Ok, so you’ve been to Boichik Bagels. But there’s a ton of other Jewish life to explore in the East Bay. Just like an everything bagel, there’s a mix of it all — Shabbat dinners, cultural events, volunteering, learning, programming, services and activities for the kids. Pick your flavor. Here’s our guide to the East Bay Jewish community to make it easier to hop off Instagram and join Jewish activities and events in person.
JCC East Bay
Maybe the Village People had just never been to a JCC… Jewish Community Centers are often the center square of a Jewish community and offer a wide range of events and programs, some more Jewish oriented than others (and yes, feel free to just go for the pool or gymnastics class for your daughter). Like all other JCCs, the JCC East Bay is a reflection of our local Jewish community. They are proud to be guided by Jewish values, are obsessively dedicated to justice, and have a goal of creating a true community of belonging for everyone. From cutting-edge arts and culture events, to a waitlisted after school & preschool program, to leadership development for young professionals, they’ve got you covered. The JCC East Bay is for every person — no matter how you choose to express your Judaism.
Contra Costa Jewish Day School
This day school helps your mini-me blossom as a student and human being. They offer town hall meetings, cross-grade buddy relationships, coffee house Fridays, dynamic electives, and much more. Graduates often go on to excel at competitive high schools and colleges.
Chabad of El Cerrito
Their door is wide open to all (if not, maybe you need to push instead of pull). Come join welcoming, meaningful & non-judgmental Judaism in El Cerrito for all ages. Chabad of El Cerrito is a place where everyone is welcome to explore and engage in their Judaism. With consistent Shabbats, classes, children’s programs and preschool, at Chabad, Judaism comes to life, embedded with joy and meaning. The community is diverse and everyone feels at home regardless of affiliation, level of knowledge or observance.
This ain’t your parents’ old school synagogue. Temple Isaiah is a new shul with an award-winning clergy team and outside the box ways to create Jewish connections through worship, study, lifecycle events, Israel and programs for all ages. Centrally located on a beautiful hillside in Lafayette, Temple Isaiah is “Your Jewish Neighborhood” (including the occasional homemade lasagne) with over 900 member households and something for everyone. They’re proud of our Gan Ilan preschool, JQuest (interest-based Jewish education), Noar Night (teen education), youth groups, Camp Kefli, social events for various ages and stages, havurot, small groups, world-class speakers and courses, retreats and trips, social action and social justice and more. Founded in 1951, Temple Isaiah is a joyful, innovative, and safe place to explore Judaism and all are welcome, including the Jewcurious, cultural Jews, interfaith and multi-faith families and those seeking a caring community. There is no cost to join while you check them out, then later “give what you can” so that membership commitments are both manageable and meaningful. Learn more at Temple Isaiah.
Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund
Would you like to help promote more and better philanthropy, increase engagement in Jewish life, and/or ensure synagogues are safe and secure? Then get involved with the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund. They provide a toolkit (sadly, it doesn’t include a hard hat), gatherings, and many other resources.
PJ Library in the East Bay
PJ may not stand for pajamas, but your kids can still wear their favorite pairs for this library. PJ Library is an incredible and free service that will send you developmentally appropriate books each month that you can read with your child. They curate an amazing collection of Jewish stories, focusing on all sorts of topics and Jewish values. Just tell them what you’re interested in, and they’ll send the best books right to your door! And there’s more because PJ Library is more than just the books! Throughout the year, they host playdates, educational programs and holiday gatherings where you connect to local families engaging in Jewish life. I know, it really seems like there should be a catch, but there isn’t!
Jewish Baby Network
Building Jewish community for families with babies and toddlers is what the Jewish Baby Network does best. They are a pluralistic community (that just means they include many cultures and races) in the San Francisco area where families of all kinds (and from all backgrounds) learn, chill, share and celebrate together. So, if your kids are just a few days from their bris or baby-naming all the way up through age 3, then check out this group.
A premier Jewish summer camp in Napa Valley, Camp Newman works year-round to build a community of acceptance. They role model positive behaviors while acknowledging that each and every member of the community is important. For over 75 years, they’ve hosted thousands of Jewish children and young adults — enriching their experience of Judaism, one person at a time. They offer many beloved summer camp sessions, year-round programming and events, and a gorgeous new retreat facility available for rental.
¡Si eres Judía/o, encontraste tu lugar! (“If you are Jewish, then you’ve found your home!”). Olamim is a family engagement program for Latinx Jewish families that blends nature connection, cultural expression, and community-building. They offer seasonal playgroups, a year-round chavurah (family group) and community programs open to the larger community.
Jewtina y Co.
Esta organización se centra en la intersección de las identidades culturales Judía y Latina (just showing off our awesome language skills!). This means, “This organization focuses on intersecting Jewish and Latin cultural identities.” Jewtina y Co offers culturally-relevant education, a leadership fellowship, and countless other programming in order to celebrate and sustain Latin-Jewish heritage and multiculturalism.
