Seeing Is Believing
Mission goersget glimpse of real Israeli life —joys and heartaches.
STORY BY SHARON LUCKERMAN
PHOTOS BY DEBBIE HILL
ith each passing day, Federation's
Michigan Miracle Mission 4 partici-
pants gained clearer understanding of
what it means to be an Israeli.
And with that insight, they also better understood
what it means to be an American Jew deeply concerned
One of the best bridges to understanding each other
was through American Jews now living in Israel, such
as former Detroiter Barbara Levin (formerly
Goldsmith), founder and principal of the Jean and
Samuel Frankel School in Jerusalem.
The Levins made aliyah 30 years ago. Unable to find
a school for their children that combined both good
secular and good religious education, Barbara started
one. Levin raised $250,000 — much of it in Detroit
— and the Frankels, Bloomfield Township residents
who are members of Adat Shalom Synagogue, matched
the sum. This was the first Tali (intensified Jewish stud-
ies) school in Israel; now 20 exist.
As two busloads of mission-goers disembarked at the
Frankel School, young students greeted them along a
narrow path leading to the school, waving Israeli flags
and singing "Haveinu Shalom Aleichem.'
Henia Lewin of Oak Park, who lost her entire family
in the Holocaust, said, "That I lived to see this in Israel
... I can't express what this does to me — especially see-
ing the children."
Allan Nachman of Bloomfield Hills had visited the
"Eleven years ago, on the first Miracle Mission, we
gave the school a Torah -- the one they use every day."
Participants also visited the Marla and Ethan
Davidson Archaeological Visitors Center in the
Jerusalem Archaeological Park, an excavation and
restoration of a section of the Old City's Temple
Mount. The project was supported by Detroit busi-
nessman and philanthropist William Davidson.
The stone ruins once supported great archways,
shops that sold animals for sacrifices and mikvaot (ritu-
al baths) for pilgrims coming to the sacred city.
"I get a chill walking along this wall after seeing the
simulation [of what the Temple looked like before it
was destroyed]," said Wendy Wagenheim of
Birmingham, in Israel for the first time. "You have the
feeling of being there, of experiencing what it was like
to have been a Jewish pilgrim then."
Said her husband, Elliot, "We were in Rome and saw
the excavations beneath St. Peter, but this surpasses
Added Wendy, "This is ours."
At the Western Wall, the couple renewed their wed-
ding vows after 35 years, with fellow mission-goer
Rabbi Joseph Krakoff of Congregation Shaarey Zedek
Those on Congregation Shaarey Zedek Bus 5, with
Doreen Hermelin of Bingham Farms, were treated
to the inside story of how her late husband, David,
was approached by Israelis to first support this proj-
He, in turn, suggested the project to Davidson,
telling him the great selling point of this property
was "location, location, location."
Prior stops on the mission didn't touch on the
effects of the bloody terrorist attacks over the past
few years. But visits to hospitals, such as Shaare
Zedek in Jerusalem, brought home to Detroiters
what life is like for Jerusalemites.
Known for its innovative trauma center, Shaare
Zedek Hospital has the largest decontamination unit
in the country, formed by the clever transformation
of its outdoor parking lot.
While it was not an easy visit, a hospital
spokesperson commended the mission-goers for
coming to Israel in its time of need. "You people
here are a mitzvah," said Faith, a nurse and hospital
That appreciation was felt in all corners, "from the
falafel-stand man to the merchants on Ben-Yehuda
Street," said Emily Weiss of Waterford, a BBYO
adviser. "We've talked about terrorism, but never felt
Faith, however, shared her experience of being a
mother with two sons in the Israeli army and said
she hasn't slept well for those three years.
Her slide show of the hospital's amazing capabili-
ties was dedicated to Dr. David Applebaum, head of
Shaare Zedek's emergency room and a former
Detroiter who was killed, along with his daughter, in
a terrorist attack last year.
Her presentation showed how quickly the hospital
staff moved into action when there was an emer-
gency and victims of a terrorist attack were brought
in. Even the hallways are equipped with lines for
electricity and water so that space can be used for
beds and doctors can check patients quickly. Three
floors are built below ground in case of war so all
hospital functions are possible.
While Faith's deep frustration with terror.became
clear as she also told of her own close call with ter-
rorism, she also was adamant that politics is checked
at the hospital. door. Arab or Jew, all are served.
Dr. Mel Lester, president of Harper Hospital in
Detroit, explained the difference in emergency med-
icine in the United States and in Israel.
"We [in America] take emergency medicine seri-
ously; they take it more seriously," he said. "We
never saw terror in Detroit; Israelis see it here over
and over again."
One antidote for the terror attacks, Faith said at
the end of her-presentation, was to go to the hospi-
tal's maternity ward, where 900 new lives begin •
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit-organ--
ized mission was held April 18-28. The Detroit Jewish
News and Michigan Board of Rabbis were cosponsors.
Dr Mel Lester, left, president of Detroit's Harper Hospitah
stands near . a poster memorializing former-Detroiter Dr.
David Applebaum at the entrance to the emergency room
in Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Doreen Hermelin of Bingham Farms stands in front of
the new Davidson Visitors Center in the Southern
Wall Archaeological Gardens in Jerusalem's Old City.
At tke- Western Wall in Jerusalem, Wendy and:Elliot
Wagenheim of Birmingham renewed their wedding
vows after 35 years.