A Stronger, More Rooted San Diego Jewish Community

Dear Friends, 

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of listening to Deborah Lipstadt speak in conversation with Rabbi Jason Nevarez in a wide-ranging discussion about security, antisemitism, racism, Holocaust denialism and Jewish identity. She was asked how she stays standing given all the ugliness she deals with and teaches every single day. Her answer stuck with me and feels fundamental to what we do here at Federation. She spoke about the strength of her Jewish identity, the joy and comfort she takes in Jewish ritual, study, and community, about her grounding in our tradition, and our peoplehood. And she said “we all need roots. If you’re rooted, the hatred and ugliness doesn't knock you over.”

I can’t imagine a better goal to aspire to in our vision for Federation and for San Diego’s Jewish community. Federation envisions a deeply rooted community that connects to Jewish experiences and peoplehood in myriad ways and places. We work to create a community in which people of all ages and stages of life are confident and grounded in their Jewish expression, and empowered to speak up from a place of strength against antisemitism should the need arise. Lipstadt was clear: finding value, joy, and meaning in our experience of Judaism and Jewish life is essential and perhaps, in the end, the most important piece of fighting antisemitism.

Federation heeds this call in so many ways, with so many outstanding partners in this work. PJ library support, Jewish summer camp grants, teen travel to Israel, Birthright and MASA, Honeymoon Israel, Jewish leadership cohorts, our relationship with Sha’ar HaNegev, our Shinshinim (Israeli youth emissaries), our Chaplaincy program, caring for Jewish seniors and survivors, and of course our upcoming CommUNITY Trip to Israel in May of 2023–these are just a handful of the ways we help people plant roots and ensure those roots deepen throughout their entire lives.

For years, Federation has been known as the “central address” of Jewish life in San Diego, and we continue to invest in numerous aspects of the Jewish experience throughout the region. We could not be happier that today our community offers so many different pathways for anyone to find meaningful Jewish expression and participation, wherever they find themselves on their Jewish journeys. Federation is privileged to support and partner with many of the organizations that create our local vibrant Jewish life. And it is your support and involvement that makes that possible. Together, we will continue to create an even stronger, more rooted San Diego Jewish community, one that cannot and will not be knocked over, but instead, will continue to grow and thrive.

Shabbat Shalom,
Heidi Gantwerk
President & Chief Executive Officer


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