Bay Area Federations Announce Over $1,135,000 in Funds Mobilized to Support Wildfire Recovery in the North Bay

Funds will strengthen Jewish community infrastructure and address needs for trauma recovery

San Francisco, CAThe Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties together with the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay (the Federations) are pleased to announce over $1,135,000 in funds mobilized to support community recovery in the North Bay, following the destructive Northern California wildfires that ravaged Sonoma and Napa Counties last October. The Federations’ approach to deploying philanthropic resources coupled with continued hands-on engagement in the local Jewish community will aid a robust and effective response through the long-term recovery process.

The wildfires were the deadliest in California history, altogether claiming 44 lives, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, forcing over 100,000 individuals to evacuate, and burning 245,000 acres, an area more than eight times the size of San Francisco. Included in this large-scale devastation was the almost complete destruction of URJ Camp Newman, a beloved home away from home for 1,500 children and adults each year. Deep emotional and psychological impacts of the fires are manifesting in post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and uncertainty as people throughout the region cope with dramatic changes in circumstances and the arduous process of reconstructing their lives.

As the fires were raging, the Federations deployed volunteers to support the North Bay Jewish community on the front lines and created the North Bay Wildfire Emergency Fund, resulting in over $780,000 in contributions by 1,300 individual funders. A Task Force comprised of lay leaders from both Federations has been engaged in the months since the fire to assess needs and develop a strategy which allows for ongoing support in the region with a specific eye towards Jewish community recovery. Of the funds raised, $646,000 was granted as emergency funding for short-term crisis relief and support for mid-term recovery in two focus areas:

  • Strengthening Jewish Community Infrastructure – Grants to Jewish community organizations to mitigate the fiscal impact of the fires and support the platform of social services, spiritual care, and community connection that makes recovery possible, including Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Jewish Free Clinic, Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County, URJ Camp Newman, local synagogues and Chabad organizations. Additionally, grants for scholarship assistance to support students whose families were severely impacted by the fires was provided to the Jewish Community High School of the Bay and the Congregation Beth Ami Nursery School.
  • Programs for Trauma Recovery – Grants for programs that address the traumatic impact of the fires and their aftermath on individuals, families and service providers include: psycho-social support and training provided by IsraAID, an Israel-based non-profit organization which responds to disasters around the world; JCC of Sonoma County in partnership with Listening for a Change for a Sonoma County Wildfire Video History Project to record the fire-related experiences of the Jewish community members; and synagogues and Chabad organizations offering seminars on self-care, cultural events, and community gatherings for teens, families, and adults of all ages. Additional funds have been reserved to support continued trauma recovery over the next two years.

A meaningful part of the Federations’ trauma recovery strategy includes the creation of an Overnight Jewish Camp Fund, recognizing the restorative power of camp and its potential to foster healing and recovery. Available immediately for the 2018 camp season, scholarship funds will enable new and returning campers from Sonoma and Napa Counties to attend any Jewish overnight in Northern California – including URJ Camp Newman, Camp Tawonga, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, Ramah Galim of Northern California, Eden West and B’chol Lashon. Families may apply directly with the camp of their choice.

In addition, over $355,000 in donor directed grants to Jewish and non-sectarian organizations in the North Bay have been granted from Donor Advised Funds managed by the Federations. Among the largest recipients are URJ Camp Newman, the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief Fund, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and Tipping Point Community.

“The full impact of this tragedy is still being absorbed,” said Howard Zack, Chair of the Federations’ North Bay Wildfire Relief and Recovery Task Force. “We have seen remarkable resiliency in the Jewish community, and at the same time, we know that physical and emotional rebuilding will take many years.”

Danny Grossman, CEO of the SF-based Federation, added “The Federations’ commitment to our Jewish partners in the North Bay pre-dated these devastating fires, and will continue through the long road of recovery. The gravity of the situation is palpable, and we hope that all who are struggling to rebuild know that they are not alone. This is what it means to be part of a community."

Funds continue to be raised through the North Bay Wildfire Emergency Fund. 100% of the funds raised will be deployed in the fire-ravaged region.


The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties connects people of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives to the power of the Jewish community to improve the world. We partner with donors, organizations, and foundations to address pressing issues facing our community, and develop innovative strategies that result in deep and lasting impact locally, in Israel, and around the world.

Guided by the Jewish values of tzedakah (righteous giving), chesed (loving kindness), and tikkun olam (repairing the world), the Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay work to build a vibrant and inclusive local Jewish community, support organizations and programs that help our Jewish families, and connect donors with opportunities that match their vision, values, and goals. To this end, Federation and Foundation are dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant and inclusive local Jewish community and supporting Jewish life in the East Bay, Israel, and around the world.

For immediate release

April 16, 2018