8 Friday, May 17, 1985
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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122 Detroiters 'Captured'
By. Israel During Mission
BY WENDY ELLIMAN
Special to The Jewish News
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ID'IND71 CrD1 -13
Jerusalem — It is a cool, windy
April night, but the streets of
Jerusalem are full. The long sol-
emn Day of Remembrance has
ended: Israel has heaved a sigh,
and turned from mourning her
dead to celebrating her indepen-
dence. The blue-and-white flags
fly at full-mast again, music plays
at every street corner, and people
are outside, dancing, laughing
An Israel Television crew
makes its way slowly along the
Ben Yehuda Mall in downtown
Jerusalem, interviewing Inde-
pendence Day celebrants at ran-
dom. The anchorman switches to
a heavily-accented English as he
coaxes Leonard and Eileen
Lachover of Detroit away from a
group of dancers.
"Tonight is a highlight in a trip
of highlights," Leonard, 47, says
into the microphone. "And I'm
speaking as a man who is on his
The Lachovers were among 122
Detroit Jews spending ten days in
Israel with the United Jewish
Appeal Koach Mission — the
largest such group ever to come
from Detroit — led by Stanley D.
Frankel and Michael W. Maddin.
Lachover is a long-time activist
in the Physicians' Section of the
Allied Jewish Campaign in De-
troit, and he has been to Israel
several times before — though
never for Independence Day. For
Bob and Sally Levy, as for most of
the group, however, it was a first
"We travel all over," says Sally,
an advertising executive from
Birmingham. "Europe, Hawaii —
you name it. With those places,
though, you don't have to visit
them to understand them. But
with Israel, we found that it's only
when you've come to the country
itself that you feel the spirit and
strength and courage and pride
and dignity of the people."
A tightly packed schedule took
the Koach group to towns and set-
tlements, museums, schools and
absorption centers from the Golan
Heights to the Negev Desert.
Neil Zales, an attorney in De-
troit, and his wife Brenda, were
also on their first trip to Israel.
They described their visit to an
absorption center on the fourth of
the mission's ten days:
"I'd never met an Ethiopian
Jew before," says Neil, "and I
didn't know what to expect. But
when we came face to face, I just
thought to myself: 'Yes. They're
Jews, just like us.' And I was sud-
denly overwhelmed at the respon-
sibility Israel is taking on itself by
trying to save them and integrate
them — when no one else is pre-
pared to lift a finger."
Bob and Sally Levy concur. "Is-
rael didn't ask questions about
the Ethiopian Jews. For all the
country's existing economic diffi-
culties, it just shouldered the
commitment. That was some-
thing that struck us both."
"The Ethiopian Jews we met
had been in Israel only six
months," says Brenda Zales.
"You'd expect, of course, that the
kids would learn fast — but the
adults we met were also already
reading and writing in Hebrew.
They showed us their notebooks."
After visiting with Israel's
newest immigrants, the De-
troiters spent an afternoon and
evening in Ramla — the
neighborhood with which the De-
troit Jewish Welfare Federation
has been linked for six years =1
under the Project Renewal
partnership program to revitalize
disadvantaged Israeli suburbs.
"I cried," says Leonard
Lachover. "We saw round the
neighborhood, and in the evening
there was a ceremony at which
the people of Ramla presented a
flag to the Jewish community of
Detroit, and the children's or-
chestra played. I don't think that
any one of us was dry-eyed that
"My impressions are still jum-
bled," says Bob Levy, who is in
steel-drum recycling in Detroit,
"But if you ask me to pull out
memories: There's the 20-year-old
soldier whome we met on the
Golan Heights. He looked like he
belonged in the University of
Michigan — but there he was, de-
fending Israel's borders. And
then, on a kibbutz, we met a 70-
year-old lady, and she said: 'God!
I'm glad you're a young group, be-
cause I like to walk fast' — and
believe me, we had a hard time
keeping up with her!"
"It's been a wonderfully mean-
ingful trip," says Eileen
Lachover, who celebrated her
38th birthday at the close of the
mission. "Everything here has
meaning for us as Jews."