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Serving the OC Jewish Community Since 1965 

 

Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC) brings together diverse members of our community for shared experiences that are grounded in Jewish culture, values and traditions that foster a deeper connection to each other and with the local and global Jewish community. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Our Jewish community is saddened and outraged by the horrific assault on worshipers of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods this afternoon, in which one congregant lost their life and others were wounded, several critically. We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased, and we pray for the full and speedy recovery of the injured. We honor the extraordinary bravery of churchgoers who subdued and restrained the suspect until first responders arrived.

Our hearts are with the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, and we have reached out to express our support in their time of grief.

Eric

Erik Ludwig Appointed President & CEO of Jewish Federation of Orange County

After an extensive nationwide search, the Board of Jewish Federation of Orange County is delighted to announce the appointment of Erik Ludwig, PhD as the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

“Erik is a talented, innovative leader with a passion for community who has had a transformational impact on every organization he has served,” said Heather Kline, Chair of Jewish Federation of Orange County. “We are excited to partner with him and have enormous confidence in him to lead our Federation in fulfilling its critical mission to care for the Jewish community and to ensure the stability and growth of Jewish Federation of Orange County.” 

Erik shared, “I am humbled and honored to accept the position as President and CEO to this organization which has served as a foundation for Jewish life in Orange County and beyond since its incorporation as the Jewish Community Council in 1965. While our understanding of the Jewish neighborhood has changed a lot since then, our connection to the past—our shared history of Jewish peoplehood—can be a profound building block for a better future. I look forward to our partnership shaping that Jewish future and working toward a more perfect world.”

Adam Miller, Chair of the search committee, explained, “In seeking our next executive leader, we wanted someone who understood the innovative spirit of our community and the importance of Federation in strengthening Jewish life in Orange County. In Erik, we found a leader whose business acumen and track record of entrepreneurship is the right fit for our community.”

Erik has served as a Jewish communal professional for the past 20 years and brings a wealth of experience, strategic vision, and deep communal relationships to this role. He is recognized as one of the Jewish community’s most innovative and entrepreneurial leaders with a strong record of spearheading organizational change within mature organizations. His strengths were most recently demonstrated during his seven-year tenure as Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College where he oversaw the school’s revitalization and growth. Among his numerous accomplishments, he tripled student enrollment by redesigning core academic programs to meet the needs of students in a rapidly changing Jewish professional ecosystem, and significantly grew the school’s organizational capacity through increased philanthropy. Prior to his role at HUC, Erik served as Chief Operating Officer at Upstart Bay Area. He currently serves on the advisory council of IsraAID US and on the advisory board of Jewish Interactive. Erik holds a PhD from the University of Utah, an MA from Humboldt State University, and a BS from the University of Utah. 

His term will begin on March 21, 2022.

 



As we share this good news with our community, we are conscious of the suffering of the people of Ukraine. The humanitarian crisis that is unfolding serves as a poignant reminder that the act of tzedakah is sacred and life-giving. Please join our communal response and give through Jewish Federation’s Ukraine Emergency Campaign

Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
 
Thank you for the warm welcome to my position as President and CEO of Jewish Federation of Orange County. In these early weeks, I have witnessed the optimism and strong sense of community that we share for the future of Jewish life in Orange County, Israel, and globally.

Through our Ukraine Emergency Campaign, we are responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. To date, we have raised over $200,000 from over 330 community members as part of Jewish Federations of North America, a network of Federations, that has helped raise over $44 million to provide humanitarian aid, housing, transportation, and support for aliya/refugee absorption in Israel through our overseas partners, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).

At this year’s Women’s VOICES on Sunday, April 3, we came together to celebrate and recognize Ann Moskowitz for her life of leadership, specifically all that she has done to secure Jewish identity and future leaders through the Passport to Jewish Life program. It was an honor to get to know Ann through this gathering and to be part of this milestone in her inspiring life story. 
 
This year’s VOICES also included the special announcement of the establishment of Temple Beth Emet’s legacy gift to our community through an endowment of $500,000 to support the Federation’s Passport to Jewish Life program, which is so near and dear to Ann. If you haven’t had the chance, please join me in thanking Ann for her leadership and service to our community, strengthening it from generation to generation. We are grateful to Andrea Alfi, Women’s Philanthropy President and to Tanya Newman, our Voices Chair, for bringing some 240 of us together and for helping lift the Annual Campaign to $1.2 million.
 
As my fourth week in this role comes to its culmination, I want to answer a question that a few of you have asked about why I made the choice to leave academia to lead Jewish Federation of Orange County. It is, in actuality, less a leaving and more of a continuation.
 
I believe that Federation’s purpose is to amplify Jewish life. As an amplifier of Jewish life, Federations have three essential functions at this time: strengthening Jewish identity; developing Jewish leaders; combating antisemitism and anti-Jewish sentiment. In the coming months, I look forward to discussing how, with your meaningful support, Federation will approach these challenges and continue its work to amplify Jewish life in Orange County.
 
Jewish Federation of Orange County is a unique platform for building and shaping Jewish peoplehood. As I prepare for Passover with family and friends, it occurs to me that there is perhaps no better cornerstone for the foundation of Jewish peoplehood in a postmodern world than Passover. In a time when members of Jewish families live in different zip codes and in which the ways we define Jewish neighborhood are increasingly complex, Passover reconnects us to a shared sense of peoplehood by requiring of all of us to relive the story of Exodus, our shared journey from slavery to freedom. It requests of us that we gather as family, bound by our collective memory, and that we open our homes as refuge to the stranger. “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).
 
I find one of the infinite wisdoms of Passover is that we are directed both to tell the story to our children, which indicates that we are among family, and we are taught to welcome outsiders, which hints at a broader understanding of who is familial. In doing so, Judaism asks us to recognize both kinship and fictive kinship. It uniquely conceptualizes Jewish peoplehood in inclusive terms, emphasizing the importance of the recognizable, our own family, and the unrecognizable other. To make this point, the scholar Everett Fox rather brilliantly identifies Moses’ identity as fluid. Fox states, “We learn all we need to know about Moshe’s early personality: he is Hebrew-identifying but Egyptian-looking” (p. 262). This early Moses is neither recognizable in his visage nor in his customs. Fox presents us with a Moses who is an allegory for a Jewish people that is becoming rather than arrived.
 
Our retelling of the Exodus story is an affirmation of our continued becoming. In a postmodern world, it is admittedly difficult to understand ourselves this way. The artificial intelligence software in the devices we use daily, perhaps even the device on which you are reading this reflection, is designed to promote a sense of curated completedness. The wisdom of Judaism is that it asks us to ignore the AI and instead engage the novel by questioning what is known and by welcoming those who may be unknown to our family’s Seder table. There is no shibboleth (password) required to gain entrance to the Seder. It requires only our faith in Jewish peoplehood and our belief that this night is in fact different from all other nights.
 
From my family to yours, and from all of us at Jewish Federation of Orange County, warmest wishes for a meaningful and sweet Passover.
 
Shabbat Shalom,



Erik Ludwig, PhD
President & CEO
Jewish Federation of Orange County
1 Federation Way, Suite 210, Irvine, CA 92603-0174
Erik@JFFS.org

Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) was celebrated on May 10 at local and county government gatherings. JFOC President & CEO Erik Ludwig received proclamations from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, presented by Vice Chair Donald Wagner and Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, and from the City of Irvine, presented by Mayor Farrah Khan. Rabbi Richard Steinberg, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot and an OC Human Relations Commissioner, was also a recipient of a proclamation from the Board of Supervisors. Celebrated each May since 2006, JAHM commemorates more than 350 years of Jewish contributions to American society. Click here for more information 

Passport to Jewish Life Grants 

With summer just around the corner, Jewish Federation provided 81 children with Passport to Jewish Life grants for 2022 totaling $38,925 for Jewish summer programs. This year's grant recipients, who will be in grades 3-12 this fall, will attend Jewish summer camp throughout the U.S. and experiential programs such as the Israel Scouts Journey to Poland. JFOC is proud to support families seeking transformational Jewish summer experiences for their children – experiences that bolster Jewish identity and help to create proud and confident Jewish adults. Click here for more info. 

Help Refill the Tank

With gas prices at an all-time high, our Lifelines Emergency Assistance clients continue to need transportation support more than ever. You can refill the tank by donating gasoline gift cards. Your gift powers access to workplaces, job interviews, medical appointments and more. Most needed by our clients: Shell or Arco cards of $25 or $50. Email Assist@JFFS.org  and we'll help to facilitate your donation. Thank you! 

Almost Halfway to Our Goal!


Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign has surpassed $1.35 million, nearly half of our year-end campaign goal of $3 million. Thank you to the close to 400 donors who have contributed to date. While we have raised significant funds, we have much more to raise before the end of the year. Join your fellow community members: keep the momentum going with your 2022 Annual Campaign gift today to build a strong Jewish tomorrow. Additionally, 343 Orange County donors have contributed over $220,000 toward Ukraine Relief efforts. For recent developments abroad, click here.

Friendship Across Differences – Thursday, May 19, 7pm

Join the Rose Project of JFOC, Temple Beth El of South Orange County, and The Shalom Hartman Institute to explore ways to bring Jewish and Muslim communities together despite the issues that divide and challenge us. Learn with Imam Abdullah Antepli and Maital Friedman about ways to nurture relationships across divides, based on their experience co-directing the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative. This in-person event will be held at Temple Beth El and is free with registration. Register here.

Upcoming Events: 

Thursday, May 26
Women's Philanthropy - Get Creative: Craft Your Own Hamsa Mosaic 

Thursday, June 16
NextGen - Happy Hour 

Sunday, June 26 
NextGen - Yoga in the Park

Building Jewish Community
 

We open doors to Jewish life through programming for families with young children and for young adults, offer leadership development opportunities, give grants that support local Jewish organizations, and make it possible for community members of all ages to visit Israel, many for the first time.

Caring for Jews Locally and Around the World
 

We care for the most vulnerable members of our community, including many of the 300 Holocaust survivors living in Orange County today and adults with disabilities. We also provide resources, information, and referral for community members facing financial crises.

Cultivating Philanthropy

 

The foundation of all our work is our cultivation of philanthropy through dedicated giving societies:
Solomon Society 
Women's Philanthropy

Community Relations / Convening
 

We bring the community together around important issues like combating Antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel, as well as offering opportunities for Israel education and advocacy, and engaging in a variety of community relations activities through the Rose Project, and new programs Youth Leadership Initiative and Student to Student. 

Get more of what you care about.

Keep Jewish Orange County strong.

Community Calendar