Moishe House (pronounced “moy-shuh”) isn’t a new reality show, but it does provide a cool experience for people aged 21-32. You’ll move into a home and forge a small Jewish community together as a Moishe House member. You’ll host Shabbat dinners, facilitate conversations, create spaces for Jewish rituals, and even create your own programs and events for the community around you to enjoy as you become part of a global Jewish network. Don’t worry, Moishe House provides a partial rent subsidy, programming budget, educational resources and training for you to succeed. The application takes just a few minutes to complete. Or, join any and all of those events as a guest. It’s truly a home away from home, and then some.
Shabbats just got Shabbatier! OneTable makes it easy for people in their twenties and thirties to find the right Friday night to join and to host their own. They provide hosts and guests the tools and resources to create meaningful Shabbat experiences, from ritual guides to financial support for hosting. Join OneTable to slow down, unplug and build community on your Friday night. Ready to get started? Sign up to host here or get in touch with Bay Area Field Manager, Maya Katz-Ali, to learn more!
Be sure to check out their beautiful Pause Series here . . . you’ll be glad you did.
Travel to the land of milk and honey with your honey. Check out Honeymoon Israel (HMI) for the perfect way to explore the world, connect with your partner, and create a whole new community at home while bringing Judaism into your life in a personal, meaningful way.
The HMI trip, open to young couples with at least one Jewish partner, is an exhilarating, romantic, and memorable nine day trip to Israel with the one you love and other couples from your city. Experience the culture and history of Israel in luxury and return home with a new community and friends who feel like family!
Looking for some signs of Jewish life on your college campus? Go check out what your Hillel is up to. They are one of the central places for Jewish community in college. They’re a national network of 550 local chapters, so every Hillel is a little different. Hillels have speakers and events and make up very nice communities. On many campuses, they’re known for food that is better than the dining hall (especially Shabbat dinner). Even if you’re not in college yet, they have helpful guides on getting scholarships and the top schools for Jews. Hillels are often the first line of defense for Jewish kids on campus when ugly antisemitism rears its head on campus. For events, food and Jewish community on campus, Hillel is the place to be (the Berkeley Hillel has a decidedly East Bay vibe about it, too).
We weren’t aware that 1 in 3 college students experiences food insecurity. That means they don’t know where their next meal might come from and don’t have the resources, time, or money to afford access to nutritious food. Well, now we are aware! Nazun (formerly Challah for Hunger) works to reduce the likelihood that college students will have to choose between eating or getting their education. Nazun develops leaders and builds communities of people eager to take action to end campus hunger, and to work collectively to solve other urgent social challenges.
Nazun aims to destigmatize — and empower people to act against — the highly prevalent problem of food insecurity on college campuses.
Come get your souls clean and your hands dirty at this educational farm and community center! If you are looking to build a more loving, just, and sustainable world, then Urban Adamah might be the perfect fit for you.
Bend the Arc
Bend the Arc is a movement of progressive Jews who are rising up to build a better country for all of us. Check these folks out if you stand in solidarity with immigrant communities, believe no one should be thrown in prison for the “crime” of being poor, and/or support anti-racism work. Jews unite!
Jews of Color Initiative
The Jews of Color Initiative centers the leadership of JoCs, breaks down racial inequities, and reflects the multiracial reality of our tribe. They do this through three key areas: grantmaking (show me the money, right?), research (because a fuller picture of the JoC community still needs to be painted), and community education (because existing in the narrow lens of others’ assumptions just stinks). Give these folks a look-see!
For the wandering and wondering. This open and diverse “come as you are, no experience necessary” community encourages curious Jews and their families and friends to discover what is personally meaningful. Check out Jewish Gateways and see what clicks for you.
Not gonna lie — for a split second, we thought this was a wild disco nightclub! Studio 70 is a full-on Jewish learning laboratory that offers a Hebrew-infused afterschool program, student-centered teen programming, a training fellowship for early-career Jewish educators, and much more!
Jewish Studio Project
Each one of us is creative. JSP combines Jewish wisdom and art therapy to offer a new entryway into Jewish experience. JSP holds workshops with cool titles like Have You Made Art About it Yet? and Creative Commentary. Explore, deepen, and connect to your creativity with Jewish Studio Project!
Why make an account and save your favorite JewBelong stuff? Because someday Jack is going to get off his ass and pop the question and you’re going to get to plan that wedding you've been thinking about since third grade.
Because why use any of your precious brain cells to remember where you kept those great readings that you’ll use someday at Jeffrey’s B Mitzvah? Make an account, keep the readings there. Easy peasy. The only thing you’ll need to remember is your password, and from personal experience that’s hard enough.
Hey, can you watch the phones on Friday? We have a thing.