metro >> on the cover
c Place Like Home
A new Shalom Street exhibit takes visitors on an unforgettable trip to Israel.
Elizabeth Applebaum I Special to the Jewish News
SEE STORY FROM PAGE 1
sound of the plane wheels touching
Welcome home. You're in Israel.
"Passport to Israel:' which just opened
at the Jewish Community Center of
Metropolitan Detroit's Shalom Street
Museum, celebrates the country's 65th
birthday with an exhibit that brings visi-
tors to favorite cities and sites throughout
Guests begin their journey with a simu-
lated ride aboard an El Al plane (com-
plete with a film of a friendly air hostess
reminding you that a floatation device can
be found directly under your seat). When
they disembark, visitors begin a fun and
memorable journey throughout the coun-
try, including an exotic, magical, 3-D stop
in the Old City of Jerusalem.
"With this exhibit, we've been able to
give kids an opportunity to really experi-
ence Israel:' said Rabbi Robert Morais,
director of Shalom Street. "It's a real 'wow'
It's also an exhibit with something for
everyone, added Andee Liberman, Shalom
Street's assistant director. "The exhibit has
adult content as well as activities for chil-
dren. Come as a family!"
"Passport to Israel" was more than a year
in the making. It began with concept and
development, many meetings with exhibit
designer Dr. Michelle Sider and consulta-
tions with Eric Maher, technical director
of the Berman Center for the Performing
Arts, who supervised all the construction.
Preparations also included the creation of
curriculum, as "Passport to Israel" is both
fun and a learning experience.
"Then we closed for an eight-week build
session:' Morais said.
The exhibit opened only weeks ago and
already it has welcomed more than 3,000
visitors, many of them students from local
schools. Like ping pong balls suddenly let
loose, the kids come hopping, skipping,
jumping up and down into Shalom Street,
then talk and ask and wonder and touch
and try everything. (Unfortunately, there's
no Dead Sea spa component to the exhibit
where staff can recuperate.)
One of the highlights of "Passport to
Israel" is Jerusalem in 3-D. A work of art
by Berman Center scenic artist Natalie
Estep, "Jerusalem" begins in a dark room
with splashes of color. Once guests put on
3-D glasses, everything — the Kotel, the
Montefiore windmill and much more —
comes to life in neon-green, flamingo-pink,
purple-blue and vibrant yellow.
April 25 • 2013
A volunteer awaits
visitors to the Bedouin
tent in the exhibit.
With special glasses, this neon
3-D Jerusalem skyline comes
alive at Shalom Street.
Fruits and vegetables
in crates give the feel of
The concept of this Jerusalem
began when Morais took his son,
Nathan, to a local orchard, where
they saw a 3-D exhibit about
the life of a bee. When he began
planning "Passport to Israel:
Morais had a honey of an idea:
Build a 3-D Jerusalem. Estep
went to work, painting while
wearing a black light so she could
properly apply the colors.
"Passport to Israel" also
includes a Bedouin tent with a
few cardboard camels (looking
quite life-like, but not posing
the issues a real animal might,
such as chunky teeth to bite
visitors); a place to make falafel
from various pieces of felt or buy a plastic
fish for a sumptuous faux dinner; an area,
developed in conjunction with the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, about
the Central Galilee, Detroit's Partnership
2Gether region; and hydroponic plants (an
important project in Israel, where water is
limited), including a lovely batch of herbs.
One part of the exhibit that draws a
great deal of attention is Eilat. Here, guests
can imagine themselves on the sunny
beaches of this popular Israeli resort town,
famous for its tropical marine flora and
fauna, a dolphin reef and the Coral World
passport with an identity of someone
famous, or not so famous, from Jewish
life. Among these is Hannah Szenes
(1921-1944), one of a handful of men
and women the British Army sent into
Yugoslavia during World War II in an
effort to save Jews about to be deported
to Auschwitz. (Szenes was captured and
murdered by the Nazis.) Another pass-
port bears the name of Lily Hyde of South
Africa, who was born in 1915 and made
aliyah last year. Each Shalom Street guest
is asked to take a passport upon arriving
and have it stamped at every station he or
Directly above the box of passports is
a collection of photos that might be easy
to miss amid the other bright and daz-
s zling items at this exhibit, but which tell
an unforgettable story. The pictures show
families, men, women and children, of
The Shalom Street version of Eilat fea-
all ages and of all races, from all nations,
on their way to making a home in Israel.
tures three large tanks where fish of every
color swim about, gloriously oblivious to
One young woman depicted has literally
issues like taxes and the skyrocketing price dropped to her knees to kiss the ground.
of gas. They're friendly creatures who
Shalom Street, which also offers
come right up to the front of the tank as if Jewish educational programming for
to say hello.
the JCC's Center Day Camps and the
Pitt Child Development Center, pres-
Grab Your Passport
ents "Passport to Israel:' made possible
One portion of the exhibit that brings
thanks to the Charles H. Gershonson
guests especially close not just to the land
Fund, through the spring of next year.
of Israel, but the people of Israel is secur-
All exhibits are free and open to the
public. For information, including hours
ing a passport.
Soon after debarking from their El
of operation, visit www.shalomstreet.org
or call (248) 432-5451.
Al flight, visitors are issued an Israeli