ission brings the land of Israel
home to young Detroiters.
RUTH UTTMANN STAFF WRITER
Left: The Weitman family helps
Melody Wood pet Sandy the shark.
Below: Danny Kay, age 4, examines
his goldfish from "Eilat."
Photos by Marsha Sundquist
he mossy-looking tentacles of a live
sea urchin didn't frighten 9-year-old
Stephanie Kauffman of Oak Park.
She picked the creature out of a pool
of water with her bare hands, then
reached for a calico crab.
But it scurried away.
Stephanie, along with a crowd of
other children, journeyed into the
deep seas off the coast of Israel dur-
ing the first annual Mini-Mega
Mission, sponsored by Jewish
Experiences For Families and The
The program, held last week at the
Jewish Community Center in Oak
Park and again on Sunday at the
Maple-Drake JCC, aimed to educate
tots and their parents about Israel.
With booths representing many
Israeli cities, the Mini-Mega Mission
featured indigenous animal life,
music and art. Signs explaining the
hands-on displays were translated
into Hebrew and Russian.
"Participants didn't go to all the
same places as the real Michigan
Miracle Mission; however, like the
Miracle Mission, JEFF has a mission
with this program: to bring people
closer to Israel," said Sue Stettner,
director of JEFF.
Upon registering for the program
at a pretend airport terminal, fami-
lies received El Al buttons, a small
cardboard suitcase and a passport.
The Sherizen family of Oak Park was
hurried along by youngest son,
Aryeh, 4, who grabbed his luggage
and declared: "Let's go! The airplane
is about to leave."
Also visiting was Mikhil Mazur, a
68-year-old emigre from Kiev. He
stood at the booth titled Mini-
Knesset where children voted for
their favorite Israeli fruit. Mr. Mazur
has never been to Israel.
"I know that Israel is a very inter-
esting country," he said, voting for
olives. "This is like a little Israel."
As Jeff Levin played guitar and
sang Israeli tunes, old folks and
young gaped at "Sandy" the shark.
Yes, it was a real shark, intended to
demonstrate the type of life forms in
the Mediterranean Sea.
Meanwhile, in mock Eilat, Elyse
Stettner, 14, and David Kalman
Sherizen, 12, distributed goldfish to
participants. Little Rebecca Goldberg
of West Bloomfield was transfixed by
the sight of the mossy sea urchins.
"Will they bite?" Rebecca asked. ❑