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Mission With Meaning
yen if they've visited Israel with family
members, teenagers won't find anything
that compares with spending a summer
there with peers — friends from home,
kids from other synagogues, Israeli teens.
It's a life-expanding, enriching experience, one with
the potential to speak to teens in a way that makes
Judaism more significant during an especially forma-
tive time in their busy lives.
So it is that planning has begun for Detroit Jewry's
fourth teen mission to Israel next year. It promises to
be fun and exhilarating, despite the heat of the sum-
mer. Winds of spiritual change touch each partici-
pant differently but always profoundly.
The trip no doubt gives each teen a gold-
en opportunity to deepen Jewish identity
and strengthen commitment to Jewish con-
tinuity. Learning about our history and her-
itage as a people against the backdrop of our ancestral
homeland is sure to stir even spiritually barren teens.
Floating on the Dead Sea, snorkeling in the Red
Sea and rappelling down a mountain provide the
means to adventure. But seeing a Masada sunrise,
praying at the Western Wall, digging up a historic
find and tasting Israeli-style falafel are more likely to
spur lasting impressions.
The mix of travel and education keeps the focus
sharp. Boredom isn't an issue and knowledge is plen-
The Jewish News will join Jean and Sam Frankel in
co-sponsoring Federation's Teen Mission Israel 2004
— just as we've co-sponsored previous teen missions.
We're excited about the prospects.
We want travelers to connect
with the Jewish state and be proud
of their religion. We want them to
be drawn to Jewish tradition and
become more involved in Jewish
To level the field between first-
timers and returnees to Israel, a pre-
trip program will focus on Israel's
land, politics and culture. With so
many synagogues involved, the pro-
gram also will be an icebreaker.
Federation's Annual Campaign
subsidizes the trip, lower-
ing the cost for partici-
pants. Many families tap
into the Alliance for
Jewish Education/Ben Teitel
Incentive Savings Plan for teen trav-
el to Israel. Others seek scholarship
help through their synagogue, an
organization or Federation. Some
pay the unsubsidized cost to assure
that no teen is turned away for
If the mission is to be more than
a subsidized vacation, participants
must be inspired to stay in touch,
explore their lineage, celebrate
Jewish holidays and pursue Jewish
They need to know that we as a
community will nourish their faith when they return.
Key sources of this nourishment are day, congrega-
tional and supplemental schools as well as Jewish
The teen mission is June 30 to Aug. 2. An information
meeting will be held at 7p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at the
West BloomfieldICC. Federation's Amy Neistein is mis-
sion coordinator: (248) 205-2543.
camps and youth groups. But nothing is more nour-
ishing than families who put Judaism front and cen-
ter at home. ❑
The Time Is Ripe
f Ariel Sharon is serious when he talks about
unilaterally dismantling some of the outpost set-
dements in the West Bank, that's good news. If
he is just posturing ahead of his scheduled meet-
ing with the new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed
Queri,`it is a bad mistake. What the Israeli prime min-
ister does not need is another excuse for the world to
say that he is not serious about seeking some sort of
de-escalation of the 3-year-old Palestinian-led intifada
In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, Yediot
Ahronot, Sharon said he had been "thinking
for some time about unilateral steps that will
make things easier on Israel and will secure
its interests — without answering the ques-
tion of whether it is also good for the
Considering that Sharon has been a staunch defend-
er of the West Bank and Gaza settlements for decades,
the statement is a remarkable about-face. Many
American Jews, and a lot of the rest of the world, have
said for years that in its own interest, Israel should stop
encouraging the settlement growth. It should act firm-
ly to shut down permanently several dozen isolated
outposts that often are nothing more than one or two
trailers or tents on the top of a hill.
But Sharon, with the enthusiastic backing of a settler
movement that claims all of the West Bank as an Israeli
birthright as well as a bulwark against Palestinian mili-
tarism, has insisted that dismantling settlements could
only come as part of a negotiated peace pact with the
Palestinians, and that he wasn't going to negotiate until
the terror campaign was halted.
Sharon may well be acknowledging that it is up to
Israel and the Palestinians to get the violent
impasse toned down. America has effectively
backed out of the scene; President George W.
Bush gave a fine speech in London about
seeking "justice and dignity" for Palestinians
and Israelis, but he neglected to say what the U.S. was
actually going to do, if anything, to move the parties
toward that goal.
Sharon may also be feeling some pressure from the
advocates of the "Geneva Accord," a peace plan of sorts
negotiated by centrist Palestinians and out-of-office left-
ist Israeli politicians. While the plan itself is woefully
inadequate, it has gotten a warm reception from lots of
war-weary citizens on both sides of the Green Line,
which marked the Israel-Palestinian borders before
1967. The signing of the Geneva document next week
will increase the burden on Sharon to show that he is
taking steps to reduce the friction.
Removing the mobile homes will achieve that aim at
absolutely no sacrifice to Israeli security. Indeed, if
negotiations ever became positive, Israel down the road
could consider substantially more dramatic action —
relocating the residents of Netzarim in Gaza or the
Hebron settlement — without endangering any strate-
gic necessities. If Israeli soldiers weren't so tied down
with defending these settlements from what has been
continued terror attacks, they could concentrate more
effectively on capturing the terrorists leaders and stop-
ping would-be assailants at checkpoints.
It's time for Sharon to seize a peace initiative. At the
very least, such a move would either force the
Palestinians to take some meaningful steps to curb their
terrorists or else admit to the world that they aren't seri-
ous about wanting to end the waste of the last three