Jewish life in Berlin today is thriving and diverse, though facing a rising tide of anti-Semitism that bears unsettling echoes of the past. In contrast, modern Israel is a place that doesn’t merely exist — itself a daily miracle — but has rapidly evolved from a pioneer state to a global research and development tech hub, driven by powerful female leadership.
And now, there is a unique opportunity to witness the impact of the Jewish Federation’s work in Israel and overseas, and meet inspiring women who have led Israel into the 21st century.
“The Women’s Philanthropy affinity group of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has been bringing women on missions across the world for 15 years. Women’s Philanthropy programming is thoughtfully created to engage women from the Greater Philadelphia area to connect with their local Jewish communities, and one another, in a collaborative mission to build and support Jewish life for today and for generations to come. These international missions encourage further engagement, and allow participants to connect with their Jewish identity on a deeper level, while also building and sustaining new bonds and friendships.”
This March, Women’s Philanthropy will lead an unforgettable eight-day mission to Berlin and Israel. Chaired by Lisa Schoenberg and Amy Wittenstein, mission participants will have the chance to both honor the memories of Jews lost and be inspired by the hope of a vibrant future. The trip will depart for Berlin on March 12, 2020 and return to Philadelphia from Tel Aviv on March 20.
“I had the privilege of participating on a National Young Leadership Cabinet mission to Berlin and Israel a few years ago that was incredibly inspiring,” Women’s Philanthropy Chair Jodi Miller said. “I felt it was important to create and share a comparable mission here for our Philadelphia women.”
Few things spark a passion for Israel more than a life-changing Jewish Federation mission: Our trips are an immersive experience that allows participants to expand their worlds while also deepening their connections to both Israel and their local Jewish communities. This inimitably crafted mission will give participants a firsthand look at both the tragic history of Germany’s Jews as well as their vibrant present.
Upon arrival in Germany, the group will tour Berlin’s historic Jewish Quarter, the golden- domed Neue Synagogue and its largest shul, the Rykestrasse Synagogue. The trip will also include a visit to the deceptively glamorous House of the Wannsee Conference, where the Nazis’ Final Solution was planned.
The group will take a step into the shoes of Germany’s Jewish history by standing on Gruenwald station’s Platform 17, where Berlin’s Jews were deported, and will then step into the future, with the opportunity to enjoy dinner with Berlin’s current and flourishing Jewish community.
The group will then travel on to Israel, with highlights including VIP meetings with Israel dignitaries and a visit to the Ayalon Institute, which was once a secret ammunition factory. The group will have the chance to seek inspiration from serial entrepreneur Merav Oren, founder of Open Restaurants and WMN, a community for female tech founders and will also spend a day in the Jewish Federation’s partnership region of Netivot and Sdot Negev to see firsthand how Jewish Federation programs are increasing local vitality, entrepreneurship and public health.
“This will be a meaningful mission where we will be able to explore the painful history of Jews in Berlin during the reign of the Nazis, yet will also be inspired by the thriving young Jewish community that exists there today,” Miller explained. “In Israel, we will have an opportunity to reflect on the transition from the Holocaust to the birth of the Jewish homeland, and deepen our understanding of the outstanding innovation and entrepreneurship in Israel today.”
Due to the distinctive content of this mission, Women’s Philanthropy will be hosting two upcoming parlor meetings for those interested in learning more about the trip. The first will be held at a private home in Dresher on Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m., and the second will take place at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood on Sept. 19 at 1:30 p.m.
Contact Marni Davis, director of Women’s Philanthropy, at [email protected] to learn more.
To learn more about the Women’s Philanthropy Mission to Berlin and Israel and to register, visit jewishphilly.org/missions.