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April Federation Highlights

Take a look at how community members’ generosity made a difference throughout L.A. this April in each of our Federation’s areas of work.


Frontline Responders Workshop/Safety and Security Conference: On April 30th, Caring for Jews in Need and the Community Security Initiative teamed up for a Safety and Security Conference and Front Line Responders Workshop on Crisis Recovery Strategies. A total of 150 professionals who are on the “front line” in synagogues, schools, and Jewish social service agencies, as well as law enforcement, came together to learn about security threats facing our community, how to prepare our community for these situations, and the practical tools and skills to respond to those in need. Mr. Elan Carr, L.A. Deputy District Attorney and US Army Reserve Major, opened the conference by discussing the international situation and how it highlights the importance of having safety training and security plans in place at Jewish sites. His keynote address was followed by seven breakout sessions on “Terrorist Techniques, Tactics and Procedures,” “Communication During Emergencies,” “Crisis Recovery Strategies,” “Pre‐Incident Indicators,” “Security Trends and Challenges,” “Federal Security Grants,” and “Stress Reduction Techniques.”


Board of Rabbis Passover Seminar: Based on the success of our annual High Holiday Conference, the Board of Rabbis launched a Passover Seminar. Designed to assist rabbis with their sermons and Seders, this event had 48 attendees at Sinai Temple. Author and Professor Jack Miles presented on Exodus: Is God’s Redemption Universal?

Civic Engagement Seminar: This month marked the launch of the Civic Engagement Seminar, a new offshoot speaker series of the New Leaders Project that introduces attendees to big picture topics in Los Angeles civic life. Led by NLP alumnus and county commissioner Shawn Landres, the inaugural session was about civic innovation and open data.

Community Passover Seder: On April 1st, Community Engagement hosted its third annual Community Passover Seder at the historic Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights. We filled the shul with a diverse group of leaders, activists, elected officials and board members that included Consul General of the State of Israel David Siegel, and our Federation’s President and CEO, Jay Sanderson. Guiding us through the journey of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt was Rabbi Noah Farkas from Valley Beth Shalom synagogue. We were also treated to a rendition of a song that Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin sang with his grandparents at Passover during his youth. Federation lay leaders also actively participated in the Seder. 

Holy Land Democracy Project: In April, we completed recruitment for our annual teachers’ mission to Israel. We have 15 teachers who will be traveling to Israel in June. These high school teachers participated in a curriculum training weekend at Camp Ramah. Participants come from over 10 different schools representing a cross section of partnerships with Catholic private schools, Los Angeles charter schools, Glendale Unified School District and Burbank Unified School District. Following the trip, these teachers will teach a 5‐session Israel curriculum to their students each year for a minimum of 5 years.

Israel Speakers Bureau: Dr. Rachel Korazim was in Los Angeles at the end of April and spoke to 10 groups, 6 of which were Federation groups. Dr. Korazim is an excellent lecturer on Israeli society, Holocaust education and Jewish history in Europe.

KOREH L.A.: This month, KOREH L.A. celebrated the donation of 1,200 books to Walgrove Avenue Elementary School’s library and our 19th annual library restocking in partnership with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Since 2005, Toyota has partnered with KOREH L.A. through our Book Initiative to restock the empty shelves of LAUSD’s neediest school libraries, helping us to put books directly into the hands of students.

New Leaders Project (NLP): On April 12th, NLP met for a session on the Future of Los Angeles Public Education. Participants were joined by Steve Zimmer, LAUSD School Board Member; Alberto Retana, Executive Vice President of Community Coalition; Joshua Peschault, President of the California Federation of Teachers; Annie Gilbertson, Lead Education Reporter, KPCC/NPR West; and Mykol Lewis, Program Director at Brotherhood Crusade. On April 29th, over 50 NLP alumni and participants joined for a reception at the home of Jewish Federation board member Cece Feiler. NLP Steering Committee Chair Jesse Gabriel offered remarks about the trajectory of the program, and new ways alumni can participate in this year’s curriculum, including Lunches with Leaders and coaching NLP projects; Chair of the Community Engagement Strategic Initiative Daniel Gryczman spoke about the importance of alumni involvement as lay leaders at The Jewish Federation.


Community Leadership Institute (CLI): With applications closing in a few weeks, CLI is at the height of recruitment season. In the past three weeks, recruitment events have been held at lay leaders’ homes and offices, as well as at the Federation. Over 200 young adults have attended a recruitment event, inquired, and/or applied for the program. We will continue to host events around town and are inspired by how our community is encouraging their family, friends, and colleagues to apply.

NextGen Engagement Initiative (NEI): Fifty young Jewish outreach professionals participated in a thought‐provoking discussion and hands‐on look at the challenges and opportunities of engaging a multi‐generational Jewish community. The discussion was led by Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal of the Interchange Group, who also facilitated a cross‐generational communications workshop for internal staff as part of Federation’s commitment to providing in‐house professional development opportunities. NEI continues to bring market leaders to share insight and education with our network and, on May 7th, Debby Seltzer Cummins, a former learning and development executive at the Walt Disney Company, will lead NEI in “Finding the Big Idea: The Innovator’s Toolkit.”

NuRoots Community Engagement Fellowship: In today’s non‐stop world, 20 young adults came together to slow down, relax and connect. Our first‐ever “Let it Go: Jewish Meditation” experience focused on techniques to align body, mind, spirit and awareness, all with a Jewish twist.

PJ Library: PJ Library in Los Angeles staff returned from the PJ Library National Conference with suitcases full of renewed energy, new ideas, action plans, and personal connections with close to 200 committed PJ Library professionals from around the world who are working to creatively engage families with young children in Jewish life. Sessions included Playful Learning, Parent Connectors, Community Engagement Grants, Engaging 0‐3 year olds, Going “Beyond Welcoming,” Impactful Event Promotion, Development, Personal Growth, the Pilot of PJ Our Way (an extension of PJ Library for children ages 9‐12). In addition to participating in learning sessions, PJ in LA staff presented our successful PJ Library Family Camp experience as a best practice for other communities to model.

RuJuLA: On the seventh night of Passover, over 70 participants of RuJuLA (L.A.’s Russian‐speaking Jewish young adult network) gathered for the second annual Soviet Exodus Passover Seder at a Russian restaurant. The Seder was led by Sasha Zlobina and Eden Kanovsky, Federation’s Russian Jewish Community Assistant Director and Jewish Agency for Israel’s Shlicha (Emissary) for the Russian Speaking Jewish Community to the West, respectively. The participants retold the Passover story using a specially‐designed RuJuLA Haggadah that incorporates Soviet history with the Exodus from Egypt. Among those in attendance were the founder and chair of RuJuLA, Alex Grager, along with several alumni of CLI’s Russian track and RuJuLA Steering Committee Members, and the chairs of Limmud FSU West Coast.

Young Adults of Los Angeles (YALA): On April 26th, YALA kicked‐off a new network of post‐undergraduates at Angel City Brewery. This network was created in response to the need for a space for recent college graduates and current graduate students, ages 22‐25, to connect. The 50 participants went on a brewery tour and had an opportunity to socialize with fellow participants. Attendees expressed continued interest in having similar events in the future and potential new leaders were identified to help strengthen this initiative. On April 19th, more than 45 people attended a sold‐out YALA Valley wine tasting event in Reseda. This event marked the beginning of YALA’s effort to create a number of Valley‐based clusters that incorporate YALA’s core programming elements—meaningful content, passionate peers, and access to myriad opportunities through the Federation.

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