Living Kindly at Options

Co-Chairs Britney Ewing, Sylvia Geffen and Jennifer Meltzer with keynote speaker, Orly Wahba

On Sunday, February 24, Federation welcomed more than 600 women to celebrate the collective impact we have on our local and global community.

Prior to the main event, the Women’s Philanthropy Board hosted a bustling Newcomer’s Reception. Director of Women's Philanthropy, Jodie Graber, said, "Our goal is to be the most welcoming Jewish community in North America, and we were proud to warmly welcome our newcomers to Jewish San Diego and Federation." Attendees enjoyed a playful game of get-to-know-you bingo while chatting with like-minded women and meeting new friends. 

“This is what community looks like.” shared Co-Chair Sylvia Geffen. “It is everyone in this room who makes our work possible. CommUNITY is at the core of why we are here today and the only way we can achieve our greatest potential. Federation is the place where we come together.” 

Throughout the event, several young women, Israeli and American, shared stories of perseverance, community, connection, and triumph. From camp scholarship recipients to our delightful ShinShinim, Amit and Michal, together we are making an immeasurable impact on young adults’ lives. 

High school student, Emily, found Camp Ramah at a pivotal time in her young life. “Not only was camp life changing, it was life-saving. I felt as though I was no longer confused regarding which friends I deserved, because camp gave me my best friends. And I was no longer concerned about the present or the future, because camp was all that in one place. I could live life to the fullest, without any worries.” Because of YOU, and a scholarship through One Happy Camper, Emily found her second home

Another inspiring teen, Rebecca, spoke of her work with MOTIV and her passion for service learning. “Volunteer work has helped me develop humility, selflessness, and awareness of the pressing issues in society. None of this would have been possible without the Jewish Federation’s support of Motiv and the Jewish Teen Initiative.” Because of YOU, and the Jewish Teen Initiative, Rebecca found passion and purpose

Former Vice Mayor of Parkland, Florida, Stacy Kagan, spoke of the horrific shooting that took the lives of 14 innocent children and 3 heroic teachers on February 14, 2018. “I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this tragedy. Within days, experts from the Israel Trauma Coalition, a Federation-funded initiative, were on the ground – training our community on how to address the impact of a large-scale attack. In Federation I have finally found my Jewish community.  And I refuse to sit on the sidelines and watch from afar. The Federation is stuck with the Kagan family!” Because of YOU, Stacy found her community

Stacy’s words, and her journey, were both heartbreaking and hopeful. We thank Stacy, and all of our speakers for sharing their stories.  We will be highlighting more stories in the weeks and months ahead. Federation has impacted you, please share your story HERE

Educator, entrepreneur, author, and community activist, Orly Wahba, served as our keynote speaker.  Passionate about inspiring and motivating people to make the world a kinder place and yearning to make a larger impact with her philanthropic work, Orly captivated the audience with her heartfelt and deeply personal story--challenging the audience to “live kindly” and dream big (while thinking small). She ended her remarks with a personal thank you to Federation and an extremely generous donation back to the San Diego community. 

The beautiful setting, meaningful stories, and spirit of sisterhood created the perfect backdrop for a memorable afternoon. Jennifer Meltzer, Co-Chair, shared “I hope the kindness felt at the event resonates in our community for a long time beyond our event!”

To all the attendees, thank you for being at the heart of our Jewish community!  To learn more about Women’s Philanthropy, please email Jodie Graber.


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