JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - Over a thousand Israeli volunteers headed for North American summer camps will serve to deepen the bond between young Jews and Israel and strengthen their Jewish identities, a senior government minister said Wednesday.
“Shlichut (a mission) is the belief that you can a change the current reality, to change the society that we live in, and to see the past with a desire for a better future," said Minister of Education, Shai Peron at the group's seminar. "In your hands you hold the power to ignite the spark of change,” Peron said at the event, held at The Jewish Agency for Israel's Kiryat Moriah campus in Jerusalem.
Some 150,000 children and teenagers will flock to 220 camps, organized by Jewish community organizations and Jewish and Zionist youth movements.
In a first, Israelis who have chosen to defer their military service in order to do year of volunteer work or study in a pre-army academy, will also participate in the program, including serving as counselors at the camps.
Most of the shlichim, who were chosen from among 5,500 applicants, receive special Agency training prior to their departure. After completing military or National Service, many are experienced in formal and informal education, including sports, and camping skills, and related camp activities.
“Many of our shlichim talk about the Jewish experience that they have in camp,” said Eran Berkovich, the Agency’s director of short-term emissary programs. “It’s a Jewish setting that allows them to evaluate their Judaism in a positive way.” Read more here.