Counselors from Tsfat bring taste of Israel to Gan Israel campers
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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Two Israeli counselors have brought a taste of Israel to children at Camp Gan Israel this summer.
"Before we came, we thought about how to give the kids the love of Israel," said Devora Neemen, who is serving as a camp counselor in Portland this summer with Chaya Ceiitlin, both from Tsfat.
An Israeli food day, when counselors and campers will make and eat hummus, falafel, pita and other Israeli delicacies is one of the ideas the pair plans to implement. They said they also took the campers to a grocery store and looked at all the chocolate that is not kosher.
"We told them that would never happen in Israel," said Neemen. "I told them in Israel everything is kosher so you don't have to check. They were surprised to hear you don't have to check (for kosher certification)."
Rabbi Chayim Mishulovin, co-director of Gan Israel with his wife Simi, said that they searched the world and reviewed some 50 applicants before finding Ceiitlin and Neeman. He said the camp's head counselor Fraidy Klienman was spending a semester studying at a seminary in Israel when she met the two women.
"She scouted and found two solid girls who spoke English and were fun," said the rabbi.
Simi Mishulovin said the two have done "an awesome job. Some campers had signed up for two weeks, and now they want to stay for at least another two weeks."
"One child already is talking about wanting to visit them in Israel," she said, noting she's not sure if that will really happen, but that it's an indication, "The feeling we were looking for—they've brought to camp."
Rabbi Mishulovin agreed the counselors have been successful. He said that the camp always strives to promote an understanding of Israel, but "it's different when you spend six weeks with Israeli girls talking and singing and being friendly. It's so much more real."
Ceiitlin said that the campers especially seem to enjoy the Israeli cheers and songs they are learning. She said she tells the campers stories about life in Israel and "how good it is."
She said some campers have asked her if it is scary to live in Israel.
"We tell them when you live there, it's not like the news," said Ceiitlin. "There are good things that go on."
Camp Gan Israel continues through Aug. 4. For more information, call 503-246-5437 or visit the Web site at www.cgiportland.com.