Culture of Belonging

We all yearn for connection and a sense that we matter

Help us grow our Jewish communities through mindsets and practices that build belonging.

Our Bay Area Jewish community is as rich, dynamic, and diverse as the Jewish traditions and wisdom that guide it. And Judaism—whether secular, religious, cultural, or as an identity—comes alive when practiced as a community. 

And yet, there are many people within our community who’ve historically been minimized, marginalized, ignored, or even excluded from Jewish spaces. Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, interfaith families, non-observant Jews, ultra-observant Jews, non-Jewish members of Jewish households, Jewish youth and young adults, families with young children, or those of other countless stripes… what unites them is a sense of identity or affiliation with the Jewish community, coupled with a sense of exclusion from that same community. 

This is a missed opportunity—and not just because these groups and individuals can contribute valuable wisdom, knowledge, experience, and perspectives that can immeasurably enrich and strengthen our community. But rather, on a more fundamental level, it is our duty and responsibility—as Jews and as human beings—to ensure everyone in the community is seen, acknowledged, heard, welcomed, and valued regardless of their background, identity, or circumstances. 

This is why the Federation is making this work one of our highest priorities. In creating a Culture of Belonging, we create opportunities and pathways for the marginalized within our community to experience Jewish life and all its possibilities. 

Creating spaces where everyone feels included 

People access our rich Jewish tradition and wisdom best through relationships and community – by being seen, asked, heard, and invited to explore and co-create their own meaningful, relevant Jewish path. They need to feel that they belong and are valued, no matter their background, identity, or circumstances.

Belonging rarely happens by chance. It requires a shift in the way Jewish life is offered from delivering programs and services to designing intentionally for human connection. The Federation has partnered with Dr. Sarale Shadmi-Wortman and the Israeli Association of Community Centers to develop a language and methodology that is deepening belonging throughout our Bay Area Jewish ecosystem.

Building a culture of belonging is one of the strategies at the core of the Federation’s Engagement Initiative seeking to expand the opportunities and pathways for youth, young adults, and families with young children, to experience Jewish life in relationship with others.


View upcoming opportunities to learn and collaborate on creating and deepening belonging together. Please register in advance using the links below. We hope you’ll bring others with you – email Sandra to add new names to our contact list.  

CB Practice Group, 9:30 – 11:00 am
Register for October 27

Our open quarterly Practice Groups are an opportunity to join professionals and lay leaders who have embarked on this culture of belonging journey. Together, through the sharing of your stories, we learn how to apply belonging principles and tools to the real challenges and dilemmas you experience daily inside your organizations.


Download our  Culture of Belonging Toolkit or individual tools.
A how-to guide to core practices like asset mapping, setting belonging goals, and transforming meetings.

Individual Tools:
10 Principles
Belonging Goals
Customer to Partner Continuum 
Guide to Asset Mapping
How to Lead Transformative Meetings 
Opening and Closing Rituals 
Culture of Belonging Makeover Guide 

Participate in a Culture of Belonging Practice Group.
We meet quarterly to apply belonging principles and tools to real challenges and dilemmas in your organizations. Contact Sandra Ramirez-Noguchi for more information.

Join our Facebook Group to continue the conversation, post questions, and share ideas.

 "The Relational Revolution Challenge," article by Wendy Verba and Rachel Gildiner, eJewish Philanthropy
 "The Power of Belonging: Creating a Culture of Connection in the Bay Area Jewish World," article by Wendy Verba, eJewish Philanthropy


On February 13, 2020, close to 200 lay and professional leaders representing 65 Jewish organizations throughout the Bay Area attended 473K: A Belonging Experience. Named after the number of individuals in Jewish households in the Bay Area, the day-long event was designed to inspire and equip Jewish leaders with new mindsets and skillsets to build truly inclusive Jewish communities.

473K was presented by the Federation in partnership with the Israeli Association of Community Centers and Be’chol Lashon, with support from the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, JIMENA, and Keshet.


This playlist includes clips from the day, including Wendy Verba’s presentation "Introducing Culture of Belonging Philosophy" and Lindsey Newman’s presentation on the "Power of Diversity."

A full recording of the event can be found below:

For questions, please email Sandra Ramirez-Noguchi.

Contact us

Wendy Verba
Managing Director
Community Impact