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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Building Jewish Bridges

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Building Jewish Bridges addresses common questions and concerns expressed by couples in which one partner is Jewish. We welcome interfaith couples and families, and invite them to explore local Jewish life. Discussion of Jewish customs, values and celebrations help couples develop confidence in making choices about their family’s religious identity and expression.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5

Former staff

Rating: 5

Dawn is incredibly passionate and dedicated to her programs, and it was truly inspiring to work alongside her. She is organized, efficient, and kind. A great combination! Her ability to be warm yet professional when it comes to discussing and communicating information about spirituality is quite impressive. I had such a great time working with her, and am happy to call her a friend as well!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Dawn Kepler has led interfaith programs at my congregation. She was funny, friendly, and sincere. Some non-members from her other programs attended and it was a good way for them to find out about my synagogue and see that we're a warm congregation. Dawn has innovative ideas that are timeless. We have used her ideas over and over. She always leaves participants feeling welcome and better connected. She has been a blessing to Temple Isaiah!

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank goodness my husband and found Building Jewish Bridges when we were planning our wedding. We had no idea how to find a rabbi who would perform an interfaith wedding. Dawn not only gave us a list of names, but spoke with us at length beforehand to really understand what was important to us and to explain to us what is really a requirement for and what is a tradition in Jewish weddings. She made a very stressful situation for us a couple very manageable.

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We found your Interfaith Building Bridges Class most rewarding. It's been a couple years now and Mindy has implemented what she has learned and now spouts Yiddish phrases at me and probably knows more about Judaism than I do. It certainly can bring a couple closer together. I recommend the program to any couple.. It also helps keep Judaism and religion in peoples lives. Regards, Burt

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dawn has built an extraordinary program for interfaith families in the Bay Area. Whether it's dealing with the holidays or families, it addresses key needs for those who trying to make sense of their religious lives. Participants find a safe place in which they express their views and be heard and acknowledged.

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dawn and Building Jewish Bridges helped my Jewish husband and me, a Protestant, figure out how to go about raising a Jewish child. The programs she runs also helped me confidently be myself while being an active participant in Jewish community. Without this support, we'd have stumbled into problems rather than talking things through before they became problems. Her ability to respectfully listen to all sides and get right to the heart of the discussion is amazing.

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

I learned about Building Jewish Bridges when attending a Jewish wedding fair. At the time, I wasn't Jewish. I learned about the work Dawn Kepler does with interfaith couples and also with those who are considering conversion and decided to attend some events: a movie night, an interfaith discussion panel, a women's interfaith discussion group, a Passover presentation... Through the contacts that I was introduced to through Building Jewish Bridges, my family joined a temple and we are now raising our daughter in a Jewish home... with her Jewish-born father and Jew-by-choice mother.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've found BJB provides a very valuable service to the interfaith community, particularly for me via the e-mail group, wherein questions get asked and answered (messages are organized by the moderator so we don't get spammed).

8

Client Served

Rating: 4

My husband and I attended a series of sessions for interfaith couples. We were able to connect wit other local people in similar situations and expand our community. Dawn Kepler does a fantastic job of outreach and helping people keep their Jewsih connection alive and well.

10

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a teaching rabbi in the East Bay Area of CA, and I am delighted that I can confidently refer interfaith couples to Building Jewish Bridges. Dawn Kepler brings passion, spirit, kindness, enthusiasm, and practicality to her work with interfaith couples. I've known Dawn for 15 years and watched her Outreach work grow and bloom over that time. Dawnis sensitive to the many challenges facing interfaith couples, and takes delight in continuing to learn about them. Her enthusiasm adds an upbeat energy to her work, but her work is solidly grounded in the most current research. Her gifts include her vast networking skills, providing excellent guidance and referrals to couples. I am always delighted to refer couples to Building Jewish Bridges, because they will be in good hands.

8 RabbiBridget

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work with Jews, their family members, and others who are exploring Jewish life and community. In this capacity I often refer people to Building Jewish Bridges. When I follow up with them afterwards I have heard uniformly positive feedback about their experiences with BJB. Specifically, those I work with have met with Dawn Kepler for help exploring issues related to being in an interfaith family and/or converting to Judaism, or have participated in programs on these issues. They have learned about how others handle similar issues, gained perspective on their own situations, been directed to useful resources, and helped to connect with other people and organizations who could be of help to them.

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a synagogue rabbi in the East Bay for 25 years, I have seen the need for a program like Building Jewish Bridges grow exponentially, especially in the last ten years. Dawn Kepler brings an unparalleled breadth and depth of personal experience, wisdom, compassion, Jewish knowledge and people skills to her work. The tone and tenor of her outreach to intermarrieds always have just the right combination of sensitivity and practicality -- there is something for everyone here. Dive in or get your toes wet!

8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Even if one has the support of an extremely understanding and welcoming synagogue environment, it's difficult in these times to navigate the many issues and challenges of being in an interfaith family — not least when it comes to raising a child into the teen years. In this regard, my wife and I have been extremely fortunate to have made the acquaintance of Dawn Kepler, and been introduced to her Building Jewish Bridges organization. Over the past years, we have attended many of Dawn's events, and have always come away with a better understanding of our situation, our goals, and most importantly, ourselves. Dawn's simple conviction is not merely that it "can be done," but that it can be done with meaning, grace, passion, and humor. The interfaith experience, as Dawn explains, is rich, robust, and remarkably beautiful in itself. Dawn helps people see that. Just from our own experience, Dawn has helped us immeasurably on our family's journey, and we can't imagine what it would have been like without her encouragement, support, friendship, and love

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a Catholic married to a Jew with a 13 year old son making his bar mitzvah soon. We thought we would give our son exposure to both of our religions when he was born because I came into the marriage with two Catholic teenagers. After many interfaith sessions with Dawn Keplar and her interfaith couples groups, we finally realized picking a religion for our son was best. Dawn was our rock while we were making our decisions. She helped us with every step of this huge path we were venturing down and was there for us with every curve we encountered. I can't thank her enough for her expertise and unbiased advise allowing us to make informed decisions for ourselves. We are so thankful for finding her at Building Jewish Bridges.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an Orthodox Jew married to a non-Jewish man. I met Dawn through a group that she ran for interfaith couples. The group was extremely helpful to my husband and I even though we were the only couple in the group with our demographic make-up. Dawn is an amazing visionary with a love of yiddishkeit and all humanity. She is a tireless cheerleader for those on the outskirts who would like to feel more included or become more involved. For me she models how Jews, actually how people should be in the world. I am regularly inspired by her outreach work to interfaith families

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dawn continues to support our family as we navigate the beauty and challenges of raising Jewish children in an interfaith home. When we stumble, she is there to support our efforts with kind words and guidance that provides realistic ways to navigate the journey. Dawn has been integral in my feeling like I am being a "good Jewish mother"!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I really loved Dawn at Building Jewish Bridges - she was so much help to me when I was converting. I didn't know *anything, and she helped me find my way without pushing. She also helps interfaith families with their very difficult issues. I highly recommend Building Jewish Bridges for whatever the issue involving Judaism, whether it's finding a rabbi, finding a synagogue, figuring out your conversion or interfaith path, and more.