Sunday, November 30, 2014
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The annual Charles Bronfman Prize recognizes young humanitarians whose work is inspired by their Jewish values and is of universal benefit to all people. The goal of the Prize is to recognize dynamic leaders whose innovation and impact serve as inspiration for the next generations.
The prize is in honor of Charles Bronfman – a man who spent his lifetime developing, implementing, and supporting initiatives to help strengthen the unity of the Jewish people. The Charles Bronfman Prize is accepting nominations of individuals and teams who represent universal humanitarian endeavors and seek solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, while staying true to their Jewish values. Applications are due by January 15, 2015.
In the spring of 2015, an international panel of judges will select the Charles Bronfman Prize recipient who will be the awarded $100,000 Nominees must be under the age of 50, and they must self-define as Jewish.
Nomination forms and guidelines can be found at www.TheCharlesBronfmanPrize.com.
Friday, November 28, 2014
|Oksana Zolodyev and son, Artur in a potato crate in their basement in Ukraine|
Despite all the turmoil, Israel’s absorption centers continue to welcome Jewish immigrants seeking peace, asylum, and the right to practice Judaism. In this busy holiday season, the plight of those in far-away countries can seem out of sight and out of mind, but today, Jews living in the realities of Eastern Ukraine are facing adverse circumstances and a terrible rise in anti-Semitism.
Federation’s mission is to care for all Jews in need, locally, in Israel, and around the world. We are only able to provide this much needed assistance thanks to our on-the-ground partners at The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
Caryn Farber, Director of the JDC in Australia, reports that there are an estimated 350,000 Jews in war-ravaged Ukraine who are being cared for by local Jewish communities, supported, trained, and inspired by JDC. The same is true for hundreds of thousands across Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Moldova and for thousands of others from India to Tunisia.
The JDC provides assistance to Jews in need - from transportation documents, to actual travel, cultural and educational immersion programs, basic necessities, job placement, and more. Federation and our partners are there to ensure that their needs are met, and their voices are heard. Together, Federation and JDC help thousands of Jews, every year. One such story is that of the Zolodyev family who found themselves in the epicenter of the crisis in Ukraine.
The Zolodyevs, a Jewish Ukrainian family of four, were living in Lugansk when heavy fighting erupted in the region. Having wanted to move to Israel for years, but unable to immediately sell their apartment, the family sent their 19-year old daughter Aleksandrina to Israel on Selah— a JAFI immigration program— meaning - Students Before Parents. Upon her arrival in Israel, Aleksandrina studied Hebrew, went to school, got involved in her community, and became immersed in Israeli society while she waited for the rest of her family to join her.
Meanwhile, Alexksandria’s parents and younger brother, Artur, were sadly enduring the violence and destruction unfolding in her homeland. The Zolodyevs have harrowing stories of long dark nights hiding their basement; sleeping in cold potato crates; surviving a severe food shortage on barley and onions; and surviving with no electricity and scarce water for more than two months. For weeks, the family had no way to contact their daughter in Israel. Their 16-year-old son was forced to study under the light of a battery-operated lamp, when batteries were available, and was unable to play sports, or spend time with friends.
After deciding it was time to leave, JAFI helped the Zolodyev family reunite in Israel after being separated for a long 18 months. JAFI arranged for the family’s transportation, accommodations, and arranged for Aleksandrina to greet her parents and brother at Ben-Gurion airport. Now, the Zolodyev family temporarily lives in an absorption center in the town of Karmiel, where they are enrolled in an immersive Ulpan program. Artur, is studying at a Federation funded World ORT Technion school, and Aleksandria is preparing to serve in the IDF though a JAFI program.
“It’s a dream for a person from Lugansk to come this place, to Israel. And not everyone is blessed with this opportunity. Only those who have the right to make Aliyah, said Aleksandrina, “This is our home, our one and only home.”
The story of the Zolodyev family is just one example of several thousand that depicts how Federation cares for all Jews in need.
All of this is possible thanks to you generosity. This thanksgiving we are thankful for you and your support.
Together, we do extraordinary things.
To read the family’s full story and to learn more about the work of JAFI, click here.
To learn more about JDC visit their website.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
|Please visit www.|
to learn more about our organization.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
The sustainable student village constructed of repurposed shipping containers, built by the Ayalim Association – a grassroots movement on a mission to rejuvenate hard-up areas from the Negev and Galilee, took little time compared to traditional construction measures. The village, one of thirteen built by the association, serves multiple purposes— to bring bright students, young families, and a new sense of liveliness to the region in an effort to revitalize, re-build, and to foster sustainable social change.
