The Journey for Identity, an extraordinary opportunity for teens developed through the partnership between Rochester and Modi'in, is a three-week transcontinental journey that will be a life-changing experience for a select group of teens from both communities. The teens on the Journey for Identity will learn about Jewish life together, bond with each other, and cover a vast geographical and experiential territory of Jewish "routes" and "roots". The Journey is chaired by Ricki Birnbaum in Rochester and Hila Hadas in Modi'in.
As of April 2005, 14 teens from each community have been selected to participate out of all those who applied. The program will take place over three weeks in July-August 2005 with coordination by trained professionals from both communities. The outlines of the program are as follows:
Six days of interactive learning about the Holocaust in Rochester and Washington, D.C., and an appreciation for Jewish life in the American Diaspora;
Seven days of visits to Jewish community centers, monuments, villages, and concentration camps in Poland, including discussions with Polish Holocaust survivors, rescuers and their descendants;
Eight days of visits to major sites throughout Israel and a deeper understanding of the significance of Israel as the Jewish homeland and the spiritual/cultural center of Judaism.
In Rochester, the Modi'in teens will stay in the homes of their Rochester counterparts. (Their families in Modi'in will reciprocate when the group goes to Israel.) They will tour Rochester and get to know each other through a wide variety of fun, educational and experiential activities. They will visit Seabreeze Amusement Park, hike at Watkins Glen, see the Corning Glass Works, visit area synagogues, go to the Jewish Film Festival, as well as take a trip to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. They will enjoy a party at the home of Ricki Birnbaum.
In Poland, the group will trace the history of Poland's Jewish community, visiting ghetto remains, cemeteries, and synagogues in Bialystok, Lublin and Krakow. They will receive tours in Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Auschwitz where they will learn about the Holocaust where it happened. They will visit museums and other institutions educating them about the history of European Jewry.
Finally, the teens will migrate to the site of ancient and modern miracles - the land of Israel. They will visit with the families of the teens from Modi'in and travel to a wide variety of sites throughout the country to learn about its rich history and the extraordinary achievements of the modern state in just half a century. They will visit ancient Jerusalem and modern, bustling Tel Aviv. They will tour the Ghetto Fighers Kibbutz, the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee, take camel rides in the Arad region, explore the Judean Desert, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea.
The Journey for Identity, which includes numerous stop-overs in Modi'in, will conclude with a farewell dinner at the home of Hila Hadas.