Aliyah marks a homecoming
for former Oak Park family.
Special to the Jewish News
ur incredible journey as a fam-
ily began four years ago in Oak
Park. My husband, Moshe, and I
would see the news, look at the pictures of
Israel and wonder if we could make a life
in our ancient homeland. How could we
do this? How could we uproot our whole
lives and children and move to a country
where we didn't even speak the language
or know the culture?
Yes, it is the ancestral homeland of the
Jewish people, but we were Americans
with a very American way of life.
My husband and I decided to take a trip
to view the Land of Israel for ourselves. At
age 41, we both journeyed to Israel for the
first time in our lives. We felt as if we had
returned home; and when we left, we felt
the pain of exile. We vowed to return.
When we came back to the States, we
contacted Nefesh B'Nefesh and opened a
file for aliyah. [Nefesh B'Nefesh is a non-
profit organization dedicated to revitaliz-
ing aliyah from North America and Britain
and to removing the professional, logistical
and financial obstacles that prevent many
from moving to Israel. NBN works in part-
nership with the Israeli government.]
The paperwork for aliyah was daunting;
the business to take care of in prepara-
tion to move to Israel was overwhelming,
but the light of Israel on the horizon was
bright. We forged on through many dif-
ficult trials, but four years later, with our
children in tow, we arrived in Israel on
July 22. We felt as if the gates were thrown
open for us and the Land of Israel warmly
and lovingly embraced us as long-lost chil-
dren. Israel welcomed us home.
We chose to live in Ma'ale Adumim,
which is about 15 minutes outside of
Jerusalem. Ma'ale Adumim is an ancient
city that is mentioned in the Book of
Joshua, although it wasn't rebuilt until
March 1979. We love Ma'ale Adumim
because so many different types of Jews
live together in harmony and friendship
without passing religious or political judg-
ments upon each other.
The holiday of Rosh Hashanah was unbe-
lievably beautiful and holy. We heard the
Chava and Moshe Docks arrive in Israel
with Sarah, 8, and Shloimie, 12. Older
son, Yaakov, 20, is working in the U.S.
call of the shofar ring throughout the city
and echo in the hills. Nothing can compare
to saying the Rosh Hashanah prayers while
looking at Jerusalem and realizing that,
with God's loving grace, we will celebrate
the New Year at home in Israel.
Our balcony looks directly toward
the magnificent hills of Jerusalem, and
at night the wind is clean, strong and
cool. There is a peace that my family has
here that, in my opinion, was never expe-
rienced anywhere else in the world. We
have come home to the land of our patri-
archs and matriarchs. We truly believe that
we have been given a precious and price-
less gift from God.
Living in Israel means getting used to
a new lifestyle, like hanging laundry
on a balcony with a view of the hills
surrounding nearby Jerusalem.
Directing teen mission among roles of new Federation staffer.
hile living in Israel for two
years after earning a Master
of Arts degree in counsel-
ing from Oakland University, Danielle
Longo volunteered on behalf of Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit-
supported programming. The programs
were for young Detroiters studying,
volunteering and interning in the Jewish
Her Israel experience also included
teaching English during a 10-month
internship with MASA Israel Journey. She
further worked as an academic counselor
at Tel Aviv University and directed the
2013 TAMID summer fellowship for U.S.
business students interested in Israeli
business and economic internships.
In August, Longo joined Federation
as an Israel & Overseas staff associate.
Her duties include coordinating the Sue
& Alan J. Kaufman Family Teen Mission
2014 and serving as the local representa-
tive for MASA, an Israeli government
36 September 19 • 2013
and Jewish Agency for Israel joint project
that helps young Jewish adults find and
fund five- to 10-month-long internships
and learning opportunities in Israel.
MASA receives support from the Jewish
Federations of North America and the
United Israel Appeal.
Longo, now a Troy resident, is excited
about joining Federation's Bloomfield
"This is the perfect culmination of my
previous experience and passions," she
tells the IN. "I am working with youth,
living in the community I grew up in and
am able to maintain my ties to Israel."
Growing up in Bloomfield Hills,
Longo attended Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit and Birmingham
Groves High School. She earned an
undergraduate degree at the University of
Michigan before seeking a post-graduate
degree and national certification in coun-
After interning at Birmingham
Seaholm as a high school counselor
and as forensics co-director, she moved
to Israel. While there, she assisted
Federation's young adult outreach and
engagement coordinator, Yoav Raban,
in developing specific programming so
young Jewish Detroiters immersed in
Israeli life could not only meet and min-
gle, but also could interact with and enjoy
the hospitality of their peers and their
families in Federation's Central Galilee
The Detroiters in Israel (DIA) initiative
began two years ago; Federation is con-
stantly working to expand its resources.
Federation also aims to integrate DIA
participants into NEXTGen Detroit
programming when they return home.
Longo's MASA background should prove
especially helpful since many of the Israel
programs that Detroiters enroll in are
Online signup for the 2014 Sue and
Alan J. Kaufman Family Teen Mission,
Federation's ninth teen mission to
Israel, opens Sept. 23 (jewishdetroit.org/
tm14). The trip is for current ninth- to
12th-graders. It will enable local teens to
travel to Israel as a local community and
experience their ancestral homeland with
Teen Mission coordinator Danielle
Longo atop the Azrieli Center in Tel
Aviv this summer
peers from the Partnership region.
Local Reform and Conservative
congregations are co-sponsors of TM14,
set for July 1 to Aug. 1. Scholarships are
available for qualifying families. Oakland
County-based Tamarack Camps is a TM14
TM14 chair Sherri Ketai of Franklin,
says, "It is because of the continuing
generous sponsorship of the Sue and
Alan J. Kaufman family that we have the
opportunity to provide this special mis-
sion for as many Metro Detroit teens as
TM14 questions? Contact Danielle Longo,
Iongo@jfmd.org or (248) 203-1467.