Sei sulla pagina 1di 2

Rita Semel

Rita Semel has spent a remarkable career in Jewish community relations as a tireless advocate for Israel and strong American-Israel relations. At the Jewish Community Relations Council, where she ultimately served as executive director, Semel launched a program to take nonJewish community leaders to Israel, including public officials, university presidents, ethnic and religious leaders, labor and LGBT leaders. The program has continued strong for 20 years and has had a tremendous positive impact on the community. For decades at JCRC, Semel helped mobilize the community whenever there was a crisis in Israel, reaching out to the media and leaders of other communities as well, to explain the Jewish communitys views and, when appropriate, to seek support. By working at the national level on Project Interchange, another program focused on taking non-Jewish leaders to Israel, Semel excelled in helping Christian leaders understand the connection of the Jewish community to Israel. Semel has done more outreach to the Christian community than perhaps anyone else in the Jewish community. Lastly, Semel was cited for the Israel in Our Hearts Award in recognition of her ongoing commitment to stand up for Israel whenever the country needs a vocal advocate in inter-group or interfaith settings. Growing up in New York City, Semel is now 89 years old and a San Francisco resident. Semel has been a San Francisco resident since at least World War II, but the exact number of years Semel has lived in San Francisco is unavailable. Semel has a long history of community service, devoting her life to fostering communication and respect among faiths. Semels commitment to interfaith work and her desire to leave a legacy is driven by the Jewish saying, Tikkun Olam, which means God wants us to repair a fractured world. The Jewish religion calls me to repair the world. I have taken that mandate to heart and have worked with many interfaith organizations. It is with pleasure and conviction that I serve on the Board of Catholic Charities CYO and have served on the Board of Jewish Family and Childrens Service, both of which work

tirelessly to provide services to the men, women and children of the San Francisco Bay Area. What I do, I do because its what I want to do, and if it has any impact beyond that, thats icing on the cake. Semel credits her drive to her genes and her parents communityminded spirit. During World War II, Semel started as a copy boy and later became a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition, Semel was an associate editor for the Northern California Jewish Bulletin (which became The J), fund raiser and public relations professional for the San Francisco Jewish Federation, and executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). As a retiree, Semel has served for 20 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), which is the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. Semel was a founder of United Religions Initiative, the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. She currently holds leadership positions at these organizations, the New Israel Fund, and Catholic Charities CYO. Recently, Semel established a neighborhood free clinic in the Excelsior district staffed by retired doctors. Semel has received numerous awards in her life, including the Judith Chapman Award from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federations Womens Alliance, the California Assemblys Woman of the Year from the 13th Assembly District, and the Rosa Parks Award of Women in Community Service. No information can be found about Semel partnering with the city or county of San Francisco.