Sunday in Park With Herzl May 25 to fete Israels birth

"We're planning an interactive, family-friendly day," said Shlomi Ravid, director of the new Israel Center, which is sponsoring the event for the first time. "We encourage everyone to bring a blanket and a picnic lunch and spend Memorial Day Sunday with us in the park."

Co-sponsors include the Jewish Community Federation, Jewish Community Relations Council, Bureau of Jewish Education, Consulate General of Israel and Jewish Bulletin of Northern California.

"There will be plenty to do for people of every age," noted Lani Rader, the day's coordinator. On stage entertainment includes Brandeis Hillel Chorus and dancers from Tikvah Music School. Storyteller Joel ben Izzy promises to weave tales appropriate for kids and grownups. The event's headliner, Mizrachi singer Jimmy Gamliel, was a big hit at last year's Jerusalem in the Gardens.

Metizitzim MeHa'Etzbah, a teenage ensemble from Israel's Northern Galilee, will perform. Henry "Herzl" Shreibman, head of school at Brandeis Hillel Day School, will preside over the festivities.

In honor of 100 years of Zionism, visitors are invited to don black beards, high hats and appropriate attire for the Theodor Herzl lookalike contest. Prizes will be awarded for the most successful costumes.

Strolling around the meadow, visitors can meet individuals costumed as other famous Zionists. They'll eagerly offer information about their life and work.

In honor of Herzl's dream-come-true, copies of Israel's Proclamation of Independence and the newspaper announcing statehood will be for sale by Judaica dealer and antiquarian Irvin Ungar.

Ceramica Judaica will provide the makings for mezuzot and name plaques. The artisans will fire all clay work and mail it when completed for a nominal charge.

Visitors can make necklaces embellished with Hebrew letter beads.

Food offerings range from falafel, Israeli salads, kosher hamburgers and hot dogs from Sabra, vegetarian perogies and knishes to sweet babkas and rugelach from Perogies Please, and Peace Pops and sorbet from Ben & Jerry's.

Israel Independence Day would not be complete without Israeli dancing or the Bureau of Jewish Education's annual raffle. Israeli dance teacher Donna Frankel will provide instruction and lead an hour of upbeat dancing.

The BJE raffle, which provides funding for a wide range of Jewish learning opportunities for local youth, will send lucky winners to Hawaii, London or Israel. Raffle tickets will be available that day or in advance. Contact the BJE at (415) 751-6983.

Prizes in the free raffle — visitors can sign up at the festival information table — include tickets to "Beach Blanket Babylon," the Marin Theater Company and Disneyland, and gift certificates for Cody's Books, One Market Restaurant, Semifreddi's and the Prescott Hotel.

A Jewish Family and Children's Services booth will provide information about community and other services for people with disabilities.