Exodus From India to Israel

Little girl from India holding Israeli flag, makes aliyah to Israel. Photo: Shavei Israel

Little girl from India makes aliyah to Israel. Photo: Shavei Israel

Over 200 new immigrants came from the northeastern Indian state of Manipur to Israel.

The state, which is on the border with Burma, is home to the largest concentration of Bnei Menashe (Sons of Manassah) in India.

The new immigrants plan on settling in the Galilee, where many Bnei Menashe immigrants have made homes. They initially will reside in Shavei Israel’s absorption center in Kfar Hasidim, where they will formally convert to Judaism.

Upon arrival, the new immigrants will immediately begin preparing for Passover. [Read more…]

Ancient Chinese Jewish Community of Kaifeng Celebrates Hanukkah

Shavei-2A few dozen Chinese Jews in Kaifeng, China, gathered tonight with an emissary of the Shavei Israel organization to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah and light the traditional menorah candles. “The Chinese Jews take their inspiration from the Maccabees,” said Shavei Israel Chairman and Founder Michael Freund. “Even in far-off Kaifeng, the light of Jewish survival continues to burn brightly. Kaifeng’s Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people.”

Shavei-1Freund added that even “after centuries of assimilation, a growing number of Kaifeng’s Jews have begun seeking to return to their roots and embrace their Jewish identity. They are trying to figure out why it’s important to be Jewish and we want to help them have a stronger Jewish identity.”

Scholars believe the first Jews settled in Kaifeng, which was one of China’s imperial capitals, during the 8th or 9th century. They are said to have been Sephardic-Jewish merchants from Persia or Iraq who made their way eastward along the Silk Route and established themselves in the city with the blessing of the Chinese emperor.

Kaifeng SynagogueIn 1163, Kaifeng’s Jews built a large and beautiful synagogue, which was subsequently renovated and rebuilt on numerous occasions. At its peak, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Kaifeng Jewish community may have numbered as many as 5,000 people. But widespread intermarriage and assimilation, as well as the death of the community’s last rabbi, brought about its demise by the middle of the 19th century.

Nevertheless, many of the families sought to preserve their Jewish identity and pass it down to their descendants, who continued to observe Jewish customs. Currently, there are estimated to be approximately 1,000 Jewish descendants in Kaifeng. In recent years, Shavei Israel has helped a number of young Chinese Jews from Kaifeng to make aliyah to Israel.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in more than a dozen countries and provides assistance to a variety of communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to by the derogatory term “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.

The French Jewish Community’s Future

French-American Jew Helen Loeb was invited to speak at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood, Penn. on the terrorist attacks last week in Paris and the state of the France’s Jewish community.

Last year almost 1% of French Jews immigrated to Israel. How many will make aliyah next year?

Last year almost 1% of French Jews immigrated to Israel. How many will make aliyah next year?

Many have come to me in the past few days to express their sympathy and ask about the well-being of my family. Many have also come to me to inquire and reflect about the future of the French Jewish community. So where do I start?

I am appalled by the current developments in France, of course, but also in Brussels and other places in Europe.

I grew up in Toulouse, infamous for the murder of one rabbi and 3 children just about two years ago. The Ozar Hatorah school is just 2 miles from where I grew up, where my mother and sister still live. Used to be known for its aeronautical industry and opera singing, Toulouse has become a symbol of antisemitism and homegrown terrorism.

[Read more…]

1st Children’s Aliyah Flight Arrives: Record 106 Children Aboard

— by Rebecca (Langer) Modell

Gilad Shalit accompanied the 231 North American Olima board this summer’s first charter Aliyah flight including Nefesh b’Nefesh’s 35,000th Oleh

El-Al flight 3004 landed Monday morning at Ben Gurion Airport with 231 new Israeli citizens aboard. Even before they took off, the passengers knew not to expect getting any sleep, as close to 50% of the occupants were children. This is a new record of children arriving on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel. The 106 young Olim are joining a whopping 989 children who will be making Aliyah throughout 2013 with Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth L’Israel and JNF. This is an increase of 20%, compared to 822 children that made Aliyah in 2012.

In anticipation of the arrival, Nefesh B’Nefesh prepared reinforcements to help the parents watch over their children and keep them occupied during the long flight and at the arrival ceremony. Amongst the activities that awaited the children were Aliyah coloring books, games and custom-made t-shirts. Former Israeli IDF captive, Gilad Shalit, also joined the flight as a show of support and appreciation for the thousands of North American Olim who are fulfilling their dream to return to Israel and their contribution to the State of Israel.

Also on board were 41 families, including the 106 children as well as 54 singles — 13 of whom will be joining the IDF. Also of note were the 41 Olim moving to Israel’s periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Go North and Go South programs.

Kindertransport 1938-1940

The Children’s Aliyah Flight reminds us for the story of the Kindertransport which saved “some ten thousand Jewish children out of Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the free city of Danzig nine month prior to the outbreak of World War II. For the most part, the children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms. One of those children, fourteen-year-old Viennese native Renee Perl, was destined to become the mother of congressional representative Allyson Schwartz, Democrat of Pennsylvania.”
(Source:The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members)

The Co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart said:

As we welcome our 35,000th Oleh, it is exciting to see so many children amongst the Zionistic modern day pioneers who are helping to build and secure the future of the State of Israel. This new generation is joining young adults volunteering for the IDF and Olim moving to Israel’s North and South to help strengthen the periphery, to infuse the country with renewed passion and idealism.

The Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said:

I am happy to welcome over 100 children who are making Aliyah today through Nefesh B’Nefesh and joining us here in Israel. Aliyah from North America is extremely important and makes us stronger as a nation.

The Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky said:

The Jewish Agency, which brings tens of thousands of Olim from across the globe sees Nefesh B’Nefesh as a dedicated partner in this important work.  The children and their parents who are arriving on this Olim flight from North America represent the future of Israel and every one of them strengthens Israeli society.

Hundreds of families and friends as well as Israeli dignitaries gathered at Ben Gurion Airport to welcome the country’s newest citizens at the arrival ceremony.

Those present included:

  • Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver;
  • Member of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs MK Dov Lipman;
  • Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky;
  • World Chairman of KKL-JNF, Effie Stenzler;
  • Vice President Global Sales of El Al, Offer Gat;
  • Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Erez Halfon and
  • Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass & Tony Gelbart.

Photo credit: Shafar Azran and Peter Hamalgyi.

About Nefesh B’Nefesh: Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its over 35,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel.  

Online Series Follows Celebrity Chef Jamie Geller’s First Year of Aliyah

— by Rebecca Langer

Following the success of the Joy of Aliyah online documentary series, which followed the Aliyah journey of USA TV producer, best-selling author and celebrity chef Jamie Geller, Nefesh B’Nefesh has teamed up with the “kosher Rachael Ray” to produce a sequel which is co-produced by 12Tribe Films and Israel Video Network. The new behind-the-scenes Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller series, which premiered on April 2nd, will feature monthly webisodes — to be released on the first Tuesday of every month documenting Jamie and her family’s first year as new Olim, while showcasing the beauty of living in Israel.

More after the jump.
The new food and travel series is expected by its producers to surpass the popularity of the original series, which continues to grow and has garnered over 170,000 views on YouTube. The series was also combined into a full-length film which was featured at the Jerusalem Cinematheques’ Jewish Film Festival. The new episodes will follow Jamie as she visits famous culinary locales in Israel — restaurants, vineyards, dairies, farmers’ markets, and the likes.

Geller made Aliyah to Israel together with her family last August through Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Aliyah organization that works together with The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, JNF-USA and Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption to facilitate Aliyah from North America and the UK.

Ethiopian Jews Arrive, Receiving, Bringing Beautiful New Traditions

Recent olim from Ethiopia celebrate as they dance at a “Hachnasat Sefer Torah” ceremony at The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Ibim Absorption Center. Photo: Ofer Baram, The Jewish Agency for Israel.

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Imagine making aliyah, moving to Israel during incoming missiles from Gaza. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that yesterday, more than 500 new Jewish immigrants to Israel from Ethiopia transformed trauma into joy by welcoming a Torah scroll donated by Charles and Ariela Zeloof. Those at the Jewish Agency’s Ibim Immigrant Absorption Center had spent much of last week in bomb shelters.  

In honor of the arrival and courage of these new immigrants, here is a beautiful story from Ethiopian culture that is creatively retold in Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning by Montreal’s Rabbi Israel Bernath.

“It was the summer of 2001, and I was finding my seat on an Egged bus headed to Tzefat. To my left sat an elderly Ethiopian gentleman; the morning sun protruding from the window cast shadows on his face. His cane leaned against his leg, and a broad smile welcomed me for the next three or so hours. I returned the smile.

