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May 22, 2014 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1: Showing his true Michigan colors,

Israel Camper Ofer Shapira with Joanne

Aronovitz; 2: P2G kids; 3: Partnership

2Gether Steering Committee chairs

Sherri Ketai and Betsy Heuer; 4:

Detroit Community Birthright; 5:

At the "Detroiters in Israel" Get-
Together in Tel Aviv: Joanna Wayburn

with Federation's Israel & Overseas
staffer, Danielle Longo; 6: Bear hugs
for Israeli campers at Tamarack; 7:
Learning English in the P2G Region; 8:
Federation's Teen Mission 12; 9: Best of
friends: Israel camper with host fam-
ily member, Ellory Becker; 10: A guest
on a family mission, meet Yoav Raban,
Federation staffer in the Region.

Michigan-Israel
Bond Strengthens

Partnership2Gether grows with new Young Adult Forum.

Vivian Henoch
Special to the Jewish News

T

alk about Israel and we can talk
about everything under the sun:
from the victory of the Maccabees
and the miracle of lights to drip irrigation
and the invention of cell phones. In lively
and unending discourse, we take pride in
Israel as the ultimate startup nation. We
love sharing the stories of its pioneer days,
its green power, its phenomenal socio-
economic growth, its high-tech industry,
medical marvels and military prowess.
Talk about Israel in Jewish Detroit and
the conversation easily turns to personal
experience. Who among us has left a
prayer at the Western Wall, climbed
Masada, hopped on a bus on a Detroit
community mission or rediscovered Israel
through the eyes of a 13-year-old celebrat-
ing a bar mitzvah?
And did you know? There's a Detroit
Square in Nazareth Illit. Dedicated in 2010,
the square symbolizes the close relation-
ship between the students and teaching
staff of Gilad School and Congregation Beth
Shalom's Religious School in Oak Park.
This is what we talk about when we talk
about "our Israel."

18

May 22 • 2014

JN

Beyond the itinerary for tourists, there
is the Israel thousands of Michiganders
have come to know as home. This is our
Israel — "up north" in the lush, fertile plain
and inland Jezreel Valley. We call it our
Partnership2Gether Region of the Central
Galilee — P2G for short. P2G is where our
connections are made and sustained. People
to people. Face to face.
Now in its 20th year, our partnership in
this region is more like a family. Working
relationships have grown and deepened into
personal friendships. Visits now feel more
like homecomings and reunions.
Since 1994, three Michigan communi-
ties — Metropolitan Detroit, Ann Arbor and
Grand Rapids — have partnered with three
municipalities in Israel — Migdal HaEmek,
Nazareth Illit and the Jezreel Valley. One of
46 Jewish Agency P2G Region partnerships,
the program originally was established to
address and support socioeconomic needs in
Israel. Today, P2G continues to support edu-
cational initiatives, striving to sustain long-
lasting relationships, bringing Israelis and
Michiganders together through a variety of
collaborative programs and shared resources
for the benefit of both communities.
Missions and exchanges continue to be a
primary focus of P2G. "Our goal is to build

connections through experiences:' says Betsy
Heuer, P2G Michigan Steering Committee
co-chair. "By putting peers together and giv-
ing a face to the communities in both the
P2G Region and in Michigan, we have grown
into partners that function more like close
friends and family:'
A significant factor in promoting
deeper community connections has been
the Federation's Israel Camper Program.
Celebrating its 13th bar mitzvah year at
Tamarack Camps this summer, the program
has brought to Michigan more than 1,200
Israeli youngsters in the seventh and eighth
grades and teen counselors to enjoy what
many have described as a life-changing expe-
rience. And the Michigan families who have
participated in the program by hosting Israeli
youngsters in their home have made lasting
friendships in Israel.
With relationships that begin in summer
camp, teens and young adults in both com-
munities have further opportunities to con-
nect and engage through Federation's Teen
Mission program (for ages 15-18), Detroit
Community Birthright trips (geared for col-
lege students and grads, ages 20-26) as well
as a wide range of community-supported,
work-study-volunteer fellowship programs
in Israel.

Young Leadership Development
As a natural outcome of the focused activity
in which the community has engaged over
the years, the P2G Region of the Central
Galilee has created a Young Adult Forum,
drawing from more than 100 young Israeli
adults who have had prior connections
to Jewish Detroit through their experi-
ences as Tamarack alumni, counselors on
Teen Missions or as participants in Detroit
Community Birthright trips.
"The Young Adult Forum in Israel is an
exciting new development that has taken
root from the Community Birthright expe-
rience where we have worked to cultivate
meaningful cultural exchanges and synergies
between the young adults in both com-
munities," says Mark Kowalsky, chair of
Federation's Israel & Overseas Department.
"As is the case in Detroit, young adults
in Israel are taking on a broad spectrum of
community service projects, bringing a new
entrepreneurial spirit and energy to both
rebuilding urban areas and creating future
leadership:' he adds. "What we are seeing
now is a new generation — Israelis and
Detroiters — of social entrepreneurs and
young leaders seeking connections to one
another, ready to network, collaborate and
help one another reenergize their respective
and joint community building efforts:'
Stay tuned.



Vivian Henoch writes for myjewishdetroit.org .

Israeli camper Shani Eshto from Migdal
HaEmek is all smiles at a picnic with
the youngest member of her host family,
Aden Opperer. (Aden's parents are Josh
and Rachel Opperer.)

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