Shabbat Shalom from Israel


I write this Shabbat message from Israel, where I am filled with emotion and excitement—even though I’m still in quarantine, having only landed here earlier today. If you’ve been here, you know. There is just nothing like being in Israel with its inspiring, vibrant mix of ancient and new, traditional and innovative, and, of course, the people. While I am deeply privileged to be here right now given all of the recent travel restrictions, I am here for a purpose: to plan our CommUNITY Trip to Israel May 4-11, 2023, marking Israel’s 75th birthday and our community’s first major trip together in 15 years.

On this transformative trip, hundreds of San Diegans from all walks of Jewish life will join with local clergy, staff from congregations and Jewish agencies, leaders of all ages, Jewish professionals and passionate volunteers. Our trip is a gateway to a deeper connection to Israel, with VIP access, meetings with dignitaries and leaders, private tours that show you Israel beyond the headlines, and a close-up look at the incredible programs your dollars are funding. Our specialty track days will explore tech innovations, social cohesion and challenges, women’s accomplishments, immigration, arts, cuisine, Israel for first timers, and more. And we’ll also have the very personal, meaningful experience of visiting and celebrating the 25th anniversary of our partnership with Sha’ar HaNegev. I’m so excited and I hope you consider joining us on the CommUNITY trip. Look for registration coming in early January and check our website at the link below for more information and for updates. It is personal connections that cement our relationship with Israel for generations, and they go both ways. Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of hosting Ofir Libstein, the mayor of Sha’ar HaNegev, here in San Diego. He interacted with our community and saw San Diego Jewish life up close. Next week we will head to Sha’ar HaNegev to meet with Ofir and many other leaders from the region. They’ll update us on some of the visionary initiatives underway, including expansion of their economic incubator, a new arts village, and new projects on the border with Gaza. We will see first-hand Federation’s impact and plan ways to build even stronger connections on the CommUNITY trip. I’m particularly excited to see the progress on the Youth Sports and Cultural Center that will become part of the heart of the region and has been made possible with San Diego’s help. I’ve been there before and I know how incredible it feels to visit our sister region and strengthen those people-to-people relationships. Watch a video about my last visit to Sha’ar HaNegev

Your generous support makes all of this work possible. As we approach the end of the year, please consider a tax deductible gift so we can continue this vital work in 2022. Additionally, like you, I’ve watched the tragic news out of Kentucky and want to lend our support to those devastated by tornadoes. If you want to support local Federations help to those in need, please give a gift here.

Shabbat Shalom,
Heidi Gantwerk
President & Chief Executive Officer


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