“So,” which seemed like a good way to make conversation, “maybe you have a story you can share with me?”

“A story?” He was clearly puzzled, unsure how to stereotype the young, red-bearded, black-hat-wearing rabbi sitting beside him.

“You must have a story to share with the next generation.”

Like an enlightened philosopher, his eyes lit up and his words began to flow:

The story follows the jump.
There was once a king who was growing older in years, and he couldn’t figure out which one of his three children would be the one to assume the throne and rule the kingdom.

His eldest son was strong and brave, a warrior and leader. His middle son was brilliant, quick and witty; he could outsmart just about anyone. His youngest child, his daughter, was young, very young. He loved them all equally and wanted each of them to take over the throne.

He thought and thought and finally came up with an idea. In the middle of the picturesque royal garden, there sat a small shack.

“Whoever can fill the shack to capacity,” the king exclaimed, “will take over my throne.” Each child would have seven days to fill the shack with anything they chose.

The oldest child decided to go first. His siblings watched as he lugged stones and rocks of all shapes and sizes and tossed them into the shack. Day after day he carried the heavy loads. When there was no room left, he filled the cracks and crevices with small pebbles, to fill the room to capacity. At the end of the week, the king walked down the winding, narrow path that led into the garden and reached out to open the door of the shack.

“My son,” the king said as he smiled, “you have filled the shack to capacity; you may be the next king.” He then ordered his servants to empty the shack.

The middle son, the smartest and fastest, took his turn to try to outwit his brother. The others watched as he ran back and forth from the chicken coop to the shack, carrying bags and bags full of feathers, dumping the feathers into the shack, time after time. When there was no room in the shack, he jumped on the feathers to make room for more. Before long, the entire shack was filled to capacity with feathers and so was the rest of the garden.

At the end of the week, the king came walking down the winding, narrow path that led into the garden. The entire garden looked white as snow. The king reached out his hand and opened the door.

“You have surpassed your brother,” the king exclaimed. “With the rocks there were still little holes left over in the crevices. With the feathers, however, you have managed to fill the room to capacity. You may be the next king.”  Once again he ordered his servants to empty the shack.

It was now the youngest child’s turn. The brothers pleaded with their father not to let her compete or at least to wait until she was older.

“She doesn’t understand, father. This is the whole kingdom on her shoulders,” they declared.

The king would not hear of it.

“You each got your turn; now it’s hers.”

The first day passed, and the shack was empty. The second day, the shack was still empty. The third day, still nothing had changed. By now the townspeople had heard of the competition and began crowding around the palace, wondering what the princess had planned.

The fourth day passed, and the shack was still empty. The brothers continued to plead with their father.

“She is making a mockery of the throne.”

The king just waited.

The fifth and sixth days passed and the shack remained empty. On the seventh day, the king slowly walked down the winding, narrow path that led into the scenic garden. Only this time he was not alone. Scores and scores of people followed behind him, wondering and waiting for what would be.

The king reached out his hand to open the shack. People pushed and shoved to try to get a view. A stillness passed over the crowd.  The door opened…and the shack was empty. Yet before a word could be uttered, the young princess passed under the arm of her father the king and headed straight into the shack. She knelt down, reached into the folds of her robes and revealed a small candlestick. She reached back into the folds of her robes and pulled out a candle. She proceeded to light the candle, and the entire shack was filled to capacity with light.

The king smiled. “You, my child, will take over my throne.”

The crowd cheered. The brothers also cheered. They all lived happily ever after.

As the sun sets on Friday evening and I watch my wife light the Shabbat candles and utter the brachot, I think of that bus ride and this story. The Shabbat candles-they fill our homes, our lives, our souls with light. The Shabbat candles-they fill the world with light.”

Yisroel Bernath is a graduate of Central Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim and a Hadassah-WISO diplomat in Structural Cognitive Modifiability. Rabbi, Jewish educator and author of three titles, he has entertained worldwide. He was the liaison responsible for Jewish Cultural Programming in Montreal public schools. His hands-on Hanukkah experience, Maccabees, was visited by over 10,000 children. Yisroel creates quality Jewish children’s entertainment, thus far with Shazak, Inc, Big Bang Animation, Realtime Jewish Media and Young Avraham. Spiritual Director of the Jewish Monkland Centre-Chabad NDG and Loyola Campus. He lives in Montreal with his wife, Sara, and children Chaya, Zalmy and Leiba.

