The Power of Partnership: Adam Blanck posts from Israel on the NEXTGen Detroit’s Advance Academy Solicitor’s Training Mission
October 20, 2015 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Shortly after arriving back in Israel, we were greeted by familiar faces in what for many of us is a familiar land. Even though I have only been to Israel a handful of times, each time I come back I feel like it is HOME and this time is, of course, no different. But the familiar faces this time seemed even better because shortly after landing we were en route to Lod, only 15 minutes from the Ben-Gurion Airport. When we jumped off the bus, we saw Yuval, Marcelle, and Maritu, all Israelis, all involved with an amazing program called Project Re:Lod and all who were in Detroit back in August when I was able to have dinner with them at Social. And, now we are re-connecting again in Lod, a city that faces so many similar challenges to our Detroit and one I heard about so much back in August. 15 minutes from the airport, the power of our Federation community and our partnerships that create meaningful relationships makes me quickly realize this will not be any ordinary trip to Israel.
And, it certainly hasn’t! Our first day has been a whirlwind. I mean, when you only have four days on the ground here in Israel, you got no choice! Our group of five Americans, five Israelis, plus the amazing Stefanie, Naomi and Yoav based in Israel and our security guard, Nisan (more on that later) have quickly bonded. But beyond the relationships that have started to grow, we are also quickly learning about giving and making the case to do it! We worked with an amazing organization called Keren Baktana, which works with Giving Circles around Israel to change the conversation around millennials and Israelis to help build a culture of giving — exactly what we are trying to continue to grow with this Academy. First, learning about their impact was inspiring (kinda similar to helping host Detroit Soups across Israel). But, we all got our hands dirty and vetted three great opportunities to give actual dollars to in our own Advance Academy Giving Circle. It was very cool to see how our group came together and decided the project that inspired us and unique ways to inspire giving among a younger generation besides solicitation calls. As our counterparts told us, young people want to give but they want to care about what they are giving to.
After a great lunch at a very cool new market in Tel Aviv, we hit the beach and met with an organization called HaGal Sheli (“My Wave” in English) that was started with seed funding from the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) that created a program to teach surfing to teens from troubled homes. Besides the fun watching all of us try to actually get up on surf boards, we were able to hear about the simple spark (and small funding) that allowed this program to flourish and impact hundreds of kids already. It not only reminded me a lot of our own Do It For Detroit Fund in providing some microgrants to help people give back to the city of Detroit, but it was a great way to see how our dollars aren’t just for handing out money, but inspiring entrepreneurs to create lasting social change to help build a stronger Israel for today and tomorrow.
We finished the day with a tour of Channel 10 (thanks to one of our Israel counterparts on the trip) and a talk with Matan Hodorov, one of the most influential journalists in Israel. His remarks not only left a lasting impact, but neatly tied up a great first 24 hours here in Israel. He said, Israel’s relationship to the U.S. and the world Jewry has changed since our parents. Now, it’s not just about giving money to support. It’s about partnership and working together towards a common goal. As we have seen in just one day, partnership leads to collaboration, to programs that work for all involved, to a stronger Israel, and maybe most importantly, to lasting relationships that allow me to hear the stories of the impact we can have and come back to Detroit and inspire my peers with stories of impact and change they can be part of.
Finally, the connection between our community and Israel is truly remarkable. I have long felt a close connection to our Jewish community in Detroit, but this trip has reinforced the notion that our community isn’t confined to metro Detroit because our community in Israel is one and the same. We have all felt such a connection with our peers here, ones we just met and those we have known our whole lives, that I really feel we are all ONE COMMUNITY. And, in today’s day and age it is truly a remarkable thing that I can meet up with the children of my mom’s Israeli friend from Israel who she met over 40 years ago as counselors at Tamarack and send a photo of all of us back to Michigan in seconds from Israel. We are lucky to be here and even luckier to share this partnership with our community in Israel.
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