Jewish Community Federation Names Gina Waldman for the Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award of 2015

San Francisco, CA – The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation) is proud to announce that the 2015 Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award will be given to Gina Waldman. Each year, the Federation honors a female role model in the community with this prestigious award, which recognizes outstanding Jewish volunteer leaders who go above-and-beyond in dedicating their time, energy and resources. These women are mentors, modeling and motivating others to express their Jewish values by supporting the overall well-being of their Jewish community. Gina will be physically presented with the award on April 1, at the Federation’s Power of One at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Power of One celebrates women in our community and our collective impact around the globe. More information and tickets are available at

“Gina Waldman is an extraordinary leader. When she puts her heart into something, she is unstoppable,” said Corrine Levy, director of the Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy.

Gina Waldman:

Gina Waldman is a survivor. Born Gina Bublil in Tripoli to a family that had lived in Libya for centuries, she was persecuted, nearly murdered and brutally expelled from her homeland in 1967 – all because she is Jewish. She is one of nearly a million Jews who were forced to flee their homes in Arab lands from 1948-1970. In 1967, Gina and her family fled to Italy. In 1969, at the age of 21, she immigrated to San Francisco as a refugee with just $200 and a trunk. Gina has dedicated the past 45 years to the cause of freedom and the defense of human rights.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, Gina served as director of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jewry, and was instrumental in winning freedom for thousands of Soviet Jews. She worked closely with Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov and human rights champion Natan Sharansky. Gina also fought human rights abuses in Argentina and Chile during Augusto Pinochet’s regime. In the early 1990s, through the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, she helped resettle Muslim refugees from Bosnia within the Bay Area.

After 9/11, together with Joseph Abdel Wahed, Gina co-founded JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) in 2002 to bear witness to the suffering of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Her own personal story adds much-needed perspective to discussions of the Middle East.

Gina’s accomplishments are legendary and include winning the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award. As JIMENA president, she testified in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the United States Congress Human Rights Caucus, the Canadian Parliament, and the Israeli Knesset as an expert witness, to ensure that every time government officials discuss the issue of Palestinian refugees on the global stage, they must also pair the reference with discussion of the nearly one million Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Gina has also been very engaged in our local Jewish community. She currently serves on the Federation’s Board of Governors and was a past board member, from 2007-2011.

Additionally, Gina has made presentations to major universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and numerous others. She speaks about her own experiences living as a Jew under Islam. In English punctuated with Arabic, Gina exposes and calls for an end to the injustices that still plague and polarize the Middle East. And, with a deft touch, she exhorts her audiences — which are often bitterly divided — to find common ground and to seek reconciliation. Her consistent message is that “love is stronger than hate.”

Gina lives in Marin and speaks five languages. She is married to Dan Waldman and has two sons, Josh and Noah.

More on Judith Chapman:

Judith Sirbu Chapman (1938-1997) was an esteemed volunteer leader, friend, change agent and member of our Jewish community. Her leadership skills bloomed through dedication, focused effort, on-the-job training, and vision. Overcoming painful shyness, she became an advisor to community professionals and a mentor to all the women who were fortunate enough to know her. Judith’s expertise benefited the Federation, Mt. Zion Hospital Auxiliary, the statewide Nurses Association, the Democratic Party central committee, JCRC, the J Weekly, National Women’s Division Board, and the national organization of Federations, among many others.

In Judith’s day, few women were professionals, and no women ran corporations. She persevered through intelligence coupled with an intuitive understanding of people and a concern for the future of the overall community (Jewish and secular). Using her natural talents, she charted a career path by lending her time to multiple organizations.

Judith used to say that she was a “professional volunteer,” treating every position as if she had a paycheck and a promotion at stake. Her personal investment was immeasurable and provided a profound impact on her community. Her permanent fund with the Federation’s endowment makes grants towards Jewish projects at home and abroad, empowers women to achieve, and provides future leadership training programs.

The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund 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. Learn more at

For immediate release

February 27, 2015


Ilan Kayatsky