Friday, October 31, 2014

Federation Embraces Jewish Innovation at FEDTalks

On Thursday, October 30, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County hosted its second speaker series, FEDTalks. The event—held at the newly remodeled Scripps Research Institute—featured seven extraordinary speakers and highlighted innovation in San Diego’s hi-tech and science sectors.

More than 150 guests mingled, schmoozed, and noshed on delicious hor’ devours. The evening kicked off with a welcome from Mandy Danzan, Federation’s Director of Development. She was followed by Joseph Berman, Senior Development Manager, and full-time mensch who moderated the evening. He introduced the first speaker of FEDTalks, Ethan Senturia, Founder of, who spoke of how his Jewish identity guided him to start a company that makes a positive contribution to society. To date, Senturia’s company has helped more than 100 small businesses procure fair business loans.

A highlight of evening, were two master’s students from UCSD Rady School of Business U.S.-Israel Center for Innovation and Economic Sustainability, Lance Lopez and Jamie Wiesman, who discussed their summer internships in Israel during Operation Protective Edge. The students were asked a series of questions about their internships, what they learned from working in start-ups, and how their experiences working in Israel has affected them as emerging business leaders. The students shared eye-opening and heartfelt accounts of their summer spent in and out of bomb shelters, the resiliency of the Israeli people and the lessons they learned from a summer in the Start Up Nation.

The remainder of evening’s speakers shared brilliant smartphone apps, online start –ups, and innovate software developments (to view the full list of speakers and businesses visit

Federation will host its third FEDTalks event in Spring 2015. Stay tuned to for more information!

About FEDTalks

FEDTalks, based off of the wildly successful TEDTalks, showcases the best and brightest Jewish minds our fine city has to offer. Each series highlights a central theme of our community’s innovators including health breakthroughs, hi-tech innovations, creative arts and life changing sciences.

NCSY Israel Trip | Attend the Informational Session | November 4

Friday, October 24, 2014

YAD Gets Rad

On Wednesday, October 22, the Young Adult Division (YAD) of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County hosted a “Way Back Wednesday” a 90’s themed happy hour. The event was held in Del Mar at En Fuego Cantina - with proceeds benefiting breast cancer research, in honor of breast cancer awareness month. The DJ Mada was spinning 90’s music all night, slap bracelets were slapped, and food and drinks were enjoyed by more than 90 young adults in attendance.

The next YAD event, Slimed: An oral history of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age , co-sponsored by CJC In The Mix, will be on Saturday, November 15th at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.

Federation’s YAD brings together young adults to create strong Jewish community connections, while raising funds to help Jews all over the world. To learn more about upcoming events and to learn how to get involved visit or contact Carly Ezell, NextGen Senior Manager.

For more great pictures of the event -- check out our Facebook album

Our Impact in Ukraine

As violence, political tension, and economic instability continue to threaten Eastern Ukraine, the Jewish community is in need of our help - more than ever before. Since the crisis in Ukraine erupted, Federation has been working closely with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, to ensure that all Jews in Ukraine are taken care of.

In addition to the recent violence and destruction of infrastructure still in need of repair, food and medication prices are on the rise, and Ukrainian currency continues to devaluate at a steady rate - leaving vulnerable populations in even more peril. Thanks to Federations dynamic partnership with JDC, the Jews in Eastern Ukraine are not alone.

To learn more about on the ground efforts in Ukraine, and how you make a difference in people’s lives watch this video.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Community Connections’ 52nd Congressional District Candidates Forum & Breakfast

By Linda Feldman, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council

For the second year in a row, Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Jewish Family Service (JFS), brought the San Diego Jewish community together to hear from candidates in an important local election, and share our perspective about the issues we care most about. Nearly 40 community partner organizations and over 85 attendees connected with Congressman Peters and former Councilmember DeMaio in this important pre-election event.

From hearing about the candidate’s stances on Israel to understanding the core values that guide their service—we had a unique opportunity to get answers to our most pressing questions. Although differing in their perspectives, both candidates agreed upon two items — supporting Israel and the importance of voting.

Our hope is that this event represents the beginning of a strong relationship between the Jewish community and San Diego’s next congressman from the 52nd district.

Don’t forget, Election Day is November 4.

We look forward to seeing you at our next Community Connections event, and thank you again for your support of this series! Community Connections is designed to bring the Jewish community together around important policies, government relations, and issues impacting our local community.

To learn more about JCRC and upcoming events visit Jewish Community Relations Council or contact Linda Feldman at

In Memory of Itai Tzuri z”l: Our Friend and Leader in Sha’ar HaNegev

Today, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County remembers our friend, Itai Tzuri z”l, who passed this week after a long battle with cancer. Itai’s legacy will live on forever through his momentous impact on the community of Sha’ar HaNegev, Israel.

