Moving Forward Together

Press Releases

Jewish Family Service Raises Record Setting $1.5 Million at 2019 Gala

SAN DIEGO (April 18, 2019) – Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) raised a record-setting $1.5 million at its annual Heart and Soul Gala at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine on April 6. The signature benefit highlighted the nonprofit’s work to provide resources and support to more than 32,000 San Diegans of all ages, faiths and backgrounds.

“The support received at this year’s Heart and Soul Gala will help fund life-changing services for children, families, and older adults across our community,” said JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. “We are deeply touched by the outpouring of generosity from the community.”

All proceeds from the gala benefit JFS’s ongoing efforts to help people in crisis move forward, while developing innovative strategies to break cycles of poverty and strengthen the San Diego community.

With more than 600 guests, community leaders and partners in attendance, the event also celebrated the contributions of the 2019 Mitzvah Honorees:

  • Ilene Mittman, a volunteer at JFS’s Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center who has been the heart of the center and a true champion of JFS, and has encouraged countless friends, family members and acquaintances to get involved.
  • Aviva Saad, program coordinator at the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center whose remarkable energy and drive has helped lead the center’s efforts to implement a schedule specifically designed to meet the unique needs of older adults struggling with dementia, and create a culture of care for participants, family members and caregivers alike.
  • ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second largest county and southern borderlands. In December 2017, ACLU joined with JFS and other core partners to launch the San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN), a coalition of human rights, service and faith-based organizations, attorneys and others determined to help immigrant individuals and families – including refugees and asylum-seekers.

In late October 2018, when federal immigration authorities began releasing dozens of asylum-seeking families onto San Diego streets without warning and without food, clothing, transportation or shelter, SDRRN mobilized to provide emergency shelter and humanitarian aid to more than 12,000 asylum-seeking migrants to date released by the federal government into this region. Together, ACLU, JFS and the rest of the SDRRN has worked to ensure that “no one stands alone in our community.”

Organized by Gala Chairs Jamie Carr, Erin Combs Pearl and Scott Schindler, the evening included dinner, dancing and a silent auction to encourage awareness and philanthropy throughout the year. Evelyn and Ernest Rady served as Honorary Chairs for the event and provided a generous matching donation to all funds raised during the evening’s Fund-a-Mitzvah.

More than 90 underwriters generously supported the event, including a longtime anonymous JFS donor as the Presenting Underwriter. Title Underwriters included Charitable Adult Rides and Services, Inc. and Vivien and Jeffrey Ressler. Premier Underwriters included Joan and Irwin Jacobs and Kathy and Mark Jones. Dinner Underwriters included Marie G. Raftery and Dr. Robert A. Rubenstein, Hon. Lynn Schenk and Hugh Friedman, z”l* and U.S. Bank. Heart of the Family sponsors included Barbara Bloom, Cohn Family Foundation, Copart, Lisa and Gary Levine, Lindsay and Mitch Surowitz, Arthur J. Gallagher and Co., Mahau Ma and Sean Joseph, MG Properties, Hanna and Mark Gleiberman, Arlene and Louis Navias, Lena Price and Thomas Cohen, Lois J. Richmond and Family, Karen and Jeffrey Silberman, Sarah z”l and Nessim Tiano, and UC San Diego. For a complete list of Heart and Soul Gala underwriters, please visit (*z”l stands for zikhrono/zikhronah livrakha, meaning “May his/her memory be a blessing.”)

To learn more or get involved, visit

About Jewish Family Service of San Diego – Moving Forward Together
Founded in 1918, Jewish Family Service (JFS) is one of San Diego’s most impactful nonprofit agencies – providing resources and support to more than 32,000 San Diegans every year. Through integrated services, the organization empowers people of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds to overcome challenges, set goals, and build more stable, secure, and connected lives. JFS is committed to helping individuals and families in crisis move forward, while developing innovative strategies to break cycles of poverty and strengthen our San Diego community. To get help, volunteer, or learn how you can join us in Moving Forward Together, visit or call (858) 637-3000.

Media Contacts:
J. Walcher Communications

Phone: (619) 295-7140
Ashley Weaver: [email protected]
Sandy Young: [email protected]