Friday, March 28, 2014

Our Community Teen Initiative

In February, the Lawrence Family JCC and Federation launched a community-wide teen initiative to connect the more than 7,000 Jewish high school students in San Diego to our Jewish community in ways that broaden and deepen their commitment to Jewish life. The Jewish Community Teen Initiative will become a collaborative effort among the Jewish Federation, JCC, synagogues, teen groups, JFS, Hillel, Camp Mountain Chai and every other organization that chooses to participate.

More than 160 Jewish teens from across the community joined together on March 14, 2014 at the Lawrence Family JCC for the first annual Shabbat 360 celebration, which included a traditional Shabbat meal. The night opened with the traditional Shabbat blessings over the candles, wine and challah, and followed by a delicious meal. Participants were then treated to a magician and improv show to conclude the evening.

On April 6, the teens will gather again for JServe, a day of service. With the guidance of a new community teen advisory council and staff of the JCC, Federation, synagogues, and other community organizations and agencies, the initiative will endeavor to break new ground in engaging San Diego teens and raise the necessary money to support that effort.

Ultimately, the initiative will strengthen the San Diego Jewish teen community, encourage more involvement in teen synagogue programs, and solidify the Jewish community as a whole, by expanding outreach to all teens countywide.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

JCRC Presents: Community Advocacy Training

Community Advocacy Training



Assemblymember Toni Atkins

Speaker of California Assembly



Cliff Berg

Lobbyist and President at Governmental Advocates, Inc.
JPAC Representative in Sacramento


Friday, April 25, 2014

2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Jewish Family Service Turk Family Center
8804 Balboa Avenue, San Diego, 92123

Click here to RSVP

This interactive event is free and open to the public. Learn why advocacy matters, how to lobby effectively to support issues you care about, and find out how you can engage with elected officials in San Diego or Sacramento. All levels of advocacy experience welcome!


The Jewish Public Affairs Committee (JPAC), the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in the nation, monitors and helps to promote state legislative initiatives of interest to the Jewish community and the community-at-large.

Parents: Read 'The Purim Superhero' To Your Children

By Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of JFNA

Nate couldn’t decide what he wanted to be for Purim – follow his heart and dress as an alien or succumb to peer pressure and wear a superhero costume? It was a tough decision for a little boy, but he got some help from his two dads.

“The Purim Superhero” is one of PJ Library’s book selections for this month. For nine years, and in partnerships with various donors and Jewish Federations, PJ Library has been sending free monthly book selections to Jewish children up to age 8. Created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), it’s a tremendous program that not only encourages reading, but does so in a Jewish context. Each month, 130,000 books are sent to families in North America, and the program has expanded to Israel and additional countries as well. Many Federations have PJ Library gatherings to connect and engage families.

As “The Purim Superhero” demonstrates, children receiving those books learn about more than Jewish holidays and traditions. They learn about Jewish life, and their families find an entry to Jewish communal life. Indeed, a study of 20,000 American Jewish families participating in the project found that 58 percent said the program has influenced their decisions to “build upon or add a Jewish tradition to their home life” and 62 percent said it “increased their families’ positive feelings about being Jewish.”

Through PJ Library, books that focus on families with adopted children, disabled children (and kids with disabled family members), interracial and intermarried families, Jews of color, secular and Orthodox families, and, in this case, LGBT Jews, young children are exposed to the multifaceted world that is today’s Jewish community.

Books such as Elizabeth Kushner’s “The Purim Superhero” reflect life that so many of us already see in our communities, our children’s schools, our synagogues and Jewish camps and sometimes in our own families. Few among us can say that we don’t know a child with two moms or two dads.

PJ Library predicted, though, that this particular book might raise questions, so it made the selection available only by request as an additional book. Some questioned why didn’t they just automatically send it to all. I applaud the HGF for being sensitive, realizing we have a community that is diverse and offering a choice. The response has been overwhelming. In less than two days, PJ Library had exhausted its stock of 2,000 books. They quickly ordered thousands more.

A very few in our community were alienated by the choice of this book, and have dropped their subscriptions altogether, even though they had the option of simply not selecting the book. That’s their choice, of course, but that’s also unfortunate. Those few families that canceled entire subscriptions are missing out on a wonderful gift for their children – a gift that demonstrates that not all families are the same – and one that is so much bigger than this single great book.

