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April 08, 1988 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-04-08

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Ofra and Sam Fisher: A whole new
slate for Detroit.


koshering of the kitchens at its

Brighton and Ortonville camps.
"We're not trying to develop
something here that's competitive
with a Ramah (the Conservative
movement's summer camping pro-
gram)," says Lew Hamburger, the
Fresh Air Society's new associate ex-
ecutive director. "But because the
camps' kitchens did not have rab-
binical supervision, there were parts
of the community which couldn't use
"We're sending a message that we
are here to serve the entire communi-
ty," Fisher adds.
Hamberger came to Detroit last
summer from Washington, D.C.,
where he worked as membership
director for B'nai B'rith Youth
Organization. "We want kids to feel

better about the Jewish parts of
themselves. Just as they go through
challenges in programs that already
exist, we want their Jewish ex-
periences to deliver the same kind of
intensity," he says.
"We want camp to become a place
where kids from all Jewish
backgrounds can come and debate
each other, not to convert each other,
but to struggle with the meaning of
their own Jewishnesss by rubbing
elbows!" As part of that effort, United
Hebrew's Hebrew-speaking village at
Ortonville, K'far Ivri, will be in-
tegrated more heavily into the main
camp program.
Fresh Air Society is changing in
other ways. In addition to sponsoring
family camping programs and a
"University in the Woods" for people

over age 65, the Fresh Air Society is
about to become the Midwest base for
CLAL, the National Center for Learn-
ing and Leadership. Developed under
the direction of Rabbi Irving
Greenberg of New York, CLAL is
designed to "beef up" the Jewish
backgrounds of people who are
strongly committed to their Jewish
"It's designed for those people
who are beginning to get involved in
Jewish life, and for people who are
making major decisions in Jewish
life," says Hamberger. "We picked
CLAL to associate with because Yitz
Greenberg is an Orthodox rabbi who
says great things about the unity of
the Jewish people, who really believes
in Jewish pluralism. And that ties in
with our goals!'

am and Ofra Fisher's story
goes back to their 1956 meet-
ing on Kibbutz Mayan Baruch.
Established as a defense settlement
bordering Syria and Lebanon, the
kibbutz was a temporary home to
young Israelis serving in the army's
Nahal program, in which part of a
soldier's duty is to contribute to the
livelihood and defense of a developing
At the time they met, Sam had
recently completed his army service
and had decided to stay on for an ex-
tra year as a members Ofra, herself a
Nahal alumna, came to to the kibbutz
as a kindergarten teacher. The two
were married in 1958.
In 1960, the pair made the first of
what was to be many trips to the
United States. Sam had landed a job
as a day camp worker at the Jewish
Center in Canton, Ohio. He was soon
appointed youth program director. It
was during their stay in Ohio that the
Fisher's two daughters, Nogah and
Donna, were born. Now aged 27 and
25, the two girls live in Israel.
Between 1960 and 1971, the fami-
ly lived in Alabama, Georgia and
North Carolina. While the Fishers
worked in Jewish schools and camps
and earned graduate degrees at
American universities. But in 1971,
the Fishers decided it was time to
return to Israel with their southern
accented, Hebrew-speaking
Ofra became an adviser to the
chairman of the board of the Jewish
Agency. She stayed in that position
until after the Yom Kippur war. "You
know in Israel," she says, " unfor-
tunately, you remember things by the
After the war, she landed the most
prestigious position of her career: na-
tional director of service for the
Ministry of Labor and Welfare. Her
department was established to help
young Israelis deal with the country's
bureaucracy, especially young wives
of Isreali soldiers. As director, Ofra
supervised a staff of 25 professionals
and 200 volunteers at 45 bureaus
throughout the country. Ofra com-


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