Tarbuton, a 501c3 founded in 2006, creates new entry points for Jewish community by supporting grassroots Jewish and Israeli micro-community development in San Diego, CA.

Cafe v’Ivrit, Moadon Sefer, Hagiga Ivrit, and Bira v’Nashira are active communities for Jewish adults to learn, strengthen relationships, and build and maintain connection to Israel through Hebrew, Israeli literature, film and music.

Community members interested in creating new communities are invited to join the Startup18 Jewish Engagement Lab which is an open door for support and fiscal sponsorship of Jewish and Israeli grassroots initiatives. Tarbuton youth education programs offered from 2006-2015 were also spun off to next generation independent leadership through the Lab.

Startup18 fellowships support grassroots community organizers by partnering with successful programs that offer curriculum and/or training and subsidizing the training for community members wanting to create their own Jewish circles using that knowledge. Fellowships help remove barriers to entry for would be facilitators and Jewish community organizers and create a cohort of community members enriching the Jewish community. 2018’s Fellowship is focused on Jewish Yoga and Meditation with subsidized training from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. More here.

Tarbuton also offers Jewish Educator Awards offered in collaboration with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to celebrate educators who work in multiple Jewish institutions and those who offer independent educational programs creating new options for youth and Jewish education. Tarbuton activities and groups appeal to all denominations, interfaith families and unaffiliated and build relationships between local American Jews & Israelis.

Tarbuton & Startup18 Backgrounder 2017-2018



Tarbuton reaches over 2000 households the majority of which are otherwise not engaged in traditional Jewish organizational activity. Programs appeal to all denominations, interfaith families and unaffiliated and build relationships between local American Jews & Israelis.

Tarbuton began piloting programs in the community in 2006 fueled by grants and active volunteers.  Tarbuton offered, through 2016, an Israeli-style after school and Sunday program with 140 students in 4 locations, and 20+ part time teachers and staff.  Tarbuton also offered “Tzofe San Diego” incubating what became a local Tzofim Shevet and cultivated lay leaders and families in support of a Hebrew language charter school in San Diego.

Startup18 was launched in 2016 to inspire Jewish nonprofit entrepreneurs to launch their own projects to engage the Jewish community. Fiscal sponsorship, workshops and more are offered to create a welcome environment in San Diego encouraging residents to build for their community.  We hope by providing an address and support for Jewish nonprofit entrepreneurs we will have an even greater impact.

Our founders, wanting to build Jewish and Israeli identity in their children growing up in the US but with strong connections to Israel, began organizing Hebrew and Israeli-style activities including a Hebrew speaking playgroup, Hebrew story times and community holiday gatherings such as apple picking outings at Rosh Hashanah, hikes at area forest preserves at Tu b’Shevat and bonfires at Mission Bay for Lag Baomer.

As the children grew, a week-day and Sunday program was offered incorporating Hebrew immersion classes and enrichment, Jewish holiday classes and celebrations in English and in Hebrew year round. A dance troupe and singing group formed and performed annually at Yom Haatzmaout, Yom haZikaron and at the House of Israel’s lawn event.

The programs immersed our children in Hebrew and contemporary Israeli culture while adults enjoyed evenings with Israeli films, literature, lectures and plays and social opportunities in English and Hebrew.  We created a little Israel in San Diego that reflects the roots many of us share with family and friends there, the passion we all have for Israel from San Diego, that keeps us and our next generation connected.  We nurture the Hebrew speaking community that supports the language connection for our families and keeps Israeli culture alive in our hearts and we welcome and build programs for the community at large.