Below is a letter to familes from Camp Mountain Chai Director Dan Baer who took the group to our Federation Sister City Sha'ar HaNegev.
Dear Kavanah Families,
Our group split from the main BBYO group and headed South on Friday to spend Shabbat in Sha'ar HaNegev (click for map), San Diego's partner region in Israel. Each of the boys and Sunny were provided home hospitality with hand selected families in the region. The region is largely secular, and they had a Shabbat true to the region nonetheless. They all had traditional Friday Shabbat dinners in their homes. Although there were no prayers involved, it was a great experience as they enjoyed great good, great company, and interacted with the local residents. As you'll notice on the map, Sha'ar HaNegev borders the Gaza Strip. The group was cleared by security to be in Sha'ar HaNegev and each of the Kibbutzim that they stayed on has armed security as well. Here is a bit about the experience in the words of the teens:
"Staying on a kibbutz with a host family was particularly meaningful because it gave me a sense of everyday life in israel, particularly life close to the Gaza border. While getting to know our host, Lee, and his family, we learned that Israeli teens are much more similar to us than we thought." (Josh, Jeremy)
"Being able to live a few days in the life of an Israeli family was an enriching and interesting point of view. We endured a rich cultural experience with delicious foods, fun activities, and a great understanding of the Israeli people's livelihood. Overall, it was a fantastic time and the hosts are very pleasant to be around." (Ben N)
"The experience was very good. I felt welcomed from the first second and the food was great. It was nice speaking to Israeli kids my age." (Max, Tayo)
Here are a few pictures from their experience (courtesy of Ben N):
View to Gaza
It was a one-of-a-kind experience for each of the boys. We are so proud to partner with Sha'ar HaNegev, and very excited for 6 Sha'ar HaNegev teens to join our camp community in the next two weeks. If your family (in San Diego) is interested in hosting any of the teens who are coming, please let me know. This years group contains 4 girls and 2 boys.
Details on return transportation for next week to come soon.
Camp Mountain Chai