Mission & History

Together we will do extraordinary things.

Our Mission

Jewish Silicon Valley harnesses the power of community to improve lives, build bridges of understanding, and strengthen the Jewish people here, in Israel, and around the world. We welcome you to connect with the incredible Jewish community of Silicon Valley as we do great things together.

Connecting People at Every Life Stage to Improve Lives

Jewish Silicon Valley provides programs through the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center that help you learn, grow, and find your path to a healthy and meaningful life. These community-building, life-improving programs focus on youth and families, Jewish life and culture, healthy aging, and wellness. We also support the work and programs of other local Jewish agencies to ensure a broad range of opportunities are accessible for anyone seeking to explore their own meaningful Jewish journey. 

women engaging in conversations

Building Bridges of Understanding 

Jewish Silicon Valley welcomes people of every background and belief to participate in all of our programs, and we invite partners from across the region to join us in collaborations and conversations that break down barriers of understanding. We work with our fellow Jewish organizations and others throughout the Silicon Valley community, creating opportunities for all of us to build relationships that transcend differences and foster a sense of unity. We invite you to join the conversation.

Strengthening the Jewish People

Jewish Silicon Valley is a convener of the larger Jewish community in Silicon Valley, bringing Jewish leadership together with a shared purpose to foster Jewish life in the region. Through the outreach work of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and our many inclusive programs, Jewish Silicon Valley is helping to end antisemitism in our community. We also have a philanthropic purpose, raising funds that directly support the needs of our local Jewish community and Jews around the world.

Our Vision

To ensure a vibrant Jewish community in Silicon Valley and promote the well-being of all people by providing visionary leadership, philanthropic support, and meaningful programs and experiences that are rooted in Jewish values and traditions.

Our History

1857

The first record of Jews in the Santa Clara Valley dates to the 1850s, when the Bikur Cholim Society purchased a 3-acre plot in Pueblo Cemetery (now Home of Peace Cemetery, located in Oak Hill Memorial Park) in San Jose. The oldest known grave in the cemetery dates to 1857. The year 1860 saw the establishment of San Jose’s first synagogue, Congregation Bickur Cholim. (In 1948 Bickur Cholim was destroyed by a fire, after which it rebuilt and changed its name to Temple Emanu-El, the name by which it is still known today.)

1930

The San Jose Jewish Federation was incorporated on June 2, 1930. Its first president was Philip Hammer, Sr., whose daughter-in-law Susan Hammer later served as mayor of San Jose.

1951

The Federation changed its name to the Jewish Community Council of San Jose in 1951, and then to the Jewish Federation of Greater San Jose in 1970. It became known as the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley in the early 1970s.

1968

The entity that eventually became the Addison-Penzak JCC  began in 1968 as the “Jewish Activities Committee” of the Jewish Federation. In 1969 the community also opened a Jewish day camp, Camp Shalom. The Jewish Community Center separated from Federation 1973, and received official nonprofit status in 1974. The community center ran Camp Shalom, a preschool, and a variety of social, cultural, and recreational programs.

1984

In 1984 the Addison-Penzak JCC and the Jewish Federation moved to a 9-acre campus at 14855 Oka Road in Los Gatos, which the Jewish community had purchased on the site of the old Berry Elementary School. A grant from Arnie and Cookie Addison helped purchase the property. Mrs. Addison’s maiden name was Penzak, hence we became the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center of Silicon Valley.

2004

In 2004, the Jewish Federation broke ground on a new building at the site, which would include a fitness center, auditorium, cafe, classrooms, and offices. The new building opened in 2005. Funds for construction came from Gloria and Ken Levy, Eli Reinhard, and many other donors whose names can be seen on the donor wall in our main lobby. That building is now in operation as the Levy Family Campus.

2021

Jewish Silicon Valley is the new agency resulting from a merger between the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and the Addison-Penzak JCC in February 2021.

Learn more about the Bay Area Jewish community! Read A Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities.