Friday, January 31, 2014

Remembering Paula Siegel

From San Diego Jewish World
By Donald H. Harrison

Paula Siegel
Paula Siegel
Paula Siegel, who brought a Jewish passion for tikkun olam to Democratic party politics in California, died at 4 a.m. Wednesday, January 30,  in her Banker’s Hill home in San Diego.   She was  82.
Siegel worked as a volunteer or as a consultant in numerous local, state and national political campaigns, including those for every Democratic presidential candidate from John F. Kennedy in 1960 to Hillary Clinton in 2008.  She also was a member of the Democratic National Committee, and was a delegate from California favoring George McGovern at the 1972 Democratic Convention.
At the same time, she was active in San Diego’s Jewish community, both as a member of  the former Congregation Beth Tefilah and Congregation Beth Israel.
Paula Siegel was renowned in San Diego political circles for her biting wit.   In one widely quoted incident, when she met an oft-time Democratic candidate who introduced herself as Mary Christian Heising, she promptly responded, “And I’m Paula Jewish Siegel.”
She believed strongly in the progressive politics of the Democratic party, and rallied behind party nominees.  Similarly, the Queens-born, New York City-raised Siegel became involved in numerous civic causes benefiting the city.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, upon hearing news of Siegel’s death, said: “Paula was incredibly active in civic affairs and extraordinarily dedicated to the public weal.”
Congresswoman Susan Davis commented:  ”You could always count on Paula to go out of her way to support the people and causes she cared about.  And she never shied away from letting you know what she felt about issues. She strongly lived a life of tikkun olum.”
“Paula Siegel was a bright force for good,” said State Sen. Marty Block. “She was a real leader in the San Diego Jewish community and a committed fighter for Democratic principles.”
“Very sad,” San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald said in reaction.  “Paula was brilliant,  fun, passionate and stood by her beliefs and her friends.”
A friend, former neighbor and former chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, Rita Luftig, said of Siegel: “She was a loyal supporter of the Democratic party and worked hard for the issues she believe in.  She will be missed.”
Former Assemblyman Howard Wayne commented that in the 1980′s Siegel “was a stalwart supporter of the San Diego County Democratic party.  There were not many Democratic party events where you wouldn’t find Paula. We’ll all miss her.”
Noting that when she moved here in the 1950s San Diego was a “cultural backwater,” compared to her beloved New York, Siegel was among the early supporters of the San Diego Jewish arts, such as the Film Festival and the Book Fair, which has since grown into one of the largest and most respected in the nation.
“We are saddened by the loss of a longtime member and supporter of both the San Diego Jewish community and of San Diego generally,” commented Michael Sonduck, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County.
Paula Siegel as a young woman
Paula Siegel, circa 1955
Born January 6, 1932 to William and Regina (Goldstein) Becker, Paula attended college in New York City and found employment as a dental hygienist.  She married Dr. Robert Siegel, a dentist, in 1953 and the couple moved two years later to San Diego.  During their 30 year marriage, the Siegels had four children: Karen; Jonathan (Barbara Lounsbury); Michael (Kris Alman); and Donald, all of whom survive.   She also was a devoted grandmother to Max, Rebecca, Leah, Benjamin, and Nathan, about whom she exercised the grandmother’s prerogative to brag to her many friends.  Siegel’s devotion to her family included taking care of her parents, as well as Bob’s mother, Goldie, in their later years. Siegel was pre-deceased by her husband, and her twin brother, Stanley Becker.
After her husband died in 1983, Paula  and her children established the Robert Siegel Memorial Lecture, which has been presented at the Jewish Book Fair for many years. She was an avid supporter of the Jewish Film Festival also. For those who wish to honor her memory, please support the Jewish arts that Paula loved so well by contributing to the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture at, or contact Leora Waiche at 858-362-1347.
Burial services will be held at 10 :30 a.m.  Sunday,  Feb. 2, at the Home of Peace Cemetery, 3668 Imperial Avenue in San Diego.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Federation's Israel Travel Scholarships for Students

Got MASA? There’s still time to apply - the deadline is February 28! The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is proud to offer of Israel Travel Scholarships for students between the ages of 18-26 years old traveling on a MASA-sponsored program between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015. “MASA Israel Journey offers over 200 study, internship, and volunteer opportunities all over Israel lasting between five and twelve months. Live like a local in Israel, which offers unparalleled history as well as cutting edge start-up-nation opportunities.” Click here to apply!

