Theres hope for new era in Silicon Valley

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With the opening of the Gloria and Ken Levy Family Campus in Los Gatos, a new era begins for the Jewish community of San Jose.

Until now, the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and its affiliated agencies were generally obscured by the goliath S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

Years ago, this publication’s predecessor, the Jewish Bulletin, suggested that a merger was in order between the San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland federations. We felt that as a single unit they could better serve the Jews in a combined region that supposedly is the third-largest Jewish community in America after New York and Los Angeles.

But with the opening of this campus, the Silicon Valley federation hopefully has a new lease on life.

For one thing, the federation becomes noticeable. Thousands of Jews will see it every time they come to the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center. The JCC formerly had 300 members, but it anticipates a membership of 2,500, largely lured by a spacious fitness center run by Club One.

And upstairs is the Yavneh Day School, which also will draw more families into its new facilities, especially as it expands into seventh grade next year and eighth in 2007.

Lastly comes the Jewish Family Service of Silicon Valley, which should see its caseload expand in its new, more visible quarters.

Altogether the campus gives Jews in the San Jose area a better opportunity to witness what their gifts to the federation can accomplish locally. And if the San Jose area’s former dilapidated, second-rate facility ever led the area’s Jews to cop an inferiority complex, that ought to change as well.

But the federation will need to better promote the other work it does locally and internationally, especially in Israel.

This year the federation allocated close to $1 million to local agencies and foreign needs compared to more than $22 million given out by the San Francisco federation. A less than stellar showing, considering the San Jose federation’s donor base is in affluent Silicon Valley.

The Silicon Valley federation simply needs to do a better job telling its stories and of the needs it is trying to fill. And, with 18-year federation employee and lifelong San Jose-area resident Jyl Jurman now in charge, perhaps it will.

The grand opening of the campus is Sunday, Oct. 16, and the federation should make it as festive an event as possible in the hope of attracting a large attendance, especially among non-affiliated Jews.

We join with the community in welcoming the new campus, and hope that it is just the first step in making the Silicon Valley federation all that it can and should be.