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May 05, 1989 - Image 106

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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ORCHES
ORCHESTRA

Discovery

Continued from preceding page

from the Jewish Welfare
Federation. Project Discovery
Director Breakstone says
recruiting is underway for the
program's second session next
winter.
The program was designed
to give Americans the feeling
they are living, not just on
vacation, in Israel. "Most of
what we want to get across to
the kids can be done in half
a school year," Breakstone
says. "Five months is enough
time to show the good and the
bad."
Although operated by the
Conservative movement, Pro-
ject Discovery includes
students from a variety of
backgrounds. Common to all
is that none attends a Jewish
day school.
The religious approach is
flexible, Breakstone says.
Males are not required to
wear kippot and saying
Birkat Hamazon, grace after
meals, is not mandatory. Two
weekly half-hour courses deal
with aspects of Judaism like
the weekly Torah portion and
prayer.
"The only other religious
aspect that can be considered
coercive is on the Shabbatot
we spend together. We do not
do anything as a group that
is chilul Shabbat (a desecra-
tion of Shabbat)," Breakstone
says.
"We're trying to satisfy a
whole spectrum of people and
to teach tolerance and
pluralism," he adds.
It hasn't been easy. One
Shabbat early in the pro-
gram, a dispute broke out
over whether services should
be conducted along Conser-
vative or Reform lines. For
some, the program is too
religious, for others it is not
traditional enough.
Once a week, Tanach in
hand, students go see the
sites the Bible talks about.
For Hebrew class, the group
took a field trip to an area
supermarket to become
familiar with Hebrew names
for food. The following Sun-
day, the students' Hebrew
teacher made them breakfast
at her home. "We had to order
in Hebrew," Jodi Weiss of Far-
mington Hills recalls.
The 19 teenagers live in a
dormatory in the Israel
Goldstein Youth Village, a
shady campus in Jerusalem's
San Simone neighborhood.
Books and papers are piled on
desks and shelves in their
rooms, sleeping bags lay on
the beds in colorful heaps and
posters and photographs line
the walls.
"We've made it home," says
Denise Siporin of Farmington
Hills.
The group shares the cam-
pus grounds with disadvan-

taged Israelis participating in
a Youth Aliyah program. The
contact between the Israelis
and Americans has led to con-
flict. "(The Israelis) like
American music, American
clothes, but they don't like
Americans," Jamie Pollack
says.
David Breakstone concedes
tensions exist, but says they
are on the wane. He doesn't
believe it was a mistake to
place the Americans in the
same environment as Israelis.
Through these contacts, plus
encounters with other Israeli
youth, the Project Discovery
participants at least will be
able to say they met their
Israeli peers, if not befriend-
ed them, Breakstone says.
"These are mainstream
Israelis, not problem kids.
They're (at the youth village)
because their potential was
seen as greater than their

It hasn't been
easy. One Shabbat
early in the
program, a dispute
broke out over
whether services
should be
conducted along
Conservative or
Reform lines.

local environment was
capable of dealing with," he
says.
If the dubious welcome from
their Israeli peers was a sur-
prise, the Project Discovery
participants had other unex-
pected relevations early on.
"I didn't realize how secular
Israel is," David Dressler
says. "I imagined kippot and
black dress everywhere. I ex-
pected to be surrounded by
religion."
The
informality
at
synagogues is surprising,"
Jamie Pollack adds. "You see
people wearing open shirts
and sweat pants."
"We have a knowledge of
what's really going on with
the intifada," Jodi Weiss says.
"Before the summer, I
thought the violence was all
throughout Israel."
The students are not of one
mind when it comes to what
part Israel will play in their
future. Some, like Erika Gott-
fried, would like to make
aliyah some day.
"I might come just to be in
the army," she says. "I con-
sider myself a Zionist because
I believe in the country."
Project Discovery par-
ticipants include: Kathy
Berger, Anna Bukhin, Elana
Carmel, Daniel Chait, Arielle
Collin, Danny Douville,
David Dressler, Scott Emmer,

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