Gvanim by the Bay is a unique program designed for Israelis living in the San Francisco Bay Area who are interested in exploring issues of Israeli-Jewish identity, Jewish values and Israeli culture as well as deepening their awareness of and connection to local Israeli and Jewish communities.
The program’s goal is to enhance the Jewish identity of the participants and to help them come to terms with what it means to be both an Israeli and a Jew living outside of Israel.
Gvanim by the Bay was inspired by Gvanim, a similar program launched in Israel in 2000. Initiated by the Israeli Amuta of the Jewish Federation of San Francisco, Gvanim combines study and action in the area of pluralistic Jewish identity in Israel. Its diverse alumni have developed dozens of projects in which thousands of Israelis participate every year. For additional information about Gvanim in Israel, click here.
The Jewish Federation of San Francisco started Gvanim by the Bay as well and hosted its first two classes. The third cohort was the first class to be run by [email protected], continued by Gvanim 4-8. Gvanim 9 opened in November 2016. The program includes studies of Jewish and Israeli texts, lectures by leading guest speakers and in-depth discussions that create an enriching experience for the participants. Moreover, professional facilitation encourages tolerance to diverse opinions and an understanding of the pluralism of the Israeli-Jewish identity.
In addition to bi-weekly sessions, the program includes two one day seminars, held in San Francisco, where the participants will meet with several communities that practice different models of Judaism and Jewish rituals. Through lectures, discussions and workshops, participants will explore Jewish texts, contemporary Hebrew literature, the meaning of Judaism as a key element in the identity of Israelis living in and outside of Israel and the relationships between the local Israeli and Jewish communities. Program participants are selected from a list of candidates recommended by key members of the Israeli and Jewish local communities.
A written questionnaire is the first step of the selection process, whose purpose is to identify a diverse and balanced group of about 15 participants who share an interest in social activism and an awareness of the issues that the program explores.