask Me.” “Where do we go?”
“We should have made up maps,” quipped Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, as he navigated his way over to the new wooden floored platform off the side of main plaza - which has, as part of the government’s suggested compromise plan with the Women of the Wall, recently been made available for egalitarian services.
“We call it the Israel plaza,” Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett told the marchers back at city hall, before they set out for what would end up being the first big prayer event in the new section. “We have made history…and now all Jews can pray freely and together at the wall.”
But the point, as the green t-shirt volunteers explained over and again, was that there was no official program here, meaning that everyone remained free to go, pray and sing wherever and however they wanted to - together, or separately.
“We are not telling anyone where to pray or how,” stressed Michael Siegal, JFNA’s Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We want everyone to do what is comfortable for them. But what we are here saying, as a group, is that we are one people - and we believe in pluralism.”
Walking to the Kotel. Photo by Tali Mayer

As the sun began to set, and the muezzin of the Dome of the Rock began calling out for the Muslims to come to their prayers, the majority of the GA marchers made it clear what felt comfortable to them - and began making their way down the narrow paths leading down to the new section.
A few volunteers helpfully handed out blank cards and pens for anyone wishing to write up personal prayers to put in the cracks between the ancient stones, prayer books were handed out, and several hundred marchers, now still, began praying Mincha.
No one was around to ask the women to cover their shoulders. No one tried to stop the women’s voices which rang out loud and clear, leading the prayers. And no one objected as Angeloni and Segal held each other tight and put their heads together to pray at the stones. “We had not really realized this space existed. We had no clue about this development at the wall, before we heard of it at the GA,” admitted Angeloni, embracing her fiancĂ©. “But we feel like we belong here,” added Segal. “This feels like home.”