16 Retiree Couples Make Aliyah to Israel

A group of 16 retiree couples, ages 50 to 80, made Aliyah to Israel on August 14 on the Nefesh B’Nefesh charter Aliyah flight that left out of JFK airport in New York. The retirees joined their children and grandchildren who have previously made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh over the last decade. The special Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) – Nefesh B’Nefesh flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.

More after the jump.
The mature Olim, who wore specially made T-Shirts saying “Aliyah: A Family Tradition,” reinforced the Nefesh B’Nefesh vision that western Olim successfully making Aliyah encourage others to do the same. They were greeted in Israel by PM Benjamin Netanyahu as well as a countless number of relatives at Ben Gurion Airport; sporting signs and various family t-shirts, all overjoyed to be welcoming their parents and grandparents to Israel.

Nefesh B’Nefesh is celebrating its tenth anniversary this summer, marking a decade since its inaugural charter Aliyah flight in 2002. The milestone comes as the organization prepares to welcome over 2,500 North American and British Jews making Aliyah this summer on two charter and seven group Aliyah flights, in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2012, Nefesh B’Nefesh will bring 4,800 newcomers to Israel.

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 32,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel. www.nbn.org.il

25 Young Poles Discover Jewish Roots and Arrive in Israel

— by Jen Glantz

JERUSALEM (August 21, 2012) – 25 young Polish Jews, many of whom have only recently discovered their Jewish roots, arrived in Israel yesterday, August 20, for a special seminar organized by Shavei Israel, an organization that aims to strengthen the connection between descendants of Jews and the State of Israel & the Jewish people. The participants, between the ages of 18-35, most of whom were raised Catholic, came from a variety of cities throughout Poland, primarily Krakow, Katowice, Warsaw, Przemysl and Gdansk. For many it marks their first time visiting Israel.

Photo credit: Mariusz Frej. Courtesy of Shavei Israel.

More after the jump.
“There is a growing thirst among young Poles with Jewish roots to learn more about their Jewish religious and cultural heritage,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund. “This awakening would have been unthinkable just 25 or 30 years ago, but since the downfall of Communism, an increasing number of Poles have sought to reclaim and affirm their Jewish identity. We owe it to them to assist them in any way that we can.”

Freund added that,

with the start of the new Jewish year just a few weeks away, it is fitting that these young Poles have come to Israel to rekindle their bond with the Jewish people. They represent the future of Polish Jewry, which despite decades of suffering and persecution is now beginning to thrive. There can be no sweeter revenge for what was done to us seven decades ago in Poland than to reconnect as many of these young Polish Jews as possible with Israel and the Jewish people.

The unique program, which is run by Shavei Israel’s team of Polish-speaking rabbis and educators, is designed to assist them in discovering more about their Jewish roots and learning more about ancient and modern-day Israel. Among the topics that will be covered are the laws of Shabbat; the upcoming festivals of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot; and “Keeping kosher in a non-kosher world.” Participants will also study the weekly Torah portion that is read in synagogue.

Sessions will be led by Rabbis Baruch Babaev, Yitzchak Rappoport, Avraham Rabitz and Dawid Szychowska, along with Shavei Israel’s emissary to Krakow, Rabbi Boaz Pash, and its emissary to Katowice, Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis. Morning, afternoon and evening prayer services will also be available.

Not only will the young Poles delve deeper into Jewish study in the classroom, but they will also have an opportunity to tour various sites in Israel such as Masada and the Dead Sea, and the northern part of the country including the Sea of Galilee and the Kabbalistic city of Safed. The group will also visit the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem and explore the Western Wall tunnels.

Two special activities include a meeting with the Polish Ambassador to Israel, and an all-day study seminar at a local yeshiva.

Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews registered as living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Jews in Poland who to this day are either hiding their identities or are simply unaware of their family heritage. In recent years, a growing number of such people, popularly known as the “Hidden Jews of Poland”, have begun to return to Judaism and to the Jewish people.

Shavei Israel is a non-profit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in nine countries and provides assistance to a variety of different communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to as the derogatory “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.  

Shavei Israel currently has two full-time emissaries in Poland located in Krakow and Katowice.

North American Olim Light Up Israel in Time for Chanukah

Seventy-six new Olim from North America are infusing Israel with the light of Zionism by celebrating the first night of Chanukah as new Israeli citizens.  The newcomers arrived on December 20 at Ben Gurion Airport on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group Aliyah flight organized in conjunction with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency.