At Jewish Federations, we believe that every Jew deserves a welcome place in our community. We encourage PJ Library to continue sending children books that reflect the Jewish community’s wonderful diversity. We recognize that not every family will choose to read every Jewish book to a child, but each family should be able to make the decision on its own. But those families who do choose to read all the books will be giving their children a tremendous gift – a gift that allows them to see the richness and diversity of Jewish life.

Jerry Silverman is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of North America.

From Jewish Week:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

North County Community Seder | April 15

Why is Tuesday evening, April 15th, different from any other night?

Temple Etz Rimon is hosting a community Seder in North County 
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:30pm
Food, festivities, live music, fun for all ages

Join us for a special evening commemorating the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt into the Promised Land. You are cordially invited to the reform congregation of Temple Etz Rimon of Carlsbad as our rabbi, Karen Sherman, leads us through a vibrant and lively Passover seder. The evening will feature a fully catered, traditional, kosher-style Jewish menu, remarkable live entertainment, some serious contemplation and fun-filled activities for all ages...including an invocation for a special guest: one of the boldest of prophets, Elijah!

Make this important ritual into a very special event. Celebrate with Temple Etz Rimon as we observe the second night of Passover; honor your forebears' past within a warm and welcoming Jewish community.

Space availability for this special event is very limited. Do not delay; reserve your seats as soon as possible.

A catered, table d'hôte, multi-course meal featuring a host of traditional kosher-style Jewish Passover seder dishes including a main course of braised brisket of beef. Choice of a specially prepared vegetarian main course is available as well.

Live Jewish music and sing-along with the renowned and accomplished Josh Friedman! Josh has performed as a soloist and with various professional ensembles in more than 50 communities in the US and Canada. As a featured artist in residence, he has performed in Prague, Vienna, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, and Israel.

Reservation Information
Adults: Members $40 per person, Non-Members $50 per person
Children: 6 & under FREE, Members of Camp Pomegranate and PERTY (our school & youth group) FREE, Children (ages 7-12) $15

Reservations with payment must be received no later than April 10, 2014.

Please mail payments (checks only) with full names and number of people attending (indicate number and ages of children) to: 

Temple Etz Rimon
2020 Chestnut Avenue
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Attn: Passover Seder

Special Event Location
To accommodate both our members' families and the extended Jewish community of North Coastal San Diego County, Temple Etz Rimon's Second Night Passover Seder will NOT be at our synagogue but at a special location, the Oceana Community Center, conveniently located just off of El Camino Real and South of Highway 76. Kindly note that the parting of Batiquitos and Agua Hedionda lagoons are, unfortunately, not available for this event. We kindly ask that if crossing any bodies of water to get to our event you use good sense, prudent judgment and a reliable means of conveyance...such as a bridge.

Oceana Community Center
550 Vista Bella
Oceanside, CA 92057

For additional information, please contact our event planner, Rita K. directly at 760.967.7721.

Friday, March 21, 2014

San Diego's Next Generation of Jewish Leaders at TribeFest 2014

A group of 28 young Jewish adults from San Diego just returned from three days at TribeFest in New Orleans. TribeFest was an entertaining, interactive and educational celebration that drew 1,300 young Jewish adults from across North America.

TribeFest began with Purim celebrations, including a traditional megillah reading and festive party. The following day, our Next Gen professionals and some of local lay leaders took part in a half-day leadership session to advance their skills. The main TribeFest program launched with an amazing session featuring actor Joshua Malina and writer/producer David Weiss. Following were stimulating sessions that focused on a variety of interest areas. The evening closed with more Purim celebrations and an event at a historic steamboat on the Mississippi River.

Early the next morning, participants took part in a variety of service projects throughout New Orleans including park restorations, planting of trees and visiting elderly. It was an amazing opportunity for people to connect with the city. That afternoon, another amazing main session featured IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous and Broadway actor Ben Platt. The group also learned about Gaucher disease that affects Jews and the amazing medical advances that have taken place to help those with the disease. That evening nearly 100 participants throughout Southern California gathered together for an opportunity to network.

On the last day, participants gathered once again to hear LIVESTRONG’s CEO Doug Ulman and the winner of Survivor Africa Ethan Zohn—who inspired listeners to take what they learned at TribeFest home, and do something for the community.

