Miracle Mission reinforces why Israel needs Detroit Jewry and Detroit Jewry needs Israel.
HARRY KIRS BAUM
ith promises of the "trip of a lifetime,"
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit leaders are hoping 800 Detroit
Jews will board two El Al jumbo jets at
Detroit Metropolitan Airport on April 18, 2004, for a
10-day trip to Israel.
The Michigan Miracle Mission 4's first recruitment
meeting May 12 drew 153 people to the Max M.
Fisher Federation Building in Bloomfield Township.
More than 190 adults 18 and older have signed up so
far for the non-solicitation trip, which always draws
national attention in Israel because of its size. Prior
missions were in 1992, 1995 and 1999.
"We'll make a statement to the rest of the world,
especially to our fellow Jews in the U.S., that this is the
time to go, that this is the right thing to do," said Dr.
Richard Krugel, mission co-chair. "We will fill up
hotels, we will fill up shops and for 10 days, we will do
everything that we can to help overcome all the terrible
things that are going on in Israel."
The mission coincides with Yom HaZikaron, Israel
Remembrance Day, and Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel
Independence Day. The mission, co-sponsored by the
Detroit Jewish News and the Michigan Board of Rabbis,
will spend six nights in Jerusalem and two nights in
Detroit's Partnership 2000 region in the Central
Galilee. Partner regions connect educationally, cultural-
ly, economically and socially with their paired diaspora
Dr. Richard Krugel,
Beth Gotthelf of Birmingham said
The Miracle Missions traditionally have
she decided to go on her first trip to
Castiglione of Temple
been built somewhat around congregational
Israel after talking to friends. "I just
participation, but in these trying times, recruit- Beth El—which is dis-
playing the Am Yisrael think it's time," she said. "It's part of
ment may be difficult, said Rabbi Paul
my heritage and my history."
Chai table, Rabbi
Yedwab, president of the Bloomfield
"I'm mostly excited about going
Township-based Michigan Board of Rabbis.
there and seeing part of the culture,"
"We're emphasizing the role of the congrega- Peter Alter
said Gotthelf, who has traveled exten-
tion," said Rabbi Yedwab of Temple Israel.
sively in Europe. "Seeing how dose
"We feel that people will feel even more com-
these historic places and
fortable coming if they feel the rabbis are the ones who
experiencing the culture
stand behind them, and they will be there with their
rabbis on the buses."
Federation will work out the logistics of how to split
up first timers and repeaters, Aker said. "We haven't
What's In Store
A typical day will start at about 8 a.m. and participants figured it out yet, but we will."
Alter said Federation is addressing complaints about
will travel with one or two busloads of people, said
lack of free time and not enough opportunities for
Peter Alter, mission co-chair.
those who have been to Israel before.
Everyone will join together for three mega-events,
"We will give you more free time than on previous
which may include a speech by Israel Prime Minister
but we haven't figured it out," he said.
Arid Sharon, he said, "but you're not going to be sur-
the congregations have said they want to do
rounded by 800 people most of the time.'
things on their own. We'll create an opportunity for
The itinerary will include historically, politically, bib-
everybody to make Shabbat for yourselves, and we'll set
lically, culturally and socially significant sites.
it all up in advance."
Valeri Sirlin of West Bloomfield is serving as a mis-
For repeat visitors, Federation is setting up opportu-
sion bus captain for the first time. Although some peo-
that may indude exploring Israel's arts and cul-
ple might be hesitant to sign up "once they get there,
the Israel Defense Forces from the early
they'll be OK," she said. "You will have a good time;
exploring the political and ethnic
just get there."
complexities in Jerusalem or taking an in-depth look at
"We need Israel, and Israel needs us," said Sirlin,
who has been to Israel eight times, seven with
on page 38