Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Laura Marder on appreciating Kefiada

Laura Marder
(July 15)

While on my nighttime walk around Arad tonight I paused, took a deep breath, and felt a tiny tear form in my eye. It was a tear of complete happiness, pride, and sense of belonging. I can call Arad, my home. I can call my campers and my friends, my family. I have learned years of lessons in these two weeks and I know this last week is going to bring even more.

The Kefiada camp is absolutely amazing. The camp day begins with a half hour of an English lesson. The campers are nervous to speak English, much like we are nervous to speak Hebrew. The games we bring to them, such as charades and Twister, really help them feel more comfortable and confident with the language.

The learning doesn't stop after the lesson. All day the English speaking counselors are teaching vital English lessons without even realizing it. Just being there, we are representing our Jewish American culture. The campers stare sometimes, with wishful eyes, trying to pull together a sentence in English so they can ask us a question about our friends and family. They teach us as much, or even more than we teach them. It really truly is a partnership. Today I taught my girls an English hand game with the other counselors. Following our game they returned the favor and taught us one of their Hebrew hand games.

When we are out of camp the town and the federation are taking care of us as if we are their kids. I know that I will always have a home in Arad and it will always have a place in my heart. I hope that when I return home I can spread the word that this little city, in the vast desert is a home away from home, and the best Israeli sister city we could ask for.

Laura Marder

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