More after the jump.

Upon making Aliyah, Eden, Mia and Hila proudly display their hand made menoras from their local Jewish day schools in the United States.
Right to left: Eden Barshishat – 4 years old from NY, Mia Barshishat – 2 years old from NY, Hila Lieber – 4.5 years old from NY.
Credit: Yonit Schiller courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

One man brought two special menorahs on Aliyah with him explaining that they “have been in my family for generations and I inherited them from my parents when they passed away. Each one of these menorahs, in a way, represents the light they still shine on me from above. Tonight I will have the privilege of lighting my first Chanukah candle as an Israeli citizen.”

According to Erez Halfon, Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, “It is very special that these Olim are arriving just in time to celebrate Chanukah in Israel. We are confident that the spark and passion they bring with them will add to the light of Zionism and infuse the State of Israel with renewed idealism and positive energy.”

Minister of Immigrant Absorption, MK Sofa Landver added, “The arrival of new Olim is always a wonderful thing, especially during holiday season in general and during Chanukah in particular. In the spirit of this holiday, my office will do all he can to ensure that their arrival will be full of warmth and light and that they will have an optimal integration in Israel”.

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 29,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel.

A Different Kind of Summer Camp

— by Sasha Ben-Ari

The summer of 2011 marks twenty years since the fall of the Soviet Union and the beginning of a new era for Russian Jewry.  For pain-filled decades, this was a population discriminated against, both in the practice of their religion and in pursuing educational and professional opportunities.  

Two decades later, the situation has changed dramatically. No longer hindered by the constraints of communism and a regime, Russian Jews today, alongside with their compatriots in post-Soviet countries, enjoy most of the liberties previously associated with the West.

Despite this transformation in the society, the challenge of openly displaying Jewish pride in Russia and other former Soviet republics remains a very complex one.  On the one hand, Russian Jews are free to observe their faith and enjoy freedom of expression. In reality, however, many stigmas envelope public displays of observance which is a reflex rooted in decades of anti-religious attitude from the communist era. Sentiments of this kind continue to pervade Russian society.  

In recent years, communal leaders recognized that we were literally losing the battle to sustain Jewish souls and sought to design an innovative solution to focus on youth from Russian speaking families and countries and address this specific challenge. The answer came in the form of one of childhood’s most beloved institutions – summer camp.

More after the jump.

One prime example of turning the tide is Project Rimon, an initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which for the past three years has been gathering campers together in locations around the world and provided a common ground for Russian speaking Jewish youth who are united by this unique cultural challenge. Participants in the Israel program include Russian speaking teens from former Soviet countries, new immigrants who have come to Israel over the last few years as well as Israeli born children of the great Russian aliya in the early nineties. These children often consider themselves more Israeli than of Russian origin.

In Israel, the population is more of a mosaic than a melting pot. Those with strong identities that deviate from the standard Israeli one can often feel alienated. The Rimon camp organizers realize that while the campers do not have to “feel” Russian, they can uncover the other ways they are one cohesive group – their Jewish heritage.

As is the case with many of Jewish Agency programs, the magical panacea crystallized in focusing on Israel as the source of Jewish pride and inspiration.  Over a two week time frame, these children, many of whom viewed their Judaism as only a fact of their ethnic heritage but never a fundamental, defining aspect of who they were, begin to discover that their Jewish identity could become a central facet of their lives.

By developing leadership and creative skills and having dialogue about Judaism and Israel, the campers begin to change their outlook on what it means to be a Jew and how to incorporate their Judaism into their daily life.
For example, on a day trip to Hasmonean Village in Central Israel, campers discovered their personal and family connections to the land and people of Israel through the language, the food and the dress of various local attractions. Actually seeing the how they are part of the history and heritage of the Jewish people is an important part of the Rimon educational program and one that has the most powerful impact on its participants.

The camp never tries to distance the child from his or her cultural identity – the opposite actually – and we firmly believe that this must remain an integral part of how the camper views themselves.  The many questions campers have of their “dueling identities” between being culturally Russian and Jewish is addressed with compassion and knowledge and children begin to recognize that their strength and uniqueness lies in the very complexity of their cultural heritage, with the connection to Israel at the core.

The author moved to Israel from Moscow in 1990 at age 8. She most recently served as a staff counselor at Project Rimon’s summer camp in Israel. She currently resides in Jerusalem.