Deepening Our Impact in the East Bay Jewish Community

By: Joy Sisisky and Arthur Slepian

As our fiscal year draws to a close and we enter the summer season, we want to share how East Bay Jewish life has flourished since we became one Federated community.

Together, we can take pride in these accomplishments:

The Community Is Thriving

  • As part of the consolidation, the Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay became part of the Federation. This has given East Bay funders access to top-notch philanthropy advisory services, expertise, and impact investing options.
  • East Bay Jewish organizations have access to all the Federation’s ongoing and one-time grant opportunities and scholarships.
  • Since we came together, the Federation has granted over $3.5 million to East Bay organizations that would not otherwise have had access to those funds.

Community Members and Organizations Are Safer and Better Prepared

Since last fall, the Federation’s Community Security Program has delivered:

  • Security training to over 500 East Bay staff, volunteers, and congregants via webinars as well as in person at four East Bay synagogues. In total, more than 1000 Bay Area community members have participated in trainings.
  • Security grant application assistance to Jewish East Bay Jewish institutions, resulting in $773,997 in state funds for security improvements.
  • Security assessments at four Jewish organizations in the East Bay in preparation for future security grant opportunities.

Families Are Connecting Through Jewish Experiences

The Federation’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) team supports Jewish preschools through ongoing convenings and programs. Since last fall:

  • Five East Bay Jewish preschools have participated in our MentorLab 2.0 program assisting schools in creating mentoring programs for their teachers through intensive learning and coaching throughout the school year.
  • Over 300 East Bay educators participated in our Early Childhood Conference. The conference serves Jewish preschool teachers and directors, providing professional development workshops.
  • Our To Teach and To Learn program—a partnership with American Jewish University and supported by the Rodan Family Foundation — is making it possible for ten teachers to earn their master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education, helping them to become better educators and school leaders.
  • The Federation continues to provide professional development opportunities for the Jewish preschool educators, and monthly convenings for East Bay Jewish preschool directors. Offerings included workshops on anti-racism and an exploration of Jewish holidays and blessings.

PJ Library Bay Area reaches East Bay Jewish families and children through a multi-faceted approach to engagement:

  • The free Jewish children’s book program, supported by the Libitzky Family Foundation, has 4,078 subscriptions for children from birth through twelve years of age in the East Bay.
  • Seven Regional PJ Library Parent Connectors, a Federation-run program supported by the Rodan Family Foundation, have connected 522 families in the East Bay with other Jewish families in their areas through Jewish activities; 48% of families attended more than one gathering throughout the year.
  • This year, a new team of seven Preschool Parent Connectors connected families at five East Bay Jewish preschools through monthly gatherings, reaching 42 families.

Jewish Youth Are Engaging in Jewish Life

After two years in a pandemic, young adults are craving meaning, connection, and belonging — and the Federation enables partners and programs to meet this growing demand through:

  • Young Adult Peer Connectors at two East Bay organizations are helping 100 young adults connect with their communities.
  • Leading three buses of participants in Birthright Israel this summer with our partners at Israel Outdoors, including 24 young adults ages 22-26 from the East Bay. In addition to the standard Birthright Israel itinerary, they’ll be meeting our partners doing social justice work and advancing shared society on-the-ground in Israel.
  • The Teen Tzedek learning and grant cohort, which granted five East Bay Jewish organizations funding for social justice teen programming, including a trip to Sacramento.
  • Six East Bay participants in the Diller Teen Fellows program and the Jewish Teen Foundation.

Working Towards Racial Equity in the Jewish Community

  • The Federation recently convened 12 East Bay Jewish communal professionals who are working to connect with Jewish families of color. They shared their efforts towards creating racial equity – much of it funded by Federation grants – and co-created a map of their work to increase opportunities for East Bay Jewish families of color to engage in Jewish life.
  • The Federation’s Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF) includes 4 East Bay Jewish lay leaders and professionals. The RJTF is comprised of majority Jews of Color (JOC) working to advise Federation lay leaders and professionals as we together move down the path of becoming a multi-racial and anti-racist organization.
  • The Endowment Fund has committed $225,000 over three years to the grant pool and operation costs of The Tzedek Fund, a JOC Giving Circle affinity space.

The Federation’s Presence Is Seen and Felt in the East Bay

  • The Federation staff has met with over 50 Jewish communal leaders throughout the East Bay since last fall to build connections, discern opportunities, and connect them with our programs.
  • The Federation office in Downtown Berkeley is once again full of activity as staff advise donors, partner with communal professionals, and serve families.
  • Thanks to named funds that began at the East Bay Federation, we are able to help East Bay professionals and organizations pursue professional development opportunities and carry out special projects. These range from disability inclusion to Israel education experiences to Holocaust commemorations and education.

The integration continues to strengthen the East Bay Jewish community, and the entire Bay Area Jewish community, through access to greater resources, efficiency, coordination, and expertise. As a united Jewish Bay Area, we are improving our community’s security, cultivating leadership, and creating meaningful pathways to engagement in Jewish life for people of all ages. We have become seamlessly integrated, maximizing resources across the Bay so that we can flourish together.

With your partnership, we look forward to many more years of deepening connections and expanding impact throughout the East Bay Jewish community.


June 20, 2022


Joy Sisisky