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10.16.15 Issue

by Sherrie Saag, Communications, Jewish Federation of Omaha

The Jewish Federation of Omaha Women’s Mission to Eastern Europe departs on Oct. 28. The Federation and area synagogues are sending over 30 Omaha teens on a mission to Israel this December. In February, 2016, Rabbi Abraham will lead community members on a nine-day mission to Cuba. In March of next year, the Federation is offering an Israel mission in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary celebration of Partnership2Gether. And in May, the Schwalb Center at the University of Nebraska Omaha invites Jewish community members on a 12-day study abroad trip to Morocco led by Dr. Moshe Gershovich.

Five mission trips abroad in a span of eight months. There’s a reason why travel to overseas Jewish communities resonates with Jewish Omaha. National studies routinely link one’s physical presence in a foreign country, hands-on volunteering and social service education as key indicators of long-term philanthropy in the North American Jewish community.

The oldest truth in the fundraising and development world seems to be the best: “When they see it, they get it.”

“Missions are a critical and strategic component of community building. At their best, they create meaningful experiences that instill in the participant a lifelong passion to become more engaged, philanthropic and connected to our local and worldwide Jewish community,” said Federation CEO Alan Potash.

“If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the Jewish community in Omaha, in Israel or around the world, there is no better way to learn than participating in a Jewish Federation of Omaha mission,” said Zoe Riekes, National Partnership Chair. “And while of course I am a little biased, the best place to start is in Israel. Our spring mission, in conjunction with Partnership’s 20th Anniversary celebration will be a trip unlike any other.”

Over many, many years of organizing and overseeing travel opportunities, Omaha community members have recognized that missions provide an opportunity for powerful, inspirational and spiritual travel; an opportunity for individuals to connect with their Judaism and for participants to see through first-hand experiences the powerful work of the Federation’s international network.

“If you’ve never been to Israel, this will be the trip that defines your personal experience, and if you have been and feel the need to re-visit, this is the trip where you will see everything through fresh eyes,” said Riekes.

“We haven’t had a mission to Israel in a long time. This is your chance to travel to Israel together as one community with your friends, family and neighbors,” commented Steve Levinger, Chief Development Officer.

You won’t be traveling all alone, however. This mission is organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). Jewish Omaha will join with 13 other stateside Jewish communities that, together, make up the Partnership2Gether central area consortium.

The special two-part PARTNERSHIPTRIP2GETHER is March 28-April 7, 2016. Part 1 includes 1-1/2 days in Omaha’s partnership region, the Western Galilee, then continues in the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights and select tours in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. On the evening of April 4, participants join the P2G@20 celebration marking partnership’s 20-year milestone.

Mission pic2 webOn April 5th and 6th, choose one of several different tracks offered and depart for learning in northern Israel, from Carmel to Nahariya to Hadera or travel by train to southern Israel and the Negev, from Kiryat Gat to Eilat-Eilot.

“With incredible support from our Jewish Federation, we are able to offer exciting missions where participants have meaningful and thoughtful experiences. We connect them to our remarkable work and enable them to see how Jewish Federation dollars are making a difference locally, in Israel and overseas,” Riekes said.

The communities joining together to make this trip possible include: Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana, South Bend, Louisville, Des Moines, Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio.

Check out upcoming editions of the Jewish Press for more information or contact Zoe Riekes at, Jan Goldstein at or Heidi Benish at