Judaism has always been an important part of who I am. I have made it my life’s work to try and not only educate people about Judaism, but also make experiences possible in order for people to see, touch, taste, and feel the richness, beauty, and history of our religion and culture with others. No… I don’t go around proselytizing. Instead, in my role as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation, I try to make sure that people are aware that there is a Jewish community here in the greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.
It was why I was a bit surprised as a looked over the results from our 2021 Community Survey that there are still Jews in our community who were not only unaware that there is a Jewish Federation or the programs and services we provide, but also that they did not understand or were unclear about what exactly we do. While I had heard this from some people a number of years ago, I was not aware that this was still a pervasive problem.
As such, over the next several weeks, I am going to try to share and better articulate not only what the Jewish Federation does towards fulfilling our mission, but also how our work impacts the lives of the community. (It is also why we started the Did You Know? section of our weekly eBlast.)
To start, let me share what the Jewish Federation strives to do each day. Our mission is to build community by strengthening and enhancing Jewish life. We do this by providing programs and services that support the needs of the Jewish community in our region and act as the Jewish voice on issues that affect the greater Jewish community.
So how do we “strengthen and enhance Jewish life”? I think that this is where it gets a little murky for some people. Let me try to clarify it a bit with an example of something I did at the end of last week.
As you may or may not be aware, earlier this month Governor Newsom signed a bill requiring all high school students to take an ethnic studies course in order to graduate. Included in the bill was a model curriculum that, while not required, school districts were encouraged to use. This newly updated curriculum includes lesson plans on the Jewish American experience as well as references to and definitions of antisemitism.
With the passage of this bill, I sent a letter to 48 school district superintendents not only encouraging them to use the current version of the model curriculum but that I and the Jewish Federation were interested in working with their district staff when it comes to the Jewish component of the curriculum.
This is just one example of the kind of outreach we are able to do to the local school districts, on behalf of the Jewish community, through the support we receive from community member donations.
I believe that these ongoing efforts not only help to strengthen and enhance Jewish life in our community, but through this work we ensure that our Jewish voice is heard in, and for, our community.