31 Jul Making this Summer the ‘Best Ever’
Making this Summer the ‘Best Ever’
Camp Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) Yair and Ohev are committed to creating strong personal relationships with campers, helping foster a love of the Jewish state and Judaism.
A week after finishing his service in the Israel Defense Forces, Yair from Be’er Ya’akov in central Israel, was on a plane to the U.S. for the summer. The 20-year-old was eagerly anticipating being a first-time Jewish Agency summer camp Shaliach (male Israeli emissary) in Pennsylvania at Camp Ramah in the Poconos.
“I am very passionate about working with children and beyond that, I think there is a great purpose to the work of a Shaliach. After going through Jewish Agency training in Israel, I really identified with the overall mission of camp emissaries and felt that I could represent Israel to kids at camp in a meaningful way,” reflected Yair.
Each year, The Jewish Agency recruits charismatic and energetic young Israelis to travel abroad as Summer Camp Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) in North America, where they work in Jewish summer camps as counselors, specialists and educators. They participate fully in camp life, sharing Jewish traditions, teaching Israeli and Jewish culture, and serving as role models for campers and staff. In 2023, 1,500 Shlichim are working at 158 camps across North America.
As a ropes instructor, Yair spends most of his days on the ropes course, interacting with kids when they participate in his activity. His weeks at camp so far have been fun and exciting.
“I think Shlichim play a really important role at camp. In my opinion, Jewish children around the world should feel connected to Israel and love it and love Judaism too. I really hope that over the course of the summer, I‘m successful in strengthening the campers’ relationships with the Jewish state and their Jewish identities,” said Yair. “This has already been an amazing and empowering experience and one that fills my heart.”
A fellow first-time camp emissary, Ohev, 21, from Be’er Sheva, also wanted to be a Shlichah (female Israeli emissary) because of her love of kids as well as education.
“I did my year of service in Israel working at a high school helping in special education classes instead of doing the army and it became my passion. And I thought that getting to be involved in it in another country and in another form would be an awesome experience so I figured why not?” shared Ohev.
Working as an inclusion coordinator at the JCC’s J-Day Camps in Cleveland, Ohio, Ohev talks with special needs kids and the staff to see if anyone needs help, and accompanies various ages groups taking part in activities like sports, dance, art, pool, lake and more.
“I’m doing what I love, and learning a lot about myself and the Cleveland Jewish community too. Being here is really an opportunity to give young Jews living outside of Israel a different perspective and teach them about Israel by making personal connections,” Ohev explained. “I hope throughout the summer the kids learn from us about Israeli culture and the importance of being a Jew no matter where you live, and that we help make their summers the best ever so they remember us and think of Israel in a positive light.”