Civic Engagement Mission Statement
The Jewish Community Center of the East Bay serves a diverse community and people with various points of view. We provide space for civic discourse, offering opportunities to talk across differences, discover shared values, and establish respectful engagement.
The JCC East Bay stands for equal rights and safety for people of all backgrounds and faiths. We view this as a moral obligation. We welcome and support our diverse Jewish community, people of all religions, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, communities of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.
What Civic Engagement Means to Us
We are committed to bringing you opportunities to learn about social issues, get involved, and make a difference - all while building and strengthening our local community. We were inspired by Tikkun Olam, the Jewish value that speaks to social justice and the importance of helping to make the world a better place. Traditional Jewish texts teach us that it is not any one person's duty to complete the work of repairing the world, but we are not free to neglect that work either (Pirkei Avot 2:21). We hope that you find these programs and resources to be an effective and fun way to make a positive impact!
Help Shape Our Programs
What can we do to make our programs more accessible? What social causes would you like to see us address?
Email your feedback to Alystar Sacks, Program Manager.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
These resources are to celebrate the Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals who are on our staff and in our community, and to support our local Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Whether you’re looking for resources for your Asian-Jewish family, or want to educate yourself on how to be an ally to the AAPI community, this guide is made for you!
POWER THROUGH PRIDE SERIES
This series of events is a collaboration between the JCC East Bay, the Peninsula JCC, the JCC of San Francisco, the Oshman Family JCC, JCC Los Gatos, the Osher Marin JCC, and Keshet. Celebrate this Pride season with us through the following programs!
PRIDE Open Mic Night
Thursday, May 27 from 7pm - 8pm
Kick off LGBTQ Pride Month early with some feel-good vibes and a fun night of self-expression!
Our virtual Pride Open Mic Night is your venue to sing, read, play, perform, or simply enjoy the show with our warm and welcoming community. Log on with your friends and/or your favorite bottle of wine. The event will be hosted by Dean Disaster and their fabulous drag show! This event is hosted by the JCC Los Gatos.
LGBTQ+ 101 - Language and Terms
Wednesday, June 2 from 7pm - 8:30pm
Ever wonder what all the acronyms mean when it come to LGBTQ+ terminology? This virtual program is designed for all community members and will familiarize you with the basics of building LGBTQ equality and belonging. Topics covered include terminology, common misperceptions, stereotypes, and understanding the importance of building explicitly LGBTQ affirming culture and communities. This event is hosted by the PJCC and Keshet.
EXperts: A Queer Comedy Shabbat
Friday, June 11 from 6pm - 7:30pm
Young adults, join us for a variety hour comedy/improv show hosted on zoom by the JCC East Bay and OneTable, featuring the "Bay Area Jewish Babes" Jess Lehrman and Emily Lubomirsky. While they’re not really experts in anything, they are exes and best friends and are here to answer your relationship questions, chat about gay stuff, play silly games, and generally celebrate queer community. Stay on after the show for breakout rooms to schmooze and discuss queer life and allyship! If you live in the Bay Area, we are excited to offer rainbow challahs for pick up - register today to reserve one!
Midrash & Mayhem - Well, June-hem
Thursday, June 17 from 1pm - 2pm
Queer folk were left out of the stories of our people for so long, and now, in this time, we are telling ourselves back again. For the last 20 years, Maggid Elias Ramer has been doing this as a writer of midrashim — interpretive stories that shift, change and retell concepts found in the Torah and Tanach. In an engaging virtual session, Elias Ramer will read some of his queer Jewish tales and lead a conversation on the power of midrash as a tool for transformation. He will open our eyes to the queer stories we still need to tell, which will enrich and enliven our tradition for queer Jews and queer folk in every community.
Shabblock Party: Pride
Friday, June 25 from 5pm - 7pm in San Francisco
Celebrate Pride and Shabbat at our first-ever Shabblock Party! Stop by our JCCSF table in the Inner Richmond where we’ll be passing out our party kits filled with activities, swag, and treats to help you design your own unique Shabbat experience while celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Shabbat encourages us to find delight in the moment and Pride reminds us to love and be loved – we can’t wait to share these good vibes with you. Add to the fun by dressing up in your favorite rainbow gear and bringing your Pride flags so you can create your own Pride parade down Lake Street or enjoy a colorful picnic in Mountain Lake Park.
Exact location to be announced. Event will follow CDC and SFDPH guidelines for safe outdoor gathering.
