The fund is the first endowment at the East Bay federation designed to help more youths travel and study in Israel.
"Yitzhak Rabin was really working on strengthening Israel by building peace. But as he said many times, a strong Israel also needs a strong Jewish community," said Rodan, who is chairman of the Israel Center based at the federation's Oakland office.
Part of building a stronger Jewish community in the diaspora includes sending as many youths as possible to Israel, Rodan said. Ami Nahshon, executive director of the East Bay federation, agreed.
"One of my lasting memories of Rabin was his commitment to sending American children to Israel," Nahshon said. "For him, this was a centerpiece of his appeal to the American Jewish community."
Over Thanksgiving weekend, more than 5,000 households received letters asking for donations of at least $1,000 to the fund. Each $1,000 gift will send one more youth to Israel. But Rodan said the federation will accept gifts of any amount.
During 1995, the Israel Center sent 110 East Bay high school students and 250 Northern California college students to Israel.
Within the next three years, Rodan hopes to triple the number of high school students and double the number of college students heading to the Jewish state. Creating an endowment fund is vital to the federation's goal of reducing students' travel costs and offering scholarships, he said.
"How much it will help is dependent on how much the community gets behind this effort," Rodan said.
While plans to create endowment funds for student travel and study in Israel were already in the works, the assassination of Rabin on Nov. 4 catalyzed this effort.
Though Rodan has no specific fund-raising goal for this endowment fund, he hopes to eventually create several such funds that will add up to $5 million.
"The principle purpose of the Rabin endowment is to allow people to do something positive," he said.