In life, Itai selflessly dedicated his time to establishing the Hydrotherapy Center in Sha’ar HaNegev, where he helped countless people since its opening in 2001. With an extreme passion for helping others and healing the world, Itai developed a unique and all inclusive method for the rehabilitation center, which caters to the disabled and people with special needs.

Itai lived to see his vision come to fruition— the creation of a rehabilitation center on the border of Gaza to provide relief and support for the residents of the Negev. This week, residents of Sha’ar HaNegev and San Diego are mourning the loss of a dear friend, community leader, and true mensch.

May Itai’s memory forever be a blessing and may HaMakom comfort us among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FEDTalks: Jewish Innovation in San Diego | October 30

In March 2014, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County unveiled its newest event series, FEDTalks. Modeled after the wildly successful TED Talk speaker series, FEDTalks highlights the best and brightest Jewish minds in San Diego’s scientific and hi-tech industries.

While the first edition of FEDTalks featured three world renowned medical researchers, the upcoming FEDTalks will showcase six rising stars in San Diego’s bustling hi-tech sector. Join us on October 30 at the beautifully renovated Auditorium at the Scripps Research Institute and meet the San Diegans who are shaping our community - one innovation at a time.


ETHAN SENTURIA is the founder of, an innovative website that utilizes crowd funding to facilitate small business loans with less paperwork than traditional banks and much lower interest rates than alternative funding sources. Dealstruck has rapidly grown into a major player in the crowdfunding marketplace, moving millions of dollars each month in small business loans.

DAVID HAMMEL is one of the brains behind Vioozer – the next must have app for your smart phone. Vioozer provides location based real-time information to mobile users, and is comparable to the famous Israeli app “Waze”, which was recently bought by Google for $1.3 billion dollars.

ASAF DANZAN is the mind behind – a real estate tool that allows buyers and sellers to negotiate prices before they place or receive a written offer - revolutionizing the home buying process for all parties. Born and raised in Israel, Asaf is an innovative leader in the online Real Estate market.

VANCE LOPEZ & JAMIE WEISMAN are two master’s students from the UCSD US-Israel Center on Innovation and Economic Sustainability. Both of these outstanding, budding entrepreneurs spent their last semester interning at hi-tech start-ups in Israel. They will discuss their experiences working at an Israeli start-up during the Gaza conflict.

ADAM FURMAN is the man behind – a community building website co-founded with neuroscientist, David Lorber, Ph.D. Together they created a private social platform that connects similar members within an organization. Their proprietary algorithms, coupled with a fun and interactive interface, provide valuable insight for organizational leaders to drive participation and strengthen relationships.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Concert on October 28th to Support Friends of the IDF

Mazel Tov! Tarbuton Named One of America’s Top Innovative Jewish Organizations

On October 20th, Tarbuton – a San Diego Jewish non-profit and Federation grantee – was named as one of North America’s top innovative Jewish organizations in the 2014 Slingshot Guide. Slingshot’s Annual Guide ranked Tarbuton as one of North America’s top 82 innovative Jewish organizations based off of its success in creating new entry-points to the Jewish community for local Jews and Israelis through Israeli cultural, non-denominational youth and adult Jewish programs.

Selected from among hundreds of finalists reviewed by 112 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life, the Guide recognized Tarbuton for being at “the center of immense Jewish experimentation, creativity, and collaboration that is happening in San Diego.” This year, organizations were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact of their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results.

“This is our second year in the Guide, and we’re honored to be recognized again for our innovative cultural approach to Jewish life for American Jews and Israelis in San Diego.” Said Tarbuton Director, Jennie Starr.

Founded in 2006, Tarbuton, an independent 501c3, reaches over 1,500 households and engages 200-300 community members in Israeli cultural programming on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. More than 110 children participate in after school and in Sunday Tarbuton programs. Tarbuton’s collaborative programs take place in Carlsbad with JCoSD, in Del Mar with the Ken Jewish Community, and in Del Cerro at Temple Emanu-El, bringing Israeli culture and modern Hebrew to the general public.

Tarbuton provides adult programming in collaboration with the Israeli House in Los Angeles, bringing Israeli plays and speakers to San Diego. The Jewish Federation of San Diego recently awarded Tarbuton a NextGen grant for 2014 – 2015 to collaborate with other area Jewish organizations in order to create exciting programming aimed at young adults.

“We expect to see wonderful programs from Tarbuton this upcoming year and well into the future,” said Michael Sonduck, CEO of Jewish Federation of San Diego County. “We are looking forward to working with Tarbuton to deliver excellent, exciting, and engaging programs for the San Diego Jewish community for many years to come.”

About Tarbuton

The Tarbuton mission is to strengthen the Jewish community through Israeli cultural experiences and Hebrew language, educating our next generation, connecting all ages to Israel and bridging the local Jewish and Israeli-American communities. The Tarbuton offers youth and adult programs throughout San Diego, CA. The Tarbuton was recognized in 2012 and 2014 by Slingshot as one of the most inspiring and innovative organizations in the North American Jewish community today. Tarbuton is a member of two after school Jewish programming networks, including Nitzan a network made possible through a generous grant from the Covenant Foundation and the Jewish Education Projects Hebrew Charter After School Network made possible through a generous grant from the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. The Tarbuton is supported by the Leichtag Foundation, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County and the Israeli-American Council. To learn more visit

About the Slingshot Guide

The Slingshot Guide, now in its tenth year, was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios to include the most innovative and effective organizations, programs and projects in North America. The Guide contains information about each organization’s origin, mission, strategy, impact and budget, as well as details about its unique character. The Slingshot Guide has proven to be a catalyst for next generation funding and offers a telling snapshot of shifting trends in North America's Jewish community – and how nonprofits are meeting new needs and reaching new audiences. The book, published annually, is available in hard copy and as a free download at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Memorable Sukkot at the Ranch

On Sunday, October 12, The Leichtag Foundation and the North County Jewish Hub hosted Sukkot at the Leichtag Ranch in Encinitas, welcoming over 1,000 community members from near and far to celebrate the joyous Jewish holiday associated with the autumn harvest. 

The daylong program was action-packed with celebrations of food, farming, and Jewish culture. Upon arrival, guests were greeted with reusable mugs, and informed of activities and educational seminars taking place that day. The food festival, one of the special highlights of the day, highlighted creative kosher cuisine from all over the world, including tasty samples from Top Chef contestant Katusji Tanabe, Mexikosher, Jeff Rossman from Shalom Catering, Michelle Grant from the Kosher Palate, and Felicia Gispman from Felicia G Catering. Another wonderful attraction was the sukkah competition, featuring three large, well-built, and aesthetically appealing sukkahs for all to experience. Attendees were asked to cast a vote on their favorite structures.

Sukkot at the Ranch was a wonderful experience for all ages, with activities for kids and parents to participate in throughout the day. The sessions were educational and fun. Laughter filled the air as parents sat with their children on bales of hay listening to the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew, a group from Oakland that creates socially, environmentally, and politically conscious shows combining storytelling, poetry, and song. Cabbage and cucumbers flew through the air at the fermentation station during the DIY sauerkraut and dill pickle lesson.

Inspiration was felt throughout the crowd in attendance of Jewish Food Justice 101, a session led by the rabbis who helped tomato workers in Florida escape abusive work conditions, explaining how food justice issues are central to Jewish values. Beer tastings and craft brew sessions for adults were held throughout the day. From the art stations, to the petting zoo, and to playing in the fields of the farm, Sukkot at the Ranch was truly a remarkable day.

About Leichtag Foundation and The Ranch:

The Leichtag Foundation honors the legacy of Lee and Toni Leichtag through igniting and inspiring vibrant Jewish life, advancing self-sufficiency and stimulating social entrepreneurship in coastal North San Diego County and Jerusalem. Purchased by the Foundation in December 2012 and located in Encinitas, the Ranch is one of the Foundation’s most significant platforms and a nexus for the Jewish community. Currently, the Foundation is supporting programs and educational activities at the Ranch inspired by ancient Jewish traditions that connect people to community, food, the land, and social justice.

Thousands of Miles Away, Yet Close to Home: Israeli Camp Counselors Spend Summer in San Diego

This past summer, two San Diego Jewish camps, Camp Simcha and Camp Amei Israel, invited nine Israelis from Sha’ar HaNegev to work as day camp counselors. The counselors ranged from 17 to 19 years old. They kept detailed journals describing their experiences, what they learned working with children, and what they learned about themselves while away from home during a time of conflict. The eye-opening reflections that were shared with Federation offer a unique perspective on a day in the life of a young Israeli.

Each counselor expressed love for their roles, the young campers, and time spent in San Diego. On the other hand, they expressed anxiety over missing home and their families, especially during the turbulent time in Israel. During staff trainings, both American and Israeli counselors would get together on a regular basis to discuss current news in Israel and to share their feelings. These peer-to-peer sessions allowed the visiting Israeli counselors to openly express their perspectives on life, war, and peace.

“I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to live in the region that I do, despite all the complexity and difficulties,” said Sahar, an Israeli Counselor from Sha’ar HaNegev. “We live in a reality where, from time to time, a missile explodes in our backyard. On one hand, it’s frightening and there’s no end to it, but on the hand, we’re already used to it.”

As the summer session continued and war raged on, the bravery and optimism of the Israeli counselors was the glue that held the positive camp atmosphere together. During the middle of the day at camp, the counselors received word that the bodies of the missing Israeli boys had been found. Although stricken with grief, they made a collective decision not to inform the campers until the end of the day in an effort to maintain a positive atmosphere.