Events Coming Soon:
June 16th - Gender Diversity in Jewish Text, hosted by the PJCC & Keshet
Keshet, a Power Through Pride partner, works for the full equality of all LGBTQ Jews and our families in Jewish life. This organizations strengthens Jewish communities and equips Jewish organizations with the skills and knowledge to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, create spaces in which all queer Jewish youth feel seen and valued, and advance LGBTQ rights nationwide.
JFCS East Bay’s LGBT Refugee Services program resettles LGBT refugees from Africa and the Middle East who have had to flee their countries due to persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. These refugees arrive in the United States very much in need of friendship and support from people they can trust. Fill out their volunteer interest form today!
Check back frequently for new events and resources!
Earth Day: Death Over Expression
Grief around climate change is powerful: the loss of biodiversity, the new normal of "fire season," the rising sea levels. This Earth Day, the JCC East Bay and Reboot hosted a virtual gathering that provided a meaningful pause for people of all backgrounds to reflect on what we have lost recently, as well as what we have gained, through guided meditation led by Dorothy Richman and mandala art facilitated by Ava Sayaka Rosen.
A series of events brought to you in collaboration with Peninsula JCC, the JCC Los Gatos, and the Osher Marin JCC. Explore the history and meaning of protest with us through a contemporary and Jewish lens. Resources that can be accessed after the event ended can be found below.
Jewbilee: Jewish Learning Experience
At this year’s Jewbilee, renew your commitment to improving our world by engaging with a range of community leaders immersed in the work of tikkun olam (social justice) or Chesed (social action). Choose between multiple opportunities to learn, explore and do, and get inspired to take ongoing action. Including special programs for teens and for young adults.
Abby Chava Stein: Becoming Eve
Presented by the author series of Mittleman Jewish Community Center in Portland, OR; cosponsored by JCC East Bay and others.
Abby Stein is the tenth-generation descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement. In 2015, Stein came out as a woman, and she now works as a trans activist. In 2019, she served on the steering committee for the Women’s March in Washington, DC, and she was named by the Jewish Week as one of the “36 Under 36” Jews who are affecting change in the world. Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Stein's book Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?
Multicultural Passover Freedom Seder
We were thrilled to cosponsor JCRC's Multicultural Passover Freedom Seder to celebrate our community as a bastion of freedom. This participatory, cross-cultural, interfaith exchange honored one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year! This was a critical moment to come together because we are living through a time of racism and xenophobia, and this event inspired us to action in the year ahead. Now more than ever, the story of Passover is resonant with the systemic injustices and inequities of our era. We heard the important civic and elected voices who are in solidarity with our community at a time of rising antisemitism.
For Purim & International Women's Day
In the spirit of these two holidays, we served people (especially women) in need by donating much needed items to two local organizations! Keep an eye out for our next collection drive!
CLICK HERE for the list of items we collected, to learn more about the organizations we supported, and to find out what inspired this drive.
Peace in the Home
International Women's Day Workshop
Presented by the JCC East Bay in honor of International Women's Day, featuring the local organization Shalom Bayit, this workshop covered what domestic violence and abusive relationships are, why it is important that we talk about them in the Jewish community, and what you can do to help a friend or loved one in crisis.
Black History Month Resource Page
February is Black History Month, and our 2021 guide is filled with opportunities to learn, delicious restaurants to support, family-friendly videos, and much more. Whether you want to find Black Jewish community of your own, or educate yourself on how to be an ally, this guide is made for you!
Mapping Your Impact During Shelter in Place
How have our worlds changed since we began sheltering in place? Have they shrunk to the size of a room, or expanded through virtual connections? The pandemic has forced us to think globally and act locally more than ever. How might we visualize the impact we can have within our geographic and interpersonal circles? LABA East Bay fellows Dan Schifrin and Rachel Berger led a creative conversation about maps and our capacities to make a difference, with a guided map-making exercise.
Where to Start: MLK Day Workshop
Not sure where to get started on racial justice? This event for young professionals allowed participants to reflect on their relationship to race and Judaism, and how to get involved in MLK weekend volunteer opportunities. This event was created by Repair the World Bay Area, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, and the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay.
The Day After: A Post-Election Community Gathering
A powerful gathering that provided a space to be together, resources and tools to take action, and inspiration to move forward towards a more just and vibrant future for all.
Rabbi Adina Allen, Jewish Studio Project; Tonda Case, Jewish Women of Color Resilience Circle; Melissa Chapman, JCC East Bay; Tyler Gregory, Jewish Community Relations Council; Adrienne Mermin, Jewish Youth for Community Action; and Avi Rose, Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay.
Music by Candace Goodwin and Isaac Zones.
POWER THROUGH VOTING SERIES
In recognition of the 2020 election, and in collaboration with all seven Bay Area JCCs, we offered events and resources focused on getting out the vote and addressing voter suppression. This nonpartisan series will featured guest speakers, phone bank opportunities, discussion happy hours, and more. Explore our resources and event recordings here!
We were thrilled to kick-off our new series of Power through Voting programs on zoom! This 45 minute introduction spoke to the history of voter suppression and what we can do to make a difference. Featuring guest speaker Andrea Miller, founder of Reclaim Our Vote, part of the Center for Common Ground.
Due to a small glitch, the recording begins partway through a brief introduction. For a complete transcript of the introduction, click here.
The results of the November election are not only important for us as a society, but also for our own community. We were glad to have guest speaker Dr. Steven Windmueller join us on Zoom, where he shared a nonpartisan election analysis designed to educate about the diverse and significant roles Jews have played and continue to play in American politics. Dr. Windmueller's work in Jewish political behavior has been central to his research and writings. His 2014 book, The Quest for Power, seeks not only to define the nature of Judaism as a political system but to demonstrate how Jews have historically governed themselves over the course of their complex historical journey.
Check out these resources on the Jewish community’s involvement in voting and political movements throughout history!
Curated by the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's Legacy
Resources provided by the National Council of Jewish Women.
Celebrating Jews of Color
Race: What Our Kids Understand & How We Talk To Them About It, with Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith
Urban Adamah held a conversation with Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith about how to address race with our children during these particularly challenging times. This program reviewed the science behind children's understanding and refined tools for engaging in conversation. Event partners: Camp Tawonga and Eden Village West. Click here to watch the recording.
Staying in the Fight for Racial Justice: A Conversation with Yavilah McCoy and Eric Ward
This webinar from the National Council of Jewish Women explores how our fight for racial justice and our work combating antisemitism intersect. See Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center, and Yavilah McCoy, CEO of Dimensions Educational Consulting, discuss how we show up and stay in this critical work. View the recording here.
Reboot Ideas Conversation: Anti-Semantics Sifting Through Whiteness and Jewish Identities
This Reboot Ideas conversation features two authors: Adam Mansbach and Kevin Coval. Adam Mansbach is the author of the worldwide bestseller Go the Fuck to Sleep, the novels Rage is Back, Angry Black White Boy, and The End of the Jews (winner of the California Book Award) and a dozen other books. He wrote the award-winning screenplay for the Netflix Original BARRY, and his memoir, I Had A Brother Once, is forthcoming from One World/Random House in January. Kevin Coval is the author of Everything Must Go: The Life & Death of an American Neighborhood, A People's History of Chicago & ten other collections, & anthologies. He's the Creative Director and a founding editor of The BreakBeat Poets imprint on Haymarket Books. Check out the recording here.
In Defense of Democracy: Getting Out the Vote in an Age of Heightened Voter Suppression
The SF Black-Jewish (& Allies) Unity Group presented their third Forum on Racial and Economic Justice. In our increasingly divided political climate, the San Francisco Black-Jewish-(and Allies) Unity Group used a virtual forum to spark discussion among diverse groups to inform, build bridges and community, promote greater democratic participation, and turn back the tide of voter suppression. Watch the recording here.
ADL Supreme Court Review
The Anti-Defamation League partnered with the National Constitution Center for an annual Supreme Court Review, when distinguished legal scholars broke down the most important legal questions of the term, including separation of church and state, immigration and Title VII employment discrimination. They also discussed what to expect at the Supreme Court next year. Watch the recorded broadcast here.
PIVOT Conversation with Ilana Kaufman
The Osher Marin JCC Taube Center for Jewish Peoplehood recorded a conversation with Ilana Kaufman, Director of the Jews of Color Initiative. PIVOT is a serial program that explores this unique moment in time. In this interview, Kaufman shares her personal experience growing up Black and Jewish and the racism she experiences in the Jewish community. She provides an overview of this moment and the work that must be done by individuals and organizations to address racism that adversely impacts everyone. The interview is conducted by Joanne Greene, the Osher Marin JCC's Director of Jewish Engagement. Listen to the conversation here.