The Niskars at the landmark
menorah near the Knesset
substantial cuts in their already
I am supposed to receive my
first paycheck Jan. 1; I don't and
I'm not sure why. I am told my
paycheck problems are normal
for government employees. I'm
told to be patient. I finally am
paid Feb. 1, but it's a very small
amount. And I get nothing March
1 because of a computer glitch.
To complicate matters, I am
in the process of being authenti-
cated as a scientist with a doctor-
ate. The requirements change
depending on whom and when
you ask. I have spent much time
and money completing forms
and ordering documents.
I'm told I will be refunded
the money I should earn as a
doctorate of public health and
as a scientist once authenticated.
But how do I pay the bills in the
meantime? My small savings will
not last long. Will I have to return
to the United States to support
myself? Should I look for a non-
governmental job and give up my
I didn't come here to make
money, but I do need resources.
Colleagues, friends and rela-
tives tell me not to give up. I just
have to learn how everyone else
survives on so little money. I'm
not worried. Somehow people
survive here. So will I.
The week of Thanksgiving, I
finally start ulpan (Hebrew
classes). I had been wait-listed
since September when I received
my identity card. Mom is still on
the wait list for the retiree class.
My class is two evenings a week
and is for employed people.
My Hebrew is not progressing
well. If I had my first year to do
over again, maybe I would have
spent it on a kibbutz so I could
have intensive Hebrew and have
my daily needs taken care of
rather than being on my own.
I feel safe walking the streets
of Tel Aviv at night to go to and
from ulpan, and my relatives
do not worry about my safety.
This is different than Atlanta or
Detroit. Of course, certain advice
for any big city still holds.
There are problems here, as in
any big city. As I walk, I observe
societal problems such as pover-
ty, prostitution, drugs, homeless-
ness, mental illness, abandoned
pets, pollution and vandalism.
Finding A Synagogue
Mom and I have explored
Reform, Masorti (Conservative)
and Orthodox congregations in
the Tel Aviv area, but none has
been a match for our level of
observance and spiritual needs.
We will keep looking. Perhaps a
chavurah (small group) will be
good for us.
Israelis experience Jewish
culture and spirituality but not
community prayer. They receive
a sense of Jewish identity and
community from their daily lives.
In the States, I needed a syna-
gogue to share life with a Jewish
community. Here, I feel Shabbat
by walking the streets and hear-
ing the Shabbat songs and the
silence of the traffic as the work-
day is gone.
I have met many people who
did not learn Jewish history
and traditions in their borne or
school. The Masorti movement
has developed outreach to teach
people interested in learning
more, and I hope they continue
providing that much-needed
It All Started
Joanne Frances Niskar, daughter of the
late Max and Yetta Sallan, was born and
raised in Detroit. She and her late hus-
band, Marvin Irwin Niskar, ran an insurance
agency and raised their daughter, Amanda
Sue, in Farmington Hills.
Marvin and Joanne were members of
the Great Lakes Yacht Club where they
enjoyed decades of sailing. Joanne volun-
Politics and Miracles
March 7 is my sixth-month
anniversary in Israel. Each day,
I observe the challenges Israel
is facing. It amazes me how a
population of fewer than 6 mil-
lion Jews — men, women and
children, the healthy and the ill
— can feed, clothe and house
so many people, including their
neighbors, while always fighting
battles with their neighbors.
For people who say we don't
have miracles in modern times,
take a look at the country and
people of Israel. Every day, we are
a living miracle.
I do not know how I will con-
tribute to this fascinating land
and people. But I am blessed to
have this time to try.
Despite the hardships, I am the
happiest I have ever been. Even
when I have a miserable day
because I'm cold, wet, tired and
poor, I live in a land that has a
spirit and a history and a future
that nourish my soul. ❑
(A longer version of this story first
appeared in three installments in the
Atlanta Jewish Times. See JNonline.
In a recent nation-
ally published advertise-
ment, the Council for
the National Interest
charged that U.S. aid is
used by Israel to destroy
the peace process by
ing and attacking the
Since Nefesh B'Nefesh (Soul
to Soul) started in 2002, the
organization – in coopera-
tion with the Jewish Agency
for Israel – has helped more
than 7,000 people from
North America move to
Israel. For more information
on Nefesh B'Nefesh, visit
call (866) 4ALIYAH.
teered in Detroit with ORT, March of Dimes,
Sinai Hospital and the Jewish Community
Center in West Bloomfield. She was affiliat-
ed with Congregation Beth Ahm and Adat
Shalom Synagogue. She moved to Atlanta
with her daughter in 1993.
Amanda Sue Niskar graduated North
Farmington High School, then completed
a nursing degree at the University of
Michigan. She became a bat mitzvah at
Beth Ahm. She also volunteered at the JCC
and was an active member of Shira B'nai
CNI is a marginal organiza-
Amanda Sue Niskar at the Agam
Fountain in Tel Aviv.
In Atlanta, she worked as a bone mar-
row transplant nurse at Emory University
Hospital. She then completed her master's
in public health, became an epidemiolo -
gist and worked at the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, including the
Epidemic Intelligence Service. She earned
her doctorate in public health as a Public
Health Leadership Fellow at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
While in Atlanta, both affiliated with
Ahavath Achim Synagogue and were
founding members of Congregation Or
tion and its sole business
is to attack the U.S.-Is-
rael relationship. Israel, in
reality, is a key provider
of humanitarian aid to
the Palestinians, a large
employer of Palestinians,
and supports U.S. and
European food and other
aid to them. And, rather
than Israel 'destroying'
the peace process, that
process was destroyed by
Palestinian violence and
suicide bombings that
began in late 2000 and
continue to this day.
- Allan Gale,
Jewish Community Council
of Metropolitan Detroit
April 27 • 2006