Thursday, May 30, 2013

World's Oldest Torah Scroll Found in Italy

From BBCNews
The University of Bologna in Italy has found what it says may be the oldest complete scroll of Judaism's most important text, the Torah.

The scroll was in the university library but had been mislabelled, a professor at the university says.It was previously thought the scroll was no more that a few hundred years old.

However, after carbon dating tests, the university has said the text may have been written more than 850 years ago.

The university's Professor of Hebrew Mauro Perani says this would make it the oldest complete text of the Torah known to exist, and an object of extraordinary worth.

The university says that in 1889 one of its librarians, Leonello Modona, had examined the scroll and dated it to the 17th Century.

However, when Prof Perani recently re-examined the scroll, he realised the script used was that of the oriental Babylonian tradition, meaning that the scroll must be extremely old.

Another reason for the dating is that the text has many features forbidden in later copies under rules laid down by the scholar Maimonides in the 12th Century, the university says.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

JFNA Support Grows for Victims of Oklahoma Tornado

The Jewish Federations of North America has collected more than $100,000 in online donations for the Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund it established three days ago, while checks are continuing to come in by mail.

Last night, a Jewish Federation community in New Jersey hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy voted to contribute $5,000 to the JFNA fund because of the help its members received after the disaster last fall. "The Board’s feeling is that although we are not fully back on our feet, the community has a moral responsibility to participate in this small way… to acknowledge the support we received when the Jewish Community of Ocean County was in need," wrote Danny Goldberg, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Ocean County, N.J., on behalf of the board.

The tornado killed 24 people, damaged 13,000 homes and obliterated entire neighborhoods, and days later, Edie Roodman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, was still emotional in the face of what she described as an "overwhelming" situation. Roodman lives 12 minutes from Moore, the suburb that bore the brunt of the tornado’s wrath. She was spared, as was the Jewish community, which suffered no serious damage.

Nonetheless, Roodman, who has heard from at least four dozen Federations, has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, sympathy and offers of help from the community. "It is what keeps you going when you see such devastation around you. We have an incredible network of support that we take for granted,” she said.

"We rise up and help because it’s the right thing to do, and not one Jew has to be involved," Roodman continued. "It’s the Jewish sense of responsibility. That is the driving force for me."

Roodman hailed the spirit of collaboration and interdependence in Greater Oklahoma City, where Jews number 2,300. "If we were all we had, where would we be?" she asked, rhetorically. She will be working on relief efforts with longtime partners, including Habitat for Humanity, Oklahoma Regional Food Bank and Oklahoma City Beautiful, among others.

Roodman said the city is still reeling from the disaster and is in the earliest stages of assessing and prioritizing needs. She cautioned that, while the impulse is appreciated, it is too soon to send groups of volunteers because there is no infrastructure to support and direct them. She said the help most needed now is in the form of donations and $25 gift cards to national stores.

At the same time, Roodman is exploring ways the JFNA Emergency Committee may be of assistance, including providing counseling and support for responders and members of the media, as well as more direct trauma sufferers.

"The JFNA Emergency Committee remains in constant contact with the Federation in Oklahoma City," said Cheryl Fishbein, chair of the committee. "We will be with them every step of the way as they reach out to help respond to those in the greater community affected by this devastating storm."

As for the New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy, they are trying to turn the tragic tornado into a lesson. "The JFOC Board sees this as a teachable moment for our community," read the Ocean County Federation letter. Shining a spotlight on this contribution "will highlight the Federation system as the modern Jewish mechanism which allows Jews to continue our longstanding tradition of responsibility for one another in times of crisis."

In addition to JFNA’s fund, 100 percent of which will go to the Oklahoma City Federation relief effort, Oklahoma City’s Federation has its own relief fund, as do several other Federations across the country. 



Friday, May 24, 2013

Extraordinary Volunteer Susan Brooks Wins Phone-A-Thon $200 Gift Card!

