Friday, January 30, 2015

Federation Welcomes Charlene Seidle and Bids Farewell to Marjory Kaplan

This year marks the start of an exciting transformation for the Jewish Community Foundation, which has been a pillar of the San Diego Jewish community since 1967. This year is also one of major transition for two remarkable women, Marjory Kaplan and Charlene Seidle, who have been leaders in our local Jewish community for more than two decades.

Marjory was appointed President and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) in 1994, and through her hard work, creativity, and leadership, she became instrumental in the growth of the organization, working to expand community impact and philanthropic outreach.

In 1994, JCF managed approximately $13 million in assets and annually granted only $1 million dollars to the community. Twenty years later, and thanks to Marjory’s dedication, JCF now facilitates $100 million dollars in grants on an annual basis, and manages over $300 million in assets. Last month, a major milestone was reached under Marjory’s leadership—JCF granted its billionth dollar, making San Diego history.

In addition to her financial impact, Marjory has worked to develop innovative programs, strengthen non-profits throughout San Diego and beyond, create intergenerational philanthropy programs, promote female leadership, and mentor future leaders. After twenty successful years and many accomplishments under her belt, Marjory retired at the end of January 2015. This year, the torch has officially been passed to Charlene Seidle, Former Executive Vice President of Leichtag Foundation.

Charlene began her career at the Foundation in 1997 as an intern while she pursued her undergraduate degree at UCSD. During this time she received mentorship from Marjory. In her distinguished career, Charlene has demonstrated leadership in both the Jewish and non-profit world of San Diego, with her reach extending beyond California. Charlene’s transformative work in the San Diego Jewish community includes the creation and implementation of Leichtag’s strategic framework; overseas grant making; and the creation of groundbreaking programs such as the North County Jewish Hub, Jerusalem Matching Grant Initiative, and Jewish Food Justice Fellowship.

Federation would like to sincerely thank Marjory for twenty years of excellence and dedicated service to our community. We are beyond thrilled to welcome Charlene and look forward to her positive impact at JCF. We have no doubt she will elevate the local and Jewish community while working to make San Diego, and the world, a better place.

L’hitraot, Marjory, and Bruchah haba’ah, Charlene.

Local Couple Returns to Auschwitz

Max and Rose Schindler on their wedding day and more recently. Photos courtesy of the Schindlers and ABC News.
Two Holocaust survivors and San Diego locals, Max and Rose Schindler, journeyed to Auschwitz Tuesday for the 70-year anniversary of the camp's liberation. The Schindlers returned to Poland to remember and honor the 1.1 million Jews who were ruthlessly murdered by the Nazis at the camp, including many of the family's relatives and friends.

Read more about this momentous occasion, and incredible tale of hope and survival below.

Click here to read full coverage of this amazing story from the Union Tribune, published Sunday.

Click here to read and to watch the Schindler's remarkable story that appeared on ABC 10 News on January 23.

Click here to read more about Rose Schindler's experience and to learn about the memorial ceremony, where more than 100 Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivors gathered last Tuesday.

Never forget.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

San Diego's Cultural Connection to Israel | Union Tribune

Sha'ar HaNegev is a largely rural enclave of 6,000 residents in Israel that is near the border of the densely populated Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, January 26, the San Diego Union Tribune published a multi-spread article titled "Cultural Connections", which highlights the history of San Diego's longstanding, dynamic, strategic, and meaningful relationship with San Diego's sister region in Israel--Sha'ar HaNegev.

The article takes an in-depth look into the perspectives of several San Diegans who are actively involved in the local Jewish community and feel a strong personal connection to Israel, and in particular, Sha'ar HaNegev. The article also sheds light on the viewpoints of Sha'ar HaNegev residents and leaders who similarly feel a strong connection to the San Diego Jewish community.

For a better understanding of Federation's work in and connection to the southern region of Sha'ar HaNegev, read this article.

JDC CEO Alan H. Gill's Update on Ukraine

This article written by Alan H. Gill, CEO of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Federation's partner organization that was published by Fox News on January 26

As Americans in the Northeast brace for a possibly historic blizzard, a world away in Ukraine, a crisis continues without end. Further exacerbated these days by soaring food and medicine costs, the currency plummeting, and a burst of brutal violence in the eastern city of Mariupol over the weekend, a more familiar challenge for the poor and displaced of this Eastern European nation is now in full force: winter.

