2020 Rotarian Spotlight

Meet the Rotarians! This is the 2020 issue of Rotarian Spotlight.

In an effort to bridge the gap between Cal Rotaract and Rotary, Rotarian Spotlights is a new feature that helps members get to know Rotarians more. Read about Rotarians, their service passions, and career advice below!

Are you a Rotarian who is interested in being featured? Click HERE to fill out our Spotlight form for a chance to be featured!

If you’re interested in learning more about Cal Rotaractors and alumni, check out Humans of Cal Rotaract under the membership tab.


Rabbi Jay Miller

Rabbi | [email protected]

What are your service passions and how has Rotary helped you achieve your service goals?

My primary focus is enhancing community engagement, which brings together people from across the spectrum within our cities, regions and society. Certainly this is a primary outcome of Rotary, through each Rotarian’s and each club’s involvement in the community.

What current service projects are you involved in?

I belong to several community organizations which focus on public service and which advocate for changes in public policy.

What made you decide to become a Rotarian?

I think I decided to join Rotary when I was attending meetings with my father when I was in high school and when I returned home on breaks from Cal. When I moved to Burlingame, I was invited by friends to visit the Rotary. I particularly enjoyed the time I spent with members and I appreciated the focus of the Burlingame Rotary Club.

How have you brought service into your personal and professional world?

As a Rabbi on the campuses in San Diego, service was an everyday part of my life and I planned it that way. I was an active part of many segments of the campus community. I was also on boards of various community organizations that focused on current issues. All of my core interests are shared by my family and I share in their interests.

Any funny or interesting Rotary stories to share?

Well, whenever I went home from Cal from 1964-68 and I went to Rotary with my father, he would be fined because he had a kid at Cal and we always seemed to be in the headlines.

Describe your professional background.

I have a degree in Political Science from Cal. I then went to rabbinical seminary, earning a masters degree along with receiving ordination. I was then the rabbi at Florida International University. After two years, I had the opportunity to return to California where I have been in synagogues for 3 years and a campus rabbi in San Diego for 18 years.

What made you want to pursue this career?

While I was interested in political science – I still work on campaigns and study current legal decisions – I decided that I would have a real opportunity for community engagement as a rabbi, within the Jewish community and as one of the many individuals who involved themselves as part of the greater community. Of course, I enjoyed sharing in the observances of the Jewish traditions and appreciated working with individuals traversing the daily ups and downs of life.

What advice do you have for Rotaractors who are interested in pursuing this profession?

First of all, there are many aspects of my professional life, any one of which that I would endorse for any Rotaractor. Primarily, I enjoy what I am doing – personal involvement with people, being present in the community on a daily basis, working with others to develop programs of mutual engagement and of public service, sharing in the rituals of my tradition and with others, experiencing their traditions. Any of these are professional paths worth following. I also appreciate the link between my professional and personal life. One doesn’t stop at 5:00 p.m. and another begin. My family and my professional world share space and values. I guess I would say it is the components of my profession that I value and would recommend to anyone whose “professional” passion fits any of the components I experience. In any case, it’s all a part of combining service and self, whether it is within a chosen profession or just as part of one’s life. Talk to people who are doing what you are thinking of doing. Think about how it matches your personal passions and you professional aptitudes.

What advice do you have for Rotaractors who may experience burnout in the future?

Beforehand, take breaks along the way, fill your life with a diversity of activities, know you will burn out some days/weeks. If burn out is sustained, explore changes within your current commitments. If it seems right, explore making a greater change.