Sixteen volunteers joined Federation staff for Tuesday evening’s phone-a-thon and raised $25,487 for our 2013 annual campaign. These fabulous, energetic volunteers reached out to community members and asked them to be involved in our efforts to strengthen our San Diego community, connecting with Israel, while helping those in need in our community as well as in Israel and in 70 countries around the globe. “I feel so good making these calls and asking other people to help out”, said a first time volunteer who also said “it is so important that our community is there for one another. That says a great deal about our Jewish community.” Another volunteer stated, “We should do this every week. We did a mitzvah and also had fun at the same time!” The evening included dinner, drinks and an opportunity drawing for a $200 Apple gift card. Mazel tov to extraordinary volunteer Susan Brooks for winning!

Mandy Danzan, Director of Development, was pleased with the results of the evening and particularly with the turnout of community volunteers. “They were so enthusiastic and immediately got on the phones after enjoying an Israeli falafel dinner. Every person they connected with and every dollar raised is so important in helping Jews in need here in San Diego, in Israel, and around the world.” 
More evenings like this one will be planned in June, so stay tuned for more information and YOUR chance to win a $200 Apple gift card!  For more information on upcoming events like this, contact Phyllis Freeman, Executive Assistant for Development, at (858) 737-7148.

Haven't made your 2013 gift yet? Don't you daaga! Click below to make your donation today!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Your Dollars at Work: JFNA Urges Passage of New Legislation to Support Holocaust Survivors

The Jewish Federations of North America hailed legislation that was introduced today in both the House and the Senate that will help Holocaust survivors age in place. The sponsors of the initiative, called the RUSH Act (Responding to the Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust), worked with members of the JFNA Washington office to craft the legislation, calling upon their expertise on this vulnerable community.

“It is critically important that we meet the needs of aging Holocaust survivors,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees. “Jewish Federations and their partner agencies across the continent work toward this goal every day and it is gratifying to have the support of members of Congress.”

JFNA applauds the legislators who introduced the bipartisan bill: Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), as well as Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Other original co-sponsors include Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), as well as Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Brad Schneider (D-IL).

If passed, the RUSH Act would amend the Older Americans Act by adding Holocaust survivors to the designation of those with the ‘greatest social need’ to receive services to age in place. Services under the Older Americans Act include meals, transportation, case management and caregiver support. Additionally, the RUSH Act seeks to allow funding for congregate and home-delivered meals that may cost more due to a religious or cultural dietary requirement.

Aging Holocaust survivors have needs similar to those of other older Americans, but they have different responses to aspects of institutionalized care because of their distinct histories. The loss of privacy, autonomy, and control combined with certain sights, sounds, smells or practices, such as showers, can trigger residual psychological effects from experiences during the Holocaust. The RUSH Act can help survivors remain in their homes
for as long as possible.
“Enabling Holocaust survivors to age in place is vital for health, comfort and security and brings dignity to this vulnerable population,” said William Daroff, JFNA’s vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office. “Today the Congress took a needed step toward reaching this important goal.”

Of the approximately 120,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, three-quarters are over the age of 75 and about two-thirds live alone. Many of these survivors struggle to afford adequate food and health care; about half of the survivors who arrived in the United States after 1965 from the former Soviet Union fall beneath the poverty line. The fact that atrocities during the Holocaust have caused so many to survive alone, with little family to depend upon, compounds the problem.

“Autonomy and choice in living arrangements and care are extremely important to the Holocaust survivor population,” said Andrew S. Hochberg, JUF/JF Chicago Government Affairs Committee Chair. “Additionally, the negative effects of isolation can be devastating for survivors who also face financial challenges and fewer family members to help care for them.”

The JFNA is dedicated to working with Congress, the Administration and nonprofit organizations to ensure that Holocaust survivors get the support and care they need to live in their communities with comfort and security. The RUSH Act builds on the goals outlined in a Congressional resolution that passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in 2010.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Federation Launches Fund for Tornado Victims

Your Federation is gathering aid for the victims of the devastating tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City area last night, killing and injuring many people and leaving a wide path of destruction.

