Hanukkah 2021 Night 2: Young Adults

November 2021

This Hanukkah we are taking a moment to shine a light on the resilience of our community throughout this past year. Tonight, we light the 2nd candle of the menorah and read how our community brought light and hope to our young adults.

The Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division (YAD) launched its rebranded leadership development program, J-LEV (formally ELC and Yesod), this past fall. This program is designed for Jewish young adults from 32 – 42 yrs, who are wanting to learn the necessary skills to one day serve as lay leaders in the Jewish community. YAD is committed to fostering the next generation of leaders and is excited to bring new professional development opportunities to the San Antonio Jewish young adult community.

This fall, the Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) kicked off the second year of the Israel Leadership Fellowship (ILF), a program sponsored by the Norman and Anita Davis JCRC Endowment Fund. The ILF is designed to equip Jewish high school juniors and seniors with the necessary tools to engage in the tough questions about Israel they will face in college. Participants began to meet in person in October and covered topics including the history of the people of Israel, the political climate, and antisemitism.


Congregation Rodfei Sholom has two staff Rabbis committed to bringing Jewish Life to college students and young professionals throughout San Antonio. These Rabbis work closely with Hillel to bring Jewish activities to Jewish college students and engage in thought-provoking discussions. They also work separately to engage with San Antonio Jewish young professionals through the group TribeSA.

As COVID resulted in the loss of jobs, many college students are in need of assistance in paying tuition. During the past two years, 16 young adults have accessed 0%-interest education loans from the Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Antonio. “Joan” enrolled in another semester at UT because she was able to secure another loan to pay her tuition. “Sara” has just graduated from Texas A&M without high-interest debt. “Kyle” just entered senior year knowing he will graduate on time now that he can pay tuition. All are on a positive life journey with the financial assistance of HFLA-SA. To apply for a loan or support our work, please go to www.hfla-sa.org.


This year, Temple Beth-El’s 20s30s group came together both digitally and physically through intimate social gatherings. They met for in-person services and fun events such as After Hours and Shabbat Hikes. Young adults also came together for engaging Zoom chats and catch-ups. Whether in person or virtually, the group was happy to share special moments again. A special thank you to the dedicated hard work and leadership of TBE20s30s co-chairs, Sarah Rowley and Michael Epstein!


Young and Jewish San Antonio (YJSA) kicked off the new year with lively dinners, new faces, meaningful prayers, and many rounds of soulful shofar blasts. Followed by an uplifting Yom Kippur filled with hours of song, prayer, study, and conversation. Then came Sukkot overflowing with unbridled celebration, joy, and lots of mitzvot! In the words of Matt Burkinshaw, “It was an absolute pleasure to spend all these special holiday moments with this beautiful community that actually felt like a family.” This year is especially meaningful as YJSA celebrates 10 impactful years of service to the young Jewish community. Here’s to many more joyous and meaningful moments and continued growth cementing our Jewish present and future!


Hillel San Antonio is the source of Jewish life on campus at twelve San Antonio area universities and colleges. Jewish Student Life Coordinator, Natalie Steiner, oversees all Hillel programs and events. This past year student interns planned numerous events including a picnic in the park, Shabbat in the sukkah, and even brought Israeli-Ethiopian activist, Ashager Araro to UTSA. Araro spoke about the intersectionality of being Ethiopian and Jewish and how that inspired her to open an Ethiopian Israeli heritage center in Tel Aviv. Hillel San Antonio is excited to continue making an impact on college students in the new year.