Event Lets Young Adults Express Their Solidarity

Elisa Levin, whose younger brother Michael was killed Aug. 3, during the war in Lebanon, discussed her trip to Israel to attend the funeral. Levin recalled a reporter asking her, "If what you knew now, you knew back then, would you still let your brother move to Israel? Would you have tried to stop him?"

"I immediately responded, 'Absolutely not.' Why would I want to stop someone from accomplishing their dream?"

Levin said this while speaking to a group of young Jewish professionals who'd come to the Marathon Grill at 20th and Market streets last week to sip drinks, eat falafel and show their support for the Jewish state.

"Israel Matters" gave these young adults a chance to contribute to the region ravaged by war during the summer-long conflict with Hezbollah via contributions to the Israel Emergency Fund, an initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Proceeds from the cash bar were even donated to the fund.

After a cocktail hour complete with food provided by Mama's Vegetarian, Roee Rachamim, 25, an Israeli from Kiryat Shemonah who is spending time in the United States after a summer working as a counselor at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, took to the stage.

"That is not what I left," said Rachamim, pointing to video images of destroyed Israeli towns playing on a screen behind him. "I left green mountains, the Jordan River a five-minute drive, and businesses that are growing up."

'Go There, Go Back'

The evening, which attracted about 250 people, was sponsored by the Chevra, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Renaissance Group, and a committee consisting of local restaurateurs Cary Borish, Yis Tigay and Jonathan Makar.

Roy Freundlich, public-relations manager at Federation, was encouraged that so many young people appear to care so deeply for Israel.

"That's the nature of the Renaissance Group," he remarked, "to have young people become engaged in Jewish life and culture and develop an appreciation for Israel."

Levin — whose family grew up in Bucks County, and whose brother decided on his own to join the Israel Defense Forces — also did her best to help raise money and awareness.

"I need each and every one of you here tonight to help me carry on Michael's dream," she said. "If you've never been to Israel, go there. If you have been there, go back."


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