As Zach Benjamin prepares to exit his term as CEO for Jewish Long Beach and the Alpert Jewish Community Center, Deborah Goldfarb will take up that mantle for the second time beginning June 1.
Goldfarb previously served as the CEO of Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation for 14 years before it became Jewish Long Beach. In 2020 she assumed the role of interim CEO of the Alpert Jewish Community Center and worked with Benjamin to integrate the Alpert Jewish Community Center and Jewish Long Beach before taking a year off. Stepping back in now, it’s a familiar role for Goldfarb, who had passed the reins to Zach Benjamin in 2019.
“Since 2019, there has been a braiding of efforts under the Jewish Long Beach umbrella,” said Leslie Smith, a spokesperson for the organization.
Goldfarb shared many of her goals for her new two-year tenure with the Business Journal. One of her priorities is to increase advocacy around countering antisemitism, she said.
In Long Beach, 69% of Jewish adults are very concerned about antisemitism in the U.S., according to a 2021 Long Beach-Area Jewish Community Study, which was published on Tuesday.
“Currently, we’re looking to work more closely with the (Long Beach) school board on educational initiatives,” she said. “We’re also developing a series of interfaith conversations in order to educate and build alliances as well.”
She will also be tasked with implementing the organization’s new strategic plan. Much of that involves an effort to serve a broader community, build connections with other related community organizations and to engage more people Jewish life.
The recent study revealed that about 40% of Jewish adults that are involved in some form of Jewish life are not satisfied with the Jewish community in Long Beach. Of the Jewish adults who are not involved in Jewish programs or groups, 19% are unsatisfied and 11% were not satisfied at all with their level of involvement.
“We do know that there is maybe this 40% of people who do want to be engaged. And that verification, I think, is very important as we develop our programs and develop new ways to reach out to those people,” Goldfarb said.
An unofficial announcement of Goldfarb’s return was made at a panel discussion at the Jewish Long Beach Weinberg campus on Monday, May 22, where executives also revealed the results of the demographic study.
“What’s old is young again,” Richard Marcus, president of Jewish Long Beach, said at the event.
The results of the 127-page study come just in time for Goldfarb to step back into her executive role. The effort began shortly before Goldfarb left as CEO in 2019.
While the role is familiar and she will pick up where she left off on certain funding mechanisms and endowments she was heavily involved in before, Goldfarb said ultimately, “it’s a new day.”