July 18, 2019

Can Jay Sanderson Transform L.A. Jewish Life? [VIDEO]

About 30 minutes into the question-and-answer portion of the public’s first chance to grill Jay Sanderson, he started singing.

It was just weeks before Sanderson took over as president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles on Jan. 4. After fielding about a half-dozen questions about the state of L.A. Jewry, Sanderson looked out at the 200 community leaders, rabbis and activists gathered at the Luxe Hotel in Bel Air and quipped, “I guess we’re at a place right now, and I have to recognize that, where there may be some negativity around Federation, based on these irrelevancy questions and alienation questions.”

Then he started to sing “It’s a New Day,” the song Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am composed for President Obama’s victory. It was a glimpse into Sanderson’s hopes for transforming Federation and a sign of his unrestrained way of communicating.

“It’s a new day,” the 52-year-old Sanderson said. “I think if we do the kind of work that I want to be doing, and if we throw the doors open at [Federation headquarters at] 6505 Wilshire and in the West Valley, people are going to see a different day.

“I look around this room, and I see some of the most exciting Jewish leaders in the community here,” he continued. “I see a wealth of talent and passion in this community, but many of you probably feel like you haven’t been engaged in the Federation world. I am going to change that.”

It’s a big promise coming from a man brand-new to the field.

Sanderson is taking over an institution with a $50 million annual budget that funds more than 100 initiatives and programs in Los Angeles and around the world, and creates some of its own programming as well.

Jay Sanderson fields questions from community leaders