Tuesday, April 29, 2014

KPBS Honors Local Jewish Heroes

This month, KPBS celebrates local Jewish heroes in our community.  In May, they are recognizing Helene Bortz and Myrice Goldberg, co-founders of Federation Innovation Grantee G'Mach, the Jewish Gift Closet, and Ed Samiljan, co-founder and Board Member of Camp Mountain Chai.  Congratulations to the honorees, and Kol HaKavod!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Calling All Volunteers - Mitzvah Madness Returns!

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.” – Ted Kennedy

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County invites you to join us this year as we reinstate the highly successful – and mega fun – phonathon series – Mitzvah Madness! Members of the Jewish community and Federation staff will gather for three evenings of kosher eats, fun games, fabulous prizes, and rewarding fundraising phone calls to help raise money for our fine community.

Tuesday, April 29 | 6:00-8:30 pm
Thursday, May 1 | 6:00-8:30 pm
Wednesday, May 7 | 6:00-8:30 pm

The Joseph and Lenka Finci 

Jewish Community Building

4950 Murphy Canyon Rd
San Diego, CA 92123

Kosher dinner and drinks will be provided!

San Diego Celebrates Israel on May 18th!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Adopt a Family to host One People, One Heart | May 3

Adopt a Family FOUNDATION
One People, One Heart
Adopt a Family Foundation
requests the pleasure of your presence at its annual fundraiser.
Join us for an unforgettable evening!
Saturday, May 3, 2014
8:00 – 11:00 p.m.

at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA)
1649 El Prado, Balboa Park

Musical Performance by
Yuval Ron Ensemble
Register Nowticket prices

About Yuval Ron Ensemble

This internationally renowned music and dance group has been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. They have been featured on CNN, National Geographic, and in the international press and media.
Dinner / Silent Auction / Cocktail Attire / Dietary Laws Observed
8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Dinner & Silent Auction
9:00 – 9:30 p.m.
9:30 – 10:15 p.m.
Musical Performance
Not able to attend, but would like to support?
Please send your check made out to Adopt a Family Foundation to:
PO Box 7278 – Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Am Echad, Lev Echad
Event Chairs
VĂ©ronique Benchimol & Tami Ivanir
Board Members
Carine Chitayat, Michael Elbaz, Doron Malka, Iris Pearlman
Rabbi Matthew Earne – Advisor, Scott Lyons – Advisor
Committee Members
Rachelle Danto, Laura Elbaz, Doris Elihu, Patrice Gold, Sheryl Goodman,
Yael Hershkovitz, Jenny Michan, Laura Lawee, Orly Perez,
Robyn Rapoport, Julie Rosoff, Adele Saleh, Shira Ofrat Schaffer
Auction Chairs
Sheryl Goodman, Adele Saleh & Shira Ofrat Schaffer
Family Contacts
Carine Chitayat – Leetal Ben Zvi – Sheryl Goodman
Tami Ivanir – Jenny Michan – Iris Pearlman
Orly Perez – Shira Ofrat Schaffer
 Adopt a Family FOUNDATION
Please visit www.adoptafamilyfoundation.org
to learn more about our organization.
Adopt a Family Foundation is a 501c3 organization.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

San Diego Jewish Advocates Fellowship

Are you interested in leadership development? Join the inaugural cohort of the SD Jewish Advocates Fellowship! You’ll meet elected officials like State Sen. Marty Block, build your network with accomplished young professionals, and advocate on issues you’re passionate about in Sacramento with the Legislative Jewish Caucus. Apply to join this exclusive cohort by April 30th!

Register at http://bit.ly/1exP710

Friday, April 18, 2014

J-Serve | Jewish Teens Repairing the World

On Sunday, April 6, 225 teens in San Diego gathered as part of a larger nationwide movement to make a difference in the community, known as J-Serve.  J-Serve is the International Day of Jewish Youth Service, which provides teens with the opportunity to fulfill the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness, tzedakah, just and charitable giving, and tikkum olam, the responsibility to repair the world.

