SHARON LUCKERMAN • StaffWriter
DEBBIE HILL • Photographer
1,11 tom our rooms at the King David Hotel,
we see the long jagged outline of the holy
city of Jerusalem — gleaming stone punc-
tuated by the golden Dome of the Rock
— resting on the Judean Hills.
On Friday evening, as we head into the Old City
by foot and passersby call out "Shabbat shalom,"
there's a sense of being part of one large Jewish family.
Buses take us through the desert on the way down
to Masada the next day. On Sunday, we leave
Jerusalem and travel north to the Central Galilee
through lush, rolling hills and acres of banana and
olive trees, eucalyptus and mango.
From our balcony in Haifa, the view is the wide-
arced coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.
Reflections of the 10-day trip to Israel, Federation's
Michigan Miracle Mission 4, April 18-28, continue
to unfold even after the 568 mission-goers froth
Detroit, Ann Arbor and Toledo have returned from
this most successful mission.
"I have a much stronger sense of my identity as a
Jew and as a person with a purpose," said Carol Berg
of Farmington Hills.
The memories include cobblestone passageways in
Safed, one of Israel's four holy cities that include
Jerusalem, Tiberias and Hebron; or meeting the
heimish (down-to-earth) Israeli Actor of the Year at
the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv; and the chance to
meet Israelis at home.
Some Detroiters can't forget the lovely faces and
the warmth of the Ethiopian Jews they met. Others
remember a relaxing day in the sun in the mineral
waters of the Dead Sea.
"The country is full of contradictions," said
Hannan Lis, president of the Jewish Community
Center of Metropolitan Detroit and one of the 14
mission bus leaders. "Israel is both ancient and very
There's also a sense of comfort amidst security
The new West Bank security fence, just like the
older Gaza Strip fence, protects by separating Jews
from Palestinian terrorists. Yet, some Detroiters dis-
cover a greater hope for peace watching Arab and
Jewish Israelis playing soccer together. Others find
hope in the soft-spoken Israeli Supreme Court Chief
Justice Aharon Barak, who describes how Muslim
and British law are part of the Israeli justice system.
And, he informs the group, the court will soon select
an Arab justice.
"This trip was fantastic. It gave me such a sense of
connection with the past, with the people and with
all those things we hold in common," said Pat
Foreman of Milford, on her first visit to Israel.
"Despite the problems, there's such a sense of hope
for the future of Israel. But you don't really experi-
ence the flavor until you go and experience Israel."
Her husband, Richard, also a first timer, added
that at the end of the trip he told his bus mates from
Temple Israel, "I was born Jewish, but it took me 65
years to come home."
Israel: Top Priority
"This mission was one of the most gratifying
moments iri my career in Detroit," said Robert
Aronson, chief executive officer of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit that sponsored
the trip with support from the Detroit Jewish News
and the Michigan Board of Rabbis. He's been on all
four Miracle Missions, which date back to 1993.
"The sheer magnitude of the numbers of people
from Detroit coming at this time was extremely sig-
nificant and made a big impact in Israel," he said.
"One question I ask myself is why the Federation
chose to put all this time, effort and resources into
this trip," said Aronson, adding that his answer is
that our community sees Israel and the people as our
"Some Jewish communities might not feel this,
and have priorities like Jewish education," Aronson
But while Jewish education is central to Jewish life
in Detroit, the local federation leadership believes the
love of Israel is fundamental to our Jewish identity
and continuity, he said. "We feel without this con-