Celebrating the Richness and Diversity of Our Jewish Community


Dear Friends,

Our last day of the CommUNITY Trip to Israel found us at Anu, The Museum of the Jewish People. This incredible museum shares the story of the Jewish people over thousands of years and celebrates a remarkably rich and diverse tapestry of modern Jewish life. To walk into a museum in Israel and see myriad representations and stories of Jews of Color, secular Jews, multi-ethnic, interfaith and LGBTQ+ Jews represented alongside every other segment of our global Jewish community was deeply meaningful. The sense of belonging, of peoplehood, was palpable and powerful.

Coming home, I have been struck by the richness and diversity of Jewish life right here in San Diego. In the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of attending an incredible array of events in our community, with people from all walks of life and from all over San Diego, and I felt I belonged at all of them. Of course, that sense of belonging comes more easily for me; I am a middle-aged (plus a few years), able-bodied, white, straight, Ashkenazi Jew, married to another Jew. But so many people in our community carry multiple and overlapping identities that make that sense of belonging harder to come by. None of us are only Jewish. We are all “Jewish and...” What follows that “and'' is entirely up to the individual. We are Jewish and LGBTQ+. We are Jews of Color. We are Jewish and differently-abled. And any other characteristic that makes up someone’s identity. At Federation, we envision a San Diego in which every person from a Jewish household feels a sense of belonging and equity at Jewish events and in Jewish spaces. 

This June, as we celebrate Pride Month, and a call for greater unity, visibility and equity for the LGBTQ+ community, I am thinking in particular about how Federation, and our community as a whole, makes our Jewish spaces welcoming and inclusive for LGBTQ+ Jews and their family and friends.

We are just starting to review preliminary data from the “Blueprint for the Future” Jewish Community Study (which will become public in the fall), and two things stand out to me as we celebrate and reflect on Pride. First, 16% of San Diego’s Jewish households surveyed responded that they include an individual who identifies as LGBTQ+. And within those households, 44% of Jewish adults consider San Diego Jewish organizations to be very welcoming. This still leaves a lot of room for improvement. We want every Jewish person and family member, including all who identify as LGBTQ+, to feel that San Diego’s Jewish life speaks to them and addresses their needs. As we dig into the Community Study data and learn more about all the beautiful and varied identities that make up and enrich our community, we commit to a learning process to better understand people’s individual experiences and how we can do more to foster and strengthen a sense of belonging for all.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Pride!


Heidi Gantwerk
President & Chief Executive Officer


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