Message From Our CEO, Paul Geduldig

On Saturday, October 7, we awoke to the horrifying news of large-scale attacks in Israel by Hamas militants. This included thousands of rockets fired at civilian populations and the infiltration of southern Israeli towns. This terrorist attack, the greatest massacre of Jewish lives in a single day since the Holocaust, resulted in the killing of over 1,200 people and an estimated 230 hostages taken captive. War was declared, Israeli towns in the North and South were evacuated, and hundreds of thousands of civilians have been called up as reservists.  We are greatly concerned for Israel’s future, and we call for the safe return of the remaining hostages.

The JCCSF unequivocally supports the right of Israel to thrive as a free, democratic Jewish state with secure borders. Israel has long been important to the JCCSF and our work. Over the past 18 years, we’ve brought over 225 JCCSF employees, and those of other local JCCs, to Israel on our annual Staff Israel Seminar. We regularly bring Israeli artists, authors, and thinkers to our stage. Our strategic plan, unanimously approved by the board in May 2023, calls for us “to help people engage with and better understand both the beauty and complexity of Israel.” The current crisis has certainly provided a need for us to show up in this capacity.

Since October 7, after extensive discussion with the current Board and prior lay leaders, the JCCSF has focused its efforts on community and educational events. We have hosted experts like political scientist Dahlia Scheindlin and the Shalom Hartman Institute’s President, Yehuda Kurtzer to speak with the community about this critical moment. We invited Tye Gregory, CEO of JCRC, to educate our board and senior staff about the concerning rise in antisemitism. We have participated in and guided people to rallies and vigils, and we have gathered our community to mourn and to heal.

A community Shabbat dinner at the JCCSF in November 2023, attended by over 400 people, allowed us to gather and find support and strength in one another and in our traditions. Additionally, our Rabbi has provided chaplaincy outreach and spiritual support within the Center and to the larger community, and we are hosting a series of Listening Circles for Young Adults. In March 2024, we are hosting Noah Feldman and Sheryl Sandberg, who recently spoke at the U.N. about Hamas’ use of sexual violence against Israelis.

Our Jewish sages and texts remind us that all humans are created “B’tselem Elohim”, in the image of God. We are, therefore, also saddened by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We are disturbed by the deaths of so many Palestinian civilians in this war, and by the suffering and displacement of so many people whose homes have been destroyed. We will undoubtably see additional loss and pain for both Israelis and Palestinians. We are heartbroken. We pray for those who have been or will be affected.

Here in our local community many people are watching events unfold in real time with fear and anxiety.  People have asked for information about community gatherings, and resources on how to speak with children about this terrible situation. We hope the following resources will be helpful.

May we all find a way forward.

Paul Geduldig, Chief Executive Officer


Addressing Antisemitism*

10 Ways to Have Conscientious Conversations on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Think. Plan. Act. Tools for Dealing with Antisemitic and anti-Israel Incidents on Campus
Antisemitism Today 
Antisemitic Incidents: Being an Ally, Advocate and Activist 

*All the articles above are from the Anti-Defamation League

Support & Reflection

Free Mental Health Support BetterHelp is providing 6 months of therapy at no cost for individuals who have been impacted by the war in Israel. The support is provided by a licensed therapist over video, phone, or text. Learn more and sign up here.

Campus Antisemitism Legal Line (CALL) A free legal protection helpline for students who have experienced antisemitism. Any student, family, faculty or staff member can go to the CALL website or text “CALLhelp” to 51555 to report incidents of antisemitic discrimination, intimidation, harassment, vandalism or violence that may necessitate legal action. Lawyers will assess reports of antisemitic discrimination and hate, conduct in-depth information-gathering interviews and provide pro bono representation for victims who choose to move forward with specific cases. CALL will also provide referrals to social services, mental health counseling services and other relevant support services in their area.

Daily Meditations with Institute for Jewish Studies Jewish tradition offers rich, accessible, and time-tested resources to cope with moments like these. The Institute for Jewish Spirituality, which has pioneered the development and teaching of Jewish mindfulness practices for over 20 years, is here for you now. Learn More

Northern California Board of Rabbis Spiritual Resources for This Painful Time  Spiritual resources including prayers, poems and words of wisdom are here for you to access.

Spiritual Practices for Grief and Resilience In this troubling time, we have ancient Jewish spiritual tools to help us remain grounded and connected. Here are a few offerings from us at IOWA to help you remain steadfast in your values during narrow moments.


Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. The S.F.-based Federation has opened an emergency fund and is working with the Israel Trauma Coalition, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Agency for Israel to support victims of terror, help rebuild damaged infrastructure and address trauma.

Talking to Children About Violence

How to Talk to Your Children About Israel (Jewish Educator Portal, 2023)

Have We Been Teaching Kids About Israel All Wrong?  (Sivan Zakai, 2022) 

How to Talk to Children About Israel | Reform Judaism (Robbie Gringras) 

Guide for When Bad Things Happen (Dr. Becky Kennedy, ) Instagram

Resources for Understanding the Current Israeli Palestinian Crisis (Union for Reform Judaism, 2021) 

Resources for navigating the events with children, provided by PJ Library:

Israel Hub: Resources to navigate conversations about events in Israel with children and grandchildren

Understanding the map of Israel

How to talk to kids about scary situations

How to talk to children about antisemitism


The Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties (JCRC) are compiling a list of Bay Area gatherings where you can show your support. Make sure to check back for regular updates.