Introducing the Elaine and Michael Serling Israeli Camper Program

By Jennifer Levine, Senior Director of Federation’s Israel & Overseas Department

Federation’s Israeli Camper Program began in 2002, in response to the terror attacks in Israel which resulted in the cancellation of the 200-person Teen Mission. Bob Aronson, the then CEO of the Jewish Federation of Detroit, asked the community “if we can’t send our young people there – why don’t we bring their young people here?” In less than a month $1,000,000 was raised and 325 Israelis between the ages of 13 and 16 came to Tamarack Camp’s Camp Maas as participants. Most of them from our Partnership Region in Israel – including our current Shlicha Lior Zisser-Yogev and our past Shaliach Eviatar Baskis.

Now, in our 22nd year of bringing Partnership 2Gether teens to Tamarack, we are incredibly proud of what the Israel Camper Program has become. It is one of the cornerstones of our Partnership 2Gether and one of our Israel and Overseas department’s flagship programs.

As summer approaches we have two announcements regarding the program: First, due to the war, we are almost doubling the number of campers this summer and will be including evacuees from the north and south. We are so grateful to our partners in this program, Tamarack Camps, for finding the room at camp for the extra kids and staff for us to make this happen and for being so accommodating in altering activities that might evoke anxiety for kids who are coming from a country immersed in war (like fireworks and night raids).

Second, we are THRILLED to share that Elaine and Michael Serling have provided a substantial endowment gift to help secure the future of our program! We will now be known as the Elaine and Michael Serling Israeli Camper Program. Elaine and Michael are long time Tamarack supporters and have also given generously to Federation’s Shinshinim program.

“Elaine and Michael represent the very best of our Jewish community, and their foundational support for this program exemplifies their visionary commitment to making a difference,” said Steven Ingber, Federation CEO. “Thanks to the Elaine and Michael Serling Israeli Camper Program, a new generation of Israeli youth will have an experience that enriches their entire lives—while kids from our own community deepen their relationship with Israel. The impact of this gift is extraordinary.”