JDC camp in Romania aids rescue and recovery crews

After Sikorsky goes down, Jewish camp participants find themselves near the front line.

July 28, 2010 05:12
3 minute read.
Participants in an American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) summer camp northwest of Bucha

JDC Romania kids 311. (photo credit: Yaakov Katz)


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Some 65 children, participants in an American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) summer camp northwest of Bucharest, found themselves Monday near the front line of a tragic helicopter crash that killed one Romanian and six Israeli military personnel.

Rescuers and journalists were surprised Tuesday when a car suddenly pulled up near the crash site, and out popped five camp staffers, wearing shirts with Hebrew writing and carrying two large Israeli flags Shai Orny, deputy director of the JDC operations in Romania told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that only after checking the Internet for more information on the helicopter crash did the Jewish camp director realize that Israelis had been involved.

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“As soon as we heard, we got ourselves organized, making sandwiches and preparing hot Israeli coffee for the Israeli search and rescue teams,” he told the Post. “We even took them Bamba and Bisli snacks that we had brought from Israel for the camp participants.”

The camp is located about 15 kilometers away from the crash site.

The helicopter crash, which Romanian officials confirmed had killed all seven people on board, happened some 120 kilometers outside of the Romanian capital. Immediately on hearing the news, a team of IAF pilots and servicemen headed to the area.

“[Those coming here to help] are all part of the Jewish people and it’s very important for us to do what we can to help them,” said Orny, highlighting that one of the JDC’s goals was to provide humanitarian assistance after any tragedy and that this was another opportunity to do so.

He also said that the Jewish camp would also use the helicopter crash as an educational opportunity to teach the young participants about helping other people in general and in particular the people of Israel.

“The camp teaches Jewish and Israeli traditions, culture and history,” Orny said. “We also teach environmental awareness and tolerance.

“We will have an activity with the older children here to explain what happened,” explained Orny. “We are all part of the Jewish people and helping each other is very important.”

Twenty-one-year-old Liviu Goldenberg, one of the counselors at the camp, was passing out cups with steaming hot coffee.

Born and raised in the town of Lashi, Goldenberg is studying engineering at a local school. Over the summer he is working as a counselor at the JDC camp and plans to make aliya.

“We heard the news about the crash on Monday night but only on Tuesday morning did we learn that those killed were from Israel,” he said. “We came to show our support and solidarity for the Israeli army.”

Orny said the camp takes place in the area every summer and involves sessions for members of the Romanian Jewish community, which numbers some 10,000 people. Campers’ ages range from four to 84.

Roughly 500 people spend up to one week at the camp throughout the summer months.

On Tuesday, Romanian rescue officials said that even though remains of the helicopter had been found, the bodies of the airmen had yet to be recovered.

“Corpses, as such, have not been found. It is a very difficult area, very rocky,” he told Romanian and Israeli media that had gathered at the site.

“You can’t reach the area without the appropriate search equipment.”

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