By Beth Kanofsky, Sr. Assistant Director of Camp Harlam
Shalom from Israel! I have the pleasure of traveling to Israel to be part of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Shlichim Training Seminar this year (and I’ll share an update from that soon). I traveled to Israel two days prior to the start of the training to be here for Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day and Yom Haatzmuut, Independence Day. After visiting Israel many times, it was powerful to be here for an important observance and celebration. Equally as important, it gave me some extra time to catch up with Harlamites in Israel.
Before leaving Tel Aviv for the seminar, I met Shlomi Nehumson for lunch. Shlomi is from Israel and was a counselor and assistant supervisor at Harlam from 2003-2006. During Hanukah 2011, Shlomi put together the first OTZMA Camps in Israel. Otzma, which means strengths, is part of the IDF Widows Orphans Organization. OTZMA provides a place for children from all over Israel who have lost a parent in service to Israel to gather. The participants, ages 12-18, meet three times a year during long vacations from school in various places throughout Israel. OTZMA Camps give them the opportunity to be surrounded by friends who understand them well and enjoy many of the same camp activities Harlamites do-including Maccabiah! The names of their units may even be familiar to you: Carmel, Sharon, Arava, Galil, and Golan. Of course, that isn’t a coincidence.
As we were chatting, Shlomi said “You know, this camp was founded in Kunkletown”. It was Shlomi’s experience at Harlam that drove him to create OTZMA Camps. Shlomi took his understanding of the power of camp and informal education and applied it in Israel. The work Shlomi and his colleagues do has a huge impact on a group of kids and teens who are in need of support. Shlomi wants everyone in our community to know that, “the light of Camp Harlam’s candle lightens other people’s lives way beyond they can even imagine, and OTZMA is the ultimate proof.”
As I transition from my time visiting into the training seminar, I can’t wait to meet our whole new team of shlichim, Israeli counselors. I hope they will be excited for their time at Camp Harlam and inspired by the work they do in here. And maybe someday, we’ll even have yet another camp founded in Kunkletown!