Ex-JCC CEO Brings Couples to Israel

Ex-JCC CEO Brings Couples to Israel

Mike Wise
Mike Wise

Former Marcus Jewish Community Center CEO Mike Wise will be at the General Assembly to pitch a startup Israel engagement program that has just connected with Atlanta.

Wise and Avi Rubel, the son of the Epstein School’s Middle School principal, Myrna Rubel, are the co-CEOs of Honeymoon Israel, which follows the Birthright pattern in subsidizing trips to Israel to strengthen connections to the Jewish community. The nine-day trips aren’t free, but the $1,800 cost per couple, including airfare, is far below the market price.

The purpose of the trip and local follow-up programming is to create a community of couples committed to raising Jewish families in whatever way is meaningful to them.

Mike Wise
Mike Wise

To be eligible, couples must have been married or in a “lifelong committed relationship” for no more than five years. The couple must include one person age 25 to 40, one who is Jewish, and one who has not have traveled to Israel on a peer trip such as Birthright. LBGTQ couples are welcome.

During Honeymoon Israel’s launch in several cities, it has received four applications for every spot in the program, and 65 percent of participants are in interfaith relationships. The organization operates in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver and San Diego.

“Mike and I are thrilled to be able to return to our connections in Atlanta and launch a program that will reach so many deserving couples in this community,” Rubel said in an announcement from the nonprofit company.

Through Dec. 1, Honeymoon Israel is accepting applications at its website for its first trip involving couples from the Atlanta area May 26 to June 5 next year. If, as expected, demand is heavy, the same applications will be considered for the second trip, set for Oct. 27 to Nov. 6. Each trip can accommodate 20 couples.

Congregation Or Hadash Rabbi Mario Karpuj is participating in the first trip to provide a scholarly voice.

“I’m looking forward to helping these couples strengthening their connection to Israel and all it represents to our tradition in general and to our generation in particular,” he said.

A free information session is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, at 5 Seasons Brewing at the Prado in Sandy Springs.

Before that meeting, however, Rubel and Wise will open their program to feedback at the General Assembly during a breakout session Tuesday, Nov. 10, to help them take Honeymoon Israel nationwide.

read more: