My Summer in Israel with Camp Sdei Chemed

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My Summer in Israel with Camp Sdei Chemed

By: Hadasa Rubin, age 15, Far-Rockaway, NY

Before boarding the plane to Camp Sdei Chemed, a six-week summer camp in Israel, I did not know what to expect. I would be going alone, not knowing a single soul, which can be very scary! I had applied for a UJA scholarship which requested that I state the goals of my trip. This got me thinking — why exactly am I going? Just to have fun? Or is there something more behind a summer in Israel?

As a young student in a Jewish school, I learned a lot about Jewish history from biblical times to modern times. After years of study, I realized that I now had the opportunity to visit these places and to visualize those lessons. In addition, after learning Ivrit (Hebrew) last year, I wanted to put it
to good use and talk to Israelis, and understand what it is like to live in Eretz Yisrael (Israel). I wanted to see the gorgeous scenery, experience the atmosphere, and just drink everything
in before returning home.

My goal of viewing the exquisiteness of the land was no doubt accomplished the second I landed—just those palm trees alone are my favorite!

The camp was based in Ramot, a lovely neighborhood in Jerusalem. Each day of camp was an experience in and of itself; we traveled to new and exciting locations and had many activities to do. There was always lots of hiking, touring and food — basically everything that people enjoy!
Wherever we went, the scenery was amazing! Our campus in Ramot had a breathtaking view, overlooking the Judean Hills. Some of my most favorite sights were those viewed right in the middle of our hikes, just at the top of the mountain we climbed, when everyone was boiling, thirsty, and eager to drink in the fresh air and the magnificent scenery. I must have taken thousands of pictures then!

The friend concern ended up being no problem because all the girls were the sweetest ever, so that by the time camp ended, everyone was best of friends and we couldn’t imagine life without each other.

An additional goal of mine was to talk to Israelis and get a peek into their culture. Camp gave us plenty of time to relax and go shopping; each time we were faced with the challenge of speaking Hebrew. Wherever we went, we had to speak Hebrew, so it had to be up to par. There was the time when I went to my cousins’ house on Saturday night of the off weekend, and I had to take a bus. Somehow, after communicating with the Israeli driver, I managed to get there and know where to get off! I felt really proud. It was really interesting to take the Hebrew that I learned
in school and actually put it to good use by talking to Israelis and trying to understand their culture. I managed to end the summer knowing a lot more Hebrew than I started out with; in fact, an Israeli storekeeper even thought that I was Israeli by my Hebrew!

Another goal was to learn history the fun way—through touring, rather than sitting at desks! S’dei Chemed definitely fulfilled this one. We went on the most interesting tours all the time that involved a lot of the history of Israel and the Jewish people. We explored Masada, The Old
City, Tzfat, Chevron, and Gush Etzion among many other historic places. At each place it was so fascinating to hear the stories of our ancestors, and to know that they had actually stepped foot on the same land where we were. In Tzfat it was especially interesting having a tour of all the alley ways and art shops by a “Tzfater” himself! At Gush Etzion, we learnt the tragic episode of how the Jews of the town gave up their lives rather than give up their holy land.

All in all, camp in Israel was the best experience yet! Each aspect added up to create an unforgettable experience. The breathtaking views, the enjoyable hikes, the fascinating tours and the amazing friendships—all while in Israel (and utilizing some Hebrew while at it!), combined to
give me the summer of a lifetime.

For more info about Sdei Chemed please visit their website at campsci.com or the blog I wrote about camp at cscigirls2011.blogspot.com.

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