Facing freezing temperatures, endless snow, and a desperate need for heating fuel and warm clothes, the brutal seasonal switch this year is also made worse because of skyrocketing utility prices and housing that is sub-standard or destroyed by fighting. Add to that planned power outages and requests that citizens lower heating thermostats to below 60 Fahrenheit, and you will find many Ukrainians literally out in the cold.

With the UN reporting that more than 500,000 people are displaced within Ukraine because of continued fighting, more than 100,000 of which are children, the toll begins to add up. And the needs among these refugees — proper housing, food, post-trauma support — are growing to include the warm bedding, sound shelter, and access to heaters that is critical to survive the cold.

We see it everyday among the more than 2,000 displaced and distressed Ukrainian Jews we are caring for in cities like Kiev, Odessa, Kharkov, and Dnepropetrovsk.

These people, like hundreds of thousands of others, have fled worsening conditions in the east, often with no one to care for them in new cities around the country. Many come without jobs, no money, and hope to bring their remaining relatives or friends to safer places. Take the Khomich family who fled fighting in Donetsk and found refuge in Zaporozhe.

In addition to the aid package we are providing to them as a displaced family, we have also included warm clothing and footwear. Their situation is made more difficult because 49-year old Olga must care for her 87-year old mother, Lyudmila, and her 8-year old daughter Polina, who suffers from cerebral palsy, on their meager pensions. With our help, they have been able to find housing, a wheel chair for Polina, medical care and other basic needs to survive.

And for those who remain behind in the East, winter is accompanied by shelling, fear of violence, and for the homebound, especially the elderly, no way out. But it’s not just for those living in the war-zone who face a challenging winter.

In Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, just two hours away from Odessa, lives a 27-year old widow and her three daughters, who she care for alone. In her small flat, the windows are sealed shut, the air dank. But the fresh air, which rushes in when the window is opened, is freezing. So we have given her a stipend to operate her electric heater and help send her children to classes at one of our thirty-two Hesed social welfare centers serving 1,000 locations around Ukraine, which is heated.

But more must be done. To help ease the suffering, a coalition made up of local Ukrainian Jewish communities, Jewish and Christian aid groups, philanthropists, and community leaders and activists, including my organization, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), have been working steadily in partnership over the last eight months to provide help in the face of this worsening humanitarian crisis.

For the neediest among Ukraine’s estimated 300,000 Jews, this has come in the form of extra food and medicine, homecare and security, psychological support, accommodation, holiday celebrations and community events, and now, relief services during the brutal winter months.

With temperatures dropping, the drastic escalation in our services – including window repairs and replacements, the subsidizing of utility payments, and provision of extra fuel – represents a seven-fold increase in the budget we have dedicated to our annual winter relief program that serves thousands of Ukrainian Jews every year. And for many, it means the difference between living another day and freezing to death.

Remember that as you zip up your down jacket, gaze at the fireplace, or snuggle up in the warm place you call home as Winter Storm Juno rages. And join the efforts to bring some warmth to those needy people in Ukraine who are huddling together to ward off many months of cold like no other.

Alan H. Gill is the CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)

JFNA Public Policy Priorities 2015

On Monday, January 26, the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) Board of Trustees approved its 2015 Public Policy Priorities - ten legislative priorities for the Washington office:

Below is the list of JFNA's ten public policy priorities for 2015. Click here for more details and to read the entire document.

1. Empowering older adults to age well with dignity and an enhanced quality of life.

2. Promoting the international interests of the Jewish Federations.

3. Maximizing incentives for and supporting interests of charitable organizations.

4. Protecting Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care, and the health safety net.

5. Safeguarding the Jewish community from terrorism and responding to natural disasters.

6. Advocating with and on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

7. Sustaining services for the most vulnerable.

8. Preserving education opportunities.

9. Mitigating the effects of Sequestration while securing funding for community programs.

10. Assisting immigrants and refugees.

JFNA represents 152 Jewish Federations and over 300 independent Jewish communities across North America. JFNA’s Washington office brings the voice of Jewish Federations to Capitol Hill and the White House, advocating for life-saving and humanitarian assistance in the United States and 70 other countries around the world.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Save the Date: SCY Tunes 10 | February 8

Mark your calendars for SCY Tunes 10 on Sunday, February 8th @ 6 pm! It will be a beautiful evening combining the melodious a cappella music of Yeshiva University's Y-Studs and a gourmet dessert reception, all in support of a wonderful cause - Jewish education in San Diego. This is an event you will not want to miss! Invitations will be arriving soon.

