2014 Rockland Federation Mission to Cuba
Experience Jewish Cuba with the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, February 5-12, 2014. Visit and interact with Cuba’s Jews from Havana, Santa Clara, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. For more information on this once-in-a-lifetime experience click on the links at right or contact Diane Sloyer, Executive Director at (845) 362-4200 ext 133 / firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 ATID Leadership Mission to Israel
By Diane Sloyer
After returning from the 2nd Jewish Federation Lily Steuer ATID Leadership Mission I was asked, “What was the highlight for you?” My standard (and truthful) answer: “Everything was unbelievable. One site visit better than the next. An amazing group of people…” But there were several components of this particular mission that made it extremely special.
Our first day was spent in the north. Visiting the Bea Kramer Center in Kiriyat Ata is always a highlight since the walls are adorned with the names of many generous Rocklanders. In addition to the opportunity to tour the center and interact with the immigrant, poor, elderly participants who rely on this center for the contact with the outside world, we were there to dedicate a beauty salon in the name of Lily Steuer who funds this mission with an endowment left in her memory to the Federation.
From Bea Kramer we headed to Moshav Dalton where we learned how this poor struggling moshav (cooperative agricultural village) now has a two year waiting list and makes delicious wine. The Goldstein family of Rockland has been instrumental in the Moshav’s success by funding buildings to house communal activities.
While each visit and interaction affects each of us differently, there was not a dry eye when we visited the Ibim Ethiopian Absorption Center. Two months ago, Federation campaign chair Bob Silverman went to Ethiopia as part of the “Completing the Journey” mission to bring the last of the Ethiopian Jews to live in Israel. Bob traveled with 100 Ethiopians from Gondar to Israel and spent the first day of their absorption process with them. On our ATID mission two months later, Bob was reunited with 25 of them. We walked into a room where a traditional buna (coffee) ceremony was prepared for us. A ceremonial injera (flat bread) was also prepared in honor of Bob, who was asked to make the Motzi. Seated in the front row was a beautiful little girl with her mother. She was holding the same doll that Bob (thanks to his wife Lois) had given to her before she left her home in Ethiopia. Bob was greeted and remembered like an old lost friend, and as he showed photos of the Ethiopian Jews’ exodus it became clear they had never seen pictures of themselves. What an amazing reunion for all of us to bear witness to! We witnessed a modern day exodus. These Jews just spent their first Pesach in Israel; “Next year in Jerusalem” is no longer part of their seder. Their experience gave new meaning to all of us connected to this experience.