The San Diego participants will be gathering together for a debrief to see how we can put ideas into action. In all, through presentations by dynamic leaders, entertainment, music, art, food, religion and other aspects of Jewish life, TribeFest offered attendees many ways to connect to their own Judaism and how they see themselves as part of the community.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Update from the South of Israel - Rockets Fired from Gaza

Our Israel office reports that Wednesday night, southern Israel suffered its heaviest barrage of rockets in over two years. Over ninety rockets were fired from Gaza and over fifty landed in Israeli territory, with eight rockets reported landing in urban areas, including one in the center of Sderot and three intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

Federation has been in contact with our partner region, Sha'ar HaNegev, which is situated mere kilometers away from the Gaza strip.  Mayor and Federation friend Alon Schuster reports there has been no damage, nor injuries from the attacks, but is meeting with IDF officials and preparing shelters in case of escalation. 

The code red siren sounded out many times through the night, calling citizens to their shelters. There have been no physical injuries reported although many are being treated for severe shock. One Sderot resident said, “A Kassam [rocket] fell next to my house, right on the sidewalk. Luckily there were no casualties.” Ashkelon and Ashdod have been hit particularly hard as well as Sderot, Netivot and other southern cities.

Photo credit: Haaretz
Although school opened on Thursday morning, many speedily closed and sent pupils home as rockets continued to fall. The huge number of rockets are being shot from Gaza where the Israel Air Force has already begun retaliating by targeting terrorist launch pads and ammunition stores. Twenty nine weapons caches and terrorist hubs have been hit by Israeli forces in direct response to the violence since last night.

The Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attacks, threatening that "You haven't yet seen the extent of our capabilities." Netanyahu said that Israel would not stand for attacks during the upcoming Purim festival. "I want to make it clear," he said, "we will hit hard at those who try to destroy our Purim celebrations."

This rocket fire comes as UK Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting Israel to discuss peace initiatives in the region and follows the Israeli strike against three militants who fired a mortar at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon.

We will continue to monitor the situation it develops.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jews in the Ukraine Need Your Help

Support Jews in the Ukraine
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Your Federation is mobilizing a communal response to the situation in Ukraine. Our partner agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and World ORT, are on the ground, providing urgent support for Jews in Ukraine.

Help the Jews of the UkraineUkraine is home to one of the world’s largest Jewish populations, and includes some of the poorest Jews in the world. Our longtime support of Jewish life and organizations in Ukraine enables Federation to respond immediately in times of crisis.

   Our Partners in Action

JDC has activated its emergency response network to continue home deliveries of food, medicine, heating, and cooking fuel, as well as sustained life-saving care at home for the elderly and children. It has increased security at Jewish communal institutions and Chesed social welfare centers. JDC has also activated special emergency plans for the region’s estimated 17,000 Jews.
More at
The Jewish Agency has tapped its Emergency Assistance Fund to bolster security at Ukraine’s many Jewish institutions, including synagogues, yeshivas and community centers.
World ORT has launched a campaign to raise $200,000 to fund increased security at schools in Ukraine. Each school has several hundred students, many of whom travel to class through nowdangerous areas; the father of a student at the Chernovtsy school was killed during clashes in Kiev on February 20. Plans include hiring additional security guards and installing closed-circuit TV and alarm
systems on school grounds.
More at

Thanks to the power of the Federation system and our long-standing partnerships, 100% of your donation will go directly to help Jews in Ukraine.

Copyright © 2014 Jewish Federation of San Diego, All rights reserved.

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Federation In Action: Soul to Sole Collects 2,300+ Shoes for the Needy

On Sunday, Federation hosted its first ever “Soul to Sole” shoe drive in commemoration of International Good Deeds Day. Throughout the months of February and into March Federation worked with over a dozen local community partners to collect new and gently used shoes for people in need. Many local synagogues, schools, and Jewish community organizations all pitched in to spread the word and collect shoes! All in all, over 2,300 pairs of shoes were collected for Soul to Sole! The level of inter-organizational cooperation demonstrated by all of our community partners is proof positive that together, WE do extraordinary things!

Once all the shoes had been collected, scores of volunteers came out on Sunday morning to the JCC to help sort, clean, and package the shoes for distribution. We were thrilled to host a large delegation of Israel Scouts from “Tzofim Shevet Galim”. The Tzofim were instrumental in the day’s work, and their enthusiasm for volunteerism was an inspiration to the rest of the volunteers. Two Scouts, Zoey Schaffer and Evan Cohn said that participating in Soul to Sole “was really fun” and they were inspired to help when they heard that there were kids their age who don’t have shoes of their own. Instilling this kind of philanthropic spirit in our youth ensures that l’dor va’dor we will have a vibrant, caring, and connected Jewish Community in San Diego. 

An enormous “thank you” is due to all the volunteer committee comprised of Samantha Cohen, Belinda Feldman, Ronnie Diamond, Maya Kanarek, Rashel Galicot, Britney Ewing, Ron Zollman, Ilana Podolsky, Karen DePodesta, Karen Jinich, and Judy Lilienthal. It was, in large part, because of their efforts that Soul to Sole was so successful.

Famed Arab-Israeli Scientist Talks Cancer Research, Multicultural Collaboration

A crowd of eager listeners gathered to hear renowned Arab-Israeli scientist Dr. Amal Ayoub speak about the promising successes of her cancer research Thursday, March 6 at Rady Sky Pavilion at UCSD in San Diego.
The event, hosted by The Jewish Federation of San Diego County, in conjunction with Rady School of Management, offered guests a glimpse into the Dr. Ayoub’s exciting new start-up – Metallo Therapy and the story of its founding.
“Metallo Therapy is a unique company. We use tiny particles that are made of gold that (once introduced into the bloodstream) can locate tumor cells for detection and then assist in destroying the tumor cell,” Dr. Ayoub told the crowd.
Ayoub’s pioneering research is in the preclinical trials phase and has already garnered worldwide attention thanks to the efforts of NGT or Next Generation Technology – a medical and life sciences business incubator funded by the Israeli Chief Scientist’s Office and a group of international investors aimed at advancing the achievements of Arab-Jewish scientists and entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business development.
Doctor Ayoub Presenting
NGT founder Gary Jacobs of Jacobs Investments, LLC based in San Diego told the audience that Ayoub’s critical advancements in cancer research are an example of the kind of vigorous entrepreneurship that thrives within Israel and the NGT business incubator model.
“Of course, all of NGT’s portfolio companies are looking for a financial return, but we also are looking for a social return of collaboration between the Arab and Jewish cultures. If we want the Israeli economy to grow, the Arab sector has to be involved,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs shared that Metallo Therapy is just one portfolio company to have been successfully supported by NGT in its early stage development. That support included establishing a board of trustees and business plan, as well as providing lab and office space and accounting services.
While Metallo Therapy has completed its term within the business incubator, Jacobs noted that Next Generation Technology’s follow-up NGTᶾ has added four new portfolio companies that include two male and two female entrepreneurs from both Arab and Jewish communities in Israel.
Host and Jewish Federation of San Diego County president Michael Sonduck praised Jacobs’ commitment to bringing diverse cultures together and noted the organization’s shared desire to “foster dynamic connections to Israel.”
For now, Dr. Ayoub said the next phase of her research now depends upon the support investors.
“We must determine if the gold particles stay in the body and that it will not cause a negative effect. It is the most complicated aspect of the study -- eliminating the gold from the body -- but it needs the money,” Dr. Ayoub said.
Ayoub said that her ground-breaking work targets liver, lung, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
She reiterated the importance of a spirited a collaboration between business professionals, scientists educators and students.

[This Thursday] FedTalks - Brilliant Minds. Powerful Ideas.

Join Us for FedTalks | March 20

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is proud to announce the establishment of a new speaker series dubbed “FED Talks”.  Each edition of FED Talks will feature three of the most brilliant Jewish minds from San Diego focusing on a particular discipline.  Over the course of the next year we will feature world class minds in the fields of science, art, business, and social justice. FED Talks speakers are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less to a live audience.  These short, powerful talks will enrich the San Diego Jewish community by engaging attendees in an accessible way while showcasing the best and brightest our city has to offer. 

