Selwyn Isakow has studied the landscape of the San Diego Jewish community and here’s what he found: 3% are Orthodox, 15% are involved with Jewish organizations, and 85% have little to do with the community.
Speaking about these statistics, the co-founder of Shabbat San Diego says, “The single biggest group is not Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist. It is interfaith families. This presents a huge opportunity for anyone interested in Judaism, as opposed to Jews.”
Isakow decided to seize the opportunity to engage this latter group. The result was Jewish Xperience Week.
“We want spouses and children of interfaith families more connected to Jewish heritage,” he explains. “The idea of Jewish Xperience Week creates events for people who may not like to come to ritual-based events.”
From Sunday, October 21st through Saturday, October 27th, more than 90 different offerings will be available throughout San Diego’s north, south, east, and coastal enclaves. With educational, musical, artistic, health, culinary, spiritual, social justice, and children’s activities, there is something for everyone from all shades of Judaism or none, and across the age spectrum. Here’s a sampling: “Above the Stars: Judaism and Astronomy,” “Miracles & Fate on Floor Seventy-Eight” with a 9/11 survivor and author, “Family Movie Night,” “Yoga and Mindful Meditation,” plus several Shabbat dinners, religious services, and challah bakes.
The week culminates with Shabbat San Diego, where San Diegans can participate in Shabbat-related activities with people from 97 different countries and 1,500 cities around the world. The week closes with a communitywide Havdalah followed by a free concert with headliner and Israeli bank InJoy.
“Our objective is to expose as many people to their heritage in the hope that they will find something that leads them to take another step to learn about their heritage and themselves,” Isakow says. “I want to have this be a spark, or to spread a spark, in each person.”
With hundreds of volunteers helping to make the week happened and 133 organizational participants – including Federation, the Jewish Community Center (JCC), and various synagogues – Jewish Xperience Week is also an opportunity for participants to learn about these community organizations.
“We are just a conduit from the community to organizations,” the South African native explains. “We want to create membership in everyone else’s organization and have encouraged cross-organizational events. We are trying to get organizations to talk to each other and work together.”
Isakow also believes that people need community to develop in life, whether it’s the JCC, a bridge club, or a golf game.
“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to start things with organizations and participants where I can make a bit of a difference,” he says, adding his personal philosophy of how change happens. “’If you want to go fast, you go yourself. If you want to go far, you go together.’ It’s important to get together and keep together. It is up to each of us to try to make a difference.”
To sign up for activities during Jewish Xperience Week, visit www.shabbatsandiego.org/jxw.
Next week, the ENews talks with Theresa Dupuis, chair of Shabbat San Diego’s Home Hosted Dinners, taking place during Jewish Xperience week, from October 25th-October 27th.