Yom Ha’atzmaut, Camp and Connections
Sometimes it feels like any day can be a holiday. We have National Grilled Cheese Day, Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day and even Talk Like a Pirate Day. With so many “holidays,” it’s easy to miss one that is actually important, especially when it takes place on the other side of the world. Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, which commemorates the declaration of Israel as a state, which took place on May 14, 1948 or the Hebrew date of 5 Iyar.
Sixty-eight years later, Israel has become a global leader, particularly in technology innovation, health care and humanitarian response. Yet, daily news coverage shows that, in many ways, the the struggle for statehood continues. These achievements and challenges are the foundation of JCC Chicago camps’ approach to creating the next generation who will stand with Israel. From games and songs at day camps through political policy debates at Camp Chi, we build relationships between campers and Israel without having to get on an airplane.
This summer, two of our camps are fortunate to have Israeli staff. These highly skilled staff members are more than just counselors or specialists, they bring authentic sights, sounds and tastes of Israel to our campers as shlichim or emissaries through the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Apachi Village Day Camp – Hebrew Immersion
- Dorin Grunspan, Counselor, is completing her fourth year of study in education, preparing to become a kindergarten teacher. She also serves as the Chairperson of the Student Union at her college.
- Noa Shapira, Counselor, has experience working at a day camp for preschool and elementary aged campers in Israel. Her love for swimming and sports has led her to pursue a degree in physical education.
- Rea Ben David, Cove Specialist, is an English teacher in the northern part of Israel. He is an avid kite surfer, kayaker and stand up paddle boarder.
- Yahel Eshed, PNW Trip Leader, is returning for his second year on staff after being a youth club leader on a moshav. He is highly skilled in working with teens as well as surfing, kayaking, rock climbing and rappelling.
- Alon Krasnitsky, Israel Culture Specialist, works in the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and has insight to share with campers about Israel’s role in the larger world. He hikes, dives and snowboards whenever he can.
- Tsil Podolich, Israel Culture Specialist, is from Kiryat Gat, JUF’s Partnership Together city. Her family emigrated from Russia so she speaks Russian, Hebrew and English.
- Tal Lisos, Video Specialist, was part of the IDF delegation which provided relief efforts after the earthquakes in Nepal last year. He works at Beit Miller Technology Arts & Communication Center as a videographer and served as a combat photographer in the IDF.
In Israel, Yom Ha’atzmaut is a national holiday. The festivities include parades, outdoor concerts, parties and barbecues. The Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor, is awarded to people who excel in their chosen field. If we were there today, we could join these staff for a picnic and enjoy one of our campers’ favorite things about Israel – the food – falafel, hummus, shwarma, Bamba, Krembo and the list of deliciousness goes on and on.
If you are interested in hosting one of the Apachi Village Israeli counselors, please contact Abby Ashkenazi for more information. Multiple families are needed to host for a few weeks at a time. This is a life enriching opportunity for your family to build a personal bond with Israel.