Northern families go to summer camp

summer camp 88 (photo credit: )
summer camp 88
(photo credit: )
Families who lived in bomb shelters for 10 days in bombarded Acre, Nazareth and Kiryat Yam have spent the past four days in Jerusalem as part of an emergency family camp arranged by the group Yahalom. Yahalom's director Derek Perlman organized the emergency camp for the 200 families last week, raising enough funds in two hours for the four days the families would be in Jerusalem. The Joint Distribution Committee and the Avi Chai Foundation donated to aid Yahalom's efforts. "When the war began, I suddenly realized I wanted to take all of our professional experience to do something for the families up in the North," Perlman said. Yahalom is an organization that provides opportunities for parents and children to study Jewish and Israeli-based value oriented topics. Since their arrival at the beginning of the week, the families from all socio-economic backgrounds have gone on various outings. Yesterday they visited Yad Vashem and Mount Herzl. Other destinations have included the Biblical Zoo, walking through the Old City and visiting the Western Wall. "I took my kids there and we put our hands on the Kotel and said the Shehechianu [blessing]," said Eliezer Moreno, a resident of Acre. "We asked to finish the war and for what the Israeli people need...we felt the holiness around us." When the families first arrived at the hostel in Bayit Vagan and went to get acquainted with the counselors, parents would not let go of their children, said Or Shahar, a counselor with Yahalom. The people were frightened and tired since the constant barrage of rockets falling in their cities had kept them from sleeping well all week. The camp ends Thursday with many of the families having to return to their cities. Both Perlman and Shahar have said the people want to stay longer and have asked to do so. Perlman is trying to raise the money to bring more families from the North to Jerusalem in the next two weeks "as a way to refill their batteries." "I am living in Israel and knowing what's happening, and still you don't know what's happening because you [continue to] live your usual life," said Shahar, who has worked with the organization for 10 years. "These people are like me but they are going through all this. You can't understand it until it happens to you."