JCEF aids Israel Centers plans for Yom HaZikaron

Americans who died in the fight for Israeli independence will be honored next week at a San Francisco ceremony marking Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California St.

Yom HaZikaron falls a day before the country's 50th Independence Day.

"We want to commemorate the fallen Americans — both in war and in acts of terrorism — and note the special contributions that Americans have had in establishing Israel and in guaranteeing its independence," said Ori Nir, co-coordinator of the event for San Francisco's Israel Center.

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation's Israel Center, recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Jewish Community Endowment Fund for 1997-98 funding, is co-sponsoring the event along with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

The center, created in 1996 with a seed grant from the Endowment Fund, seeks to strengthen and build Jewish identity in the Bay Area by fostering connections between Israeli and Bay Area Jews.

Tzavta, the young adult division of the Israel Center, has taken the lead in organizing the Yom HaZikaron event.

"This is an attempt to bring Israel closer to American Jewry," said Sophie Ross, a member of the Tzavta advisory committee.

Tzavta and the Israel Center are also co-sponsoring "Beyond Tel Aviv" Saturday night, with the Israel Project. The South of Market event is geared for young adults.

In addition to Tzavta, the Israel Center includes a teen division that sends Bay Area teens to Israel each year and another program that trains high school students in cultural, political and spiritual leadership.

The Israel Center also has an adult and family division, as well as a campus division, which brings Israel-related cultural and educational programs to Bay Area campuses, and sponsors a study tour in Israel.

The grant to the Israel Center was one of three totaling over $309,000 allocated by the Jewish Community Endowment Fund committee in its first round of grants for 1997-98. The JCEF chairman is Bernard Osher and the JCEF Allocations Committee chairman is Robert Friend.

Another grant, for $100,000, went to A Traveling Jewish Theatre's campaign to renovate and upgrade the organization's space at Project Artaud in San Francisco. Improvements are to include a main street entrance, lounges, dressing rooms, new seating, a box office and production and sound equipment.

In addition, the Endowment Fund granted $109,440 to establish the JCF's "Bridges" program, which will reach out to unaffiliated Jews in the South Peninsula and help them connect to the Jewish community in an area of their special interest.

The Jewish Community Endowment Fund will announce new grants in May. The next deadline for new grant proposals is Aug. 1. For information, call Phyllis Cook, JCEF executive director, at (415) 777-0411.