Important Health Update


This is difficult to write.

You may recall that in early March, I learned that there had been a recurrence of my cancer, and I have spent the last several months going through another round of chemotherapy. Last week, we learned that the chemo has not been effective, and follow-up testing has shown that in fact the cancer has continued to spread. With the full support of our incredible staff and lay leadership, I have made the decision to step back from active involvement in the day-to-day business of Federation and, as of May 21st, I will be taking a leave of absence to focus on my health and my family as we explore other treatment options.

In the meantime, it is so very important to me that the essential work of Federation must and will continue, and I know with certainty that our mission is in the best of hands during this difficult time. With your help, we have propelled the work of Federation these past few years and I have every confidence that this trajectory will continue in the right direction. Our staff and partners will continue to support our community, as we have done for 84 years, caring for Jews in need, strengthening Jewish identity and community, and connecting San Diego to Israel. We have created a task force with lay leaders and senior staff to address the shorter and longer-term implications of my leave of absence. Our lay leaders on the task force include David Bramzon, Jack Maizel, Brian Tauber, Theresa Dupuis, Caryn Viterbi, and Heidi Gantwerk, who is serving as a consultant in support of these efforts. As I write, these leaders, along with our Board of Directors, are putting in place the structure and resources necessary to ensure that the work of Federation not only carries on but grows in impact. In the coming days and weeks, we will make sure to update you on our plans. Through all of this, the continued financial support of our donors for our annual campaign is absolutely critical to sustain and build our impact, and that support is deeply appreciated.

As I begin my leave of absence, Susan Halliday will be temporarily assuming organizational leadership responsibilities. You can reach Susan at You may also contact our Board Chair, David Bramzon, at with any questions or comments.

Please send any e-mails or calls of support to me at While I will not be able to respond directly, I will read them all. Once again, I ask for your healing thoughts and prayers; my Hebrew name is Mikhael Leiv ben Tzipporah. I cannot stress enough how grateful Laura, Eleanore, and I are for the love and support you have shown us, and we will continue to draw comfort from you all as we enter the next phase of this long and difficult journey.

Michael Jeser
President & Chief Executive Officer


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