Magical Moments at the 2019 Jewish Family Service Heart & Soul Gala

by Leorah Gavidor March 1, 2019


roseandscottschindlerAt 32, Scott Schindler is the youngest director of the JFS Board and a chair for the annual Jewish Family Service Heart & Soul Gala. Grandson of Holocaust survivors Rose and Max Schindler, known in the San Diego Jewish community for being powerful advocates of Holocaust education, Scott got involved with JFS after attending law school and working for a few years at a La Jolla law firm. Six years later he was asked by the Gala committee chairs to join them.

“They invited me to bring what they called young blood and energy,” he laughed. “Originally, it was the Heart & Soul Gala that solidified my involvement with JFS, so I was honored and immediately accepted the opportunity.”

Two of the Gala honorees for 2019, Ilene Mittman and Aviva Saad, have been bringing their energy to the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center for over a decade. Ilene has been volunteering there for 10 years and Aviva has run the center for 11. The BAOAC provides meals, games, hugs and comfort to those living with Alzheimer’s.

“Some of my earlier involvements were through Embrace-A-Fam- ily, supporting Somali refugees, and later, Holocaust Survivors who really needed help. It hit home for me that JFS is open to everyone – no matter what religion, race, or ethnicity,” Ilene reflected.

The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties will also be honored at the gala for their work launching the San Diego Rapid Response Network. The celebration is timely: the city council recently voted to allow JFS to lease an old courthouse to shelter migrants in partnership with SDRRN. An interfaith organization that responds to the immigration crisis in San Diego, SDRRN helps care for the basic needs of the people housed at the shelter, and also helps them navigate the immigration system. JFS aids with funding for shuttles to court dates, supplies and operations.

“As many of us were former immigrants ourselves,” Scott said of the Jewish community, “we have an innate responsibility to help those who are trying to immigrate to this country.”

“Regardless of where you stand politically on immigration, these asylum seekers would be living on the streets without the Rapid Response Network and JFS. It’s better for our community to help these immigrants get to their families and immigration hearings than allow- ing them to roam the streets of San Ysidro.”

Scott grew up in Del Cerro, attending Patrick Henry High School and being a Bar Mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El. For him, the most rewarding part of being involved with Jewish Family Service as an adult is the opportunity to give back to the community that has done so much for his family since they moved here from New York in the 1950s.

“The gala is an amazing event where we reflect on the year of work for the Jewish and non-Jewish community, a great time to connect with friends and meet the movers and shakers of our town. But more importantly, it allows us to support what is, to me, the most import- ant cause: helping the less fortunate.”

“It’s truly amazing to see how wide ranging JFS’s programs are, and they always highlight their work in such profound and moving anecdotes,” Scott said of attending past galas.

In its 26th year, the 2019 Heart & Soul Gala takes place Saturday, April 4 at the Hyatt La Jolla Aventine. Honorary Chairs Evelyn and Ernest Rady help make the annual event a success. Organizers expect about 600 guests for “Captivating stories, magical moments.” Scott is excited for this year’s entertainment: a magician and illusionist. After the presentation, video montage, and delicious food (“I know it’s good, I got to do the tasting!” Scott assured), make sure to stick around for the dance party.

“Last year,” Scott added, “Rose Schindler—my grandmother—was the first and last on the dance floor.”


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