In the past, living on-campus was not a popular option among students due to the grim depiction of the region, causing students to seek housing in nearby moshavim and kibbutzim. The goal of the newly constructed student housing project is to change that notion, and inspire hope.
“By building a new student village in Sderot and bringing hundreds of young adults to live in Sderot, we will not only be giving an ‘energy boost’ and renewed hope to this city, we will also send an important message: we do not break, we build,” according to a statement made on behalf of the Ayalim Association.
The new village –built not only to attract young intellectuals to the region – also serves as a means to spur positive and sustainable social change. In exchange for housing, students are required to volunteer 10 hours per week with children, youth, and seniors in the community, which Ayalim believes will be instrumental in addressing the region’s educational, social, and physical woes.
Israeli officials, Ayalim Association members, and residents of Southern Israel, are aspiring to a new paradigm – a result of the student village – that will spark urban renewal and serve as a remarkable example for cities throughout Israel and the world, looking for solutions to rebuild communities, rejuvenate cultures, and inspire hope.
To read the full article by Israel21c, click here.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
More than 6,000 San Diegans participated in the first annual weekend-long event. Shabbat San Diego offered a multitude of activities to encourage community members to have meaningful and personalized experiences, including a Thursday night mega challah bake, Friday evening and Saturday morning services, Shabbat meals at host homes throughout the county, afternoon lectures and study sessions, and the concluding havdalah ceremony. Keeping It Together, the weekend’s theme, emphasized unplugging from everyday life and plugging in to the Shabbat experience of family, friends, rejuvenation and community.
“Shabbat San Diego and Federation’s Shalom San Diego initiatives share a similar vision — to connect unengaged Jews in meaningful ways to the broader Jewish community.” said Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of Federation.
Federation is happy to announce its dedication to providing ongoing support for Shabbat San Diego well into the future.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
This summer was a tumultuous one for San Diego’s sister community, Sha’ar HaNegev, which was under constant threat of rockets and terrorist tunnels during Operation Protective Edge. The violence, fear, and destruction caused many families to leave the southern region of Israel, seeking refuge in the north. Throughout the conflict, the people of Sha’ar HaNegev remained strong, endured endless assault, and will once again thrive as a unified, robust, and vibrant community.
As history reveals– Israel has always been the underdog– triumphantly prevailing through adverse circumstances only to prosper as a stronger nation. Rebuilding damaged communities, invigorating the economy, and attracting people to the region – some of the major challenges facing Sha’ar HaNegev – will be overcome with great tenacity, determination, and an unbroken willpower demonstrated by the Jewish people. As revitalization and reconstruction begin, “there is a strong sense of excitement and energy accompanied with a bit of trepidation” said Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of Federation, who just returned from the region.
The residents of our sister community are stridently moving forward – just as early Zionists once did – with a pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial mindset. The $3.4M in emergency relief funds raised by Federation’s Reach Out For Israel Campaign went directly to Israel, with more than $1M allocated to go to Sha’ar HaNegev for humanitarian aid and rebuilding a war-torn community.
In addition to providing financial aid, Federation dollars have gone towards an increased effort to connect young Jews, especially in wake of this summer’s hostilities, to Israel at the present moment and well into the future. By strategically boosting the placement of emissaries and Israeli Fellows located on North American college campuses—improving the representation of the nation, increasing education, and encouraging travel— a strong and lasting sentiment towards the Jewish state will be created.
Thank you for your support of Israel!
Balboa Park December Nights, the nation’s premier holiday festival, will take place for the 35th consecutive year on Friday, Dec. 5, 5-10pm, and Saturday, Dec. 6, noon-10pm. As always, the event brings families and friends together to spread holiday joy, learn more about the cultural value of Balboa Park and kick-off the “most wonderful time of the year.” Participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 pm both evenings and more than 300,000 visitors are expected to experience the joy of San Diego’s largest free community festival. Those who attend will participate in a truly multicultural experience, enjoying food, music and entertainment from around the world.
To learn more about the event and House of Israel visit their website. To learn how to get involved and volunteer click here.
Friday, November 14, 2014
On Wednesday, November 12, more than fifty professionalsattended the second Jewish Professional Network (JPro) breakfast. The breakfast, dubbed Graceful Transitions and Navigating Change, featured former CEO of Jewish Family Service, Jill Borg Spitzer, and current CEO Michael Hopkins. The colleagues spoke candidly to the audience about their experiences— separately and as a team— transitioning into their respective leadership roles, the start of their Jewish professional careers, and discussed lessons they learned along the way.
The breakfast convened with an opening speech from Moderator, Rabbi Matt Earne of Temple Beth Am, who discussed the necessity of change in Jewish life while highlighting connections to the week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah. Through his connection to the matriarch of Judaism, Rabbi Earne, emphasized purposeful and meaningful life transformations—both personally and professionally.
