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September 06, 2002 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-06

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Far From Some

Israel mission goers on 9-11 felt stranded
but won understanding and support of Israelis.



dles and lay flowers at the site.
Not more than 24 hours later, mis-
sion-goers arrived in the Central
Galilee. "When we got off the bus,
they had flowers for us," she said.
"They understood and supported us."
Sirlin spoke of a sense of unreality.
"I think if I were here it would have
affected me differently," she said
"We really had no contact with the
United States. You knew how to feel,
but it didn't hit you like it did some-

he 81 Detroit members of
the IsraelNow Solidarity
Mission had no idea of the
life-altering event that would take
place two days after they left United
States airspace on Sept 9, 2001.
Michael Balkin of West Bloomfield
said his feelings for Israel were
extremely strong before the five-day
mission, but "we were so taken
aback at how much solace and
how much the Israelis felt for us
on an immediate basis on 9-11."
He and his wife, Deborah,
spent the late afternoon with his
Israeli cousins in the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan •
Detroit Partnership 2000 region
of the Central Galilee. They
skipped a planned mission soli-
darity dinner to go to their
home. His cousins translated
what they saw on Israeli televi-
sion. What they didn't have to
translate was the Palestinian cel-
ebrations, he said.
"To this day, that feeling of
how anyone can celebrate any-
one else's misery is beyond me," Morris and Shayna Silverman during the
he said. "That part will never
IsraelNow Solidarity Mission in Jerusalem.
leave me."
Shayna Silverman of Farming-
one here. When it happened, the
ton Hills said she felt surrounded by
Israelis shut the schools down, they
people who cared. "We had a tremen-
shut the country down. Here we are,
dous sense of camaraderie because we
were all experiencing the same thing in how many thousands of miles away,
not-being home," said Silverman, who with such a sense of disconnection. It
was such an empty feeling."
took part in the five-day mission with
She went to New York in April,
her husband, Morris.
and visited Ground Zero. She
"The Israelis were wonderful and
made us realize what they go through bought World Trade Center pictures
and other memorabilia.
on a daily basis and how important
"For some reason, I really feel the
they are to us," she said.
need to have reminders of Sept. 11
Said Valeri Sirlin of Bloomfield
around me," she said, "to remember
Hills, "We came to Israel for Israel,
what happened and to know where I
to be there to support them and let
was. It hurt."
them know they're not in this alone.
The attack gave her life a sense of
We're here with you."
urgency. "If there's something that
She found a sense of irony at what
you want to do, don't put it off, just
took place one day later.
go do it," she said. "When I get an
The first stop was to pay respects
opportunity to do something that I
at the site of a suicide bombing that
love, that I believe in, I'm going to
killed 21 Russian youngsters in front
do it because you don't know what's
of a Tel Aviv disco. The mission par-
going to happen tomorrow." El
ticipants got off the bus to light can-

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