True Friend Of Israel Making Connections
Sen. Simon: "He came with a Jewish heart
and an understanding of Jewish pain."
MASTTHEW E. BERGER
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
On Tuesday, Jewish community offi-
cials in Washington and Illinois remem-
bered Simon as a strong friend of Israel
who was closely aligned with Jews on
domestic policy as well.
Tom Dine, former executive director
of AIPAC, had dinner with Simon sev-
eral months ago. The retired lawmaker
was "his same spry, probing self," Dine
said. "He was a natural political leader
for the pro-Israel movement in Illinois
and across the country."
Michael Kotzin, the executive vice
president of the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Chicago, said Simon
would often talk to Jewish audiences
about the importance of access to fresh-
water, especially in the Middle
Simon's 1998 book, Tapped
earing of Sen. Paul Simon
for the first time, many
American Jews presumed
he was a co-religionist, if
only because of his name.
But when they learned that Simon
was the son of a Lutheran missionary,
most Jews quickly warmed to him any-
way because they agreed with the late
The Illinois Democrat, who served in
the Senate from 1985 to 1997, died
Tuesday from complications of heart
surgery. He was 75.
"He was a non Jew that
every Jew could feel comfort-
able with," said Hyman
Out: The Coming World Crisis in
Bookbinder, a former
Water and What We Can Do
About It, quoted the late Israeli
for the American Jewish
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as
Committee. "He came with
saying the Middle East would
a Jewish heart and an under-
"explode" if the water crisis was
standing of Jewish pain."
Simon was elected to the
"Simon was a true friend of
Senate in 1985 after defeat-
Israel, and many in my country
ing the incumbent,
will remember him warmly,"
Republican Charles Percy, chairman of
Danny Ayalon, Israel's ambassador to
the Senate Foreign Relations
the United States, said in a statement.
Committee. Percy was considered anti-
"He was out front on the issue of Soviet
Israel and had embraced Yasser Arafat,
Jewry and he was known for his consis-
at that time widely considered a terrorist tent ongoing support for the state of
as leader of the Palestine Liberation
Simon was first elected to Congress in
Simon's victory, attributed in part to
1974, after a stint as Illinois' lieutenant
American Jewish activism and finances,
governor, and he served in the House of
created a kinship between the new sena-
Representatives for 10 years before seek-
tor and the sizeable Jewish community
ing Percy's Senate seat.
in Chicago and around Illinois.
Simon ran for president in 1988, but
"He was a folk hero for defeating
won only his home state. He wore his
Percy," said Ira Forman, executive direc-
signature bow tie in nearly every cam-
tor of the National Jewish Democratic
Steve Rabinowitz, a media consultant
Bob Asher, a former president of the
for Jewish organizations in Washington,
American Israel Public Affairs
traveled with Simon as a press aide on
Committee, says he still has the headline that campaign.
from the Chicago Sun-Times posted on
"What made him stand out is that he
the wall of his Chicago office:
may have actually been the genuine arti-
"Landslide: Simon Beats Percy."
cle," Rabinowitz said. "You could see it
"Paul was very optimistic and always
in the most private moments with hiin,
tied to make the best of things," Asher
he was the real thing." 0
said. "But he was realistic and under-
stood the issues Israel faces."
JTA Washington bureau chief Ron
Simon last visited Israel earlier this
Kampeas contributed to this report.
year, Asher said.
Miracle Mission 4 comes alive with visit
by Israeli tour guide.
his is a people-to-people
mission," says Sally Krugel,
director of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit's Michigan Miracle Mission 4 to
Israel, leaving next April 18 for 10 days.
So far nearly 600 people have signed up,
she says, adding that the Federation is
dedicated to arriving in Israel 800
To make this personal connection
with Israelis, several first-time events are
planned. Travelers can spend part of a
day doing hands-on volunteer
work of their choice, such as
volunteering in an Israeli
school, and have an opportu-
nity to spend an evening or
afternoon in an Israeli home.
The group also will gather for
a barbeque on Israel's
Independence Day, Yom
These events give partici-
pants firsthand knowledge of
challenges facing Israelis,
Krugel said. Many of those signed up
for the mission have expressed frustra-
tion because of what's happening in
Israel, she added.
"They feel it's time to go now, and
this is the best opportunity — with the
excitement, camaraderie and ruach [spir-
it] of the Detroit group," she said.
So far, the group includes members of
11 local synagogues and those who will
travel on the Federation bus, in addition
to people from Ann Arbor, Toledo and
"We have a range of programs for
first-timers and for seasoned travelers to
choose from," Krugel says.
For example, a day of special pro-
grams with 12 different tracks is organ-
ized by topics of interest that include the
Secrets of Underground Jerusalem and
Israel's High-Tech Revolution.
For those concerned about security,
Krugel says there's a tight network
between the tour and the army, police
and all security systems in Israel.
"They go ahead of us and make sure
places are secure, then follow our every
move. They take every precaution possi-
ble to make this a secure trip."
Eliezer Ayalon of Jerusalem, a guide
joining Detroit's mission, visited Detroit
last month and, with warmth and
humor, gave Detroiters a taste of why
people should come to Israel.
He said that every planeload of visi-
tors creates jobs for 15 Israelis for three
weeks. Ten-thousand tourists in Israel
provide employment for 45 Jewish fami-
lies, he said.
"The Israel you're going to see is not
like the Israel on the evening news.
We're a country of 6.7 million people
who laugh and work — those who have
jobs — and raise their kids."
Ayalon, a Holocaust survivor, recently
published A Cup of Honey, a memoir of
his experiences. When asked
about the title, he said that
his mother gave him a cup of
honey when they walked to
the exit gates of the Polish
ghetto where he lived with
his parents, two older broth-
ers and sister. He was 14.
"My mother said I would
have a sweet life and handed
the cup to me — like a
benediction," he said.
It was the last time Ayalon
would see any member of his family.
That night, while he was away work-
ing at a German supply base to avoid
deportation, everyone in the ghetto was
After the war, Ayalon was rescued
from a concentration camp by a group
of Jewish soldiers from Britain. He was •
eventually smuggled into Israel with 200
other children in 1945.
Ayalon, who speaks five languages,
went to the University of Jerusalem to
become a tour guide. He says that as a
guide he can show his love and his pas-
sion for the Jewish people.
Federation's Michigan Miracle
Mission 4 is extending its recruitment
period. The last enlistment meeting is 7
p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Max M.
Fisher Federation Building, 6735
Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township.
Robert Aronson, Federation CEO, will
speak at the meeting about the impor-
tance of traveling to Israel now Mission
cosponsors are the Detroit Jewish News
and Michigan Board of Rabbis.
The deadline to make full payment,
$2,895, is Jan. 6. For more information,
call Krugel at (248) 203-1485. El