To find the perfect MASA program for you click here!

Once you’ve chosen a program, join the MASA Israel Community! Click here to connect to fellow participants and then stay connected as a MASA Israel Alum. “The Masa Israel Community offers additional seminars, concerts, lectures, and other extracurricular activities throughout the year. Add another dimension to your program, build new networks, and reconnect with old friends.”

JCRC Presents: The Implications of the Silver Tsunami

Monday, January 27, 2014

Federation to Host Film Directors from Sha'ar HaNegev

5 Films from the Cinema South Film Festival plus Partnership2Gether Film Project

Meet special guests from Sha’ar HaNegev as they premier their short film All Included. The film follows teens in Sha’ar HaNegev as they make a commercial to attract peers from Tel Aviv to their Kibbutz Nahal Oz for some summer fun. Swimming, parties, food and refreshment are ‘all included’ in this oasis just one mile from the Gaza border. The film captures the raw emotion of living under prevailing security threats in the region, while demonstrating the heart and strength of the teens that endure it.

Join us Thursday, February 13th at 7pm for
premier & lively discussion with the filmmakers

To see the full program and buy tickets
go to

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BIG NEWS! Birthright Israel Expands Eligibility for Free Trips to Israel

Federation partner Taglit-Birthright Israel has expanded eligibility for its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26, effective immediately. Previously, those who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school were not eligible for Birthright trips, but can now participate, confirmed Noa Bauer, Birthright’s vice president of international marketing.
Birthright’s eligibility guidelines previously stated, “If you have been to Israel before but only with your family or on other personal business, you are still eligible. However, if you have been to Israel as part of a touring group, educational program, study program or an organized extended residential program since you were 12 years old, you are not eligible."

While those who have taken educational trips to Israel after turning 18 are still not eligible for Birthright, youths who took such trips before 18 can now go on Birthright from ages 18-26.

Thanks to the generosity of the Leichtag Foundation and Viterbi Family Foundation the San Diego Federation is expanding its Birthright program, guaranteeing the participation of 500 additional young Jewish adults annually get to experience this life changing trip.

Registration opens February 19. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this amazing program go to, or contact Carly Ezell at 858-571-3444.

Friday, January 17, 2014

OPTIONS 2014 Breaks Records (Again!)

On Sunday, while many of us were focused on the Chargers losing to the Denver Broncos, nearly 1000 Jewish women -- the largest gathering in the history of San Diego -- were riveted by listening to Dr. Ruth Westheimer talk – of course about sex, but about her own Jewish journey as well. The world-renowned sex therapist was the keynote speaker of OPTIONS 2014, the centerpiece of the Federation's Women's Philanthropy campaign.

Dr. Ruth, who was sent from her native Berlin to Switzerland on a kindertransport in 1939, went on to serve as a sniper in the Haganah during Israel’s War of Independence. She made a few faces turn red when she told the crowd that, just by looking at them, she could tell who was sexually satisfied and who wasn't. She also made a point of telling the crowd that she firmly believes that those who are not philanthropically generous don’t have good sex!

The event, a huge success for the Federation every year, helps support Jewish communities in San Diego, in Israel, and throughout the world.

Check out some great pictures of the event on our Facebook

Stand With Us Invites You to the i3event - February 23

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Dollars at Work: IAN Helps Counter Academics' Bid Against Israel

This past weekend, the Israel Action Network, an initiative of the Federations in partnership with the JCPA, played an instrumental role in marshaling forces against the latest effort to use an academic group to bolster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign against Israel. The Modern Language Association declined to consider a resolution expressing solidarity with other academic group boycotts of Israel. The MLA also narrowly advanced a resolution condemning Israel for allegedly preventing Palestinian academics from entering the West Bank, which will now be considered by the MLA Executive Council. It is not yet final, and we have more work to do. 

