Juniors Brooke Ratner and Zoie Wittenberg and sophomores Jonathan Nooriel and Maayan Schoen left Atlanta for the Azeri capital, Baku, on Tuesday, April 5, after raising $10,748.50 to defray the cost of matzah. Joining them are AJA Judaics teacher Rabbi Reuven Travis and AJA parent George Birnbaum, a political consultant who conceived of the mission after spending time in Azerbaijan at Sukkot.
The four students, known as the Baku Crew, were selected from the many trip applicants, who had to write essays about the importance of connecting with fellow Jews around the world.
The trip will include a Passover program with Baku’s Jewish day school, which has nearly 200 students, and time with government officials.
“As Jews in the United States, we tend to think of the Jewish people as a presence only here in North America or in Israel,” Wittenberg said. “We must remember that Jewish communities in other places, even if they don’t need help, still need love and support. We’re trying to create a connection with our own people halfway across the world.”