In November of 2013, a new kind of JUF Mission went to Israel. Nineteen Orthodox men journeyed there to see its sights, its sites, and the scholars they cite.
The Mission was named "Shimshon," after the Jewish strongman and judge of old. Chairing the Mission were Brian Levinson, Avi Rothner, and Shmuel Schreiber.
Participants visited many places with deep historical and high spiritual meaning, as well as seeing first-hand the critical programs and services JUF provides to Israelis. They also met Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau, Jerusalem Post Arab-affairs reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, and MK & Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin.
"To me, the Shimshon Mission is about building bridges," Levinson said, "between Chicago and Israel, between the Orthodox community and JUF, and between segments of the Orthodox community itself."
"There was something for everyone's interests-religious, cultural, historical, security, and more," Rothner said. "And this mirrored the participation from across the Orthodox spectrum. My favorite part had to be walking in and discussing the Kotel tunnels with the archaeologist who actually discovered them, as well as a bell that may have come from a Kohen Gadol's robe. Towards the end of the tour, adjacent to the bedrock of the Wall, we spontaneously made a circle and-with the help of an iPhone- broke into song, arm in arm, singing about the Jerusalem right in front of us."
"I was thrilled to participate in the inaugural Shimshon Mission," Schreiber said. "We bonded as a group while gaining a newfound appreciation for how our JUF dollars are being spent in Israel, like the JUF programs that support Charedi job seekers, or girls preparing to go into the Army. I am looking forward to continuing to develop JUF's relationship with the Orthodox community on our next trip."
Participants pledged $116,910 for the 2014 Annual Campaign, as well as additional money for the 2013 Annual Campaign.
The Shimshon Mission for 2014 is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 16 - Monday, November 24. The chairs for the first Mission have graciously agreed to reprise their roles for this year.
To learn more or sign up for the 2014 Shimshon Mission, please contact Jordan Amrani at firstname.lastname@example.org or (313) 444-2822.