One hundred percent of funds donated will go to relief efforts on the ground.

You can make a difference.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Mazel Tov to the Winners - Free Tickets to Israel!

Congratulations to Stephanie Hanlon and Larry Herring, San Diego Celebrates Israel – Yom Ha'atzmaut Festival attendees and the 2013 winners of the opportunity drawing for a free round trip ticket to Israel, courtesy of El Al Airlines. These lucky recipients completed the festival survey and were entered into an opportunity drawing, catapulting them to festival fame by having their names called from the stage!

Stephanie Hanlon was invited to the festival by a now-envious friend. She has never been able to visit Israel, despite a strong desire and several attempts over the past few years. Unfortunate events forced her to cancel travel plans to Israel twice before, including just one month prior to the festival! Now it seems she has been divinely rewarded for her patience and nothing can keep her from her dream of visiting Israel now. She wishes to experience Israel’s beauty and culture, as well as visit family in Haifa. Congratulations, Stephanie!

Larry Herring, an active member of the San Diego Jewish community, has both worked and lived in Israel, his favorite place in the world! He plans to use his free ticket to visit family, especially his daughter, who currently lives in Israel attending seminary and working at a residential facility for adults with special needs. This will be his seventh time visiting Israel, and he is thrilled to be flying El Al, his preferred airline for the journey. We hope this trip is the best yet!
Our sincerest thanks goes to El Al Airlines, a valued partner and event underwriter for supporting San Diego’s largest Jewish community celebration – San Diego Celebrates Israel.

Attention North County - Congregation B'nai Tikvah has Moved!

From Congregation B'Nai Tikvah:
Congregation B'nai Tikvah has moved closer to the center of North County’s Jewish Community. Our new address is 2510 Gateway Rd Carlsbad, CA 92009 or

We are a small, warm welcoming congregation with Friday at 6:30 pm and 9:30 am Saturday Shabbat services. Whether you consider yourself Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Eclectic or unaffiliated, you will feel right at home. We offer a one day a week Hebrew School, Shabbat services, a variety of social events as well as full High Holy Days celebrations.

We celebrated our new HOME with the blessing of our mezuzah by Rabbi Ben Leinow and our Cantor, Larry Kornit , members of the board of B’nai Tikvah and our members. There were light fruit sodas followed by our 6:30 PM Shabbat Service and a Oneg Shabbat of lox, bagels, cream cheese, capers, and red onion to celebrate!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Federation Thanks Our Extraordinary Volunteers

Theresa Dupris, Claire Ellman, Laura Tauber

Todd Kirschen and Brook Demner
Over 100 community members attended Federation’s Volunteer Recognition Reception on Sunday afternoon at Congregation Beth Israel’s David & Dorothea Garfield Social Hall. The crowd comprised of community leaders and volunteers who gathered to recognize Federation’s hundreds of volunteers who work tirelessly on behalf of our Jewish community and Israel, and also give special recognition to Federation Board Chair, Claire Ellman.

Along with Federation Board members acknowledged for their leadership and involvement, several leaders were recognized including Theresa Dupuis, outgoing Campaign Chair, Laura Tauber, outgoing Women’s Philanthropy Chair and Lori Polin, outgoing Women’s Philanthropy Board Chair. This year’s special awards included the Presidential Award to Andrea Oster for her invaluable support over the last several years, the newly created Innovation Award to Steve Shulman for his new creative initiative for monthly subscription giving geared to the Young Adult Division, and the Pauline and Stanley Foster Young Leadership Awards presented to Brooke Demner and Todd Kirschen for their involvement in the Young Adult Division.

Alan Hoffman and Claire Ellman
Guest speaker, Alan Hoffman, Director General & CEO of the Jewish Agency for Israel, addressed the audience on the current work of the Jewish Agency, and after a brief few minutes on the current work of the Jewish Agency, Hoffmann switched the direction of his talk to a beautiful special tribute to his longtime friend and fellow South African Claire Ellman, in recognition of her extraordinary leadership over the last 18 months as Federation’s Board Chair.  