Visit to reserve your tickets and to donate. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

NextGen Hosts High Score Happy Hour

On Thursday, January 15, NextGen hosted another successful and well attended event – High Score Happy Hour. More than 75 Jewish young adults gathered at Coin-Op in North Park for an evening of friendly competition at the classic arcade-themed bar. Attendees noshed on delicious appetizers, sipped on tasty happy hour drinks, and schmoozed with old and new friends. Event proceeds benefited One Happy Camper – a program of the Jewish Federation and Foundation for Jewish Camp, which sends kids to camp for a traditional Jewish summer camp experience.

“Once again, I am thrilled by the turnout and involvement of young adults in the San Diego Jewish community,” said Danny Fleischer, NextGen Manager. “I am proud of the NextGen community for raising a significant amount of money for One Happy Camper, a program that is near and dear to my heart.” 

The 2015 NextGen event calendar is already packed with exciting events! Make sure to stay up-to-date on NextGen happenings. You won’t want to miss what NextGen has in store for you this year!  

About NextGen:

NextGen – a Jewish Federation of San Diego County initiative – is dedicated to engaging Jewish young adults in San Diego County at a level that speaks to them. NextGen is an innovative collaboration of more than 15 young adult organizations, designed to inspire thousands of young philanthropists to get engaged and embrace their Jewish heritage.

NextGen’s mission is to double Jewish young adult engagement over the next four years through educational, social, religious, professional, and philanthropic programming. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 Jewish young adults involved in Jewish activities in San Diego. By 2017, NextGen aims to spur Jewish engagement for 5,000 young adults.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Update on Ukraine

Federation’s partners at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are on the ground in frigid Ukraine, providing critical aid to some of the world’s poorest Jews. What started as a political crisis in November 2013 has turned into a drawn-out war in Eastern Ukraine, which is causing a national economic collapse and is close to becoming a humanitarian catastrophe. Thousands of Jews remain trapped in conflict zones while many have fled the region – a phenomenon that has not befallen this part of the world since World War II.

In addition to political conflict and violence plaguing the region, there has been a severe depreciation in Ukrainian currency, which has had led to loss of local buying power and an extreme devaluation of pensions – putting Ukrainian seniors in an incredibly dire situation. The JDC reports that several regions have denied pension payouts all together, which has been an added burden to already vulnerable populations.

In July of 2014, at the height of the conflict, local cities under artillery fire had very limited access to basic commodities, such as food, water, medicine, and fuel. Shortly after, in November of 2014, all state services were withdrawn from regions experiencing extreme conflict. Moreover, the central bank of Ukraine ended all banking services for people and businesses.

The violence, political conflict, and devaluation of currency has led to an extreme increase in the price of basic goods (when and if available in the first place). For example, the cost of food and medicine rose by 50-80 percent. On average, households started paying 70 percent more for their monthly utility bills, a particularly dangerous situation in this harsh Ukrainian winter.

Federation’s on-the-ground partners at the JDC aim to help all Jews in need around the world no matter what, but their reach has been hindered due to several factors, such as territorial issues and cash now being the only tender of payment--obstacles in regards to aid distribution. As a result, the JDC needs to purchase all products in cash then hire drivers to deliver goods to Jews living in conflict zones.

Sadly, it’s not just the Jews of Ukraine that are suffering as a result of the conflict; there has been an increase of the number of Jews in need in neighboring Russia. Russia’s economy has also been hit hard. In 2014, oil prices dropped below 44 percent and the ruble depreciated 40 percent (against the dollar).The JDC currently cares for 85,000 elderly Jews in Russia, but is anticipating an increase in clients and a higher demand for services. The increase in the need from vulnerable Russian Jews is predicted to limit the impact, scope, reach, and work of the JDC in Eastern Ukraine.

Prior to the crisis, JDC was serving more than 60,000 elderly adults-- the most vulnerable of the population and 9,000 at-risk children in 1,200 locations throughout Eastern Ukraine. To date, JDC continues to provide basic humanitarian aid, such as, food, medical help, and homecare to 5,791 clients who have remained in their homes in conflict zones. Today, JDC is assisting 2,394 displaced Jews from Eastern Ukraine who have fled to other cities in Ukraine or to Russia. Thanks to your generosity, assistance in the form of  accommodation subsidies, trauma support, and other emergency services is being provided.

