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June 09, 1989 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-09

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Project Otzma participants Alyssa Goldberg, Wendi Littky, Lisa Kruman, Amy Kahn and Marc Cohen outside their apartment in Yavneh.

David Hoizel

Project Otzma volunteers can't wait
to get back to Detroit. That doesn't
mean they haven't had an amazing year.

The Home Stretch



Israel Correspondent

heir 10 months in
Israel are almost over
and Detroit's six Pro-
ject Otzma partici-
pants literally are
counting the days left to go.
"This has been by far the
most amazing year," says
Alyssa Goldberg, 21, of South-
field. The others would con-
cur. Still after 31/2 months at
a kibbutz ulpan, a month and
a half working with disadvan-
taged kids at a Youth Aliyah
village, a month on a moshav
in the Arava Valley that in-
cluded some 12-hour days of
flower picking, and the past
three months as volunteer
labor in Detroit's Project
Renewal sister city Yavneh —

after what one of the six
described as a very stressful
year — the group is burned
"It's been a long year,"
Alyssa says.
"Sometimes I don't have
any koach to keep going," says
Lisa Kruman, 21, using the
Hebrew word for strength.
"But I keep pushing myself."
Hebrew keeps infiltrating
the English conversations
of the six. It's a way of
achieving equilibrium in a
mostly Hebrew-speaking
Once back in all-American
surroundings, Lisa, from
Southfield, knows exactly
what's going to happen from
the minute she steps off the
plane at Metro Airport.
"I'm going to give my
mother a huge hug. I'm going

to eat a bran muffin on the
car ride home. Then I'm going
to take the most amazing
bath, put on a terrycloth robe
and lounge in front of the TV
with the cable button in my
"Direct from the car we're
Golden Bowl bound," vows
Alyssa, who has been dream-
ing of her favorite Chinese
restaurant "since day one."
Passions for the pedestrian
after a year in the land of
Jewish dreams? No, more like
the fancies and cravings of six
college-age people — four
women and two men — who
froze through the winter and
are now sweating into the
summer in a small two
bedroom apartment, some
suffering from homesickness,
all feeling a little forgotten by
the community that sent

them here. These dreams of
Chinese food and a long hot
shower belong to six for whom
Israel became so real, so om-
nipresent, that it may take an
intercontinental step back for
them to be able to make much
sense of how the experience
has altered their feelings
about being Jews or the part
Israel will play in their
future. Today they possess
more impressions than
"I decided I would rather
take a year off than do my
junior year abroad, take
classes not in my field and
worry about credit transfers,"
says Marc Cohen, 21 of
Southfield. The others offer
pretty much the same ex-
planation of what brought
them to Project Otzma.
The year of volunteer work

and the $700 price tag — the
cost of the program is sub-
sidized by the Jewish Welfare
Federation — were attractive
to Marc, who is called Moshe
here. "We're doing things
Israelis don't want to do. It's
not a glamorous trip," he says.
Being exposed to Israel's
highly politicized society,
where every issue seems to be
a matter of life and death, has
had its effect, says Marc, who
was so apolitical that he
didn't bother voting in the
United States last fall. "We're
all much more serious now,"
he says.
Along the way, Marc, who
had visited Israel once before,
has picked up an understan-
ding of the cultures of other
Jews. At the Youth Aliyah
village he tutored Ethiopian
adults in English.



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