I&O Aid to Ukraine

A message from Federation’s Israel & Overseas Department Director, Jennifer Levine

This month we are focused on two things: Ukraine and Mission Planning. Our overseas partners are briefing us regularly and in turn we are working to answer questions and keep the Detroit Jewish community apprised of the situation in Ukraine. Our hearts are with the many refugees – mainly women, children and the elderly – who have had to leave their homes with only what they can carry. Many of them left their husbands or sons behind to fight. Because we were in Ukraine yesterday, we were prepared to be there today. As I’m sure you have read in our latest community update, our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC, World ORT, NCSEJ and others, are working around the clock on the ground in Ukraine and just over its borders.

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Israel
(Photographer: Olivier Fitoussi)

Additionally, the first plane carrying 300 olim arrived in Israel on Sunday. Some of them went to Nof HaGalil, one of our Partnership 2Gether cities where the mayor and community at large have welcomed them with open arms. Others went to Kfar Silver youth village in southern Israel, which is a program of World ORT and is supported by the Detroit Jewish Federation. We are incredibly proud of the work our partners are doing, much of it through the generosity of this community.   

With our first mission (in over two years!!) scheduled for the first week of April and two more right behind it, a lot of time is being spent training staff on protocols, procedures and COVID preparedness. For right now, vaccine requirements, PCR tests and potential quarantines are the new travel reality. We are working hard to make sure that everyone is prepared for their travel on the Partnership Steering Committee, the Interfaith Mission, and two Leadership Development programs from April through May. 

Save the Date for the Trip of a Lifetime! March 12 to March 21, 2023. We’re going back to Israel as a Detroit Jewish community for the first time in over a decade.

While we are busy with these missions, we also have three BIG things happening in the Missions space:

  • First, the Motor City Mission is heading out under the leadership of Chairs Lisa & Richard Broder and Diane & Bill Goldstein. Visit MotorCityMission.org to learn more and register.
  • Second, the Sue & Alan Kaufman & Family Teen Mission is going this summer! The itinerary continues to be refined, and we are so excited to be working with Tamarack Camps and our community congregational partners on getting Metro Detroit teens back to Israel.
  • Lastly, we are thrilled to announce that we are back in the Birthright business. Federation is working with Temple Shir Shalom and Hillel of Metro Detroit on two trips this spring. Click here for registration information.

    Several of us have been working on an Israel Education Initiative which we launched at a Federation Board of Governors meeting last fall. We’re developing a timeline and starting to build our toolbox of resources for educators and community members. One of our important partners in this initiative is OpenDor media. As a leading global non-profit media company, OpenDor educates, entertains and engages its audiences by bringing to life big ideas and authentic stories, and by celebrating all things Jewish. As an official partnering organization with OpenDor, educators and clergy from the Metro Detroit community now have unlimited access to hundreds of videos, films, lesson plans and other resources at their fingertips. Stay tuned for more information on this initiative in the coming months. Meanwhile, to whet your appetite, check out this timely video of theirs on The Law of Return as Detroit joins many Large Federations in JFNA’s coordinated effort with the Jewish Agency to bring 3,500 new olim from Ethiopia this year.

When most people think about the Jewish National Fund (JNF), one thing generally comes to mind: trees. But they are so much more than that. Several of the Israel & Overseas staff recently met with Sunny Nayberg, the Israel Program Missions Director for the Midwest, and she told us about some really interesting things JNF is working on.

  • First, Plant Your Way to Israel is a tool to help you fundraise for ANY Israel educational trip. Anyone under 30 can open an account, and JNF-USA will provide a grant of 50% of what was raised toward any educational trip to Israel for participants under the age of 30.
  • Are you planning on participating in a study abroad in Israel? This is a great tool (in addition to Get There!) to help you or your loved ones afford that opportunity!
  • Also, we wanted to be sure you know about  Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI): A study abroad program with a 6-week summer program, an 8-week program during the year, and a semester program. Unlike any other, this is a high school where education is imparted through experience and history is infused into everything you do. While keeping up with classes from your home school and gaining important college preparatory skills, you will also be learning about Israel through first-hand experience.

Head over to Jlive for AMHSI and other upcoming Jewish National Fund programs.