IAN -- with the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago -- coordinated a major effort to recruit non-Jewish academics to speak out against BDS at the MLA convention in Chicago, and to amplify their voices in the Jewish and mainstream media. The effort paid off, slowing the momentum of BDS in the academic world. The IAN campaign also generated 16 news stories and five op-eds in major media outlets including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Forward, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post and JTA. Here are links to three of those pieces, all of which highlight IAN-led messages against the boycott movement.

  • N.Y. Times: Another Academic Group Considers Israel Censure
  • Forward: MLA: No Boycott, But Censure of Israel for Alleged Curbs on U.S. Scholars
  • JTA: Resolution critical of Israel passes preliminary Modern Language Association vote

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Federation Innovation Grantee Tarbuton to Additional Grants in 2014

The Covenant Foundation will disburse $1.8 million in 2014 to organizations showing promise in a variety of Jewish educational settings, the foundation announced last week. Included in this prestigious list is the Nitzan Network, whose mission is to support the renewal of Jewish learning after school. The organization received a grant to further develop its growing national network. The TARBUTON is a proud member of the Nitzan Network and thanks all of its members and leaders for the support the network provides for professional development, mentorship and an umbrella for innovative non denominational Jewish after school programs.

The Tarbuton builds and unifies the San Diego Jewish community through Israeli cultural experiences. Through Israeli arts, music, and cultural events, the Tarbuton offers the local Israeli and American Jewish communities the opportunity to deepen their ties to Israel—and to each other. The Modern Hebrew programs provide life long paths to literacy and another means to connect to Israel. Classes for Youth and Adults are available, Jewish Holiday Celebrations and Israeli Plays and Shows.

Monday, January 13, 2014

YAD Hosts Business Networking

Last Tuesday, Federation's Young Adult Division (YAD) held a business networking event at the San Diego History Center, convening more than 80 young adult professionals for beer tastings, business card trading and networking.  Every year, YAD hosts a multitude of events to engage young Jews across the county including networking opportunities, Shabbat services and volunteer events.

The event was a huge success as participants enjoyed learning on about the history of craft beer and breweries in San Diego while making connections, building relationships and meeting new friends.

If you would like to get involved or have any questions email

For more great pictures of the event, check out our Facebook album here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Federation Mourns Ariel Sharon

Photo credit: ABC
The Jewish Federations mourn the death of Israel’s former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, z"l, who passed away today at the age of 85 following medical complications.

JFNA Board of Trustees Chair Michael Siegal and JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman issued a joint statement lamenting Sharon’s passing.

“Today, Jewish Federations mourn the loss of a great Israeli leader. Ariel Sharon was a highly regarded military leader, but he was also a peacemaker. One of the country’s most daring and celebrated generals, he was also a man who was able to take bold steps in the hopes of achieving peace."
“Sharon worked his entire life for the unity of the Jewish People. He was closely connected with Jewish communities around the world, and acutely aware of their needs and aspirations. In all his leadership roles, and especially as prime minister of the Jewish state, Sharon engaged with Jewish communities across the Diaspora. He was a regular speaker at Jewish Federation events and is warmly remembered for welcoming countless Federation groups to his private home in the Negev.

“Today it is not only the State of Israel that has lost one of its most celebrated figures, but the Jewish people as a whole. Arik Sharon was not just the prime minister of the Jewish state, but a determined and inspirational leader of the entire Jewish world. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his sons Omri and Gilad, to the entire Sharon family, and to all the people of Israel.”

Jewish Federation leadership is sending official condolences to the Sharon family and to the Israeli government, and will be represented at the late prime minister’s funeral.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Become a Jewish BIGPal. Make a Difference... Make a Friend

Jewish Big Pals are safe, trusting role models, providing friendship and enriching experiences for Jewish boys and girls from Jewish single-parent and non-traditional families.

Volunteers: Learn how you can change a child’s life. Become a Jewish BIGPal.

Families: Learn how a Jewish Big Pal can Enhance Your Child’s Life.

For more information, contact Diane Marks Schachat at (858) 637-3371 or

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Gala - January 25

Join San Diego for TribeFest 2014 in New Orleans!

Join your fellow San Diegans at TribeFest 2014, the largest gathering of Jewish young adults in the country – March 16-18 in New Orleans!

Subsidies are available! Go to for more!