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July 26, 1996 - Image 57

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-26

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they got there. He never thought about going
again, even though he's traveled extensively
through Europe.
Israel, Dr. Sivak says, doesn't much interest
him, although he was raised in an Orthodox
home, is well-versed in biblical history, and con-
tributes to the Allied Jewish Campaign. He is
a member of Temple Kol Ami.

"Israel has no meaning unless
being Jewish has meaning."

— Judy Amit,_ Israel Aliyah Center

"Israel is very unappealing to me. I think the
majority of the people are very materialistic.
The social atmosphere is really no different than
the average social atmosphere here. In this jet
age, you can go to Rome and it's no different
than London. NI wanted to see Israel, I'd go to
a small town. It's the same way I feel about trav-
eling in European countries," Dr. Sivak says.
If he ever gets to Israel, it would likely be with
a Christian group, and he would avoid Hiltons
and Hyatts.
"I want to get the perspective of the Holy
Land per se and not from a Zionist point of
view," he says.
Linda Rabin Hammell, an attorney with the
National Labor Relations Board, was reared by
atheistic but "culturally Jewish" parents. She
has traveled to the British Isles and Italy and
lived throughout the United States but has not
seen Israel.
"It's never been a conscious
choice not to go," Ms. Hammell
remarks. "Maybe because [my
parents] don't have an actual
religion or any sort of spiritual-
ity, maybe that's why. I don't
know if I'll ever go [to Israel.]
One of the things that doesn't
compel me to go is I feel very ig-
norant about history, and it's
such a rich country historical-
ly. I would need to know a lot
more than I know now. I feel
sort of not qualified to go."
Fear barely creeps into the
equation, although if she were
to travel to Israel, it might cause
her some trepidation, Ms. Ham-
mell says.
During the 1967 war, she re-
calls, her classmates were glued
to the TV and newspapers to
catch any snippet of news they
could. She remembers it being
a "glorious thing to watch Is-
raeli soldiers prevail and be val-
orous and fight back. That was
incredibly thrilling."
Today, Ms. Hammell, 43,
doesn't closely follow Israeli pol-
itics, although she has become
more interested in Judaism as
a religion and practice. And
while she is not affiliated with
a synagogue, "I feel like a Jew
every second," she says.
Southfield attorney Harvey
Chayet went to Israel in 1980
for the first time and hasn't

been back. He's also been to Europe,
Japan and Hong Kong.
Bound for Israel
Fear is a factor, but not the only thing
holding him back from another visit.
"My feeling is more that I'm happy I
went. I would not want to have not gone
there. But I don't feel an absolute need
to go there," says Mr. Chayet, 54. "I felt
back then an interest in seeing how my
people live. And I suppose if it came to
it, I suppose it's a place I feel I could al-
ways go."
Even if American Jews don't go to Is-
rael, the United States is still the No. 1
source of tourism in Israel, followed by
Germany, Great Britain, France and
Mr. Ben-David points out that Asian
85 86
tourists, many of them Christians, re-
cently have been pouring into Israel. Last * Data was provided by the Israel Aliyah Center, New York, NY.
year, nearly 20,000 Koreans visited, a
more-than-50-percent increase over the
But, Mr. Ben-David says, "I would do anything
year before. Japanese tourists numbered more to increase the number of Jews who go to Israel."
than 16,000 last year, a 40-percent increase
The tourism budget hasn't much room for ad-
from 1994.
vertising other than in the Anglo-Jewish press,
Another new source of tourism is Muslims but the new minister of tourism, Moshe Kat-
who are coming from Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia sav, he says, is going to zero in on the Jewish
and Malaysia. A 1996 Jerusalem Post article market.
quotes a tour company source as saying 60,000
For himself, Mr. Ben-David says, "I would in-
Muslims would probably visit vest much more in the Christian market, but I
Israel this year.
wouldn't neglect the Jewish market. In the Mid-
Below: Harvey
It's good they are visiting, Mr. west, you've got 640,000 Jews. Do you under-
Chayet knows
Ben-David says. And he be- stand the potential?"
there's always a
lieves it's important to contin-
refuge for Jews.
ue to court the Christian visitor,
Below right: Jodi
as well.

Burke would like
to see Israel.

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