Brother and sister Jack Folbe and Sue Curhan
Brother and sister Jack Folbe and Sue Curhan. (Courtesy of Jack Folbe)

The Detroit pilot included three cohorts of six to seven participants.

Over five weeks, the Michigan-Central Galilee Partnership Region participated in an inspiring pilot program “Café Hafooch” (“Cappuccino”) — an intergenerational program that aims to create meaningful connections between Jewish community adults and Israeli high school students. In addition to the connections, the Israelis work on advancing their English skills.

The Detroit pilot (adopted from the Toronto program that has been active for the last few years) included three cohorts of six to seven participants. Each cohort included three to four Israeli 12th-graders, two adult Jewish community members and an Israeli facilitator.

Over five weeks, each cohort met for one hour on Zoom after watching assigned “trigger” videos dealing with topics such as Jewish identity as Israelis or Americans, the global Jewish reality, stereotypes, charity, social responsibility, minorities and peoplehood.

The responses of the participants illustrate the success of the encounters for both the Israeli teens and the American adults.

Hila, 12th-Grader in the Jezreel Valley

The experience in Café Hafooch was so special. I am so happy that I was given the opportunity to discuss and deal with topics that dealt with Israel, Jews abroad and the diaspora that I am part of but really hadn’t ever discussed up until now. Jack and Sue from Detroit and Naomi, our facilitator, were terrific and gave us a place to speak and express ourselves. It was also very new and inspiring for me to hear their perspectives. I really enjoyed the experience and recommend it for anyone who is invited to participate.

Jack Folbe, Detroit Adult Participant

I can’t thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to participate. I definitely gained greater insight into how our young adult partners feel about challenging topics. Our young adult Israeli partners also helped me understand my adult children, particularly educating me on racism, diversity and tolerance, and generational differences on being Jewish. I definitely received more than I gave.

Roi, 12th-Grader in the Jezreel Valley

This wonderful experience made my knowledge wider, mostly about the Jewish identity in the United States and Canada. I shared stories about my Jewish roots and got to hear other fascinating stories. It was a pleasure to get to know volunteers from the Jewish community in Detroit and to spend a weekly online time with them and with my friends.

Yahel, 12th-Grader from Migdal HaEmek

The experience in Café Hafooch was one of a kind. It gave me the feeling of being in the U.S. but also with the comfort of home. I’m thankful for having the opportunity to meet these interesting people and to discuss the subjects that I don’t get to usually discuss.

Sue Curhan, Detroit Adult Participant

Café Hafooch was an incredible experience. Even though on Zoom — we made great connections, built relationships and learned. Our team was fabulous. Getting the opportunity to volunteer with my brother Jack and share memories was sweet. Our fearless facilitator did an amazing job keeping us on track. The topics of conversation were sophisticated. We examined our own Jewish identity, cultures and choices. We learned how young Israelis feel about the same topics. I am so impressed by these 17- and 18-year-olds. Our future is strong. I can’t wait to give them hugs in person. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a regular rich and meaningful program. 

Naomi Miller is director of Israel Partnerships for the Federation.