Friends, colleagues and mentees praise Gina Waldman

An unyielding advocate for our local and global Jewish community

Gina Waldman, the 2015 Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award winner, is a formidable advocate and educator within our local and global community. Through resilience, dedication, and meticulous effort, she has dedicated herself to the cause of freedom and the defense of human rights. In 2002, Gina, along with Joseph Abdel Wahed, founded JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) on behalf of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

Below are personal statements from a handful of friends, colleagues, mentors, and mentees who have been touched and positively impacted by Gina’s desire and drive to improve the community.

Levana Zamir
Egyptian-born activist and officer-at-large, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries

Gina Waldman is a shining example to us all. No wonder she is the 2015 Judith Chapman Award winner. Working with her for the cause of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, and for the recognition of their culture and history, was enlightening to me and to all people working with her. Her indefatigable commitment, her contagious enthusiasm, her ability to bring people together and caring for them, and her motivation and persistence have brought us all to achieving and reaching our goals. Gina Waldman is an impressive and inspiring born-leader, and her contributions to the recognition of Jews from Arab countries – and their culture and history – is huge and invaluable for us and for the generations to come, in Israel and all over the world.

Stan Urman
Executive vice president emeritus, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries

I am pleased for this opportunity to express my congratulations to Gina Bublil-Waldman on her receiving the Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award. It has been my distinct pleasure to know and work with Gina since the days of the Soviet Jewry movement in the 1970s. Gina has long been admired for her courage – be it as a teenager, confronting her family's persecutors in Libya, to her principled advocacy in the international arena, before hostile government officials from Arab countries. With passion and reason, Gina is effective in making persuasive arguments in promoting justice and the need for human rights for all.

As the U.S. National Vice President of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), Gina has played a seminal role in promoting justice for Jewish refugees from Arab countries to government officials and bodies internationally.

Gina has always ensured that women play leadership roles in all JJAC initiatives. In founding JIMENA, she has also served as a wonderful role model for all women on how, with conviction and effort, to make lasting contributions to the Jewish community and to the cause of human rights. She is truly a Jewish woman of valor. Gina, May you go from strength to strength.

Banafsheh Akhlaghi
Pioneering civil and human rights attorney, educator and social entrepreneur

My friend, Gina Waldman, the beautiful Jewish lioness. Gina is the true living example of the kind of woman honored with the prestigious Judith Chapman Memorial Women's Leadership Award. The love she possesses for all people has called her to fiercely champion for their rights. She welcomes people into her heart, regardless of background and ideology, and showers them with that elegance that has become her trademark. A seeker of the truth, and a warrior for the light, she embraces her life as an accountable member of our global family furthering peace and love.

As an Iranian born woman, I know Gina to work tirelessly to bridge the unnecessary divides that separate us. She is the first to raise her hand where need arises. The first to think about and implement programs for the weak and marginalized. The one you will find on the front lines of controversial issues with her innovative ideas, where others may fear to stand. Gina is the friend you turn to for tenderness and wisdom, the mother who nurtures and loves, the voice for truth and humanity, the woman filled with passion and inspiration, and human being who lives to be in service to others. A woman of dignity, integrity, honor and valor. She is an asset and role model for any community of people. Gina Waldman is not an ordinary woman, rather an extraordinary one.

Analucia Lopezrevoredo
San Francisco program director, JIMENA

As an active Jewish community organizer and the program Director for JIMENA, I have witnessed Gina time-after-time selflessly give of herself to make the Bay Area community stronger than it already is. Whether it’s through JIMENA, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Jewish Child and Family Services, or a number of other civic organizations, Gina can be found volunteering her skills and tremendous mind to help further justice, inclusivity, and community awareness. Gina is unlike any other individual I have ever met. She founded JIMENA with just an idea, and has since volunteered her time and heart advocating for the 850,000 Arab Jews who were displaced from their home countries. In addition to working in the Jewish community, Gina has long fought against human right violations around the world—most notably during Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile. She also was a prime force in the resettlement of Bosnian Muslim refugees in San Francisco.

My time with Gina is just beginning; I hope to have her as a mentor in my life for years to come, and I hope that she continues to bring new light to our global community. Without a doubt, Gina Waldman is the true embodiment of the Judith Chapman Women’s Leadership Award.

David Waksberg
Chief executive officer, Jewish LearningWorks

Regina Bublil-Waldman is a force of nature. I’m talking monsoon, tornado, earthquake – big stuff. An unstoppable force. Gina’s the human equivalent of one of those weapons for good we see in the movies, when someone says, "If this should ever fall into the wrong hands…!”

Fortunately, Gina never lets herself fall into the wrong hands. She’s used her extraordinary powers for the good of her family, the Jewish people, and the world. Here’s how:

  • 1967 – 19 year-old Regina rescues her family from anti-Jewish violence in their native Libya.
  • 1975 – Gina assumes leadership of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews.
  • 2001 – Recognizing the need to share one of the great untold stories of World Jewry, Regina joins with other former refugees to create JIMENA – Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa.
  • 2014 – Regina organizes support for the persecuted Yazidi minority, threatened with genocide from ISIS in northern Iraq.

In each of these instances, Regina used a combination of righteous indignation – strong moral sense and outrage over injustice; creativity – whether coming up with a way out of Tripoli or a way into the Soviet consulate, Regina has been ingenious in finding new ways to solve problems; and chutzpah – the boldness to stand up and speak up to challenge authority.

Regina was my mentor in the human rights movement – much of what I know about effective advocacy I learned from her. She was among many strong women who were the backbone of the movement to rescue Soviet Jews – both here and in the USSR. Their story – the story of these heroic women – is another of the untold stories of contemporary Jewry. I’m so pleased that Regina’s story is being told; she is a most deserving honoree of the Judith Chapman Award.

Join us on April 1, 2015 at Power of One, where we will present Gina with this award.

Categories: Leadership, Awards


March 03, 2015