Monday, May 11, 2015

JCF | Jewish Teen Foundation Program | Apply by May 29

CLICK HERE to learn more or contact

CLICK HERE to apply. Application Deadline is May 29th.

Upcoming Jewish Community Events

As a service to the community, Federation lists events of general interest.  
Our listing of an event does not mean we endorse the event, nor the view of the speakers. 

CJC Presents Distinguished Speaker Series | May 18

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.

Invitation from Adam & Josh of MidraSHOW | Homebrew Workshops | May 20
CLICK HERE to register for FREE event.

San Diego Jewish Academy | Annual General Meeting | May 21

CLICK HERE to register for FREE event.

Tifereth Israel | Shavuot Celebration | May 23

CLICK HERE for more information. RSVP to by May 20th.

Congregation Beth Israel | Community Tikkun Leil Shavuot | May 23

CLICK HERE to learn more about this FREE event.

House of Israel | Ethnic Food Fair | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | May 23 & 24

Hosted by the House of Pacific Relations, the Ethnic Food Fare features mouth-watering array of main dishes, appetizers, and beverages from each of our 32 International Cottages. From shwarma to bratwurst to egg rolls, you can taste delicacies from all over the world for a nominal price. And if that is not enough, we also feature arts, crafts, and entertainment from various participating countries. The House of Israel will feature Latkes, which are traditional potato pancakes, served with applesauce and/or sour cream, always a favorite! Parking and admission are free!

CLICK HERE for more information.

House of Israel | Dead Sea Scroll Exhibit | Sundays 12-4 p.m. | Ends May 31

Two works of art created from matza will bring Spring and Passover to the House of Israel. The matza mosaic of a sheep inspired by famous Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman is meant to invoke symbol of the Paschal Lamb. The matza Dead Sea Scroll sculpture will sit atop the House’s permanent stone rendition of the Dead Sea Scrolls to offer a seasonal aspect to this historical symbol of the Land of Israel.

The pieces were created by students in 2nd-4th and 6th grade at Tifereth Israel Synagogue’s Abraham Ratner Torah School under the guidance of Rachel Naor. Students particularly enjoyed grinding matza up to make it look like sand, softening matza in order to mold it and assembling the colorful pieces of matza that they had painted into a mosaic image.

You can visit the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the House of Israel through May 31, 2015.

Header’s photo: Itamar Grinberg, Entrance to an art gallery in Safed

CLICK HERE for more information.

House of Israel | Lawn Program House of Israel | May 31

The House of Israel Lawn Program will feature festive songs and dances of Israel. Lawn Programs are held on the House of Pacific Relations outdoor stage just outside the House of Israel. Entertainment is free. Proceeds for food and refreshments support the House of Israel.

Israeli Food Served 11:00 PM until 4:00 PM
Stage Show 2:00 until 3:30 PM
Admission and Parking are Free

Please note : The “Rock and Roll Marathon” will be taking place this day. Around 11:00 a.m., crowds will be LEAVING the park, so be prepared for a traffic ”challenge”!

CLICK HERE for more information.

CJC | Adult Jewish Education | Summer Course | Begins June 2

CLICK HERE to register for course.

JFS Presents | Saying "I Do" | Marriage Course  | June 16

CLICK HERE to register.

JFS | Teen Programs | Girls Give Back & Hand Up Teen Leadership | Apply Now

CLICK HERE to apply for Girls Give Back. Register by August 1st.

CLICK HERE to apply for Hand Up Teen Leadership ProgramRegister by July 13th.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Through JDC’S Looking Glass | Aid Distribution in Nepal

ASam Amiel visits with the uncle of an earthquake victim in Manikhel, Nepal
Two weeks after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, aid workers are still in full force, rebuilding lives, providing for victims, and evaluating the damage done. Worryingly, the earthquake struck just six weeks prior to monsoon season. While aid teams are working diligently to meet the needs of tens of thousands of displaced people, navigating through rough, mountainous terrain and mudslides, they are preparing for a monsoon season that is predicted to be particularly disastrous in the region.

Federation’s international partners at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) along with their local network of partners, including Tevel b’Tzedek and Teach For Nepal (TFN) have been on the ground, working round-the-clock to provide critical aid, food, and medicine while focusing on long-term relief efforts.