See more great pictures of the event here.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

“Take a Swing for Seniors” to Benefit Federation Partner Seacrest Village Retirement Communities

Guardians of San Diego will host its 22nd Annual Golf & Tennis Tournament, “Take a Swing for Seniors” presented by The William Gumpert Foundation on Monday, July 29th at Del Mar Country Club with Devin Chodorow, John Kassar and Kevin Wunderly serving as Co-Chairs. The annual tournament raises funds to benefit Seacrest Village’s Resident Assistance Fund, and over 100 golf and tennis players are expected to attend to support the scholarship program for current and future residents who have depleted their financial resources. The day will celebrate the many residents and families whose lives have been transformed as a result of the care and services they receive at Seacrest Village.

The Guardians’ annual tournament has proven to be a successful, fun, and well-attended event. At this serene location, golfers experience ambling brooks, crystal lakes and cascading waterfalls. A double-sided driving range with target greens ensures both space and privacy, while the fairways and greens are noted for their impeccable maintenance ensuring golf at its finest. Tennis players will compete in round robin play on six tennis courts identical in surface and color to the courts used at the U.S. Open. 

Golf and tennis registration fees include lunch on the course, green or tennis court fees, golf cart, snacks and beverages, access to the resort facilities, all contests including longest drive, closest to the pin, straightest drive and two hole-in-one contests, post-tournament cocktail reception and a special commemorative gift. The evening reception will include an opportunity drawing for five iPads as well as an exciting silent auction.

New Early Bird pricing of $450 per golfer, $500 per golfer after July 4th. Individual tickets for tennis players are $225 each. Please contact Carina Burns, Special Events and Public Relations Coordinator for event information or sponsorship opportunities at 760-516-2003 or

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rabbi Rick Jacobs Discusses the Kotel

An excerpt from Rabbi Rick Jacob's keynote speech to the World Reform Meeting in Jerusalem last week:
This past October on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, Anat Hoffman was arrested and treated harshly for the crime of wearing a Tallit and praying the Shema out loud at the Kotel. By Rosh Chodesh Kislev outrage grew world wide to the point where the PM appointed Natan Sharansky to resolve this growing divide between the State of Israel and world Jewry. The voices of those in the room and others, especially from our Reform Movement, have demanded that this discrimination must not continue. We have said, and will continue to say, that so long as Israel remains the only democracy that legally discriminates against the majority of Jews who are in the non-Orthodox streams, the Zionist dream of the in-gathering of the exiles in a Jewish state for all Jews cannot be fully realized. 

When I said such words at the GA in Baltimore in the Fall there was applause not quite as loud as you just gave. There are places where these words are controversial statements. Let these words never be controversial in any gathering of our world union or our reform movement anywhere on the globe. Yesterday our URJ Board Chair Steve Sacks and I met once again with Natan Sharansky about his proposal to create one Kotel for one people.

Several weeks ago, when he first presented those proposals to a diverse group of rabbis in NY from the ultra orthodox to the modern orthodox to conservative to the reform movement, everyone who heard those proposals back in New York, we all left unhappy. We all were hoping for more. We all were hoping for the whole win that we had been literally working for with all of our strength. But because we all left unhappy, Natan Sharansky had done a very good job. What he did was he stretched every single one of us to a place where sometimes Jewish leaders, especially rabbinic leaders, don’t like to go. It’s a little place called compromise. And somehow he understood that whatever solution he would bring not only to the Diaspora leadership but also to the leadership here, it had to make everybody a little bit uncomfortable, to move everybody off their place of comfort and righteous demand to a place where we could all be together. Now let me say that those proposals have many challenges and not a few critics along, those critics and those challenges are here but they are also throughout the Jewish community. But let me say it loudly and let me say it clearly that Sharansky’s proposals remain a unique opportunity for us. 

