Closing of East Bay Jewish fed reflects changing fortunes in Northern California
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Closing of East Bay Jewish fed reflects changing fortunes in Northern California

Shutdown ends a run of more than a century for the Jewish Federation of the East Bay

A view of San Francisco's East Bay area (YouTube screenshot )
A view of San Francisco's East Bay area (YouTube screenshot )

SAN FRANCISCO (J. The Jewish Weekly of Northern California via JTA) — The Jewish federation serving Northern California’s East Bay will dissolve on July 1, with core programs and operations to be absorbed into the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

The closing will end a run of more than a century for the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, a philanthropy that serves Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa and Solano counties.

According to “Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities,” a large-scale demographic study published a year ago, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish community is the fourth largest in the United States, with some 350,000 Jews and 123,000 non-Jews living in 148,000 households. A third of them live in the East Bay, totaling 122,000 in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

Despite a growing Jewish population and numerous thriving synagogues, other Jewish institutions have struggled in the region. The Contra Costa County JCC abruptly closed its doors in 2011, although it still exists as a “JCC without walls.” Tehiyah Jewish Day School north of Berkeley shuttered last year, and the Reutlinger Community, the East Bay’s largest Jewish senior residence and assisted living center, announced in March that it would be taken over later this year by a nondenominational Sacramento-based nonprofit.

As part of the takeover by San Francisco’s Federation and Endowment Fund, the East Bay’s Jewish Community Foundation will transfer $136 million in managed assets and operations.

“It’s not a merger, because it’s not two organizations coming together,” said Danny Grossman, CEO of the San Francisco federation, in a conference call with J. senior staff. “One is going out of business, and the other is saying, ‘how can we work together.’”

Grossman said the plan would be to add new representatives from the East Bay to the San Francisco federation’s board, endowment committee and investment committee.

East Bay Foundation director Lisa Tabak said key community priorities such as Jewish summer camps and youth Israel trips can continue to count on financial support. “All our designated and special interest funds will still be honored,” she said.

The East Bay Federation began life in 1918 as the Jewish Welfare Federation, before the bay Bridge linked the region. Before ceasing operations, the organization will mark its centennial at a June 19 celebration.

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