On May 5, senior member of JDC’s disaster response team, Sam Amiel, published his first-hand account, “On the Ground: Delivering Relief in Manikhel, Nepal,” which depicts the current situation in Nepal and sheds light on the tough realities that aid-workers are facing.

“Today's visit to a very tight-knit community that lost a daughter was heart-wrenching. We brought our condolences, visited with each family to understand how they are surviving, and delivered critically needed aid,” said Sam Amiel.

“The village school in Manikhel, 8,500 feet above sea level, served hundreds of children walking two hours each way from across the hilly region. The school is closed for a month, serving as a relief distribution point for 1,500 people across ten villages. When I visited, 15 families were living in the school, with many others forming makeshift structures from tarp, tin, stones, and wood salvaged from the piles of the rubble.

I saw wide-scale destruction in some of the hardest-hit districts in Nepal. It is extremely encouraging to know our partners at Teach for Nepal (TFN) and Tevel B'Tzedek take the same community-based approach as all of us at JDC when providing relief and assistance. We all fully believe in long-term sustainable impact for those most in need.”

Thus far, JDC’s disaster response team has visited six villages where more than 90 percent of homes are destroyed or uninhabitable. The need for shelter is great, especially given the monsoon season set to strike in five short weeks.

Today, JDC is activating their network of partners to identity solutions to best solve Nepal’s short and long-term needs.

One of JDC’s partner organizations in Nepal, Tevel B'Tzedek, has been developing strategies to help communities overcome the tragedy. The organization’s current and primary focus is on providing shelter, particularly transitional shelter that can withstand the impending monsoons.

“The torrential rains that are expected to strike Nepal in the coming weeks threaten the makeshift shelters and tents that were constructed in the wake of the earthquake. Overcoming great challenges, Tevel staff have succeeded in sourcing local construction materials and have already begun work erecting transitional and permanent housing in affected villages in which we work. Materials in short supply – especially tin, thick plastic sheeting and basic tools – are also being sourced from neighboring India and sent by plane from Israel. To give local children a sense of stability and a safe place to learn, we are also designing temporary learning spaces to replace the affected schools.”

All of this life-saving work is possible because or your generosity to Federation.

Nepal still needs our community’s support. Needs are mounting, supplies are dwindling and the monsoons are coming. You can help. Make your gift today at

100% of all contributions will go humanitarian aid in Nepal.

Click here to read Senior Member of JDC’s disaster response team, Sam Amiel’s, full story.

Click here to learn more about Tevel B'Tzedek and their live-saving efforts.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Jewish Families of Ukraine

As conflict and separatist fighting continues along with severe currency depreciation, Ukraine’s economy is on the brink of collapse. Due to grim political and economic realities, thousands of Ukrainian Jews, most of whom were able to support themselves prior to the conflict and economic fallout, now find themselves vulnerable, destitute, and in need of basic necessities, like food, fuel and medicines. Of these thousands of Ukrainian’s in need the most vulnerable are young families and the elderly – which make up a majority of the country’s population.

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County and our global partners at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are committed to caring for the Jews of Ukraine. As of May 5, the JDC reported that their aid recipient list – individuals and families receiving critical relief, financial support, and many other life-saving services – has grown. To date, JDC is serving 2,700 new clients. JDC reports that thousands more have left their homes in eastern Ukraine, relocating to places like Kiev, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and Odessa – becoming internally displaced in their own countries.

Below are the stories of two families, who are relying upon the assistance of JDC, and your generosity.

When fighting broke out in Donetsk between the government and separatist forces last year, Raisa Libenson believed she could stay with her family in their home by the airport. It wasn’t until her apartment sustained a direct hit from a mortar shell, tearing through the walls and furniture, and rendering the 78-year-old temporarily deaf, that she realized she had to leave.

“Shell fragments were all over my bed,” she recalled. “There was smoke in the apartment. I rushed into the room and it felt like something hot flew over me. I froze with fear. I could not realize how I would survive.”

Since then, Libenson and her husband of 56 years have been staying in Pavlograd, a city a few dozen miles from the frontline.

Roman Dubovskoy and his family relocated from Lugansk to Zaporozhye when violence erupted in their hometown last August. Now, all eight of them (Dubovskoy and his wife, their four children, and his wife’s parents) live together under the same roof. Roman, who is a psychologist, had to come out of retirement to provide for his extended family. Luckily, he found employment at the local JCC where he treats fellow displaced Jews from the east.

Roman Dubovskoy and daughter.
JDC helps Ukrainian Jews like the Dubovskoys and Libensons pay the rent and provides them with clothes, footwear, and a monthly stipend for food, medicine, and other essentials. During the winter months, displaced Ukrainians are being sent items like blankets, socks, and pajamas to help cope with a cold, unforgiving reality.

Libenson said she was deeply grateful for the meat, cheese, sour cream, and oil JDC gives her through the Hesed – JDC’s relief centers.

“Maybe, it is not for long, but it’s like a breathing period for us,” she said. “We would not survive during these eight months in Donetsk without Hesed.”

Such life-saving aid is due to your generosity. Thank you for all that you do.

The Jews of Ukraine still need your support. Click here, to make a gift today.

Click here, to read the full stories of these families and to learn how JDC is working to keep thousands of Jews on their feet during this time of crisis.

May 9th - A Day to Celebrate and Remember

Dear Colleagues,

Throughout the globe and across time, the Jewish community has been blessed with countless heroes who have made a difference. During World War II millions lost their lives, among them hundreds of thousands of Russian Jewish soldiers and officers who fought in the Red Army against Nazism. May their memory be a blessing.

In recognition of their sacrifice, we are sharing a letter from Ilia Salita, Chief Executive Officer of the Genesis Philanthropy Group. We join three million Russian-speaking Jews who will commemorate this important moment in our history this weekend.


Jerry Silverman
President & Chief Executive Officer
The Jewish Federations of North America

May 9th, a Day to Celebrate and Remember
By Ilia Salita, Chief Executive Officer, Genesis Philanthropy Group

In every culture, there are days on the calendar that stand out. Our unique celebrations have always been cultural markers of a shared history, each year adding one more link to a chain that connects grandparents and grandchildren, as well as those who have never met. The Jewish calendar is punctuated by a plethora of such days, and there is no doubt about how critical they are to the identity we share.

I mention this to provide a sense of the scope and depth of feeling that comes with May 9th for those whose families hail from the Former Soviet Union. This year is especially important, as it commemorates a 70th anniversary. If mental math is your thing, perhaps you have already zoomed back to May 9th, 1945 and are wondering what exactly happened on this day, or, perhaps you have known all along. But just in case…

On this day, 70 years ago, Nazi Germany capitulated to the Soviet Union, finally closing the Eastern Front of World War II, or the Great Patriotic War, as it was known in that part of the world. Thus, Victory Day – a celebration of the triumph over Nazism, of the end of a long and bloody war and, of course, a memorial to those who lost their lives in the struggle.

Flickr photo courtesy of Eike Siemrodt
So, how is this a Jewish story? It is the story of the 500,000 Jewish soldiers and officers who fought in the Red Army, just as V-Day is the story of the 550,000 Jewish soldiers and officers of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is the story of airmen and partisans, of nurses and factory workers, of those who died and of those who survived. They fought for their lives, the lives of their families, the lives of so many others whom they had never met, and they were victorious.

Several decades later, their children, grandchildren and, in many cases, they themselves, due in no small part to the hard work of the Jewish Federations, as well as to the generosity of the North-American Jewish community, won another victory: the right to live where they choose.

It is a tradition for many of these families to raise their glasses in thanks on the date of their arrival in their new homes, celebrating their new lives. Likewise, every May 9th, they thank and honor their grandparents and great-grandparents for their contributions and sacrifices 70 years ago, without which everything else would have been impossible.

It is because this day is, very much, a Jewish story - one of triumph, medals, and lives saved, despite the many that were lost – that I wanted to share it with you, so that this Shabbat, May 9th, all of us might celebrate together.

The Triumphant Return of Options and Men's Event

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

JITLI Documentary | "Seeking Peace, Finding Hope" | May 13

Seeking Peace, Finding Hope
Wednesday, May 13
(4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037)
At 6:00 PM
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets. 

Perhaps peace in the Middle East is a future possibility? Seeking Peace, Finding Hope is a moving and uplifting documentary that examines the impact of the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs International Teen Leadership Institute (JITLI) – a visionary leadership program of Gary Jacobs, Jerri-Ann Jacobs and Yaccov Schneider, that brings together Jewish and Palestinian teens to form meaningful connections to narrow the gap between the two cultures. There will be a discussion with the producers of the film following the screening.

According to Giovanni Moujaes', Director of the film, "Seeking Peace, Finding Hope documents the intense, stimulating discussions held in Berlin, Germany, where topics such as Gaza, Israel, the Holocaust, Hamas, peacekeeping, and international diplomacy are all addressed along with how such affiliations become rooted in the human element over history. The analysis of such topics call into question the future of millennial relationships and their impact on healthy relations between the two cultures."

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

UPDATE | Your Impact in Nepal

In the wake of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that has already claimed over 6,000 lives (with the death toll on the rise) and caused widespread destruction in Kathmandu and surrounding regions, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County is dedicated to caring for all those who have been affected by this catastrophic event.

Federation and our global partners at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are mobilizing emergency teams and coordinating with local authorities, Israeli officials, and the Nepalese and Indian governments to assess the unfolding situation and ensure survivors’ immediate needs are addressed.

In just one day and a half, the government of Israel constructed a fully functional field hospital with intensive care units, operating rooms, specialty doctors who are performing complex surgical procedures, and two neo-natal units – completely funded by the Federation and JDC. Today, they are serving more than 200 people a day.

JDC and Israel are focusing heavily on search and rescue mission efforts, something that the Israeli government specializes in. Israel continues to send planes filled with supplies, medications, and volunteers while rescuing Israelis and those stranded on return flights. Several Israeli helicopters have also been deployed to assist the Nepalese army and military in search and rescue missions.

According to Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Representative, Alon Lavi, who addressed the Jewish Federations of North America in a special conference call on April 29, “the cooperation and collaboration between local government agencies and foreign aid distributors has been great.”

In addition to providing medical care and rescue relief, the government of Israel immediately decided to open embassy gates in Kathmandu, where it “became a camping site for hundreds of people,” said Alon Lavi.

Mandie Winston, Director of JDC’s International Program, who is currently in Nepal, shared her first-hand experience and account of the situation.

“Our global team started working right when we saw the first reports on Saturday,” said Mandie Wintson. “We knew it was going to a global disaster, a situation in which the global Jewish community would want to be called upon and one in which their response was and is very much needed.”

As of right now, the JDC is focusing on providing relief to the most vulnerable populations, including women, children, the very poor, people in remote villages, and those with disabilities. The JDC’s short-term plan is to provide rescue and relief and their long-run plan is to implement a full recovery phase. However, as the devastation continues to unfold – even after a full week – planning is a challenge, as much remains unknown.

Federation’s mission is to care for everyone in need, and Nepal needs our community’s support now more than ever before.

Please consider making a donation today. 100 % of proceeds will go towards all those who have been affected by this terrible event.
Click here to make your gift today!

Erna's Requiem

Caryn Viterbi. Photo courtesy of John R. McCutchen
On April 28, the Union-Tribune published an article about Federation’s dedicated volunteer and community leader, Caryn Viterbi, titled “Continuing a Family Legacy.” The article talks about Caryn’s role in bringing the concert-drama “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin to fruition in San Diego and what motivated her to orchestrate the event.

For months, Caryn and her mother-in-law, Erna Viterbi z”ll, who passed away just two months ago, were working hand-in-hand with the Anti-Defamation League of San Diego (ADL) to bring Requiem to San Diego. The famed musical play, which has been performed all over the world, is about the defiance of Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in [what is now the Czech Republic].

As a survivor, delivering this performance to her local San Diego community was something that was very near and dear to Erna’s heart.

“Erna was passionate about educating younger generations. She often spoke to students throughout San Diego about her experiences during the Shoah, as a refugee fleeing the Nazis and the loss of most of her extended family. She was passionate, not only for the terrible losses our people experienced, but also as an important lesson that applied to all people whether they were Jews, or non-Jews, Rwandans or Cambodians or any other persecuted people. Erna strongly believed that lessons learned from the suffering of our people needed to be remembered for the benefit of all humanity.” – Caryn Viterbi

With Erna’s tragic passing, Caryn and ADL became even more vigilant in their commitment to bringing the project to life, and on May 7, Erna’s dream will be fulfilled.

“I agreed to co-chair this event, along with my mother-in-law Erna Viterbi, as we are both deeply committed to ADL’s mission to eliminate anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry of any kind, and secure justice and fair treatment for all,” said Caryn. “We felt “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” was a unique and innovative way to pay tribute to the legacy of the prisoners of Terezin, while at the same time educating our community to understand the dangers of hate and prejudice and inspire the creation of a world without hate.”

Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin” will be performed by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale at Jacobs Music Center at Copley Symphony Hall on May 7 at 7:30 PM.

Click here to purchase tickets to the performance.

Click here to read the full UT article written by Nina Garin.

Thousands of San Diegans Celebrate Israel

On Sunday, April 26, more than 2,000 San Diegans joined Federation and community partners at IsraelFest, the San Diego Jewish community's annual celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut — Israeli Independence Day.

Israel’s 67th day-long birthday was a fun-filled event, featuring music, family fun, dancing, singing, and celebration. In honor of traditional Independence Day customs and Israeli culture, the Hativkah — Israel’s national anthem was recited following the opening speech from Federation and community partners.

The day commenced with the Friendship Circle of San Diego’s annual 5K, which attracted more than 500 volunteers and race contestants and raised more than $70,000 to fund social programs for people with special needs. Following the 5K, Israeli music started to play, the food trucks got to cooking, the bouncy town began bouncing, and smiling kids with painted faces and sticky cotton candy fingers ran wild on the Nobel Athletic Field.

The main stage area was extremely lively as hundreds and hundreds of people danced and sang-along to Israeli performances by children from Kavod elementary school, Tarbuton’s youth group, Jeremy Gimbel and Rachel North, Yoni Carr, and Craig Taubman.

U.S. Congressman, Juan Vargas and State Senator, Marty Block, were in attendance and addressed the community about their commitment to the Jewish State. Congressman Vargas discussed his first trip to Israel, his personal connection to the country, and his political agenda to continually provide support for our democratic ally in the Middle East. He concluded his speech by calling for San Diego’s Mexican and Jewish community to unite.

Senator Marty Block discussed the importance of education in regards to teaching students to become advocates for Israel, combating anti-Semitism, and promoting business opportunities between Israel and California.

Toda Raba to community partners and to all who were in attendance. You helped to make Israel Fest 2015 a memorable day!

Click here to see the Israel Fest photo album.

Kol HaKavod to Friendship Circle

On Sunday, April 26, more than 500 volunteers and race participants attended the Friendship Circle of San Diego’s Annual 5K. Each year, the Friendship Circle 5K raises funds to support community involvement efforts for children and adults with special needs, and this year more than $70,000 was raised!

The Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide programs and support to the families of individuals with special needs. In addition to offering fun social outings and events for families to enjoy, the Friendship Circle provides friendship to individuals with special needs through a network of teen volunteers.
Federation and Friendship Circle would like to extend a big toda raba to all Jewish community partners, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and students who helped make it all possible. A great deal of students from local Jewish day schools, synagogues, temples, and high schools from all throughout town, including the San Diego Jewish Academy, Soille Hebrew Day, Congregation Beth Am, Temple Adat Shalom, Beth Jacob Congregation, Torah High, and SCY High as well as Rancho Bernardo, Torrey Pines, and Camino Del Norte high school students, who came out to support the cause and cheer for their fellow peers. 

“Friendship Circle would like to thank the Jewish Federation of San Diego County for their continuous support,” said Monica Kohan, Director of Programs of Friendship Circle San Diego. “Because of the great community-wide support that we’ve received, Friendship Circle will be able to continue and expand the quality programs that we provide to our families while educating the community about the need for inclusion and ways to promote acceptance.”

Click here, to learn more about Friendship Circle of San Diego. 

Click here, to see the Israel Fest event photo album.