Coming Full Circle with Federation

One of our new regular features at Challah Back is Meet the Board, where you get to “meet” this year’s YAD Board. Find out why so many people get involved in YAD and what inspires them! I initially learned and got involved with the Jewish Federation of San Francisco not by choice, but rather through need. My family immigrated from Kiev, Ukraine in the early 1990s (with the third wave of migration from the former U.S.S.R.). The Federation assisted my family with getting our feet planted on the ground in a new country. We received all kinds of donations -- from furniture to household supplies. Since we couldn't get much through customs and had to start from scratch, this was a huge help to us.

Although I was only 10 years old, I still remember those first years in San Francisco. My whole family (my mom, dad, brother and me) lived in a one-bedroom apartment. We had to make do with what we had since my family had so much to learn about the new system and starting life all over again. My parents started attending English classes at JVS (Jewish Vocational Service), which is a non-profit organization that the Federation supports. I became more involved with the after-school programming in Jewish Family and Children's Services. The amount of assistance that we received was incredible, and to this day I am very thankful for everything. The Federation funded Emigre services at the time were absolutely amazing and helped a lot of families establish themselves once they relocated and started their lives over again -- which by no means is a small task. The Federation gave my family a second chance at life without antisemitism (which was the reason my family immigrated to begin with) and more opportunities then we could have imagined were possible. I spoke about my family's experience at one of the Federation's events and it was hard not to get all emotional because we have truly been blessed. I joined the YAD Board as the Co-Chair for the Club Fed program because I would like to educate the young adults community about the Federation's work and where all the donations go.


At this point in my life, I truly learned the meaning of philanthropy and charity work and would like to give back to the community, even though I feel it would never be enough to compensate for the gift of a better life that my family and I were given.

Gelena Grinberg, Co-Chair of Club Fed, Young Adults Division Board

Categories: Young Adults


January 12, 2009