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For Immediate Release

Tanya Peebles-Hill
(213) 236-5329

Nina Ronstadt
(619) 224-3186

SAN DIEGO, CA (May 14, 2014) – In celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month and as part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, Union Bank, N.A., has partnered with KPBS to honor three extraordinary Jewish Americans as local heroes. The 2014 Jewish American Heritage honorees are: Helene Bortz and Myrice Goldberg, co-founders of San Diego’s only G’mach, the Jewish Gift Closet, and Ed Samilijan, founder and treasurer of Camp Mountain Chai (CMC). They will be recognized in May at a private dinner celebration with their families and executives from KPBS and Union Bank.

Since 1998, KPBS and Union Bank have collaborated on the Local Heroes program and recognized more than 190 honorees. The program pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their community, region and the world at large. The 2014 Jewish American Heritage Month honorees demonstrate a shared commitment to providing their communities with the tools to thrive in today’s changing world.

In addition to the Jewish American Heritage Month local heroes, honorees were identified during Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March) and will also be recognized during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May); LGBT Pride Month (June); Hispanic Heritage Month (September/October); Disability Awareness Month (October); and American Indian Heritage Month (November).

“The local heroes’ commitment to the community is truly admirable, and they embody Union Bank’s values of giving back,” said Union Bank Senior Executive Vice President Pierre P. Habis, head of Community and Private Banking. “We are honored that our partnership with KPBS allows us to celebrate these amazing individuals and their impact on the community.”

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Union Bank as we pay tribute to these inspiring individuals,” said KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “Through their tireless efforts, these local heroes have made a tremendous difference not only for San Diego but our community at large.”

The 2014 honorees for Jewish American Heritage Month are:

Helene Bortz and Myrice Goldberg, are co-founders of the Jewish Gift Closet, San Diego’s only G'mach (an acronym for Gemilut Chasadim or deeds of loving kindness). Through the Jewish Gift Closet, they have served hundreds of families and individuals throughout the San Diego community. Aside from distributing material goods, the Jewish Gift Closet provides additional services, including professional adult mentoring and advocacy, rent subsidies, emergency cash needs, Shabbat and holiday meals, internships and youth group workshops. The organization was started in a friend’s building and has moved into a permanent warehouse made possible by a Leichtag Foundation Grant.

Ed Samiljan is the founder and treasurer of Camp Mountain Chai (CMC), a Jewish summer camp in San Diego located in Angelus Oaks. Aside from providing children with a summer camp experience, CMC offers additional programming to the Jewish community, such as camps for single parents, educational weekends, and intergenerational programs for grandparents and their grandchildren. Mr. Samiljan helped create a $5 million scholarship endowment to ensure that CMC can continue to send kids to camp regardless of their financial situation. In addition to his work with CMC, Mr. Samiljan serves as the chair of Jewish Continuity at the Jewish Federation of San Diego.

KPBS features a wide range of Jewish American Heritage Month programming during May. For more information or to nominate a future local hero, please visit or

About KPBS
KPBS serves our local communities with news and entertainment programming that respects our audience with inspiring, intelligent and enlightening content. KPBS will deliver this content via multiple outlets, including television, radio, and digital media and will adapt and remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. KPBS values integrity, truth, transparency and lifelong learning. At KPBS we strive to engage with our citizens and showcase the unique neighborhoods and people that make our community thrive. And as a public service of San Diego State University, education is a core value – from our children’s programming to our local news coverage. KPBS is committed to being a reliable source for in-depth, thoughtful, and high quality content.

About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.
Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $107.2 billion at March 31, 2014. Its primary subsidiary, Union Bank, N.A., provides an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank operated 420 branches in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Illinois, New York and Georgia, as well as 2 international offices, on March 31, 2014. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations. In July 2013, American Banker Magazine and the Reputation Institute ranked Union Bank #1 for reputation among its customers. Visit for more information.