Monday, September 30, 2013

Operation Dove's Wings—By The Numbers

Operation Dove's Wings—By The Numbers

92,000. Number of Ethiopians who have made Aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia since the State was founded in 1948.  Some of the more memorable ones were Operation Moses in 1984-85 which brought 8,000 olim (new immigrants) through Sudan, and Operation Solomon on May 24, 1991 which airlifted 14,000 olim

7,000. The number of Falash Mura brought to Israel through Operation Dove’s Wings. In November 2010, the Government of Israel (GOI) created Operation Dove's Wingsto research the Aliyah-eligibility of thousands of Falash Mura– descendants of Ethiopia’s Jewish community in Ethiopia who had begun to return to their Jewish roots. The GOI then appointed The Jewish Agency for Israel to facilitate the Aliyah of those deemed eligible by Israel’s Interior Ministry and to run the community center in Gondar.  The GOI also appointed its Ministry of Absorption to smooth the absorption of these new immigrants upon their arrival in Israel.

The Community Center in Gondar, headed by Jewish Agency emissary Asher Seyum, provided a comprehensive range of social, welfare and educational services for those awaiting Aliyah to Israel.  These services included educational, cultural, language and Judaism instruction through the support of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and the Jewish Federations of North America.  

700. Number of pregnant women and young children who received daily meals from The Jewish Agency’s catering services at the community center in Gondar.  Families receive sacks of teff grain, as well, which to bake injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread. 

600. The number of new immigrants from Ethiopia living in Ibim, Israel’s southern Abosorption Center.  The Jewish Agency opened this Center in October 2012 to make room for the incoming Falash Mura. 

450. The number of new immigrants arriving on the last two flights of Operation Dove’s Wings on August 28, 2013, as organized by The Jewish Agency with the support of Keren Hayesod. They will be housed at Absorption Centers across Israel--in in Mevasseret Zion, Tzfat, Be'erSheva, Arad, Haifa, Kiryat-Gat, Nahariya, and the Beit Alfa and Ayelet Hashacharkibbutzes. 

320. The amount of Hebrew-language, Judaism instruction and preparation class hours that The Jewish Agency’s “Program 320” provided each Aliyah-eligible Ethiopian in Gondar. The Community Center’s educational arm alsoprovided supplementary classes in computers, English and mathematics, and housed a kindergarten and Jewish day school. 

150. The approximate number of young Ethiopian Jews who participated in The Jewish Agency’s leadership-training program in Gondar. 

91. The number of flights The Jewish Agency chartered to bring Ethiopians to Israel during Operation Dove's Wings.

87. The age of the oldest Ethiopian to make Aliyah through Operation Dove's Wings.  A 16-day old baby was the youngest.

50. The number of volunteers who came from Israel to help prepare the new olim from Gondar for life in Israel. 

17. The number of Absorption Centers throughout Israel that have housed the new Ethiopian immigrants.  These centers areoperated by The Jewish Agency and Israel’s Ministry of Absorption.  They provide critical support and guidance for 2 years before helping to secure permanent, external housing for these new immigrants.

15. 50% of Ethiopians who made Aliyah through Operation Dove's Wings are under the age of 15. 

As Operation Dove's Wings comes to an end and, with it, organized mass Aliyah from Ethiopia, The Jewish Agency will continue to facilitate the Aliyah of all Ethiopian citizens deemed eligible for Aliyah by Israel’s Interior Ministry.  

2013 Peter Chortek Leadership Award

The Jewish Community Foundation is now accepting applications for The Peter Chortek Leadership Award. This award recognizes Jewish high school teens that are making a difference through excellence in community service and leadership. Three local teens will receive a $3,600 cash prize, $1,800 to give to charity and a professional video about their project. Past recipients have created their own projects or enhanced existing programs to make an impact in their community. 

To learn more about this award or submit an application, click here

Please help us spread the word. Do you know someone that would make a great applicant? Nominate them today.  
The deadline for application is October 15, 2013.  

For more information please contact Darren Schwartz, Philanthropy Officer at 858.279.2740 or by email.

Monday, September 23, 2013


The Leichtag Foundation and Moishe House are pleased to announce that the headquarters of Moishe House will relocate to North San Diego County on October 1, 2013. Moishe House will be one of the participating organizations of the North County Jewish Hub, a Leichtag Foundation Initiative.

As a member of The Hub, Moishe House will be part of a dynamic group of organizations devoted to building Jewish life and identity. The Hub will be a center for Jewish innovation, collaboration, professional development, community and education. In addition, the Leichtag Foundation North County Jewish Hub will provide in-kind space and a wide variety of support services to participating members.

The Moishe House Board of Directors recently adopted a five-year strategic growth plan that calls for continued enhancement of the programs, training and services it provides to young adults. With five Moishe Houses already thriving in Southern California and new staff joining the organization, the move will support this next phase of growth. Moishe House will continue to have a satellite office and presence in the Bay Area, along with Charlotte and London.

“Moishe House is very grateful and excited to be one of the organizations included to take part in this unique opportunity. This move will help us grow and rings true to our core value of building collaborative and creative Jewish communities. As we work to achieve our mission, this partnership and space will be a huge asset. We look forward to Moishe House playing a much larger role in the San Diego Jewish community,” 
- David Cygielman, Moishe House Founder & CEO.