Lastly, JDC is focusing heavily on winter relief, as citizens are facing a heating supply shortage, which is due to a rise in cost as Russia is the main supplier of gas and fuel. None of this life saving work would be possible without you. Your continued support allows us to care for all Jews in need around the world.

Allocations for Emergency Security Funding in Europe

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reflections from Jane Fantel’s Recent Trip to Israel

Keren, Gur, Tom, and Amit Katz lighting the menorah in their home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
Federation’s Director of Israel Connections, Jane Fantel, just returned from a month-long trip to Israel, where she spent time with friends, both old and new, in San Diego’s sister region - Sha’ar HaNegev. 

Jane personally experienced the effects of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, and conveyed her thoughts and stories to the Federation team to help staff members truly understand the multitude of negative implications that resulted from Israel’s most recent war.  Jane’s first-hand account was eye opening, informative, and offered a fresh perspective.

During Chanukah, Jane visited with her friends— the Katz family at their home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, located a few kilometers from Gaza, where she stayed with them for three nights. During the height of the conflict, the family moved to another kibbutz located further away from the constant threat of rocket attacks.

The Katz family expressed to Jane that they weren’t currently living in Nahal Oz, but that they would love to return home to host her for her stay and celebrate Chanukah together. The return home was an emotional experience for everyone.

Jane learned from Keren and Gur Katz that their eldest daughter Tom, used to occasionally babysit Daniel Tregerman, the four-year-old, who was killed outside of his home this past summer by mortar fire. Returning to Nahal Oz was an especially difficult experience for Tom. Upon hearing stories from residents, it became clear to Jane that the war was a traumatic experience for not only the Katz family, but the entire southern region of Israel.

Jane was surprised to learn that despite all the trauma experienced by the family and their four children, their two eldest daughters—Tom and Amit, still return for day trips to volunteer as youth advisors and to work with children on the Kibbutz, where they themselves were born and raised.

After receiving a tour and seeing some of the effects of the war on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Jane had a better understanding of why the Katz family has yet to return. To date, the family remains on the fence in regards to their decision to move back home for good, and the Kibbutz has given them an extension to make a final decision.

Whenever the topic comes up, it ultimately boils down to the same debate, which is what most families in the same position are feeling— it’s a matter of what is best for their children in a vulnerable region with an uncertain future. 

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Lectures | January 30-31


Monday, January 19, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rabbi Lau Visits San Diego

On Tuesday, January 13, Rabbi David Lau, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, visited the San Diego Jewish community. The event was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of San Diego County and our community partners at the University City Chabad. Both organizations were thrilled to welcome the Chief Rabbi, a welcome voice as we reflect on the terrible violence in France.

The Rabbi’s visit was cathartic and healing for our saddened Jewish community. More than 300 San Diegans showed up to attend the rescheduled event, to mourn as a community, and to listen Rabbi Lau discuss his role and personal life experience as one of Israel’s Chief Rabbis.

Before speeches began, the crowd stood to recite the mourners prayer and candles were lit in honor of the four fallen French Jews. Following the remembrance service, Don Schlesinger, Federation’s Senior Director of Community Partnerships, gave an opening speech thanking the Rabbis and the community for attending the event and coming together in solidarity. Schlesinger described the integral work and programs of Federation and thanked Chabad of University City for hosting and organizing the event. Rabbi Eliza Burke, President of San Diego Rabbinical Association, then offered some moving remarks regarding the power and resilience of Jewish communities throughout the world.

Rabbi Lau began the discussion by condemning the horrific attacks on French Jews. He proceeded to talk about Jewish communities in North America and Israel, a decrease in worldwide Jewish affiliation, and major influences in his personal life and career. The moderator emphasized and reiterated Rabbi Lau being the second youngest Rabbi elected as a Chief Rabbi of Israel while highlighting Lau’s personal goal of reaching out to a diverse array of Jewish communities around the world in an effort to create global Jewish community inclusiveness.

“Overall, this was a meaningful and heartfelt event that brought San Diego’s diverse Jewish community together as one,” said Don Schlesinger. “Federation hopes to continue to promote inclusiveness by emphasizing the great many values and traditions that all Jews in San Diego county share regardless of diverse backgrounds and affiliations. “

We are pleased to sponsor the event and extend a sincere toda raba to Rabbi Lau and Chabad of University City for attending and orchestrating the highly symbolic, meaningful, and moving evening.

