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Miami Birthright Trip Makes Federation Connection

A group of 41 young adults ages 22-26 recently returned to Miami from a whirlwind Taglit-Birthright Israel trip.The 10-day journey, a gift from the Birthright Israel Foundation and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, included tours of historic and culturally significant sights, in addition to a number of local Federation-funded programs and agencies. Highlights of the journey included hiking Masada, experiencing Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel (Western Wall), learning about Tel Aviv’s graffiti art culture and touring Yad Vashem with a debriefing led by Sharon Horowitz, Director of the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, a Committee of Federation. Participants arrived home with a better understanding of their Jewish identity and motivated to cultivate their relationship with Federation. Participant Leah Messing said, “I took my Jewish identity for granted until this trip, and I didn’t realize how important it is that Jewish people raise Jewish families and participate in synagogue life.”

During their journey, the group spent time in Federation’s partnership city of Yerucham. Since 2007, Miami’s Jewish community has been collaborating closely with the city to form people-to-people relationships in order to strengthen both communities and foster a love of Judaism, Israel and the Jewish people. In Yerucham, Birthright fellows visited a local senior center where they joined residents in a karaoke session. They also dined with the Culinary Queens of Yerucham, a group of women who help support their family by welcoming groups into their home for a traditional, homemade meal.

Participants also visited Pardes Channa/Karkur, where Federation has been helping the Ethiopian-Israeli community acculturate to Israel since 2005. While there, they learned about the local Community Garden and its Gojo, a traditional Ethiopian structure used for community gatherings, cultural programming and educational experiences. The Gojo was built with Federation’s support to help Ethiopian-Israeli residents preserve their customs and traditions as they adapt to Israeli culture.

Messing shared, “Birthright strengthened my connection to Judaism more than I could have ever thought possible. Despite attending a Jewish day school and participating in life cycle events, I never felt a particularly strong connection to Israel. But after returning from Birthright,” she added, “I feel so proud that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.”

The Mission of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is to mobilize human and financial resources to care for those in need, strengthen
Jewish life and advance the unity, values and shared purpose of the Jewish people in Miami, in Israel and around the world.

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