Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas plans Solidarity Mission to Israel Feb. 19-22
Photo: Schneider Children’s Hospital
Doron Katz Asher and her two young daughters Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2, are reunited with husband and father Yoni, on Nov. 25, 2023. Dallas Federation Solidarity Mission to Israel officials have planned for participants to meet with released hostages and their families while on the Feb. 19-Feb. 22 trip.

Registration closes Jan. 10

By Deb Silverthorn

The Dallas Jewish community’s support of Israel since Oct. 7 has been impressive. From Monday, Feb. 19, through Thursday, Feb. 22, community members are invited to take to the skies and put their feet on the ground for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Solidarity Mission to Israel.

The Mission is a four-day trip that will combine meaningful mitzvah projects, briefings with officials, meetings with survivors, the opportunity to bear witness to the Oct. 7 attack in the Gaza envelope and more.

“Our Dallas Jewish community is always at the forefront, never sitting idly by. Now we will be no different,” said Igor Alterman, JFGD’s president and CEO. He added that as of Dec. 16, they already had two buses filled.

“We are intertwined, we are connected, we are a people. There’s no way not to go. It’s not a vacation and it won’t be easy,” said Alterman, “but it will be one of the most meaningful and important trips of our lives.”

Dallas Jewish community leadership already committed to participating in the mission are Alterman, JFGD Board Chair Dot Haymann, JFGD Chief Impact Officer and Rabbi in Residence Rabbi Mordechai Harris, Senior Director of Campaign Carly Glikman, Rabbi Michael Kushnick, Rabbi Andrew Paley, Rabbi Debra Robbins, Rabbi Adam Ruditsky, Rabbi Ari Sunshine, Rabbi Stefan Weinberg and Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker.

Because of the fast pace and the emotional toll that is expected as the group bears witness to the realities of Israel post-Oct. 7, the trip is designed primarily for those who have visited Israel in the past and who have substantial knowledge of Israel, who see themselves as leaders in the American Jewish community. It is not a tourist experience.

“We put out the call when we were going to Washington, D.C. We’re calling again: Join us on this people-to-people mission,” said Haymann. “We’re going to see firsthand what we can do, where our help is needed and where the dollars raised in Dallas through our annual campaign and from the Emergency Fund for Israel can help. Then we’re going to come back to Dallas and spread the word.”

While subject to change, the itinerary includes a visit to the Western Wall, briefings from military and professional experts, a visit to a kibbutz affected by the actions of Hamas and a lunch with Israel Defense Forces soldiers on base. Participants will engage in a meeting with survivors of the Oct. 7 attacks as well as released hostages and family members. There will be a hands-on volunteer project; they will hear from representatives of the ZAKA International Rescue Unit to learn about their experiences as the first responders at the kibbutzim; and there will be an official dedication of an ambulance purchased through United Hatzalah with gifts to the Federation’s Emergency Fund for Israel.

Connections will be made, and relationships formed, between the Dallas delegation and those living at one of the kibbutzim most significantly affected by the actions on Oct. 7. Chosen by the Jewish Agency for Israel as one of a number of communities for its Communities2Gether program, the Dallas Federation and its constituent agencies will provide physical, economical and emotional support to the kibbutz’s residents.

“We hope, over the coming years, those participating on our Teen Tour and adult mission trips and Dallas individuals going to Israel will go to visit and help them rebuild in every way,” said Alterman. “As Jews, we are all family.”

For Jeanette Pincus, board chair of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, the mission will be her first time back in Israel since she went on the first Dallas Israel Teen Tour in 1973. She and her husband, Michael, are registered for the solidarity mission.

“We have signed up to go on a number of missions and other trips through the years, but something always came up. This time we have to go,” Pincus said. “When I told my husband I wanted to go, he said he’d never heard that tone in my voice. I can’t explain it, but we can’t stay here — we have to go. Right now I have a purpose to be there.”

Registration, due by Wednesday, Jan. 10, means payment of $3,200 double occupancy, $3,890 for single, if staying at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, and $2,300 double occupancy, $2,595 for a single at the Dan Panorama Jerusalem. The mission cost includes three hotel nights, all meals (kosher), transportation around Israel, an English-speaking guide, porterage at hotel and airport, tips and gratuities and enhanced security. Transportation to Israel is not included. Registration is nonrefundable; however, should the mission be canceled by the Federation, payments will be returned.

Participants must arrive in Israel no later than Monday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m.; have a valid passport with an expiration date after Aug. 16, 2024; and commit to remaining with the group for the entirety of the mission.

“We will come home with stories, empowered. The roadmap to recovery is long, the effects of this time will continue, but we won’t stop. We won’t back away,” said Rabbi Harris. “The money we have sent and will continue to send is important; but now, we are going with hugs, with warmth, to be face-to-face, to listen in-person and to let the Israeli community know they are not alone.

“This mission and future trips will help uplift the psyche of the Israelis and I believe for us too,” said Rabbi Harris. “Come if you care for the people of Israel, come so you can speak firsthand and come because we are all hurting and we must hold on to one another.”

For more information, visit jewishdallas.org/solidaritymission, email mission@jewishdallas.org or call Carly Glikman at 561-914-6482.

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