More than $2.2 million in grants -- including $1.7million to the Israel Experience Program -- was committed by theJewish Community Foundation last month to local programs benefiting avariety of Jewish organizations.
The foundation's support for the Jewish FederationCouncil of Greater Los Angeles' Israel Experience Program is aimed athelping teens and college-age adults to visit Israel "to learn wherethey come from and to experience the connection that every Jew -- nomatter where they live -- has with every other Jew around the world,"said Annette Shapiro, Jewish Community Foundation president.
Throughout this year, about 200 teens and 150college-age students are expected to participate in IsraelExperience, which is a collaboration between the Jewish CommunityFoundation, the Federation, local synagogues, Hillel and the CharlesR. Bronfman Foundation, and is operated under the auspices of theCouncil on Jewish Life.
"There is almost no question that everybody'sfirst experience of Israel changes their life," said JeannetteHartman, JCF manager of marketing and communications. "They come backfrom Israel with a completely different perception of themselves as aJew."
The JCF also provided more than $500,000 in grantsto 32 local programs sponsored by Jewish agencies, synagogues,schools and other organizations. A total of $410,346 in grants wasawarded to 18 new and innovative programs, and an additional $103,500was given to 14 projects sponsored by local synagogues. The lattergrants were awarded in conjunction with the Federation's Council onJewish Life Synagogue Funding Committee.
The list of projects includes many that fosterJewish education, identity, culture, Jewish families, youth, women,seniors, community relations, and synagogue programs. Among thegrants:
* The Jewish Television Network in Los Angelesreceived $20,000 to produce "J-Span," a series of 13, hour-long videoprograms taped from live events of national significance.
* The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in Brentwoodreceived $30,000 to develop and implement a teaching curriculum,teacher training and klezmer concerts to educate Jewish day-schoolstudents about klezmer music and its relationship to Eastern EuropeanJewish history and culture.
* The Jewish Music Foundation in North Hollywoodreceived $20,000 to establish a chorus to represent Los Angeles atthe 1998 International Zimriyah (Songfest) in Israel, celebratingIsrael's 50th anniversary.
* The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity inLos Angeles received $10,000 to help plan Yiddishkayt Festival 1998,and to recruit institutional collaborators, festival financialbackers and corporate sponsors.
* The Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) and theWhizin Institute received $35,000 for a parent and family educationprogram that will give 400 early childhood educators from 30 schoolsinformation and strategies for engaging families in Jewisheducational activities related to what their children are learning inschool.
* The Westside JCC's My Jewish Discovery Placereceived $30,000 for its "Story Studio" to help produce aneducational video to teach families and children how to tell storiesas part of learning about themselves and their community.
* The BJE received $28,500 for a program thatprepares 15 teachers to teach Jewish-studies courses which meet theneeds of liberal Jewish day schools for Judaic-studiesteachers.
* Metivta: A Center for Jewish Wisdom in West LosAngeles received $18,000 for a pilot program to standardize theteaching of traditional Jewish meditation and to provide classroominstruction and two five-day retreats to train 15 to 20 meditationinstructors.
* The Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School inNorthridge received $17,640 for its "IQ Is Not Enough: A Search forMoral Intelligence" program, which will create activities in theclassroom and throughout the school to encourage students to examinetheir moral values, to learn to resolve conflicts and to improvecommunication skills.
* The Jewish Free Loan Association received$36,000 for a program that provides interest-free loans to those whochoose to adopt a child into a stable Jewish home.
* The Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles(JFSLA), Jewish Big Brothers, the Westside Jewish Community Centerand the West Valley Jewish Community Center received $35,000 for aSingle Jewish Parents Network to provide services and to address suchconcerns of single Jewish parents as post-divorce isolation, singleparenting and negotiating Jewish life-cycle and holiday rituals in anon-traditional family setting.
* The JCC's Israel Levin Center in Venice received$15,000 to offer 50 homebound Jewish seniors fruit, challah, wine andcandles to celebrate the Sabbath, and volunteers to conduct shortservices.
* The JFSLA received $38,206 for its Outreach toBattered Orthodox Women program. Among other things, the program willcreate a hot line that is sensitive to the needs of Orthodox women,community outreach, and education to raise awareness of the issue ofbattered women and children in the Orthodox community.
The Jewish Community Foundation, created in 1954as the endowment arm of the Los Angeles Jewish community, managesassets of nearly $200 million.
Mural on the Israel Levin Senior Center inVenice.