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July 25, 2003 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-25

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Answering Solidarity's Call

Despite the violence that has threat-
ened Israel, we came at this particular
time to demonstrate our support for
solidarity with Israel. Throughout our
stay there, we observed how, in the
midst of continued terrorist threats,
life does go on for Israelis.
During the week of our departure
for Israel, Hamas issued a warning
that all foreigners in Israel were legiti-
mate targets and should leave Israel.
Well, nobody in our mission canceled,
and we are here to tell our story.
Our story is that wherever we went
in Israel, the Israelis thanked us for
coming. In fact, it became embarrass-
ing. Whether it was a shopkeeper, a
diplomat in the Israeli foreign office, a
university professor, a commander in
the Israeli Air Force, a member of
Knesset, the minister of justice or the
president of Israel, the theme was the
same: "Thank you for coming and
showing your solidarity with Israel."
On June 19, we were honored to be
received by Moshe Katzav, president
of the State of Israel, at the president's
Albert Colman is a member of Temple
Beth El and Temple Kol Ami, a past presi- residence in Jerusalem. He was gra-
cious and generous in his thanks to us
dent of Jewish Family Service and a for-
coming. He assured us, "We are
mer member of the Jewish Federation of
and sure in our intention to
Metropolitan Detroit's board of governors.
with the Palestinians."
His wife, Harriet, is on the advisory board
one, he shook our
of the Women's Department of Federation.

he most important priority of
American and Canadian Jews
should be to travel to Israel
now, to see and to be seen.
Our fellow Jews in Israel have suf-
fered 1,000 days of fear, anxiety and
bloodshed; yet, they carry on their
lives with pride and productivity. If
we can't visit them now, we can do
no less than support them with
financial aid.
These observations arise from a trip
to Israel in the latter half of June by
me, my wife, Harriet, and son Joel of
Denver, as part of a 25-member inter-
national mission under the leadership
of Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, executive
director of the Association of Reform
Zionists of America (ARZA)-World
Union of Progressive Judaism North
America, headquartered in New York,
and Rabbi Uri Regev, executive direc-
tor of the World Union for
Progressive Judaism headquartered in


map to peace for debate and
hands — an unforgettable
approval. It was another his-
toric moment as we observed
As we traveled throughout
the favorable vote by elected
the country, it was striking to
members as an expression of a
see the Israeli's high degree of
free people yearning for a
productivity in developing the
peace that has eluded them
nation's infrastructure of
since the establishment of the
roads, bridges and tunnels and
construction of housing, com-
ALBERT M. state in 1948.
Since 1961, (our first trip),
mercial, medical and technical
have made numerous trips
facilities in the face of a severe
and there has always
economic downturn and ter-
been a crisis of one kind or
rorist threats. This demon-
another. But this time, we saw
strated to us their remarkable
Israel as an ally of the free world's war
spirit and sense of purpose.
against terror. We live in hope that
Despite the risks, the Israelis still
this present peace plan will work.
know how to have a good time. At
One cannot visit the Old City of
night and on weekends, the concerts,
Jerusalem without being delighted
festivals and beach activities continue
with the contribution of the new
Davidson Center (from Bloomfield
In the words of Rabbi Hirsch, "The
Hills industrialist Bill Davidson and
only difference you might notice is
family) at the southern Western Wall
the security guards posted in practi-
excavations. It depicts the life of our
cally all public spaces — at the
people in the days of the ancient
entrance to synagogues, schools,
Temple. If you view the interactive
stored, restaurants, theaters and gov-
video at the Davidson Center, I
ernment offices."
promise you a surprise that will make
In our country, since 9-11, we have
you smile.
encountered more and more of the
I close with a fervent hope that our
message will be heard and heeded —
On June 16, we sat in the gallery of
if you possibly can, go to Israel now
the Knesset as Prime Minister Ariel
to show your solidarity.
Sharon offered the U.S.-backed road

Opportunity To Celebrate

n June 6, the Jewish News ran
a cover story on the Jewish
Community Center of
Metropolitan Detroit's new
Jewish War Veterans memorial exhibit,
"We Were There." The article and
conversations about it prompted me to
consider the value of highlighting the
past in Judaism.
Though the Holocaust Memorial
Center will soon move into a new
location in Farmington Hills, it has
stood at the very front of the JCC for
19 years. Ironically, the JCC summer
camp is on 250 acres in the back of
the West Broomfield JCC.
Symbolically, the locations appear to
indicate that the past should occupy a
place "front and center" while the
present should stand at the "back."
This juxtaposition between past and
present is more than symbolic. The
Detroit Jewish community, perhaps
the world Jewish community, has a
tendency to pay more attention to our


Andrew Pass, director of Andrew Pass

Educational Services, is a Farmington




past than our present. Indeed, we talk
about the problems that face the
Jewish world more than we talk about
our accomplishments.
Certainly, we should consider the
past and our community's problems.
Such considerations promote future
excellence. However, we should also
step back and pat ourselves on the

JCC camp not only
exists today; it helps
build our tomorrow.

back after we have made high-quality
accomplishments. The JCC day camp
represents one such accomplishment.
The Detroit Jewish community should
know how incredible this camp is.
The camp serves more than 1,000
campers, representing the many ele-
ments of Detroit's Jewish community.
While there are some kids in the camp
who attend Jewish day schools and

ensure everybody has a good
wear kippot daily, the camp
time in a safe environment.
serves as a primary connection
The staff certainly does not
to the Jewish community for
choose to work at the camp
other campers.
for the financial compensa-
As an educator, I became
don. Instead, they work at
intrigued with the camp when
camp because they love kids
I found out that it operates 40
and want to work with them.
buses a day. I have never even
This love manifests itself in
seen a school that uses so many
many ways every day.
buses. Generously, Nancie
Furgang described the JCC
Furgang, the camp director,
Corn munity
camp facility and program as
agreed to take me on a tour of
Vi ews
the best-kept secret in Detroit.
the facilities. Wow!! Campers
I have been going to the JCC
canoe; swim; do arts and crafts;
since I moved into town two years ago
challenge themselves on a ropes
and did not even know that the facility
course; play miniature golf; learn
existed. Ironically, I knew about the
about nature, Judaism, and Israel;
Holocaust Memorial Center even
dance and play sports. Most impor-
before I moved into town and toured
tantly, as the smiles on their faces
it soon after arriving. I suspect that
demonstrate, they have lots of fun.
many can relate to my knowledge of
During our conversation, Furgang
the community.
explained that camp is not just about
I am not arguing that as a communi-
fun. Perhaps most importantly, camp
ty we should neglect the past. However,
provides a safe environment in which
I am insisting that we should celebrate
children can develop and enhance their
the present. The JCC summer camp is
social skills. Campers learn to play
an institution worthy of celebration.
together and pray together in an envi-
The JCC camp not only exists today; it
ronment that celebrates respect for all.
helps build our tomorrow.
A staff of 200 works diligently to

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