Safety A High Priority
Despite cancellation in 2002, Federation's Teen Mission is a go in 2004.
Special to the Jewish News
am Langberg says traveling to
Israel is the fulfillment of a
"I have a passion for Israel,"
said the 18-year-old from Bloomfield
Hills, who will participate in the 2004
Federation Teen Mission this summer.
"It always seemed like the birthplace of
my soul, my homeland. I'm not at all
nervous about safety. I feel like I'm
meant to be there and that everything
will be OK."
Sam's parents, Lois and Mark
Langberg, are enthusiastic about their
son's upcoming trip.
"Going to Israel will never be as
magical as it is now, with other teens,"
Lois Langberg said. "Am I worried?
I'm nervous every time he gets into a
car, but he has such passion, how can
I say no? I'm excited for him. I think
he'll have a wonderful time."
To date, 52 teens have signed up for
the mission set for June 30-Aug. 2,
said Amy Neistein, associate director
of Israel and Overseas Services for the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit. Applications are still being
In the last Federation-sponsored teen
mission in 2000, 280 teens participated.
The 2002 mission was canceled because
of much apprehension about safety at
that time. The intifada (uprising) that
raised concern then now is 3 1 /2 years
old. But this mission is going, Neistein
said with determination.
"We are not dismissing the concerns
of the parents," she said. "We want to
reassure them that we are very security
"We need to give this generation of
teenagers the opportunity for a taste of
Israel," said Nancy Schostak, who serves
as mission chair. "If we don't make this
available to them, then we should ask
each other the question, 'Who will
teach our next generation to love
The mission is open to all Jewish teens
currently in grades 9-12. The cost of the
trip is $3,995, thanks to a subsidy from
Federation's Annual Campaign and a
$250,000 gift from Sam and Jean
Frankel of Bloomfield Hills. The Detroit
Jewish News is also a co-sponsor. The
actual cost of the trip is $6,925, accord-
ing to Neistein, and families who are
able to pay more than the subsidized
amount are encouraged to do so.
Many local synagogues and other
organizations are offering financial assis-
tance to those who need it, and a
brochure listing various scholarship
resources is included in each application
"Federation is committed to making
this trip go," Neistein said. "We don't
want financial need to keep anyone
a tour of Yad Vashem, and visits to the
Knesset and the Supreme Court.
With Israeli Teens
Above: Sam Langberg
Left: Scott and Marissa Lowen.
from going. We have a close partnership
with our metro-area rabbis. They're a big
part of our recruiting effort."
This will be the fourth Teen Mission for
Rabbi Michael Moskowitz of Temple
Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield. "I love
going with the teens; seeing Israel
through their eyes is really incredible,"
he said. "Every time I go, I find new
things to see and do.
"We understand the parents' concerns
about safety, but we know we can create
a safe and wonderful trip," Rabbi
Moskowitz said. "Believe me, my wife
wouldn't let me go if she thought it was
This year's trip has been carefully
planned to ensure maximum security
for all of the travelers, according to
Neistein. The teens will not visit open
markets or other places that have been
common targets of terrorist attacks, and
private, not public, buses will be used
exclusively. Each bus will transport 40
teens and seven staff members; con-
sisting of a rabbi, a tour guide, a
medic and four counselors. Every bus
will have a phone, and trip updates
will be posted on a Web site and by e
"Safety is our main priority,"
"The teen mission is one of the best
ways possible to see Israel," said Rabbi
Daniel Nevins of Adat Shalom
Synagogue. "With over a month of tour
ing, we have the chance to go off the
beaten path and to discover some truly
beautiful, exciting and inspiring places. I
am confident that any teen who goes to
Israel this summer will return not only
safely, but with a whole new apprecia-
tion of the gift of their Jewish heritage."
The itinerary focuses on a different
educational aspect each week: the histo-
ry of the Jewish people in the land of
Israel, the development of modern Israel
challenges to the State of Israel and a
final summation of the topics covered
during the trip.
Some of the highlights include dig-
ging and exploring in the Beit Guvrin
caves, swimming in the Dead Sea, a
camel ride followed by an overnight in a
Bedouin tent, an early morning ascent
to Masada, snorkeling off the beaches of
Eilat, an overnight desert "Adventure
and Survival" program, a meeting with
soldiers at Ramat David Air Force Base,
In addition, the group will visit several
kibbutzim, where they will experience
kibbutz life by participating in activi-
ties with the resident teens. The group
also will spend time traveling with
Israeli teens from Detroit Jewry's
Federation Partnership 2000 Region
in the Central Galilee.
Alan Lowen of Farmington Hills
had such a wonderful time visiting
Israel as a teenager that he is thrilled
to see his children carry on the tradi-
tion. Marissa, 18, a freshman at
Eastern Michigan University, went on
the 2000 teen mission, and Scott, 16,
is signed up for this year's trip.
"It was an awesome experience, proba-
bly the best summer of my life," said
"To this day, she hasn't stopped talk-
ing about that trip," said her mother,
Karen Lowen. "She made lasting friend-
ships and she experienced a lot of
growth. I have no reservations about
safety. I trust them, and I know they
won't take the kids anywhere that's dan-
Alan Lowen added, "Hopefully, this
trip will spark his Judaism for years to
Said mission chair Schostak, "My hus-
band and I have sent all three of our
children on youth missions to Israel
since 1966, and I can say without ques-
tion that this is the single greatest gift
that we, as parents, can give them." ❑
An informational meeting will be
held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25, at
the Max M. Fisher Building, 6735
Telegraph, Bloomfield Township.
Eran Applebaum of the Jewish
Agency in Israel will be present to
answer questions about the trip,
including itinerary and security
issues. This meeting is open to cur-
rent applicants as well as anyone
interested in learning more about
the Teen Mission. Applications are
still being accepted. For more infor-
mation or an application packet,
contact Amy Neistein at (248) 205-