The Leichtag Foundation is one of a consortium of funders supporting Moishe House’s growth plan and are committed to the organization’s continued growth and vibrancy.

For more information about the Leichtag Foundation click here.
To find out more about Moishe House click here

Chesed Home Gets New Wheels!

Federation Innovation Grantee Chesed Home, a Jewish home for adults with mental illness, just received an incredible donation of a great minibus from Seacrest Village! Chesed Home President Fern Siegel just sent us this note:

Our program director, Shelle, can now transport our residents for outings, classes, library visits, gym and much more thanks to the generous donation by Seacrest Village of its minibus.

Mazel tov to Chesed Home, and to Seacrest for this wonderful donation!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Applications being accepted for the Anti-Defamation League’s Manhigim Institute

The Manhigim (Leaders) Institute is a program conducted by the San Diego Regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It is a highly regarded, nationally recognized Jewish teen leadership development program for students in the 10th and 11th grades.

Since its inception in 2000, the Anti-Defamation League‘s Manhigim Institute has successfully helped to develop over 450 strong Jewish leaders, attending some of the most prestigious universities in the United States and abroad. The Manhigim Institute is an eight-month program designed for 10th and 11th grade Jewish high school students, to educate Jewish youth on the Anti-Defamation League’s mission to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry in the United States and abroad. 

The program is designed to help build and promote bridges of communication, understanding, and respect among diverse groups. The Manhigim Institute provides San Diego Jewish teens with the practical tools to defend democratic ideals, protect civil rights, and serve justice to all citizens through information, education, and development of enhanced Israel advocacy skills.

We are very pleased that this year the San Diego Jewish Academy will be giving ‘Honors’ designation credit in their Jewish studies program to students who complete some additional course requirements.

Manhigim classes are held once a month on  

Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. 
 at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center. 

To apply to the Manhigim Institute please Click here.

To find out more about the Manhigim Institute please email Tina Malka or call her at (858) 565-6896.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Federation Mobilizes to help Victims of Colorado Floods

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is mobilizing to help the victims of the unprecedented flooding across Colorado, which has swept through 15 counties, killing five and displacing thousands of people.

More than 1,500 people are missing in the flooding, which has wiped out roads and bridges, and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, businesses and institutions.

You Can Help.  Donate Now.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Women's Philanthropy Board Gears Up for 5774

Leigh Johnson, Women’s Philanthropy Board Chair

Federation's Women’s Philanthropy Board members gathered on Tuesday, September 10th, for their annual Board Retreat which was a wonderful kick-off for the new year. Twenty five board members enjoyed the day at the home of Jessica Effress in La Jolla Shores, which was led by Women’s Philanthropy Board Chair, Leigh Johnson and Leadership Development Chair, Jessica Effress. This dynamic duo led the Board through a series of discussions to prepare the Board for the coming year. The discussions included a presentation from Women’s Campaign Chair, Lisa Kornfeld along with Leigh Johnson, who participated on a special mission this past July to Minsk, Belarus and Israel along with 100 volunteer leaders and professionals from across North America.  Lisa and Leigh shared their experiences meeting with grateful recipients from children to young adults to senior citizens, holocaust survivors along with Righteous Among the Nations, and visiting home-bound elderly. They also relayed how meaningful it was to witness first-hand the life changing programs and the impactful work funded by Federations in partnership with our overseas partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Center (JDC) , the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and World ORT. 
Samantha Cohen and Karen Kogut

Lori Polin, Laura Vainer and Karen Jinich
The Retreat also featured guest speaker, Robb Lippitt, co-chair of the Jewish Federations of North America‘s National Young Leadership. Robb, a volunteer leader from Detroit, gave a dynamic presentation on how to reach out in the community and encourage more people to engage in the work of Federation. His exciting new approach is to engage people where they’re at, on topics that interest them, providing them a way to interact with Federation through innovative programming. “There is a whole generations out there, that we need to engage, and if we diligently plan exciting new programs with new approaches, we can and will connect with many new community members”, commented one Board member after Robb’s presentation. 

The women discussed their new approaches to the campaign for 2014, new programming ideas and announced that OPTIONS 2014 will be held on Sunday, January 12, 2014 with co-chairs, Laura Vainer, Karen Kogut along with Ingrid Shulman, representing the Young Adult Division. Women’s Philanthropy has many new and exciting programs to look forward in the new year and are excited to welcome many new women in the community to their events and programs! For more information on the Womens’ Philanthropy Board, please contact Debbie Kempinski at (858) 737-7133.

Juli Bear, Guest Speaker Robb Lippitt, Jessica Effress
Jessica Effress, Leadership Development Chair

Gina Guertin, Juli Bear and Britney Ewing

Lisa Kornfeld, Women’s Campaign Chair

Meg Mandel, Silvana Christy and Leigh Johnson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teen Helps Special-Needs Kids ‘Let Loose’ Over the Summer

San Diego's Friendship Circle is one of the beneficiaries of the Federation’s Innovation Grants program. They just had an article published in about one of their extraordinary programs, funded by your generosity. Thanks to donors like you, these children with special needs get a Jewish camp experience - tailored just for them.

