Israel365 Summer Camp with a Heart and Soul

Serving Food to Jerusalem’s Neediest

On the first day, we spent the morning at the Meir Panim Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem. It’s an amazing place where meals are served in a warm, restaurant-like atmosphere. Our campers helped by washing and cutting up vegetables, cleaning kitchen appliances, and we even got to serve some of the food!

We got to end the day with pizza that the Meir Panim staff brought in for us as a way to say thank you for the work we did there. The Meir Panim branch workers are all truly exceptional people and we had an amazing time working with them (and we’re not only saying this because of the pizza)! Helping out at Meir Panim was a great way to kick off the summer and all the campers said they definitely want to go back!

Learning from the Elderly

The following day we began by learning in the Torah about  our connection as Jews to the Land of Israel. We then had the opportunity to give back to the land by helping brighten the day of its residents who may have felt forgotten. Our campers created food baskets for the elderly who spend their days at Melabev, a non-profit organization where people with various forms of dementia can go to enjoy activities with the hopes of enhancing and adding light to their day.

To make our gifts even more personal, we hand wrote letters and added them to each gift basket, and the picture that Melabev sent to us when we had finished made it all more than worth it!

When we went to deliver the gift baskets to the elderly, we had the opportunity to speak to one of Melabev’s volunteers and from speaking to her not only did we realize all the amazing things they do at Melabev, we learned a beautiful life lesson.

She spoke to us about how plenty of times when they do activities with the elderly visitors there, a few minutes later the visitors won’t remember what they did. While that is hard, she pointed out that it was all worth it for the smile they had during the activity.

The teenage campers discussed this and realized that there’s no better way to truly learn and express the importance of each and every moment of life. The teenagers learned from the elderly, don’t forget to live in the moment!

Filling a Need, Filling a Stomach

Every month “Pantry Packers” delivers crates containing all the necessary foods and household maintenance supplies to Israel’s poorest families and senior citizens. Our campers helped them by filling the machines and organizing, packaging, and labeling the bags that contained the food. We saw what an amazing organization Pantry Packers is and how they work around the clock, trying as hard as they can to reach as many of Israel’s hungriest families as they can, to bring them food and add a light to their lives. From watching all they do and taking part in it, our campers gained a strong sense of admiration for Pantry Packers and all its staff.

Living the Dream

The next day, we started our day in the best way – by praying at the Western Wall! After that we took a five minute walk to the City of David and started off the tour by learning about its biblical relevance. The Torah we studied there highlighted the dream of the Jewish People returning to Israel, and finally, how fortunate we are to see the fulfillment of that dream as we sat in the city of David in the heart of Jerusalem. We felt so inspired and truly lucky to be living in Israel and then went through the underground tunnels which was a really cool and original experience. All the girls had a great time!

Planting our Roots in the Holy Land

Years ago, a man spent months planting trees to leave his children a legacy one day. Three weeks ago, a forest fire in Jerusalem burnt down every one of his trees. Our campers had the honor of helping him plant new trees and, even though it was VERY hot, we had an amazing time doing it. It was unbelievable being able to make such a permanent mark on our country like that. We got to literally and physically be part of building up the Land of Israel.

Advocating for Israel

Israel365 staff ran a Zoom session for our campers on the important topic of Israel advocacy. We learned about the importance of advocating for Israel and the dangers of ‘fake news’ taking over news outlets and social media platforms, and how we, as teenagers, have the ability to combat it. Not only was it a super interactive and exciting workshop, we felt empowered about how we can really make a difference.

Studying Torah from a Different Perspective

Thursday night we had a crazy night activity! We started the evening speaking to Donna Jollay from Israel365, a non-Jewish woman who reminded us how lucky we are to be in Israel. She showed us how the dream of returning to Israel is written throughout the Torah and pointed out to us that we’re living out this fantasy! It was very eye opening. We ended the night with a delicious BBQ and a movie night.The best part though, was hanging out and getting to know everyone better.

Getting our Hands Dirty

On our last day of Camp, we arrived at a run down building in the center of Jerusalem. Our campers joined ‘Tenufa Ba’Kehila’ in an effort to help improve the living conditions of the building’s tenants by painting an apartment. We had the opportunity to join an outstanding organization, and even though it was only for a day, it really was amazing to be able to partake in such a special initiative. Tenufa Ba’Kehila is an organization that helps Israel’s neediest families get back on track and move forward towards a brighter future. Their efforts produce decent and safe homes for deserving families, creating positive momentum that helps them break out of the cycle of poverty. And we really saw this in action. Even though we got our hands, and all our clothes really dirty! our campers felt great that they were able to help by beautifying a run down building by repainting the hallways. And we had a wonderful time with the volunteers from Tenufa Ba’Kehila while doing it.

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