COVER STORYNovember 2023

Israel at War: San Diego Responds


Compiled by L’CHAIM Staff

The October 7th attack on Israel was an attack on every Jew around the globe. Our brothers and sisters were murdered just for being Jewish. The IDF is now fighting for all of us and for the free world. In San Diego, many members of our community are doing their part to keep hope alive for the hostages and praying for peace in Israel.

For example, Hebrew Free Loan of San Diego launched an emergency loan program, offering interest-free loans to those who have family or friends in Israel in need of financial assistance, up to $5,000. Their Israel Emergency Loan Program is designed to provide quick and accessible support to members of our San Diego Jewish community who may not be able to access funds as quickly as necessary. The goal is to empower community members to be able to send essential funds to loved ones in Israel who may be struggling to meet their basic needs during this difficult time.

Hebrew Free Loan of San Diego is also participating in a program that is being facilitated by the International Association of Jewish Free Loans (IAJFL) via Hebrew Free Loan of NY. IAJFL is working with all of the North America Jewish Free Loan agencies to provide a consolidated loan for Ogen, formerly known as Israel Hebrew Free Loan, and are raising funds specifically for this purpose, with the belief that a larger loan represents a continent-wide effort and will constitute a strong expression of solidarity and support. Ogen is the largest nonprofit lender in Israel committed to advancing financial well-being, inclusion, and opportunities for the people of Israel. Although Ogen provides loans for individuals as well as non-profits and businesses, these dollars will be used to help individuals directly affected by the war. This will be a bridge loan to assist Ogen during this difficult time. This loan will have repayment terms of 50% after three years and the remaining 50% six months after the end of the fifth year, with all funds borrowed from Hebrew Free Loan of San Diego returning in 5.5 years.

Under the leadership of JNF-USA’s National President Dr. Sol Lizerbram, a pillar in the San Diego Jewish community, JNF-USA has touched the lives of nearly 300,000 Israelis in need. Dr. Lizerbram has also worked tirelessly to keep countless thousands of American supporters of Israel apprised of ongoing developments in Israel by holding online daily briefings with Israeli officials, IDF leaders, journalists on the ground, diplomats, civil servants, survivors, and more. His briefings take place Monday–Friday at 9 a.m. PT on Zoom. To receive the live link for future briefings, email JNF-USA San Diego Director Monica Suissa at To watch past briefings, visit Since October 7, JNF-USA in San Diego has seen a tremendous outpouring of support for our Emergency Resilience Campaign from new and loyal supporters alike.

Later this month, 80 San Diegans will attend the JNF-USA Global Conference for Israel in Denver along with thousands of fellow Israel supporters from across the nation. Now more than ever we must stand together and say, “Never again… and never alone.” All are invited to conference November 30-December 3, 2023, at the Colorado Convention Center. Full conference registration is only $50, and registration will remain open until November 20. For more information and registration, visit Immediately following conference, JNF-USA will begin to send groups of American volunteers to Israel. JNF-USA Volunteer Missions will help relieve Israel’s labor shortage and will show the world the true meaning of “Am Israel Chai”. Volunteers will work on farms, volunteer in hospitals, perform logistical tasks on military bases, and aid evacuee populations. For more information on volunteering in Israel, visit

Immediately following the attacks, Rabbi Yair Yelin of Chabad of San Marcos with Yonaton Farber of ITAC SECURITY raised money, bought helmets and vests, flew to Israel and delivered the equipment to the soldiers on the ground. The soldiers were deeply touched by the support and love.

“We are now preparing the purchase of tactical equipment,” Yelin said. “We are in direct contact with reserves in the south and in the north and I will travel for a second time to hand deliver the equipment to them. In addition, we will make BBQ’s and bring hot and tasty food to hundreds of the soldiers that come back exhausted from Gaza and Lebanese border.”

Rabbi Yellin is working on collecting more funds to continue this support. To learn more, visit

Several years ago, concerned by rising antisemitism in our community, a group of lay leaders strategized how to take effective action. They decided to invite American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, to San Diego. Bringing its long history of advocacy and effective activism and networks at the global, national, and local levels, AJC opened its 25th U.S. regional office this year and hired Dr. Sara E. Brown as its Regional Director.  AJC San Diego immediately got to work in three key areas: education, political advocacy, and interfaith and intergroup allyship.

Since the start of the war, AJC has been working on several fronts to support Israel and our Jewish community. It has raised more than $4.25 million in an emergency appeal to aid Israeli NGOs, including hospitals and trauma centers. It also held a solidarity rally at its New York headquarters that was attended by diplomats from 60 nations. AJC was also a co-sponsor of an empty table installation in Times Square, with a chair and place setting for each of the hostages being held by Hamas, and the Stand with Israel rally hosted in San Diego.

AJC has also ramped up efforts to engage with university administrators and support college students in the wake of numerous anti-Israel rallies, many of which also featured antisemitic rhetoric. AJC has been a leader in conveying when criticism of Israel verges into Jew hate. The definition of “From the River to the Sea” from AJC’s Translate Hate glossary has been cited by dozens of media outlets across the globe since the war began.

Here in San Diego, these efforts take a local focus and have included working with our university campuses, the San Diego County Office of Education, school district administrators and educators, and parents impacted by the 400% increase in antisemitism we have witnessed since October 7, 2023.

AJC advances democratic values, promotes pluralism, and works with political leaders to protect the Jewish people and open doors to and for Israel. AJC San Diego serves not only as a pipeline for communication but also as a resource for local elected officials. Now more than ever, that work has been crucial. Several local leaders have traveled to Israel with AJC and  have shown moral clarity in their statements against Hamas and with Israel and it defends its people.

At this time, allyship is critical, and for more than a century, AJC has cultivated interfaith and intergroup relationships across the globe. The Latino Jewish Coalition in San Diego was a cornerstone of cross-community dialogue, cultivating mutual understanding, collaboration, and enduring friendships between Latino and Jewish communities. Following a temporary pause, we are thrilled to announce the coalition’s reactivation under the leadership of AJC San Diego. Together, we will come together and stand against all forms of hatred.

Am Yisrael Chai!


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