This year, San Diego J-Serve participants:
  • Fed 400 homeless individual’s downtown with burgers, chips, and water
  • Helped clothe over 100 people through G’Mach
  • Created over 100 Passover meal kits for food insecure families
  • Gave $1000 in philanthropic support to La Maestro Health Clinic and JFS
  • Worked with children with special needs to create gift bags filled with toys for homeless children
  • Created over 200 coloring books for children who are living at the Battered Women and Children’s shelter of the San Diego Rescue Mission
  • Created over 300 hygiene bags for homeless individuals to shower at the San Diego Rescue Mission
  • Made over 100 hand-made cookies for those who are homeless looking for a meal at St. Vincent DePaul

J-Serve is supported by the San Diego Jewish Teen Coalition and lead by the JCC. J-Serve is also  supported by the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, The Gary & Jerri-Ann Jacobs Teen Director Endowment Fund, Funded in part by Gary & Jerri-Ann Jacobs Youth Endowment Fund. Generously supported by the Jewish Education Leadership Fund Families:  Chortek Family Foundation, Leichtag Foundation, Melvin Gard Foundation, Viterbi Family Foundation, Eric Weisman & Susan Chortek Weisman.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

JCRC UPDATE: Flier Distribution in Donetsk

Dear Community,

Many of you have heard about the grossly anti-semitic fliers that were distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine which called on local Jews to register with the authorities. At the time, this appears to be an isolated incident, which has been described as a “provocation” by local Jewish leadership, and is not sanctioned by any government entity. Federation and our international partners at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) are on the ground, monitoring the situation. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available.

For more information on the incident in Donetsk, please refer to the Jewish Agency, JDC and NCSJ reports from today, below.

Linda Feldman
Director – Jewish Community Relations Center


Update on Ukraine from Chairman Natan Sharansky

The recent distribution of leaflets in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, declaring that all Jews are to register with the region, is an act of provocation -- the Jewish community caught in the middle of two opposing sides.

On the eve of Passover near a synagogue in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine last week, as members of the local Jewish community emerged from the synagogue heading to the Passover seder, they were approached by three masked men. The masked men, dressed in military uniform bearing the Russian flag but without insignia, tried to distribute leaflets, supposedly signed by Denis Pushilin, governor of Donetsk People's Republic.

The leaflet declared: "As the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported the Bandera Ukrainian Nationalist movement in Kiev, and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens, the General Staff of the Republic of Donetsk has hereby decided: All Jewish citizens over the age of 16, residing in the sovereign Donetsk republic are to report to the Acting Commissioner for Nationalities till May 3, 2014. You should have on you cash in the amount of $50 for registration fees, passports to mark religious affiliation in, documents proving the family composition, as well as documents on all owned property. In case of evading registration, the guilty will be denied citizenship and expelled forcibly from the republic; their property will be confiscated."

When the members of the community refused to take these leaflets, the men began to harass them near the synagogue and only left the place after the community members threatened to call the police.

The Jewish community of Donetsk considers this act a provocation. In turn, Governor Dennis Pushilin has denied any connection to the leaflet. Amidst current political tensions, different forces are trying to take advantage of playing the "Jewish card” in these circumstances, and this is just another disturbing example of such incitement.

This episode demonstrates only too well the uncertain position in which the Jews of Ukraine find themselves today.

Despite the uncertainty, The Jewish Agency continues to operate in the country as it always has. Since the onset of this conflict, our educational and cultural programs for local Jewish communities have continued, just as our aliyah assistance is in increasing demand; in response, we have had to send in additional staff and devote additional resources to accommodate accordingly, and we appreciate the support of our partners for enabling us to do that. While there is no serious political force behind this leaflet, in this time of anarchy and as all parties try to score political points and even use the "Jewish card", the situation is quite tense and we have reasons to be concerned about growing anti-Semitism nonetheless.

Natan Sharansky - Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel


From Alan H. Gill – JDC President and CEO,

JDC is deeply disturbed by the reports out of Donetsk regarding official-looking flyers that were distributed outside a local synagogue on Passover calling for local Jews to register with the authorities.

While this appears at the moment to be an isolated anti-Semitic incident, described by local Jewish leaders as “a provocation,” we remain alert and will monitor the situation and adjust our work on the ground and contingency options accordingly, as we have done since the outbreak of unrest in Ukraine.

We are in constant contact with our staff on the ground as well as local Jewish leaders and continue to carry out our mission undeterred.

Alan H. Gill


April 17, 2014, 12:15 p.m. WASHINGTON, D.C.

TO: NCSJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSJ Executive Director


On the evening of April 15, official-looking documents were circulated in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, calling on Jews to register with the Nationalities Commissioner and pay $50 or lose their citizenship and face deportation. Three individuals wearing ski masks and the flag of the Russian Federation were seen distributing the flyers near the Donetsk synagogue.

