The decision to leave Ukraine and immigrate to San Francisco did not come easily to Lyubov Lyubarskaya.
It took her five years to work up the nerve to follow the lead of her father, brother and 33,000 other Jewish emigres from the former Soviet Union who now call the San Francisco Bay Area home. Yet, after just eight months of living here, Lyubarskaya says she's too busy to even think about being nervous.
"There are too many adjustments to be made: new country…new friends… new job. If I stopped to think about it, it would be overwhelming," said the 45-year-old former chemical engineer.
With financial support from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation's Endowment Fund, Lyubarskaya attended speaking and vocational classes at the Jewish Vocational Service and quickly found work as a lab technician with Genentech, a nationally known corporation specializing in biomedical research.
Long before San Francisco was home to this country's third-largest community of Soviet refugees, the federation was already helping emigres like Lyubarskaya successfully settle here.
In an effort to keep up with the growing number of needy newcomers — including young students whose parents lack funds for Jewish day school, and seniors who need English lessons — the JCEF recently approved four grants to three agencies serving emigres.
The grants, totaling $430,000, went to Jewish Family and Children's Services, Jewish Vocational Service and San Francisco Jewish Community Center. They will be used to help with job training, language skills and camp and nursery school scholarships.
The largest grant was made to JFCS, the federally appointed agency for Jewish immigrant resettlement. This agency received $235,000 in camp and nursery school subsidies for newly arrived Jewish emigre children.
The JVS and JCC jointly received $150,000 ($90,000 to the JVS and $60,000 to the JCC) in grants for English instruction, with beginner classes offered at the JCC and vocationally oriented intermediate courses at JVS. The remaining $45,000 awarded to JVS will be used as scholarship money for short-term vocational training.
Adele Corvin, chair of the JCEF's committee for culture and public affairs, said the grants fall within the endowment's objective of providing emergency funding for special needs not covered by the federation's annual campaign.
Corvin also noted that seven other Jewish communal agencies received emigre-related funding from restricted and supporting foundations of the JCEF.
The grants on behalf of emigres were three of 19 totaling $1,486,700 million the JCEF recently allocated in the areas of education, culture and public affairs, family and health to local, national and overseas Jewish organizations and projects. Others grants are:
*$161,200 in seed funding to the Bureau of Jewish Education to carry out its Teen Initiative Project by creating communitywide outreach and collaborative regional high school programs for affiliated and unaffiliated teens.
*$30,000 in third- and final-year seed funding to the Bureau of Jewish Education for its Family Education Project, an innovative method of Jewish education that involves teaching the family as a unit.
*$42,000 in second- and final-year seed funding to the Jewish Vocational and Career Counseling Service for expanded services through its South Peninsula Employment Program.
*$70,000 in an emergency loan to the Bureau of Jewish Education for exterior facility repainting and completion of roof repairs.
*$138,000 in one-year emergency funding to the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco to cover the costs of negative cash flow from real estate.
*$25,000 to The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education to underwrite costs associated with the 22nd Annual Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education, set to be held at Stanford University next year.
*$35,000 in second- and final-year funding to Lehrhaus Judaica for its Community Consortia for Adult Jewish Education, which focuses on community-building in addition to providing quality education in Sonoma and Marin counties and the north and south Peninsula.
*$25,000 to the National Foundation for Jewish Culture to underwrite costs associated with The Writer in the Jewish Community Conference. The three-day conference, slated for a local venue in 1998, will bring together 36 Jewish writers and critics from Israel and the diaspora.
*$50,000 in seed funding to the Jewish Museum San Francisco to help launch its upcoming exhibit called "Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities."
*$15,000 in seed funding to A Traveling Jewish Theatre for its Arts-in-Education program, a pilot project intended to transmit Jewish culture through professional educator training, theater presentations and subsidized student tickets.
*$30,000 in seed funding to the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School to create a state-of-the-art library media center.
*$25,000 in a matching challenge grant to help the Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation — which teaches educators to facilitate dialogue on issues of intolerance — establish a regional center in San Francisco.
*$20,000 to the Jewish Community Relations Council for its Project Connection, a program that sends to Israel non-Jewish community leaders from the areas served by the JCF.
*$18,000 in second- and final-year funding to the Board of Rabbis of Northern California to engage a part-time executive director to replace Rabbi Malcolm Sparer, who recently retired after 18 years of voluntary service.
*$22,500 in one-year seed funding to the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, to establish the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, a program designed for Jewish adults with little knowledge of Judaism.
*$350,000 in reserve seed funding to the JCF to purchase new accounting software and network/PC upgrades, completing the second part of a multiphase updating of the federation's computer capacity.