Message from Alisa F. Levin, Board Chair
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Honeymoon Israel, I am sharing the bittersweet news that our Founder and co-Chief Executive Officer, Mike Wise, has announced his intent to step down as Co-CEO in the spring of 2024. Mike’s vision, leadership, and drive to innovate has transformed the lives of thousands of couples nationwide. For nearly nine years, Mike has worked tirelessly to make his vision a reality, and his daily leadership will be missed at Honeymoon Israel.
The Board of Directors has unanimously voted to designate co-founder and co-CEO Avi Rubel the sole CEO of Honeymoon Israel, effective April 2024. A transition team led by Board member and Honeymoon Israel (HMI) alum Brian Weiss has worked together over the last few months to determine the best path forward. Avi will be moving to the U.S. to take on this role, and we are thrilled to see his leadership continue at HMI.
Together, Mike and Avi founded Honeymoon Israel and launched the first trips in 2015, inviting young couples with at least one Jewish partner to travel to Israel with a group of peers from their city, sparking unique micro communities that can “do Jewish” in a way that works for them. Since 2015, more than 5,000 couples have traveled to Israel and experienced the welcome into the Jewish community that Mike envisioned with incredible results.
Mike and Avi’s tremendous co-leadership has been integral to the organization’s success and the impact on the Jewish community. The Board of Directors is working with Avi to determine next steps and appropriate staffing during this time of transition. Mike’s devotion to the program and the couples who participate has been a mainspring to HMI’s achievements. We are confident that Avi, as a co-founder and co-CEO, is uniquely qualified to lead the organization to continued growth and innovation.
In recognition of Mike’s impact on Honeymoon Israel and the larger Jewish community, there will be opportunities announced to honor Mike and thank him for his service next year. A note from Mike is included below.
Alisa Levin, Honeymoon Israel Board Chair
Message from Mike Wise on his upcoming retirement
Honeymoon Israel has become everything I dreamed it could be, and more. It’s one of the great honors of my life to be part of pushing the Jewish community to move forward in recognition of what our community looks like and what we need to do to make all young couples and young people feel part of the Jewish people, regardless of their own religion, or what they look like.
Nearly a decade ago, I read a Pew Research Center report about the rise of interfaith relationships in non-Orthodox Jewish Americans. After reading the report, I drafted a whitepaper centered around the question: how do we better welcome young couples with diverse backgrounds to Jewish life so that we meet them where they are, rather than where the Jewish community might want them to be. That led me to meet Avi Rubel, and found Honeymoon Israel.
It was quite simple: we saw a need, and we found a way to address it. Looking back, what I drafted in 2013 is what Honeymoon Israel is today. It was intentional to build this organization and community in reflection of what the Jewish community looks like and with the understanding that the diversity of our community can only be a positive for the Jewish people.
I’m proud of the impact that Honeymoon Israel has had on the Jewish community, and particularly in our role in encouraging Jewish professionals to embrace the couples that want to be part of the Jewish people.
I have deep gratitude to the philanthropists that believed in Honeymoon Israel, and in particular the leadership role of the One8 Foundation who demonstrated brilliant philanthropy in helping to launch Honeymoon Israel at the beginning.
I often say I have three children: two sons, and Honeymoon Israel. I am confident that this is the right time to retire, knowing that the organization is on a great trajectory for growing and creating impact, and, with Avi’s leadership, continuing to fulfill our original vision.
Michael Wise, Honeymoon Israel Co-CEO and Founder