The leaflets read:

“Dear citizens of Jewish nationality! Due to the fact that leaders of the Jewish Community of Ukraine support the Bandera junta in Kiev and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens, the main headquarters of the Donetsk Republic declares the following:

  • Every citizen of Jewish nationality older than 16 years, residing in the territory of a sovereign Donetsk Republic has to go to Donetsk Regional Administrator to see the Nationalities Commissioner, Office 514, for registration. The registration fee is $50.
  • Persons should have with them with cash in the amount of $50 for registration, a passport to mark their religion, and documents of family members, as well as ownership documents for their properties and vehicles.
  • In case of failure to register, the perpetrators will lose their citizenship and will be deported outside the republic, with their property confiscated.”

The flyers were signed in the name of Denis Pushilin, the leader of Donetsk’s pro-Russian separatists, who led the takeover of several government buildings and claimed the city as the Donetsk Republic.

NCSJ has contacted the Donetsk Jewish community leaders, who called the flyers a provocation. They said that all authorities have denied any connection to the flyers, and that Pushilin has denied authorship.

Several members of the community went to the Nationalities Commissioner, who repudiated the flyer, and said that the leaflets were distributed to cause unrest among the Jewish population.

Similar leaflets were distributed targeting international students at the local university.

In addition to the local community, NCSJ has been in regular contact with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Kiev on the issue of the flyers.

NCSJ will continue to monitor the situation in Donetsk and throughout Ukraine, and provide you with timely and critical updates.



WASHINGTON, D.C., April 17, 2014 - NCSJ condemned a serious and disturbing anti-Semitic action in Eastern Ukraine this week.

Unknown persons have widely distributed fliers in Donetsk that demanded that Jews “register” their household with the local Nationalities Commission office.

Jews are asked to bring a $50 fee to cover the placement of a “religious nationality” mark in passports, and to register their property and possessions with local authorities, or face deportation.

NCSJ called the fliers a clear provocation, and a gross act of anti-Semitism. The fliers are reminiscent of notices distributed by the Nazis during the Holocaust during their invasion of local communities in Europe.

NCSJ has spoken with members of the U.S. government and with Jewish leaders in Donetsk about the fliers.

The Jewish leaders said that the local Nationalities Commission had repudiated the fliers’ message, and that they had not issued a call for registration.

Jewish leaders also said that the fliers’ named signatory, Denis Pushilin, the leader of Donetsk’s pro-Russian separatists, has denied authorship.

NCSJ commends the swift response by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, who condemned the fliers’ distribution.

NCSJ Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg said that “NCSJ is continuing to work with local Jewish leaders and national officials to do everything possible to find those responsible for this outrageous and reprehensible act, and to hold them accountable.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Federation Mourns the Lives Lost in Kansas City

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County stands in solidarity with the people of Greater Kansas City as we reflect upon the terrible events that took place Sunday afternoon. Today we stand together in mourning the lives lost in this senseless and horrific event.

Federation and our partners pledge to do whatever we can to support the Kansas City community, and will continue to monitor any security concerns in our San Diego community. As we gather with family and friends to reflect upon the lessons of Passover, let us all be blessed to be among the ones we love, and strive for a world free of hate and terror.

Our hearts go out to those who have suffered such sudden loss on this tragic day.


There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest~ Elie Wiesel 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The "New" Jewish Community Building

Federation is excited to announce the renaming of the Federation Building as the Joseph and Lenka Finci Jewish Community Building. The building is named in honor of Joseph and Lenka Finci, who were relatives of the Viterbi family. It is a collaborative space for Jewish communal organizations in San Diego, and already houses Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Foundation, ADL, American Technion Society, Camp Mountain Chai, Hadassah, Stand With Us and TEAM.

"Renaming the building is the last step in fulfilling the dream of the Viterbi family and others, who imagined this building as a place that would not only house organizations that serve the San Diego Jewish community but also as a place in which community will be built and sustained.” said Michael Sonduck, Federation President and CEO.

A formal re-dedication ceremony is being planned.

There are currently four remaining vacant office spaces, with deeply discounted leases available for Jewish non-profit organizations. For more information, contact Susan Halliday, Federation CFO, at 858.737.7145.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jewish Federation Welcomes New Director of Community Partnerships

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is pleased to announce that Don Schlesinger has joined the Federation staff as Senior Director of Community Partnerships. Don will lead Federation’s Israel and overseas initiatives, NextGen young adult outreach, Jewish camping, the community chaplaincy programs and the Jewish Community Relations Council.  He will work closely with the CEO, Board of Directors, partners and Federation staff to implement mission-driven initiatives in three strategic areas: fostering dynamic connections to Israel, broadening and deepening connections in Jewish life, and creating a more caring community.

“We are thrilled to welcome Don to the Federation,” said Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation.  After an extended search to fill this position which is key to the implementation of Federation's new Vision and Mission, we are excited to have found someone with Don's background, experience, reputation and energy.  We look forward to working with him to further grow and engage our community.”

Don practiced law for two decades in Las Vegas, where he was elected to public office as a member of the Clark County Commission.  Since 2005, Don has served in the Jewish nonprofit field, most recently as the Director of Community and Government Affairs for Jewish Family Service of Colorado and a Board Member of Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado.  Don earned his B.A in political science from the State University of New York at Albany and his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law.  He's an avid softball and hockey player and loves to ski the Rockies.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Jewish Community Dedicates Torah for our Troops

Federation Board Chair Theresa Dupuis with
sofer, Rabbi Goldstien, adding the final letters to the Torah scroll

This Tuesday marked a monumental day for our San Diego Jewish community. At the JCCA Biennial, a dedication ceremony, called a siyum, was held to finalize a Torah to be given to our Jewish service members. At the ceremony, the final letters of the Torah were inscribed by sofer, Rabbi Goldstien, with honors from Jewish chaplains, as well as leaders from organizations that supported the fundraising including Federation, Beth Israel, the JCC, Beth El and Tifereth Israel. 

There are more than 10,000 Jewish men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces. While the Jewish Chaplains Council has for nearly a hundred years provided essential services for Jewish personnel, they are often lacking the most important ritual symbol - a Torah scroll.

Although there are over 60 Torahs on loan to major military bases around the world, these are too large for chaplains to carry into the field or to forward to bases in the challenging environments of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a clear need for kosher Torahs small and lightweight enough to be easily transported from ship to ship and around the field of combat for use in services wherever they might be needed.

In 2011, Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs worked with Federation and our partners to in Torahs for our Troops, a project of the Jewish Welfare Board, Jewish Chaplains Council, and the Jewish Community Association of North America, who were working to fulfill the need for Torahs in the field. The San Diego Military Services Torahs are small, lightweight and are completely funded by the Jewish community of San Diego. This is the fourth out of five Torahs to be given via the Torah for our Troops program. 

A ceremony was held that night to present the Torah to the US Military Chaplains, as covered by San Diego Jewish World, below.

Gary Jacobs in prayer shawl presents new Torah to Rabbi/ Chaplain Harold Robinson. Holding pole at right is Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego (Photo: A. Victor Goodpasture)

From San Diego Jewish World: 

Aboard the retired Air Craft Carrier USS Midway, a new Torah was presented Tuesday evening, April 1, by the Jewish community of San Diego to the JWB, previously called the Jewish Welfare Board, for use by Jewish chaplains.

Carried under a chuppah by San Diego philanthropist Gary Jacobs, the Torah a few hours before had its final letters inked in by members of the Jewish chaplain corps who were attending the biennial convention of the Jewish Community Centers Association at the nearby Hilton Bayside Hotel. Rabbi Harold Robinson, in Navy uniform, accepted the Torah in behalf of chaplains of the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Representatives of those services then escorted the Torah from the ceremony, and assembled guests then had dinner together in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier, which today serves as a museum ship.

David Wax at lectern, with Rabbi Michael Berk beside him, speaks as Gary Jacobs holds Torah and Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal holds front left pole of Chuppah (Photo: A. Victor Goodpasture)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Call for Singers & Dancers for Yom HaZikaron & Yom Ha’atzmaout Festival 2014 – Free Choir and Dance Troupe

Jewish 1st – 8th Graders, are invited to join the San Diego Community Choir and/or Dancing Group that will Perform at San Diego’s Yom HaZikaron Ceremony and Yom Ha'atzmaut Festival, 2014.

This program subsidized by the Tarbuton for Jewish families in San Diego encourages children to participate in both Holidays bringing their love and passion for Israel and sharing that passion with the community. 

The dancing group will perform in the Yom Hazikaron Ceremony (Israel Memorial Day).  The singing group will sing in the Yom Haatzmaut Festival. There are no fees to participate

Rehearsals will take place on Sundays 3/23, 3/30, 4/6, 4/27 @the Tarbuton in Carmel Valley. 12:00-12:30 Singing. 12:30-1:00 dancing.

The Yom Hazikaron ceremony is on May 4th at 7pm. Dress rehearsal will take place at the JCC on Monday April 18th at 5pm.  The Yom Haatzmaut festival is on May 18th at Nobel Park, A rehearsal will take place at the festival beforehand.

Please confirm participation at info@tarbuton.org