Change wasn’t the only topic in agreement between the past and present CEO’s, both speakers, discussed the importance of treating all organizational staff in a way that they would want to be treated one day; providing on-going professional and leadership development opportunities for Jewish communal professionals; and keeping the ‘talent’ within the local Jewish community.
In addition to sharing several viewpoints, Hopkins and Spitzer credited their Jewish summer camp experiences as instrumental to their careers in the Jewish non-profit world. Hopkins and Spitzer both said they were guided to be in the positions that they are in today, highlighting the importance of connecting and mentorship; hence, the JPro Network.
In light of the 20th annual San Diego Jewish Book Fair, the breakfast concluded with a few words about a book that affected both speakers throughout their careers. A Responsible Life: The Spiritual Path of Mussar— the book chosen by Spitzer— was referred to as a guide to lead an ethical, fulfilling, and more pragmatic life. Hopkins discussed Strengths Finders, a book that his allowed him and his staff to discover their assets, which has become an invaluable team building, leadership, and organizational resource.
The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is proud to promote and sponsor the JPro Network. The third JPro event, “Lighting the Way to the Future” will take place on December 14th, with exciting details coming soon.
The Federation supported JPro Network aims to empower San Diego Jewish communal professionals with innovative ideas and best practices to impact the sector through community-wide educational and leadership programs. To learn more about JPro and future events visit their Facebook page.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
|Sha'ar Ha'Negev and Bedouin residents at a community breask-fast|
Throughout the summer during Operation Protective Edge, residents of southern Israel faced trying times as they attempted to go about their everyday lives all while protecting themselves from rocket fire and living under the constant sound of sirens. Kehillat Sha’ar HaNegev, led by student-Rabbi Yael Karie, stepped up to the plate to provide programming and guidance to those most in need. The most vulnerable populations in this situation, as can be expected, included young children, elderly populations, immigrant populations, emotionally challenged populations, and those of lower socio-economic means.
Rabbi Yael, first and foremost, focused on keeping “business as usual” as much as possible by continuing to hold regular Shabbat services, which were attended by hundreds of the Sha’ar HaNegev kibbutzim and moshavim residents. A special Shabbat service was held in Kibbutz Dorot with IDF soldiers serving in and near the Gaza Strip throughout the summer. For many of these young men and women, this was the first time they had ever experienced a Reform service. Some of the Shabbat Service attendees grew up in traditional Jewish households, where modern Orthodox practices were common. On the other hand, some attendees grew up in completely secular households, where religion was not present and exposure to prayer was limited.
In light and in spite of the naturally tense situation in the region, Yael decided to hold a Ramadan break-fast with the Bedouin community in Rahat (a Bedouin community in the Negev), which fell right at the height of the Operation. Despite the fears surrounding tension between residents of the Sha’ar Ha’Negev regional council and the Bedouin residents of the Negev, the event was very well attended and was filled with good spirits. The participants spoke about their specific concerns, the general relationship between Jewish and Arab communities in Israel, and about ways to make peace. All sides walked away from the program with renewed energies and a desire to move forward following very difficult weeks.
The past summer was characterized by a constant repeat of the announcement “color red, color red”, which indicated a rocket had just been launched and instructed people to take cover within 10 seconds. In an effort to maintain a positive image of the color red, the community in Sha’ar HaNegev began a Facebook campaign called “HappyRed, which invited people to post positive red images and positive images associated with the color to a designated Facebook photo album.
Additional activities included: musical events at Be’er Sheva hostels; programs with the elderly in Kibbutz Dorot; acupuncture for the elderly; a day of fun activities for staff, children, and doctors at the Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva; and Reform Rabbi solidarity missions. Throughout the summer, four JFNA solidarity missions had arrived in Israel. The mission’s participants got to visit with Yael and members of her community.
Yael’s resilience proved unprecedented, as she led her community through this tough period, continuing to lead Shabbat services while significantly enhancing programing for her community members. All of this could not have been done without the support of the Federation Israel campaign along with the on-going and enhanced support of the IMPJ headquarters staff. It was a true statement of Jewish solidarity when it was most necessary.
For more information, please contact David Bernstein, IMPJ director of development and overseas relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or +972-54-779-1101.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Last week at the 2014 JCamp 180 Annual Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts, Ed Samiljan, San Diego mensch, former Federation Board Member, and Jewish camp visionary, received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award for his hard-work, dedication, and personal contribution to Camp Mountain Chai in San Diego.
JCamp 180 aims to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of non-profit overnight camps and organizations that engage young people in meaningful Jewish cultural and educational experiences. Each year, JCamp 180 hosts an annual conference where Jewish camp professionals and community leaders gather to learn, network, and schmooze for a weekend of enrichment and development opportunities. On the last day of the conference, the Annual JCamp 180 Award Ceremony is held, honoring those who have demonstrated achievements over the past year in the field of Jewish Camp.
Ed Samiljan became actively involved in the San Diego Jewish community at age 48 upon moving to the west coast with his family. Although leaving the east coast behind, he didn’t forgo his strong Jewish identity, in particular, his passion for Jewish Summer camp that was afforded (barely) to him as a child. Having grown up poor, Ed recalls Jewish Camp as a “frivolous expense”, but one that his parents were able to scrape together for an unforgettable and life changing experience.
When Ed first became active in the San Diego Jewish community, he wanted San Diego to be the most welcoming Jewish community to the greatest amount of people. Feeling strongly about Jewish continuity he got involved in the Pathways to Judaism project— a program that sought to engage interfaith families in the Jewish community. It was there he realized his destiny, to lower the barriers to entry and long waitlists of Jewish Summer Camps that San Diego parents were facing.
To solve this pressing problem, Ed co-founded Camp Mountain Chai personally seeking out funds, donors, partners, and locations for a new Jewish Summer camp. Now, a short ten years later, Ed’s dedication, vision, and generosity, has brought the Jewish Camp experience to thousands of kids. Today, Camp Mountain Chai welcomes more than 500 children each summer and is open year round for Jewish retreats and programs. No child has ever, nor will be, turned away from Camp Mountain Chai due to financial need, thanks to Ed’s vision, generosity, and kindness.
To address the future need for camp scholarship funds, Ed and his staff are in the process of developing an endowment at Jewish Community Foundation to ensure all Jewish children have the opportunity to attend summer camp, and once that is completed a “worthy legacy will be made and left behind,” as Ed puts it.
The Jewish Federation of San Diego County extends its praise and would like to wish Ed Samiljan and the Camp Mountain Chai staff who have worked to turn Ed’s vision into a reality, a huge mazel tov and toda raba!
For a link to the JCamp 180 Outstanding Philanthropist Introductory speech: click here.
This fall, the Mosad Shalom Religious School of Temple Adat Shalom in North County San Diego raised $360 to provide new equipment in the Children’s Houses at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, located on the Israel Gaza border, which was evacuated during this summer’s violence. When Mosad Shalom Religious School re-convened after summer break, the shelling in Israel had just recently ceased and the summer-long war was fresh in everyone’s minds.
Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Temple Adat Shalom have a long-time partnership and relationship, signified by two friendship gardens— one here in San Diego and one on Kibbutz Nahal Oz— with plaques denoting the heverot (friendship). The friendship began eight years ago between two dedicated educational professionals, Susan Cohn, Director of Mosad Shalom Religious School, and Tami Halevi, Director of Education at Kibbbutz Nahal Oz. The two met through one of Federation’s professional exchanges nearly a decade ago. The colleagues kept in touch, spoke often, and visited each other from time to time, thanks to Federation funded travel to and from Israel. Susan had plans to visit Tami and the children this past July, but was unable when Nahal Oz was evacuated due to terrorist rockets and tunnels in the region.
|Plaque on Kibbutz Nahal Oz recognizing the friendship|
The students and faculty of Mosad Shalom Religious School wanted to do something for their friends in Israel. On the first day of religious school, at the 7th Annual Pancake Breakfast, families were shown a brief slideshow of everyday life at and the realities facing families living on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, which inspired the children to donate tzedakah to help buy new equipment, supplies, and toys for the children of the kibbutz – to provide comfort on their arrival home from evacuation.
Last week on a trip to Israel, Michael Sonduck, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, had the privilege to act as an emissary to the children of Nahal Oz and hand deliver $360 to the kibbutz.
Kol HaKavod to the students and faculty of Mosad Shalom Religious Day School!
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
On Monday, November 3, Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Latino-Jewish Coalition (LJC), in partnership with the Consulate General of Israel, held a breakfast at Ohr Shalom to showcase Israel’s contributions to the socio-economic impact on the developing world. More than 40 participants had the opportunity engage in a conversation with Mazal Renford, former Director of the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center in Haifa, Israel, as she shared amazing stories of Israelis making a real difference in the world.
Below are links to the MASHAV website and an article about Mazal Renford from the Jewish Post.
MASHAV Website– http://mfa.gov.il/mfa/mashav/Pages/default.aspx
Article about Mazal– http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Taking-Israeli-womens-empowerment-global-380512
You can read more about Israel’s most recent venture into India here -http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Peres-heads-to-India-to-launch-food-security-project-380872