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Posts from the ‘Endowment’ Category

Passionate Teachers Recognized For Excellence in Jewish Education

Each year the Helen Diller Family honors four  exceptional Jewish educators because outstanding teachers encourage youth to explore the rich traditions of the Jewish heritage, to incorporate Jewish values into their own lives, to help build Jewish community, and to take responsibility for the common destiny of the Jewish people. Recipients of the Helen Diller Family Excellence in Jewish Education Award receive a $10,000 cash prize, and $2,500 for their institutions. We’ve asked the 2013 awardees to share what receiving this award means to them: Read more

Congratulations to the 2013 Helen Diller Family Awardees for Excellence in Jewish Education

The Helen Diller Family Excellence in Jewish Education Award announced its 12th year awardees in four categories.  The winners receive a $10,000 cash prize and $2,500 for their institutions.  The Helen Diller Family has chosen to honor exceptional teachers in Jewish education because outstanding teachers encourage youth to explore the rich traditions of the Jewish heritage, to incorporate Jewish values into their own lives, to help build Jewish community, and to take responsibility for the common destiny of the Jewish people. Read more

Teachers Worthy of Recognition

As we call for nominations for the 2013 Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education, we have asked past awardees to reflect on their experience and the impact receiving this award has had on them.

What was inspiring about winning the award?

It was inspiring to feel so valued by the Jewish community. As someone who was not born into a Jewish family and came into the Jewish community of the Bay Area through my own interest and education, it has been inspiring to feel like an integral part of my adopted community.
– Jaclyn Guzman, Kehillah Jewish High School (Day School)

What impact has it had on your life?

It has made me more confident; hold my head a little higher around my colleagues. Again, validation is priceless. When you teach from your heart you just sense you are doing the right thing, but when you receive public accolades for that work, it inspires you to do more and do even better.
– Ariana Estoque, Congregation Emanu-El (Congregation or Community School)

What inspires you most about teaching?

I am most inspired by being able to offer myself to students as a model and resource. I have had students tell me how much it helped them to have me share my struggles and how I have overcome them and being able to be that person in their life is so inspiring. I am always inspired by young people’s thought process and open-mindedness. They inspire me to be my best and to keep my mind open and to remember that I will always be a life-long learner.
Zephira Derblich-Milea, Love Shouldn’t Hurt, a program of Shalom Bayit (Informal Education)

Nominate an exceptional Jewish educator now!

For further information or questions about the Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education, please contact Carrie Sullivan at or 415.512.6226.

Know an Exceptional Jewish Educator?

Today’s children will be the gatekeepers to a vibrant Jewish future. Imbuing them with a strong sense of Jewish identity is key to Jewish continuity.

Teachers encourage our youth to explore the rich traditions of our Jewish heritage, incorporate Jewish values into their lives, and  build a sense of responsibility for the common destiny of the Jewish people. With this in mind, the Helen Diller Family has chosen to honor exceptional teachers in Jewish education.

Nominations are currently being accepted 

Four awards will be presented in summer 2013, recognizing an outstanding Jewish educator of the Bay Area community in each of the following areas:

  • Early Childhood
  • Day School
  • Congregational or Community School
  • Informal Education (outside of a school setting)

Each award will carry with it a prize of $10,000 for the educator and $2,500 for the educator’s institution.


Nominees must currently work in a program of pre-collegiate Jewish education in San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin or Sonoma Counties, Greater East Bay, or Greater San Jose.

Nominators must be a candidate’s current supervisor, school principal, or institutional director.

Send a note to their principal or supervisor, or nominate someone today!

For further information or questions about the Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education, please contact Carrie Sullivan at or 415.512.6226.

Realizing a Vision of a Camp Environment Open to the Entire Community Year Round

Sitting in the Santa Rosa Mountains of Sonoma County is URJ Camp Newman, a Reform Jewish summer camp serving 3,500 adults and children for off-season retreats and 1,500 Jewish youth (grades 3 to 12) through its summer camp program.  Every summer, these young Jews begin a journey of lifelong Jewish living and learning. They join a loving community where friendships thrive and self-esteem flourishes.