As camp came to a close, the group took a trip to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. As the joyful day ended, one counselor pointed out that in another 48 hours the group of Israeli’s would no longer be running around feeling carefree, but rather, running to shelters back home. In an end of camp wrap-up meeting, the Israelis addressed the group and emphasized the importance of staying positive and believing that peace is possible.

Upon their arrival back in Israel, the counselors were asked what they each learned from their experience, and all nine of them agreed that they traveled to the U.S. to find answers about Israel. Sometimes traveling far from home can make one feel closer to home than ever.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Plug Into Shabbat – October 23/24/25

San Diego will join in on International Unity Shabbat along with 340 cities in 35 countries across the globe. Unplug your electronics and forget your daily schedules, burdens, distractions and demands. For 25 hours enjoy personal rest, spend time with family and friends, attend services, study, enjoy a Shabbat dinner with blessings, light the candles, eat some challah and sing. Get reinvigorated by participating in community unity and global solidarity events.

Shabbat San Diego, along with over 100 participating congregations, organizations, youth groups and schools, is coordinating a full program from Thursday, October 23rd through the 25th. On Thursday, October, 23rd, there will be a community-wide mega challah bake at the San Diego Jewish Academy (register early as space is limited). On Friday evening, October 24th, congregations throughout the county will welcome all individuals to services and to communal or hosted private home Shabbat dinners. Register online to be matched with a host home. On Saturday morning, congregational services throughout the county will be held followed by Kiddush, lunches, afternoon lectures, and study sessions. Children’s activities will be offered at select venues around the city.

On Saturday evening, the weekend will conclude with a huge, vibrant community unity Havdalah and musical celebration with the Maccabeats. Hundreds of children, ages 10 and under, will kick off the evening with a touching entrance. The event is free and all are welcome. Sign up and learn more at .

Monday, October 6, 2014

Reflections of Jacob Gardenswartz - Recipient of Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award

In high school, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day craziness of being a teenager; homework is never-ending, social situations need to be cleverly navigated, and college applications transform from a distant worry to a daunting reality in the blink of an eye. Like many other students, I often found that the best way to deal with such challenges was to take things one day at a time and to not allow myself to look too far into the future. While it served as a great technique to stay focused and in the moment, I realized that it forced me to suffer from what I’d characterize as a lack of appreciation for my own accomplishments, an inability to see the forest for the trees.

While working on college applications, I decided that I would apply for several scholarships, which I was eligible for as a result of working for some organizations in the past. I figured that if I had to already write ten essays, what were ten more? Initially, I thought that the scholarships would only be beneficial in offsetting outrageous tuition costs and boosting my résumé. However, I didn’t anticipate that the scholarship application process would force me to evaluate my successes and failures, or to drive me to want to do more.

Upon reflecting on my achievements, I realized that I was most proud of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam award that I won through the Diller Foundation based out of San Francisco. In addition to the large monetary component, the award included a full-time press agency that helped to publicize my nonprofit organization, impACT on Stage. Moreover, the award was of great significance because it connected me to 14 other amazing students from throughout the country. My first weekend of college at the University of Pennsylvania was not spent at new student orientation, but rather, at a weekend-long conference of social entrepreneurship workshops and business development panels. And, while I was certainly bummed to be missing out on my first weekend as a college student and on school orientation, I felt as though I had undergone an orientation of my own; one that forced me think about why I did what I did and what I want to do in the future. During my time of self-reflection, I realized all of the accomplishments my organization has made along with our unlimited potential to create more positive change well into the future.

ImpACT on Stage is a nonprofit [501-(c)(3) pending] organization with a mission to promote and enact social change through the use of live theater, by students for students. Coming from a theatrical background, I know how powerful live performance can be in communicating a specific message, and therefore, I think it makes perfect sense to apply this concept to a social justice, character education platform. Through the use of individualized school assemblies and specialized curriculum, we start dialogues about issues such as bullying, consent/sexual violence, alcohol/drug abuse, and workplace discrimination, among others. Currently, impACT is only operating in San Diego, but our hope is to grow the program to a national level over the next few years by setting up chapters at universities throughout the country. I want impACT on Stage to be in every major city throughout the country by the year 2020!

I know this is a big goal and that I will undoubtedly face setbacks throughout the process, and that trying to run a national nonprofit organization as a freshman in college may sound kind of insane. But at the end of the day, this is what makes me happy, and I realized that I truly have the capacity to create the change in the world that I want to see. My personal mission and the mission of ImpACT on Stage are in perfect alignment – to establish a culture of compassion and kindness and to foster a community where students feel safe and comfortable wherever they are—at home, at school, and everywhere else. I am proud of the impact I have been able to make in others’ lives and I am appreciative of all of the recognition I have received and continue to receive, as it continues to fuel my fire.