Region: Kharkov and peripheral communities.
Dates: June 25- July 1 (11-13 years old session), July 5-14 (14-17 years old session), July 18-24 (students' session)
Camp location: Black Sea, Odessa (Ukraine)
Brief history of the community: First Jews started coming to the city just in 18th century, they were coming from Turkey and Poland for the annual fair in the city. By the end of the century there was already a small Jewish community living there. According to the latest estimations there are 50,000 Jews living in the city.
In 2011 310 Jewish children and youth participated in the Jewish Agency summer camp program in the region.
Camp concept: This year the camp program is dedicated to holidays of the Jewish calendar. Every day was dedicated to one or several holidays:
- Day 1 – meeting new and old friends, Rosh ha-Shana
- Day 2 – Chanukah
- Day 3 – Purim
- Day 4 – Pesach, Sukkoth, Shavuot
- Day 5 – Shabbat
- Day 6 – Israeli Independence day
- Day 7 – last day: final projects and feedback
Campers are divided into groups according to their age.
Sophia Gonchrov, 13 years old
It is my first summer camp. My grandmother was always invited to Jewish holidays celebrations and this year she took me with her. I always thought that it should be boring and for old people like my grandmother. But there I met very nice people of my age and they told me about this summer camp. So here I am. I love being here. Just here I understood what it means to be Jewish. Here I learnts about Israel. Once I will go there.
Angelina Vlasova, 14 years old
My parents were always a little ashamed of being Jewish so when in May someone called us from the Jewish Agency inviting me to go to the camp their first reaction was to run away, to change the phone number and disappear. During the Soviet times my grandparents suffered a lot from being Jewish. But we are living in a different country today so I persuaded my parents to let me go to the camp. I promised that I will be calling them every day. The camp is great. I've never being in so wonderful atmosphere with such great people. When after the first day I called my parents telling how happy I was there my mother was crying. She said that she always wanted me to know the history and tradition of our people but was afraid. Now I think that I want to go to study in Israeli University when I finish school. Do not tell my mom, I have to prepare her, ok?
One of the most memorable events in the camp: Israeli history evening
One of the most memorable events in the Kharkov camp was the Israeli history evening. Campers were divided into 6 groups. Each group receives a decade from an Israeli history and a task to present the events of their decade in a form of exhibition, theater sketch, video etc.
Vanya, 12 years old: It is not my first camp and I've heard about Israel but when counselors said that Israel is juts 60 something years old I could not believe my ears. My grandfather is older than Israel. But Israel has made so much in these years. Today I'm proud for being Jewish, being connected to such a great country!
The most emotional presentation was made by the group that was presenting the period of 2000-2012. They decided to concentrate on one the most important event and choose to tell about Gilad Shalit. They showed video and pictures and made a short play catching attention of everyone in the hall.
Vika, 23 years old, counselor: I admire these kids, after the whole year of studying in school they choose to come to our Jewish educational camp. They are so eager to learn more, to discover their Jewish heritage. The Israeli history evening was so great thanks to them. It was not a boring lecture like in school. Some of the campers even study in Jewish day schools and know Israeli history better than me. But they learnt together making the Israeli history alive.