Increasing Engagement in Jewish Life

Exploring identity, finding friendships, and building community

Providing Gateways to Friendship and Community

Studies show that many Bay Area children and teens struggle with isolation and anxiety about their future. We offer an antidote to loneliness in these times through opportunities for Jewish learning, peer connection, and healthy relationships.

By supporting the programs below, we provide ways for more teens to engage in Jewish life:

  • Scholarships for Jewish preschool, day and overnight camp, day school, and Israel experiences for children and young adults make Jewish experiences accessible and affordable.  
  • Camp Collective is comprised of six Jewish overnight camps offering a rich variety of outdoor immersive experiences for youth that work together towards a shared vision of making camp available to more Bay Area kids. 
  • The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative expands the breadth, depth, and reach of innovative and high-quality Jewish teen programs, so that more Jewish teens benefit from these experiences. 
  • Jewish Teen Foundation is for 9-12th graders who spend the year cultivating skills in philanthropy, effective communication, and teamwork, equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to create positive change together.  
  • SF Diller Teen Fellows is a leadership development program for Jewish teens in 11th grade to develop leadership skills, explore their Jewish identity, connect with Israel through a peer partnership, and create a social action project.  
  • JBridge is a hub of opportunities and resources for Bay Area Jewish teens and the people who care about them. 
  • The Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Initiative increases the number and diversity of teens engaged in Jewish experiences.

 

 

Empowering Young Adults to Build Their Future

We encourage and support young adults (ages 18-45) from diverse backgrounds to make meaningful connections with the Jewish community on their own terms while feeling a sense of belonging. 

This work is accomplished through several approaches:

  • The young adult peer connector network pilot initiative hires young adults working in the Jewish community to build relationships with peers who have yet to participate in Jewish life and support them in feeling more connected to Jewish experiences.
  • Our community study confirmed that Israel can be a divisive and challenging topic for many young adults in the Bay Area. We partner with three local organizations to facilitate courageous conversations about Israel with young adults where they learn about various perspectives and partake in open and non-judgmental conversations as they unpack their own relationship with Israel.
  • We work  with 17 local organizations to apply new approaches designed to ensure participants are seen, heard, and valued (Cultures of Belonging) ultimately building a culture shift toward more inclusive programming.
  • The NextGen Professionals Network(NPN) community of practice builds a more collaborative field of professionals working to serve young adults through learning sessions, networking, and discussion of shared successes and challenges. This helps organizations facilitate creative program partnerships and provides a space for problem-solving as a field.
  • We support 8 Northern California Hillels on university and college campuses who provide meaningful Jewish experiences for students, opportunities to explore and develop relationships with Israel, and consultation and guidance to students on how to navigate issues of antisemitism on campus.
  • We run 8 annual Bay Area Birthright trips for Jewish young adults that spark Jewish journeys in Israel and continue back home through local programming.

 

 

Encouraging Families to Connect to Jewish Experiences

By cultivating a vibrant network of preschools, Jewish educators, neighborhood parent connectors, and Jewish family engagement programs, we make raising Jewish children in the Bay Area more meaningful, communal, and accessible. 

We support the following resources for families with young children:

  • Our expert Jewish Early Childhood Education team supports the 38 Jewish preschools in our regions through grants, scholarships, coaching, and professional development.  
  • We lead a collaborative network of preschool directors and educators and guide them in maintaining excellence and overcoming common challenges like reopening during COVID-19. 
  • During the pandemic, we awarded nearly $1 million in scholarships to help families send their children to Jewish preschool. An additional $800,000 in emergency grants made it possible for preschools to reopen.
  • The PJ Library program provides free Jewish books and content delivered monthly to approximately 10,000 children birth-11 throughout the Bay Area.  
  • We lead a network of nine neighborhood-based PJ parent connectors who build community among nearby families by creating Jewish experiences for families to share with each other, and helping parents find Jewish resources and organizations.  
  • We partner with dozens of Jewish organizations each year to connect families with a wide range of Jewish activities and programs, from holiday celebrations to storytime at bookstores, to Jewish outdoor experiences. 
  • We fund organizations that bring families together for Jewish programming and we bring these grantees together in learning cohorts to collaborate as a field and explore new ways to engage families.