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July 25, 2003 - Image 32

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

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

.

-

YAAKOV SCHWARTZ

Special to the Jewish News

A Zionist Family

Miriam Lewis grew up in "an openly
Zionist, traditionally Jewish home."
She attended Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit and the Labor
Zionist Youth Movement's Habonim
Dror summer camp and participated in
local Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel
Independence Day) programming.
"I was at shul every Shabbat with my
family," she said. "From birth, I was
instilled with a love of Judaism and
Israel."
Lewis' long-term plan to make aliyah
began when she was a 16-year-old
Berkley High School student, partici-
pating for five months in Project
Discovery: the Jerusalem High School
at Ramah Program in Israel, sponsored
by the Jewish Agency for Israel's
Department for Jewish Zionist
Education.
She returned to Israel three more
times, including spending her junior
year of college at Hebrew University of
Jerusalem.
After graduating from Roosevelt
University in Chicago, she worked in

7/25
2003

32

Los Angeles as a recruiter for Young
Judaea's Year Course in Israel, a post-
high school program. She spent the past
school year in Israel, where she was a
counselor for the program.
For those who know her best, the
move was expected.
"It is the next step in a natural pro-
gression," said Cantor Greenbaum. "She
is a very bright, talented and beautiful
young lady, who has been very involved
in the shul, including as president of
our USY (United Synagogue Youth)
group. She is very brave to make aliyah,
but it is certainly no surprise."

New Israeli

Lewis, whose background includes years
of singing and piano lessons, along with
musical theater experience, looks for-
ward to a career in acting, producing
and writing. She's already had a chil-
dren's play on Chanukah published.
But her immediate plan upon arriv-
ing in Israel is to learn to speak fluent
Hebrew, beginning with a five-month
Ulpan Etzion course.
Next year, she will live in Jerusalem's

MITZVAT ALIYAH on page 33

.

-

-tA.,

MITZVAT ALIYAH from page 31

at.

,- - ;
1

guess it would make sense to say
that my experience as an oleh
(immigrant) started when my
plane touched down in Ben-
Gurion airport. As I approached the
terminal, a pretty, green oasis in the
middle of the tarmac, people started
doing things for me. As soon as I got
inside, I was offered food and drinks
while I waited for my aliyah papers to
go through, as well as a free cab ride to

course), and many, many programs in
le:
- A'
which I would have the opportunity to
meet people my age who are in the
same situation.
The government, too, offers assis-
tance that no other country would
w
even conceive of giving its new citi-
'
zens. To start, they present you with a
lump sum of money in the airport. No
,,,
-,.•
complaints here.
After taking your original
. ,
Certificate of Aliyah to the Interior
Ministry and exchanging it for an I.D.,
you can visit the Ministry of
Absorption and receive a cash deposit
in your new Israeli bank account every
month, as well as many rights some of
.
, ,
... ,
the regular citizens here would kill for
„, - . 4t-Ft
-.,.
IN
, ...-...
— and have tried, as well as bribery
-'-",,a
and coercion.
A free lift to bring your household
&
appliances from America, tax-free, the
Yaakov Schwarz
right to bring in an automobile tax-free,
provided with a free college education.
tax exemptions on property, electrical
I'm not sweetening this up, but I know
appliances and free health insurance for
it sounds too good to be true.
six months are among some of the ben-
. Living in a land of gemilut chasadim
efits you'll receive.
(acts of loving-kindness) without the
For people my age, entering into the
burden of college loans is too much for
army, there are programs that will pro-
me to pass up, and it makes me appre-
vide you with a place to stay when on
ciative of the chances I get to pass the
army leave, or free rent on an apart-
favors along. Ever see that movie Pay
ment of your choice. Appliances are
sometimes given, and lots of the clothes
Forward Is it any wonder I gave up
the American dream for the Israeli
you'll be needing, too. After finishing
national service, all young people are
one? ❑

mo t hi

Twenty-year-old Yaakov Schwartz offers
a simple reason for making aliyah to the
Rechavia neighborhood in Jerusalem last
March.
"Dn a Jew, '' he said. "Israel is the
Jewish country and in order to bring the
redemption along — whatever that may
be to you as a Jew — I think it's of the
utmost importance to have a growing
Jewish presence in the Holy Land."
Born in Israel, but raised in Oak
Park, he said, "I'd rather raise my kids
in the societal norms and the value 3ys-
tern of Israel than America."
Shelli Liebman Dorfman

the yeshivah I would be staying in for
the time being.
The cab ride home w as interesting,
too. A third party almost caused us to
get into an accident with another vehi-
de, and at a traffic light —ramzor in
Hebrew — the two drivers proceeded
to have an analytical discussion of the
incident, including a lot of colorful dia-
driber
C.
about
driver
number
Logue
ab
b
It was wonderful. In the States, I
would have expected nothing more
than a quick flash of the middle finger
before everyone was on their way, corn-
pletely absorbed in their routine.
Welcome to Israel.
Personality pretty much permeates
every part of this country, I would say;
and that's OK by me. It very common
to see both mothers and fathers going
about their business with small children
strapped to their bodies like backpacks,
legs dangling. Its cute. I wonder what it
would be like to walk around Wall
Street and see folks in business suits
wearing infants like the current seasonal
line from some Jewish guy with a chic-
sounding name.
So it's not very surprising that as a
new oleh, people are paying attention to
me. Even, before I officially made aliyah,
I was assaulted with a variety of litera-
tare offering me rent-subsidized hour-
ing„ loans for appliances or anything I
need, free Ulpan (Hebrew language

rgn iA

Israeli' s Return
To Israel

Nefesh B'Nefesh

When Miriam Lewis landed in Israel
on July 9, she was accompanied by
nearly 400 others who also made
aliyah with the help of the Florida-
based Nefesh B'Nefesh: Jewish Souls
United.
Established by businessman Tony
B. Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass,
the organization's mission is "to revi-
talize North American aliyah and
expand it for generations to come by
removing the financial, professional
and bureaucratic logistical obstacles
that prevent many would-be ohm
(immigrants) from fulfilling their
dream."
Qualified candidates may receive
financial grants, employment
resources, guidance through govern-
ment processes and a support network
in their new community, which, for
Lewis, included a singles' e-mail ros-
ter.
The organization may also provide
help in paying off American bills,
moving families, buying and selling

homes, finding new schools, even
moving pets.
In all, Nefesh B'Nefesh will assist
800 new Israelis in making aliyah
from North America this summer,
from 23 states and three Canadian
provinces. They range in age from 2
weeks to 71 years and include
Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and
unaffiliated Jews.
Of the 519 olim who made aliyah
through Nefesh B'Nefesh last year, 93
percent of the families with members
seeking employment have family
members currently employed; there
have been three weddings and 30
babies born in Israel; and 99 percent
of those who made aliyah remain in
Israel.
"It's pretty exciting making aliyah
with 400 other people," Lewis said.
"It's incredible to have a welcoming
ceremony of dignitaries, and music
and Israeli flags waving when you
land."
For information on Nefesh
B'Nefesh, access the Web site at:
-wwvv.nefeshbnefesh.org or call (800)
4-ALIYAH. ❑

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