Join us March 20 at the San Diego Public Library

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Op-Ed: Beating Back the Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy

By Jerry Silverman and Steve Gutow
Leaders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement say they are protesting Israel’s policies in the West Bank. They are doing far more than that.

BDS advocates routinely oppose a two-state solution and seek to delegitimize the sovereign, Jewish State of Israel. In some cases, BDS becomes the latest form of anti-Semitism.

The BDS movement aims to isolate and punish Israel, using the same techniques applied to apartheid South Africa. Not hesitating to misrepresent facts and ignore context, these Israel bashers take advantage of ignorance and naïveté within civil society circles, mostly in Western Europe, to advance their anti-Israel agenda.

BDS advocates view the situation in the West Bank through a one-way lens, seeing only a single perspective. They cite, for example, the security checkpoints that make life difficult for Palestinians but conveniently overlook the reasons for those checkpoints. They ignore the fact that hurting Israel’s economy would also hurt Palestinians who earn their livelihoods from Israeli-owned businesses.

BDS backers don’t bother to protest the many countries that have horrific human rights records, instead singling out the world’s only Jewish state, often based on false or misrepresented information.

A tipping point for the Jewish community’s response to BDS came in 2009 when a number of anti-Israel groups called for a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival because one of its themes was Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary. The Toronto and Los Angeles Jewish federations joined forces and, with the involvement of major figures in the entertainment industry, fashioned an
effective response.

Jerry Silverman, President and CEO, JFNA
With calls for BDS escalating in the mainline Protestant churches, on college campuses and elsewhere, Jewish community leaders realize that the situation calls for more than an ad hoc approach: Local communities need a strategic approach with national support and coordination.

In 2010, the Jewish Federations of North America, representing more than 150 local federations, allocated significant resources so that the Israel Action Network could serve this purpose. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs — with its 16 national member organizations, including all four of the religious movements, and 125 Jewish community relations councils, which work with non-Jewish coalition partners on a range of international and domestic concerns — was the JFNA’s obvious partner.

One principle that guides this work is that we should understand our audiences. And when we speak with others, we should do so with a respect for the sensitivities of that constituency so that our important messages are authentically heard. Whether on a campus, in a church or speaking with an LGBT group, we should always be clear that we stand as partners, sharing the goal of a future with peace and security — not one of conflict and BDS.

Experience and research demonstrate that what works best with these audiences — mostly made up of political and religious progressives — is not an all-good-vs.-all-bad characterization of Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, a more nuanced narrative is the one that is likely to defeat the one-sided and hostile stance of those seeking to delegitimize Israel.

This means honestly conveying the situation’s complexity, expressing empathy for suffering on both sides (without implying moral equivalency) and offering a constructive pathway to helping the parties move toward peace and reconciliation based on two states for two peoples.

Whether we are dealing with a boycott of Israeli academic institutions adopted by the American Studies Association or an attempt to remove Israeli products from a Brooklyn food co-op, the most effective opponents of these initiatives are the people who travel in those circles.

While we in the organized Jewish community should not remain silent in the face of Israel’s delegitimization, we should strongly support and accentuate the efforts of these third-party validators who share our values and viewpoints. The 247 (and counting) universities and colleges that have denounced academic boycotts generally — and academic boycotts of Israel specifically — are just such validators.

It is not enough to only expose the true goals of the boycotters and their allies. Israel’s supporters must also go on the offensive and drain the swamps of ignorance that allow the poisonous ideas of the Jewish state’s opponents to incubate. Thus, we are taking the initiative to inoculate vulnerable politically progressive sectors, presenting a more factual perspective on Israel and taking prominent leaders to the region to see the real situation firsthand.

The Israel Action Network, of course, does not work alone in this arena. On a daily basis, numerous organizations stand up for Israel. Through the IAN, JFNA and JCPA are working together to convene around a common strategic planning table not only our affiliates but also a range of other North American, Israeli and European groups in order to share best practices and coordinate our collective resources in confronting this global danger.

There is no imminent threat to the critical and broad North American support for Israel. But American support for Israel is not something to be taken for granted in light of the organized campaign we now face. While should not be panicked, we cannot be complacent either. We pledge to continue to work hard to prevent any erosion of that support.

(Rabbi Steve Gutow is president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Jerry Silverman is president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America.)

Read more:

Hillel Presents: Sayed Kashya - April 2