Read more coverage of this momentous event at San Diego Jewish World

Federation's Impact in France

Dear Colleagues,

The situation in France is of great concern to us all, and we at The Jewish Agency for Israel are deeply appreciative of how many communities have launched efforts to raise funds for our crucial work in reinforcing security at French synagogues and day schools. But perhaps more importantly, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the ongoing support federations provide to The Jewish Agency every year through the JFNA Collective (a.k.a. “Overseas Core”).

Tuesday’s New York Times article (click here) exemplifies the many reports in papers and on TV news channels about the remarkable rise in Aliyah from France over the last two years—well prior to the assaults last week. The doubling of Aliyah in two subsequent years from France is a phenomenon that is changing the face of Jewish life in Europe and Israel. It reflects the opportunity that Israel represents and the complexity of Jewish life in the European diaspora. Sometimes, we make the error of thinking that the historic shifts in Jewish life took place between the Holocaust and the Six Day War—or perhaps the fall of the Iron Curtain. But dramatic changes continue to reshape the destiny of the Jewish People, and Federations—in their partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel—are on the leading edge of that story. That is to say, you were there with us before The Times published its story.

The work of French Aliyah has taken place without special campaigns and fanfare. We have dramatically increased our staffing in both France and Israel to accommodate the rise in inquiries about and applications for Aliyah. We have conducted numerous Aliyah fairs. And we have adapted our “klitah” (absorption) programs in Israel to meet the needs of rising numbers of French Jews. We have supported Masa trips for ever larger numbers of French young adults, many of whom are making the decision to remain in Israel. We have done this, in large measure, with the collective funds we receive from the federations.

An inside look at the Jewish Agency's immigration information fair.
We are often asked whether there is a case for “core” giving. We are asked whether the collective has measurable impact. We are asked whether we are adapting to the changing realities of the Jewish world. This week we have only to listen to the reports on TV and in the newspapers; the answer is clear. You are making an enormous difference.

Thank you,

Misha Galperin
President and CEO
Jewish Agency for Israel

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Israel Prepares for Dramatic Increase in Aliyah from French Jews

The funeral procession of Yoav Hattab, the 21-year old who returned from Birthright days before he was ruthlessly murdered in the terror attack on the Jewish community of France at the Hyper Kacher kosher market.

Well before last week’s tragic events that rocked the French community, and communities around the world, aliyah (immigration) to Israel from France had been at its highest rate due to rising anti-Semitism throughout the country. According to a statement made by Ariel Kandel, the Jewish Agency’s Senior Shaliach of France, the rise in aliyah from the Jews of France is at the highest rate since the establishment of the state of Israel!

Federation’s partners at the Jewish Agency told NBC News that 7,000 people moved to Israel from France last year – double the amount of French Jews who made aliyah in 2013. Prior to the attack on the French Jewish community at the kosher supermarket, the Jewish Agency estimated that 10,000 more would make aliyah in 2015. However, that number is now being revised and is anticipated to be much higher after last week’s horrific attacks.

In a statement to NBC News, Avi Meyer of the Jewish Agency said, “A lot of people thought it was only a matter of time for something like this to happen.” Meyer also mentioned that, “There’s a sense among many French Jews that it’s simply unsafe to identify openly as a Jew in the streets of France.” Meyer then went on to discuss the great increase in phone calls that the Jewish Agency has been receiving since the catastrophic events that occurred at the kosher supermarket last week, describing the incoming phone calls as “literally doubled”.

This week, hundreds of French Jews attended a Jewish Agency aliyah fair in central Paris on Sunday, January 11th, directly following the terror attacks. In light of the recent and anticipated increase in French aliyah, the Jewish Agency is working directly with the Israel Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption centers to ease the entire process, allowing thousands of French Jews to relocate and visit the country through Jewish Agency programs.

What can you do? Help us help them. Your continued support of Federation allows for the allocation of funds to partner organizations such as the Jewish Agency, which directly assists not only French Jews in need, but all Jews in need around the world!

Please consider making a donation to the Jewish Federation of San Diego County’s France Emergency Relief Fund. One hundred percent of emergency relief funds will go towards increased security measures at Jewish schools, organizations, and institutions in France as well as humanitarian aid for families directly impacted by these tragic events.

Thank you for your generosity and for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our Jewish family in France!

To read the full NBC News article click here.

To read the Jewish Agency Article published on October 28th click here.

To read full Jewish Agency article about French Jews attending an aliyah fair click here.

