A Sweet Shana Tovah

Dear Federation Family,

In a retreat with our deeply thoughtful Women’s Philanthropy Board this week, we dug into the powerful question G-d asks of Adam and Eve, ayekah -where are you? Much has been written of this question and what it really entails. Every year, during the month of Elul, we ask each other and ourselves-where are we? Where are we morally, emotionally, spiritually, and what have we learned? How have we grown?  Last year at this time, over the High Holy Days, we reflected on an incredibly difficult year with COVID and all its myriad challenges, along with the worrisome divides facing our country.  And we prayed that 5781 would see us past these crises, that the New Year would allow for a physical and spiritual healing and renewal for ourselves, for our community, for our nation and for the world. At that moment, none of us could have predicted that we would be back again a year later, looking at a terrible new wave of COVID, and all of the loss it brings, as we usher in 5782. Add to that what we see every day in the news (Afghanistan, Haiti, Hurricane Ida, the California wildfires, in the past few weeks alone), and the answer to that question “where are you” could easily be: right back where I was a year ago, afraid, isolated, and uncertain.

And yet…in so many ways, we have learned, we have grown, and as a community, we have answered the call. We have stepped up for our neighbors, and for those we do not even know. We have found new ways to engage in learning, in spiritual practice, in celebration and in community of all forms. At Federation, after a year that tested us all, when asked “where are we?” we can proudly answer: “Hineinu, we are here.” We have been involved in a year-long version of our own “cheshbon hanefesh,” our own “accounting of the soul,” as staff and lay leaders have worked together to focus and align our work and strengthen our partnerships to increase our impact throughout the region and around the world.

  • When it comes to Jews in need; hineinu. We continue to put caring for those in need in our community at the forefront of our mission, and in 5782 and beyond, we will pay special attention to the estimated 9-12,000 Jews living in or near poverty right here in San Diego.
  • When it comes to building and strengthening Jewish Community; hineinu. We are deeply committed to building an enduring Jewish future, and we will support and strengthen our Jewish institutions by investing in security and intensive leadership development opportunities for new and experienced Jewish professionals and lay leaders.
  • When it comes to connecting to Israel and overseas: hineinu. We will continue to invest in Israel and Jewish communities worldwide, while we redouble our work to introduce and connect San Diegans to Jews in Israel and around the world.

With our mission always at the center, we are here, right where we need to be.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a sweet, healthy and meaningful Shana Tovah!


Heidi Gantwerk
Interim Chief Executive Officer

P.S. For San Diego High Holy Days Information, in a dynamic new format, click here.


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