I want you to imagine the following: Imagine a father and his daughter from Nahariya and they take a journey from the north to Jerusalem. And they go around and they see the sites, and they make it a point to go to the Kotel. They get to the Kotel and there’s the guy and his little daughter and they’re standing there in this moment that we are working towards. According to the Sharansky proposals they would come to stand at a very dramatic fork. They could look to one side and see a wonderful traditional area where they could go and participate in a traditional experience of the Kotel. They could also at that same moment, with equal access and equal centrality, look and see an equal size platform that beckons them filled with egalitarian, contemporary spiritual song and prayer. Now what do you make of a family that could stand with that kind of choice. Is that not a world that we could not imagine a year ago, ten years ago or twenty years ago.. That’s a quantum leap from where we are today. Now we need to keep the pressure on so that we don’t just have promises, that the dramatic shift that Natan Sharansky proposed is a game changer and if in the end it turns out that archeology or international pressures or the Waqf literally present obstacles that cannot be literally overcome well then we’ll find another way. 

But at this moment I believe our path forward and our path is to support the bold, audacious proposals by Natan Sharansky. Now I want to say something very specific and I want to say it loudly, I want to publicly express our gratitude to PM Netanyahu. I want to express that gratitude for his leadership in working to resolve this crisis for the Jewish People and for his commitment to see these proposals from the idea stage to concrete reality so that we move forward as one Jewish people. Let’s not forget that it’s not just the Kotel that needs to be liberated, friends. When women are subjected to discrimination at the Kotel it feeds other forms of discrimination by the ultra-orthodox against women, in buses and in other public facilities, and so too the discrimination against non-orthodox streams. Our challenge is to take the outrage that is felt worldwide by non-orthodox Jewry about the struggle for the Kotel, and here’s the pivot to harness that outrage into social change and activism here for the burning issues of religion and state.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Federation is Proud to Present this Year's Shalom Book!

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is pleased to present “Shalom San Diego, Guide to the Jewish Community.” Now available as an electronic file (Adobe PDF), it gives you the flexibility to print specific pages and the option to email a copy to family and friends.

Whether you’re a longtime resident, new to the area, or just considering a move to San Diego County, we hope you’ll use this informative guide to our community. We look forward to you joining in our many activities!

This comprehensive community guide would not be possible without your support.  A special thank you to Lee Wollach, Planning Associate, for putting this all together.

Get the latest information about what is happening at Federation and in the community:

• Visit our website at 
• Subscribe for weekly updates at
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• Download our free mobile app; just search ‘Jewish San Diego’ in your app store!

JCC to Host Used Book Sale in June!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Anti-Defamation League Adapts to Challenges as It Turns 100

Federation partner  and foremost anti-Semitism organization turns 100 this week! 

Happy Birthday ADL!

From -
As it enters its second century, the organization identified more than any other with fighting anti-Semitism finds levels of anti-Jewish bigotry in America lower than ever. By the admission of the Anti-Defamation League’s own national director, doors once closed to Jews are now almost uniformly open, up to and including the nation’s elite corporate suites, its most selective universities and its highest political offices.

Palm Beach’s tony Breakers Hotel once barred Jews from its lobby; now it hosts the ADL’s own annual conference. “‘Mr. Breaker’ is spinning in his grave,” gibed Abraham Foxman, who after 26 years at the ADL’s helm is virtually branded as its public face.

Perhaps, as it marks its 100th anniversary, this organization, which has done so much to expand Jews’ equal access to the America dream, could declare its mission accomplished and hold a celebratory fire sale.

Read more:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Read this Student's Amazing Speech from Groundbreaking

This week, Hillel San Diego, a Federation partner, broke ground on Melvin Garb Hillel Center at SDSU.  Mayor Filner, Congresswoman Susan Davis and other dignitaries attended the event.  To mark that event, SDSU student Paulina King delivered a moving speech about Jewish identity and the importance of community.  

Read her speech here.