To read the Federation’s blog post originally published on December 12th, about French Jews receiving self-defense certifications upon aliyah click here.

Mental Health Awareness Event | JFS | January 21

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Join NextGen for Great January Events

CBI Presents: MLK Jr. Weekend Celebration with Yavilah McCoy

CBI Header
MLK Jr. Weekend with Yavilah McCoy
Friday & Saturday, January 16-17

Yavilah McCoy is an African-American Jew and founder of Ayecha, a nonprofit organization providing educational resources for Jewish Diversity and advocacy for Jews of Color in the United States. She is a teacher, writer, editor, and diversity consultant, as well as an actress and concert artist. She has taught Judaic Studies, Hebrew, and English Literature in elementary and secondary schools.

Yavilah works to expand awareness of issues of identity and culture and empower communities to contextualize justice journeys within the framework of leadership, citizenship, and better outcomes.

Friday Evening, January 16   
MLK Shabbat Service
Join us as we honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. in word and song at a very special Erev Shabbat service. Our guest speaker, Yavilah McCoy will describe the decades of close partnership between Jews and African Americans working together on voter registration. All are welcome and no RSVP is needed.

Saturday Morning, January 17   
Torah Study and Lay Led Minyan Service
8:30 a.m. join Yavilah McCoy as she leads Torah Study.
10:00 a.m. Yavilah will attend our Lay Led Minyan Service and deliver the Drash. All are welcome and no RSVP is needed for Torah Study or Minyan.

Saturday Evening, January 17   
Jewish Gospel Concert Featuring Yavilah McCoy, Alexi Paraschos and Beth Israel Musicians and Friends 
7:00 p.m., Yavilah and Alexi will join with our Beth Israel youth, teen and adult musicians for a journey through song and personal narrative describing the ways that music can be engaged to expand spiritual connection and widen commitments to justice and activism. Concert tickets are $15 per adult and $5 per child under age 12. RSVP and pay online below. For more information contact Susan Hutchison at, or 858 535-1111, ext. 2522.

RSVP button

Seniors: Take the Shabbat Shuttle to the  
Friday, January 16 Erev Shabbat Service!

Beth Israel's new shuttle service will offer transportation within our service area to the Erev Shabbat service with Yavilah McCoy. The $10 fee includes round trip, door-to-door service. Seating is limited so reserve your ride today. Contact Bethany Ratner at, or call 858-900-2554.   

Friday, January 9, 2015

Federation Stands with France

It is with heartfelt sadness and determined resolve that the worldwide Jewish community rallies as one voice to condemn the terrorist attacks in France. Following the horrific murders at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office this past Wednesday, gunmen stormed a Jewish kosher supermarket this morning, taking the lives of four innocent people. May their memory be a blessing.

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the innocent victims and hostages. We mourn the loss of life, pray for the injured, and express our sincerest support.
Together, with Jewish Federations everywhere, we stand united.

“Once again, we are forced to bear witness to the reality that terrorism continues to pose a threat to civil societies everywhere,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees. “Together, as a global community, we must find a way to move past this horrible specter of hatred and violence.”

As we mourn with the French Jewish community, and condemn the loss of innocent lives now is the time to contact legislators so we may continue the dialogue on how to combat terrorism. 

As we light the Shabbat candles tonight, our hearts are especially heavy as we reflect on the lives lost in France this week. 

Shabbat Shalom. We pray for peace.

Michael Sonduck
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Leigha's #DigitalIsrael Birthright Adventure

Leigha Silberman, Federation’s PR and Social Media Associate, just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the first ever #Digital Israel Birthright Trip! 

Curious about start-up culture in Tel Aviv? Interested in learning about how social media has changed and bolstered business for an Israeli winery? Want to know what it’s like to go off-roading near the Lebanese border? Wondering what the Google office in Tel Aviv is like?

Visit her blog to learn more of her adventures!

An Evening with Rabbi David Lau | January 20

Friday, January 2, 2015

Aliyah Hits Ten-Year High

Approximately 26,500 New Immigrants Arrived in Israel in 2014

  •  Worldwide Aliyah up 32% compared to 2013
  •  For the first time ever, more immigrants came from France than from any other country
  •  Aliyah from Ukraine up 190% – nearly threefold – compared to last year

Sharansky: "This is a year of record-breaking Aliyah. I very much hope the next government continues to invest in Aliyah."

Landver: "We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants – and even more."

