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January 04, 1985 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-01-04

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Friday, January 4, 1985




Local News Editor



Benny Schwarz has suspended his
architectural career to help
convince more Detroit Jews to
make Aliyah to Israel.

Benny Schwarz has traded build-
ing buildings for building Israel.
As a shaliach (emissary) from Is-
rael working under the auspices of the
Jewish Agency, Schwarz is on a two-
year mission to convince American
Jews to make their homes in Israel.
Arriving in Detroit in August and
based at the main Jewish Community
Center,. Schwarz's duties are mul-
tifold. He must serve as a community
shaliach, teaching the community
about Israel; work with the
Habonim-Labor Zionist youth move-
ment and promote aliyah and pro-
grams in Israel aimed at university
In dealing with youth and stu-
dents, Schwarz has an education func-
tion. With the Habonim youth,
Schwarz said he isn't pushing aliyah,
just helping the teens "find ways to get
to Israel and later on to get members
for kibbutzim."
At the University of Michigan,
Schwarz provides preparatory lectures
for groups that go to Israel. An "orien-
tation" about Israel is given to Michi-
gan State University students, and at
Wayne State University he promotes
all kinds of programs about Israel.
Why is so much of his job taken up
with youth and college students? Ac-
cording to Schwarz, Jewish students
are at the "best age to try to influence
somebody to find his way toward our
To get Jews to start. thinking
about making aliyah, Schwarz pro-
motes programs sponsored by the
World Union of Jewish Students and
study trips in which one can spend a
half-year on a kibbutz.
"We call it aliyah in stages. We
give people the opportunity to feel
what it is all about, to expose the state
to their minds, then later on think
about the possibility they can stay
When he is approached by pro-
spective olim (immigrants) about the

possibility of making a home in Israel,
Schwarz doesn't paint a rosy picture.
Rather, he tells it like it is.
"I try to give a realistic picture
about the whole thing. I try to speak
about cultural shock, difficulties of
language. I try to be realistic about the
daily problems he (the prospective
aleh) will go through."
After the decision has been made
to immigrate, Schwarz helps the new
oleh with paperwork: filling out forms,
arranging a visa, transferring luggage
and belongings and getting loans. A
local group, called Chug Aliyah, was
organized for people who are in-
terested in immigrating to Israel.
Schwarz also interviews the candi-
In the interview, Schwarz will try
to determine two things: first, what is
the prospect's motivation and, sec-
ondly, what is his background. Gener-
ally, it helps him direct families to a
particular area, although, some have
an idea of where in Israel they would
like to settle. For example, a person
whose job deals in high tech would be
directed to a city where there is a
heavy concentration in this field, such
as Haifa, home of the Technion-Israel
Institute of Technology.
However, Schwarz does not have
an easy task. It's hard to convince
people who have a good life here to
move to Israel, where economic prob-
lems and the threat of war hang over
their heads constantly.
"The life of most of the Jews here
in Detroit is very good and when you're
speaking about the good life you're not
able to convince people just like this to
make a major step and start thinking
about the country that all of us know
has problems, like economic problems,
like Lebanon and all kinds of other
"One of the things I have to take
into account when I'm speaking with
somebody who's trying to think about

Continued on Page 41

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