Gift of Israel

Supporting teen trips to Israel, providing memories to last a lifetime

A visit to Israel is a key stepping stone in a teen’s journey of Jewish identification, commitment, and connection. That’s why the Federation and local congregations believe that supporting Gift of Israel is one of the most significant contributions they can make to help ensure the future for a strong and vibrant Bay Area Jewish community.

How the Gift of Israel program works

When you enroll your child in the Gift of Israel program, you begin setting aside funds in a savings account for your child’s future trip to Israel. Each year, for about 4-8 years, your child’s account needs to be funded a minimum of $150 in order to maintain an active account. This can make for a great Bar or Bat Mitzvah gift option!        

Once your teen has chosen an Israel trip or program that is approved by Gift of Israel, the Federation and your congregation (if you are members of one) will make contributions toward that trip based on the amount you have saved over the years for your child. This program is intended to provide your family with sizable savings to help underwrite the cost of your teen’s trip.

Open enrollment and eligibility

Your child first becomes eligible for enrollment when they reach 3rd grade, and you can enroll all the way through 7th grade. Though the sooner you enroll, the more time you have to save!

The Gift of Israel program serves Jewish families who would like their children to have an affordable opportunity to connect to Israel as teens. Families must live in the service area covered by the Federation (Sonoma County, Marin County, San Francisco, and the Peninsula north of Sunnyvale).

Families do not have to be members of a congregation to participate in this program. Teens will still be eligible for contributions from the Federation in these cases.

Using your savings to send your teen to Israel

The Federation and congregation contributions may be applied towards an approved Israel trip any time between your child’s sophomore year of high school and the summer after freshman year of college.

We also offer support for 8th grade trips to Israel at three local Jewish Day Schools (please call our office for more information about this option at 415.369.2873):

  • Brandeis Hillel Day School (San Francisco and Marin campuses)
  • Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School
  • Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School

An approved Israel trip must be educational in nature and with a peer group of young people who travel, learn, and experience together. It must be staffed by qualified personnel and structured with a predetermined itinerary. When a trip is selected, please advise the Gift of Israel office at the Federation. The Federation and congregation contributions are sent directly to the trip provider upon request for account disbursement.

* The Jewish Community Federation contribution to The Gift of Israel is funded by grants from the Janet A. Schultz Teens to Israel Endowment Fund

List of some approved Gift of Israel trips and programs

In order to release the funds toward your trip, please fill out the account disbursement form, making sure to specify the trip or program you have chosen on line #7, and mail it to the Gift of Israel office:

Jewish Community Federation
Attn: Gift of Israel
121 Steuart Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

Participating congregations

  • Congregation B'nai Emunah
  • Congregation Beth Am
  • Congregation Beth Ami
  • Congregation Beth Israel Judea
  • Congregation Beth Sholom
  • Congregation Etz Chayim
  • Congregation Emanu-El
  • Congregation Kol Emeth
  • Congregation Kol Shofar
  • Congregation Rodef Sholom
  • Congregation Sherith Israel
  • Congregation Shomrei Torah
  • Congregation Sha'ar Zahav
  • Jewish Congregation of the San Geronimo Valley
  • Peninsula Sinai Congregation
  • Peninsula Temple Beth El
  • Peninsula Temple Sholom
  • Temple Beth Jacob

If you do not belong to a participating congregation your child will receive the Federation’s contribution, but not a congregation contribution at the time of disbursement.

The fine print

Gift of Israel operates on a fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30. Annual contributions can be made in installments throughout the year, but must be completed by May 31 of that same year. Each family must meet the minimum yearly contribution ($150 for third-grade enrollment, $250 for seventh-grade enrollment) to be eligible for Federation and congregation contributions.

How to make additional/annual deposits

  1. Please make checks payable to:
    "San Francisco Federation Gift of Israel for [your child’s name]"
     
  2. Write the participant’s savings account number on the “memo” line
     
  3. Mail check to:

Signature Bank/Gift of Israel
565 Fifth Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Withdrawal from the program

You and your family are the exclusive owners of the funds you have deposited into your Gift of Israel bank account. If you or your child withdraws from the program without going on an Israel trip, your contributions to that bank account will be refunded to you. However, you will not be eligible to receive the Gift of Israel matching funds from the Federation or your congregation once you close your account.

To close your Gift of Israel account, please fill out the account disbursement form and return to the Gift of Israel office:

Mail:   Jewish Community Federation
           Attn: Gift of Israel
           121 Steuart Street
           San Francisco, CA 94105

Email:  giftofisrael@sfjcf.org

Fax:     415.495.2753

Please make sure to include the name and address of the person you would like the funds to be made payable to on lines #7 and #8.

Once we receive your account disbursement form, please allow 3-4 weeks for your account balances to be forwarded to you. Your check will be mailed to the address you provide.

Donation of Federation contribution

If you do not need the Federation’s Gift of Israel contribution in order to send your child to Israel, you may donate those funds to a special Israel Experience scholarship fund for teens who need additional assistance to make this important journey. Please contact our office at 415.369.2873 for details on how to make your donation.