According to end-of-year figures released today (Wednesday, December 31) by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Aliyah (immigration to Israel) hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants. This marks a significant 32% increase over last year's number of approximately 20,000 immigrants.

For the first time ever, France tops the list of countries of origin for immigrants to Israel, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came last year. This development has spurred The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption to encourage Aliyah from France and facilitate French immigrants' absorption into Israeli society, as well as to expose young French Jews to life in Israel via Israel experience programs run by The Jewish Agency.

Additionally, some 5,840 new immigrants have come from Ukraine over the course of the year, compared to some 2,020 in 2013. This dramatic 190% increase is due primarily to the ongoing instability in the eastern part of the country. The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption are meeting thechallenge posed by the situation on the ground by expanding operations in Ukraine and offering immigrants special financial assistance.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said: "2014 was a year of record-breaking Aliyah. This year also saw a historic shift: for the first time in Israel's history, the number of immigrants who came to Israel from the free world is greater than that of immigrants fleeing countries in distress. This trend is evidence of Israel's attractiveness as a place where it's good to live, as well as of the success of our joint efforts to promote Aliyah and strengthen connections between Jews around the world and the State of Israel. As we forecast further increases in Aliyah from around the world, I very much hope the next government continues to join The Jewish Agency in maintaining Aliyah encouragement and immigrant absorption as top priorities."

Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said: "This year we mark a ten-year record of Aliyah and a 32% increase over last year in the number of Jews who reached the conclusion that they have no other country. I am excited to see the fruits of our many efforts to encourage Aliyah, but we have not yet reached our goal. Our ministry continues to work together with all relevant parties to promote the ingathering of the exiles, a vision that has accompanied the people of Israel since the state's establishment. We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants from around the world – and even more."

Expanded data:

Aliyah from Western Europe is up 88%,with the arrival of some 8,640 immigrants this year compared to some 4,600 last year. The most significant increase was in Aliyah from France, which doubled from some 3,400 immigrants in 2013 to nearly 7,000 this year. Additionally, some 620 immigrants came to Israel from the United Kingdom, compared to 520 last year – a 20% increase. The number of immigrants from Italy doubled to approximately 340. Aliyah from Belgium saw a modest decrease, to some 240 immigrants this year. The number of immigrants from Germany remained stable, at approximately 120.

Aliyah from the former Soviet Union is up 50%, with the arrival of some 11,430 immigrants compared to approximately 7,610 last year. The most notable increase was in Aliyah from Ukraine, which rose by 190% to some 5,840 immigrants this year. 4,830 immigrants came from Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic states, compared to 4,640 last year. Some 300 immigrants came from the Caucasus and some 390 from Central Asia.

Aliyah from Latin America remained stable, with the arrival of some 1,070 immigrants, similar to last year's numbers. Aliyah from Brazil saw a 45% increase, with 300 immigrants compared to 210 in 2013. Approximately 297 immigrants came from Argentina, 76 from Mexico, 70 from Venezuela, 62 from Colombia, 58 from Uruguay, and 52 from Chile.

Aliyah from North America increased modestly, with the arrival of some 3,870 immigrants compared to some 3,600 last year. Approximately 3,470 immigrants came from the United States, compared to some 3,200 in 2013 – an 8% increase. Some 400 immigrants came from Canada, compared to some 384 last year.

Some 232 immigrants came to Israel from Eastern Europe, compared to approximately 270 last year. Approximately 126 immigrants came from Hungary, 32 from Poland, 24 from Romania, and 24 from Bulgaria.

Some 190 immigrants came to Israel from South Africa, roughly the same as last year's numbers. Some 200 immigrants came from Australia and New Zealand, compared to some 260 in 2013.

More than half of the immigrants who came to Israel in 2014 were under the age of 35, including some 5,300 children and some 8,200 young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. The eldest immigrant this year was born in 1910 and made Aliyah from France at the age of 104. The youngest came from the United States and was only several weeks old.

Some 2,500 of the immigrants work in engineering and technological fields, and thousands hold degrees in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and exact sciences. More than 1,000 doctors and health professionals made Aliyah, as did some 600 artists and athletes. In November, the Government of Israel approved a series of recommendations aimed at breaking down barriers to employment for immigrants and ease their integration into the workforce.

Tel Aviv led the chart of cities receiving new immigrants, with approximately 3,000 new Tel Avivians. The coastal city of Netanya came second and Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, came in third.

* This data is tentative and is based on preliminary estimates by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption *