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August 09, 1985 - Image 86

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-09

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Friday, August 9, 1985


Coping With Aliyah

For 220 Detroit
families, having
children in Israel
is both
exhilarating and


Special to The Jewish News

Harmon and Adela Bayer
proudly show off a
picture drawn by a
grandchild in. Israel.


all it the modern day
sequel to Diaspora Jewry's
continuous emigrations.
Today, young American
Jews are emigrating to Israel. Last
year, over 2,000 made aliyah. Ap-
proximately ten were from Detroit.
Behind each statistic is a story of
triumph and loss. For those who emi-
grate, aliyah is the fulfillment of a
dream, a joyful commitment to one's
people and land. It is often a different
story for parents and family left be-
While parental reaction to a
chi ld'saliyah runs the gamut from pos-
itive and encouraging acceptance to
bitter despair and rejection, almost all
parents at one time feel a deep empti-
ness and overwhelming loss.
How well they cope with their ini-
tial reaction and learn to accept their
child's decisions depends to a great de-
gree on their individual style and life

The recently re-named Parents of
North American Israelis (PNAI) helps
parents cope with this dramatic turn of
events. In the tenth anniversary issue
of its national newsletter, "The
Bridge," founder Nahum Weisman of
New York wrote, "After our daughters
made aliyah, I realized that parents
whose children have settled in Israel
must be having the same experience as
we. An organization of parents would
bring strong and united support to Is-
rael. If all the parents came together,
we would become a huge family for all
the children."
Today, PNAI boasts 6,000 mem-
bers in 35 chapters nationwide. Weis-
man's early goals have been fulfilled
and expanded.
Primarily, PNAI acts as a support
group for parents and as an emotional
and economic source for American
olim (Israeli emigrants). "The Bridge"
serves as a tangible connection be-
tween U.S. families and loved ones in
Israel. Each issue includes articles
about Israeli current events or con-
cerns and a "Yellow Pages" advertis-
ing Israeli businesses or apartments
for sale, and listing business and pro-
fessional services offered by members'
children. Feature stories about
noteworthy American ohm are mixed
between upbeat suggestions for posit-
ive coping and inexpensive airline

rates and hotel packages.
Members' children are eligible for
interest-free emergency loans and a
host of advocacy services offered by a
sister organization, Association of
Americans and Canadians in Israel,
which includes mortgage help, coun-
seling, voting information, group
tours, employent placement and reg-
ular meetings.
PNAIs Michigan Chapter was
founded seven years ago by Barbara
Lefton after her daughter Susan's
aliyah. "The group took a long time to
take off," she recalls. "I used it as a
support system. I don't think anyone
else understands having a child in Is-
rael except another parent in the same
In the last few years, PNAI locally
has gained momentum and visibility.
Enthusiastically led by president
Harmon Bayer, the Michigan Chapter
has 180 members, is affiliated with the
Detroit Zionist Federation and the
Metropolitan Detroit Israel Aliyah
Center, located at the Jewish Commu-
nity Center in West Bloomfield. This
year it will also seek Jewish Commu-
nity Council affiliation.

Michigan Chapter's function as a
support group for Detroit-area parents
and a connecting link to all members'
children in Israel is evident in the local

t'u nitnued

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