The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund is proud to announce a $1 million grant in support of Camp Newman

The grant supports the camp’s comprehensive $30 million campaign to conduct critical improvements to its infrastructure, housing and program space. With the new retreat center, Camp Newman will be able to serve upwards of 13,000 individuals a year. Including the Federation grant, Camp Newman has already raised $12 million.  A state-of-the-art retreat center and a welcome and wellness center are envisioned to serve the entire Northern California Jewish community with innovative, immersive Jewish experiences.

New Campus Center Rendering

New Welcome and Wellness Center Rendering

Beyond the grant

Camp Newman worked with the Federation’s Capital Planning Committee to help hone their message, think through any challenge areas, and build bridges to supporters in the community that they might not otherwise have known.  “Our endowment fund represents the legacy of hundreds of members of our community and exists to ensure a vibrant Jewish future. Given the vital role that camp plays in building a strong Jewish identity, Camp Newman is an essential part of the fabric of our community, and this grant will ensure that it remains so for generations to come,” said Jennifer Gorovitz, Federation CEO.

Elements of the project include:

•    Constructing a Campus Center as a hub for Camp Newman, tripling the number of retreat groups during an off-season that is currently booked to capacity.
•    Developing a Welcome and Wellness Center to provide on-site health care practitioners and social services.
•    Replacing core infrastructure, including electrical, wastewater treatment, plumbing, and other physical plant systems.  (This stage has already been completed, with $5 million in funding coming from the Union for Reform Judaism.)
•    Build 16 new cabins to accommodate campers in the summer and retreat groups during the academic year.

New Cabin Rendering

The Campaign for Camp Newman is still in its early stages, with leadership-level gifts as the focus of campaign efforts.  Camp Newman is seeking the involvement of the thousands of current and former campers, parents, and staff.  For more detailed information about the project or campaign, please contact Advancement Director Ari Vared by e-mail or at (415) 392-7080. The entire project is being phased over several years, so that neither the off-season retreats nor the summer camp will be impacted. 

“Camp Newman is honored to receive this generous support from our Federation,” said Daryl Messinger, Board Chair and along with her husband, Jim Heeger, a lead donor to the campaign.  “It is wonderful to have the Federation as a partner in ensuring that everyone can be a beneficiary of the immersive magic of Camp.”

For more information on Jewish Camp for Kids, visit One Happy Camper which provides incentive grants of up to $1000 to families with children attending Jewish overnight camp for the first time, or apply for need-based scholarships.

Teens Nationwide Now Eligible for Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards

The Helen Diller Family Foundation is expanding the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, issuing a national call-for-nominations to identify Jewish teens whose volunteer service projects demonstrate a determined commitment to make the world a better place. Up to ten selected teens, five from California and five from other communities across the country, will each be acknowledged for their visionary actions with an award of $36,000, to be used to further their philanthropic work or their education. Nominations are now being accepted; the deadline for nominations is January 6, 2013.

What started as a simple idea for Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller in 2007 has grown tremendously since its inception, and the Helen Diller Family Foundation has given more than one million dollars to 30 teens to further their visions of tikkun olam.

“It has been a joy to celebrate so many incredible Jewish teens over the past six years, and to support them in their efforts to repair the world. This opportunity to empower and nurture teens throughout the entire United States is a dream come true, and a simple way to foster the spirit of tikkun olam among our future leaders.” -Helen Diller

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and their network of 155 Jewish Federations throughout the country will collaborate with the Helen Diller Family Foundation to publicize the awards and garner nominations.

“We applaud those who demonstrate such dedication to Jewish values and service at a young age,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA. “The Helen Diller Family Foundation is known for its commitment to providing enrichment opportunities that truly do change lives. We are delighted to collaborate with them on this innovative program, which will help create a vibrant future for the Jewish People.”

Learn more about past recipientsof the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards here.

The 2012 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award Recipients

An Investment in Hope

Vera and Sophie Pesotchinsky

In 1976, at the height of the Cold War, Sophia Pesotchinsky and her family fled the Soviet Union. They arrived in the U.S. as refugees with a toddler, significant language barriers, no place to live, nor jobs awaiting them, and about $300 to start their lives over. And yet, with one obstacle larger than the next, they overcame them all. Sophia went on to co-create three life science companies and her husband Leon became a professor of mathematics at UCSB and San Jose State University.

Indeed, theirs is an inspiring American success story, but when you ask Sophia about life’s challenges she immediately shifts the conversation to the most courageous person she knows, her daughter, Vera.

Vera was diagnosed with Late Onset Tay-Sachs disease eleven years ago. Since that time, despite the unrelenting toll of her illness, she has received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wellesley College and Santa Clara University, worked in marketing for her family business, and has embraced life with dignity, great humor, and not a trace of self-pity.

“She is an inspiration to everyone – and I mean everyone she meets,” said Sophia. But mercilessly, her condition rages on. So Sophia decided to do whatever she could to help in her daughter’s fight. Thus, she established a Donor Advised Fund, dedicated to the eradication of Tay-Sachs and other degenerative neurological diseases. “If there is one thing I want people to know about our DAF it is that I believe it is helping us get closer to combating this disease. I’m an engineer, I analyze things. I don’t work in dreams. And the scientific breakthroughs we’ve had in the last six years, particularly with gene therapy, have given us real hope – not just for a cure for my daughter, but for people who struggle with any genetic neurological diseases. The first clinical studies are scheduled for the beginning of 2013.”

Of course, running a business, being involved with the Tay Sachs Gene Therapy consortium, and tending to the needs of her family doesn’t give Sophia a lot of time to take on the responsibilities of operating her own philanthropic foundation. “I’m a very busy person,” said Sophia. “So that’s why I set up my DAF with JCF. It was incredibly easy and it has allowed me to focus on what I need to focus on to stop this disease.”

To learn more or contribute to Sophia’s Fund #797 call 650.248.9630 or email

As Sophia has done, supporting causes that are personally meaningful through DAFs has become increasingly popular. Today more and more donors are using DAFs to honor loved ones and celebrate lifecycle events such as weddings, b’nai mitzvahs, memorials and graduations.

For information on DAFs contact Ruth Bender at 415.512.6205 or email

Meet the 2012 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awardees

Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards

This week, the Helen Diller Family Foundation celebrated outstanding California teenagers working to make a difference at the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards luncheon. Five exceptional teens were recognized for their volunteer work with an Award and $36,000 to further their college education or their vision of tikkun olam (repairing the world). These videos, which premiered at the luncheon, showcase their hard work and dedication.

Zak Kukoff, Thousand Oaks, CA

“We bring students together to build understanding and friendships.”

Zak founded Autism Ambassadors after seeing his autistic cousin ostracized and alienated in the classroom.  Moved by her experience, he created this peer-led program to foster friendships between students with and without autism, and to teach autistic students social, emotional and academic skills.

Joe Langerman, Coronado, CA

“Be a part of the solution to end hatred and embrace tolerance.”

Joe stood up to bullying by starting Voices Against Cruelty, Hatred and Intolerance. He has engaged and educated teachers, students and parents about the prevalence and impact of bullying, combating intolerance at his own school and beyond.

Daniel Rosenthal, Santa Rosa, CA

“Magic takes you on adventures–without ever leaving your seat, hospital bed or wheelchair.”

As an eight-year-old, Daniel began performing magic tricks for hospital patients. Inspired by the healing power of laughter, he established Magic is Medicine, coordinating other volunteer magicians who give magic shows in hospitals, schools and rehabilitation and assisted living centers across the country.

Adam Weinstein, Los Angeles, CA

“Sparking  interest in math and science enriches students’ lives and betters our world.”

Adam’s love for math and science encouraged him to share his passion with underprivileged fifth graders in Los Angeles. He started Archimedes Learning to teach students through fun, hands-on and creative activities  and demonstrations – setting them up to succeed in two subjects that are vital to their and America’s future.

Celine Yousefzadeh, Los Angeles, CA

“Through fashion, we can engage and empower students to take action to help Israel.”

Celine felt a responsibility to help students in S’derot, Israel, after Gaza Strip rocket attacks devastated their high school. She began Fashion with Compassion, an annual event that turns hundreds of students each year into fashion show models, planners and philanthropists raising money for Israeli charities.

The Diller Teen Initiatives are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

The 2012 Diller Teen Fellows check in from Israel

Diller Teen Fellows cohorts from six North American partner communities have just returned  from their much anticipated three week long, Israel Summer Seminar (ISS). Here, six North American cohorts, each filled with twenty 10th and 11th graders of different backgrounds, explored Israel, participated in a four day Diller International Teen Leadership Congress, and experienced a week of home hospitality by their host families in their Israeli partnership cities. The Diller ISS is part of the continuing effort to empower participants to be active, effective leaders with a strong Jewish identity and a responsibility to their communities, Israel, and the Jewish people.

The cohorts have blogged throughout their time in Israel–so check this post to see highlights of their trip!

Baltimore Dillers at the Kotel in Jerusalem


Day 2!

Miriam Pomerantz and Robert Monfred, July 19, 2012

Baltimore Diller Teens floating in the Dead Sea

Let’s back track…to Friday!

Alex Green, July 22,2012

An update about our time in Jerusalem from one of the amazing JCs – Danielle Gelber!

Danielle Gelber, July 24, 2012

Beit Canada is Always a Highlight!

Morgan Plant and Sam Sugarman, August 5,2012

Los Angeles

Day One: Spread of the Sass

Rachael Cohen, July 22, 2012

The Sass Strikes Back

Chelsea Rapoport, July 30, 2012

Shalom to the Sass

Chelsea Rapoport, August 5, 2012

MetroWest New Jersey

Shabbat morning, the Old City, and Havdalah at the Kotel

San Francisco Diller Teen Fellows start their time in Israel

Marisa Parnes, July 21, 2012

Carrying on our history…As leaders.

Rachel Scheckman , July 22, 2012

Learning from each other

Nick Sarano, August 1, 2012

The “Aha” Moments

Rachel Gordon, August 3, 2012

San Francisco

Day 2: The North of Israel

Nadine Herman and Kamala Sloss, July 19,2012

Shifting Gears: From Congress to Community Week

Matt Blumenthal, August 1, 2012

Community Week: Army Day

Alex Jekowsky, August 6, 2012


Diller blog 7/26/2012

Tova Perlman and Sophie Abo, July 26, 2012

Our Shabbat at Congress

Noa Weil, Sarah Gamble, Simon Neft, and Bailey Spivak, July 29, 2012

A Quick Look Back Into the Diller Teen Fellows 2011-2012 Program Year

As the Diller Teen Fellows start to prepare for their Israel Summer Seminar, we look back at their experiences this past year through this program. Over the past year, Diller Teen Fellows from across North America in six different cities have attended workshops in their hometowns about leadership and Judaism, have explored Israel’s culture, and have even participated in the 2012 North American Seminar with their partner city in Israel, where Diller teens from Israel traveled to North America to learn about the culture and way of life of American Jews, and compare their counterpart’s lifestyle to their own lifestyle in Israel. This summer, North American Diller Teen Fellows will be able to apply the skills they have developed through this past program year in the annual Diller Israel Summer Seminar, where Dillers from twelve cities from both North America and Israel will be exposed to different cultures and lifestyles, and new ideas about leadership and Judaism in a 3-week trip to Israel.

Before they head off to the holy land, here are a few highlights from each cohort’s past year in the program, including a post about the San Francisco cohort’s tikkun olam project planting a garden at a low-income housing project and a post from MetroWest describing one Israeli’s eye-opening and exciting time in New York City.

Los Angeles Diller cohort’s first havdalah together


First Diller Shabbaton….AMAZING!!
Leah Gold, November 4, 2011

Los Angeles

North American Seminar|
Rachael Goldman, April 5, 2012

Last Shabbaton Before Israel
Chelsea, June 26, 2012

MetroWest cohort showing their Israeli partnership New York City!

MetroWest New Jersey

Who is a Jew?
Noah Lisser & Omer Kinor, March 27, 2012

American Culture: the BIG Apple
Peleg Kazaz, March 28, 2012

It’s Monday morning, but that doesn’t mean “good bye”
April 6, 2012

San Francisco

The 2012 North American Seminar–Reflections on Partnership
Jenny, April 17, 2012

The Diller Teen Fellows J-Serve-ing the Community
Gabriel Kaufman & EJ Weiss, April 27, 2012

For more information about the Diller Teen Fellows, visit our website.


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