Ahlten Sencan, Sasha Pines and Brian Holtzman at Camp Let Loose in Poway, Calif.
Ahlten Sencan, Sasha Pines and Brian Holtzman at Camp Let Loose in Poway, Calif.

Sasha Pines says the inspiration came to her in the park one Sunday in the spring of 2012.
“I’m part of a Friendship Circle program called ‘Friends at Home,’ where teen volunteers visit children with special needs once a week and just hang around,” she explains. “I visit a family with three boys who have special needs. We were in the park together, and the mother was telling me how she wanted to send her boys to summer camp, but the camps she contacted were not equipped to accommodate them.
“Summer camp was one of my fondest childhood memories, and it broke my heart to hear that these kids were being denied the experience.”
A few months later, Friendship Circle’s Camp “Let Loose” opened its doors at Chabad of Poway, Calif., with nine campers. Pines, now a senior at San Diego Jewish Academy, says the name reflects her vision: “These kids don’t have many social opportunities, and this is really a place where they can let loose and have fun like other kids do in the summer time.”So Pines, 17, called Elisheva Green, director of the Friendship Circle in San Diego, Calif., and told her she wanted to start a camp for kids with special needs. Then she held a meeting of friends, and “we decided to go for it.”
Before camp started, the staff spent time training, learning techniques on how to work with the campers and studying emergency procedures.
Once there, each child was paired with a mainstream “friend” who accompanied him or her throughout the entire day.
Camp days, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Thursday, consisted of four segments.
The program started with music and dance, giving the children the opportunity to really “let loose.” The second activity featured simple games like “tag,” with each participating on his or her level. Lunch was followed by arts-and-crafts, where the staff was joined by volunteer art teachers. Each day was capped by a surprise fourth activity, ranging from a blow-up slide one day to a foam pit on another.
Counselors Sarah Hoskin and Leetal Nachassi help Ethan Geri and Joshua Holtzman learn about and experience the pleasures of life, from nature to music and more.
Counselors Sarah Hoskin and Leetal Nachassi help Ethan Geri and JoshuaHoltzman learn about and experience the pleasures of life, from nature to music and more.
Pines says the activities were funded by donations she solicited from friends and family. Using Chabad of Poway’s facilities also allowed them to operate on a small budget. The staff was comprised of volunteers, some of whom worked with Friendship Circle during the school year.
Emily Curtis, now a senior at Canyon Crest Academy, was one of 13 teenagers who volunteered in the summer of 2012. The 17-year-old was astonished by how much the children taught her. “I have learned never to judge a person by how he or she looks or speaks. Someone may seem eccentric at first, but they can be the most amazing human being underneath.”

Planning for Success

Following the initial success of the camp, Pines spent the year planning a second session of Camp Let Loose this summer, with some important additions.
As word of the program spread, so did demand: 15 campers and 19 counselors signed up.
A new feature was a CIT (Counselor in Training) division for teens and young adults with special needs who were too advanced for the regular camp day.
Curtis, who directed the CIT program, acknowledges that “it was sometimes stressful to have a group of four individuals with special needs and their counselors depend on me to make sure they had a good time. I’d never done it before, but it was worth it. Just talking to them at the end of the day and hearing that they didn’t want to leave told me how special this time was for them.”
The CITs, ages 15 to 24, helped the staff by preparing snacks for campers and assisting with other activities. They also had their own CIT time to decompress.
Like the younger campers who each had personal counselors, the CITs were paired with mainstream “friends.”
Another addition was a trip to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, Calif., paid for by grant money Pines won from the Peter Chortek Foundation in recognition of her work with special-needs children. Of 35 nominees, she was one of three winners. She received $1,800, which she used to fund the camp. An additional $3,600 went towards her school tuition.

Inspiring Campers and Counselors Alike

For some younger children, the visit was the first outing they had ever taken without their parents. Curtis says it made her feel good to know that parents trusted them to keep their kids safe and happy. At the aquarium, Rabbi Mendy Rubenfeld, youth director at Chabad of Poway, gave an inspirational talk, and Andrew, one of the CITs, put on tefillin.
A new feature this year was a CIT (Counselor in Training) division for teens and young adults with special needs who were too advanced for the regular camp day.
A new feature this year was a CIT (Counselor in Training) division for teens and young adults with special needs who were too advanced for the regular camp day.
Pines says the main point of the day was showing campers a good time. “To see them leave with smiles on their faces was amazing. They don’t go to parties, so this was really major for them.”
She adds that at the end of the day, some campers didn’t want to leave: “One girl’s nurse would say ‘let’s go,’ and the girl would lock her wheelchair in place to say she didn’t want to. These moments are incredible.”
With the summer’s adventures behind them, Pines and Curtis say they’re still not finished their work.
Says Pines: “We plan on spreading the word to other teen volunteers at the national Annual Friendship Circle Conference, which is held each spring in different locations. There has already been one other camp in Florida, and we’ve now set our sights on New York and Los Angeles.”