Update from Israel: OHOH teens in camp!

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As you’ve heard, this year’s Open Hearts Open Homes (OHOH) program is special and unique this summer. Instead of hosting teens from Israel to stay with host families in our northern NJ community, we are supporting our OHOH community in Israel with a customized local program. Our efforts will keep this group of teens actively engaged, having fun and experiencing a sense of “escape”, which is much needed coming after this pandemic and terror conflict year.

Today, we are coming to the end of the first part of our program, a five-day fun filled outdoor experience with Camp Kimama. Our OHOH teens became part of their program with all the enjoyment of swimming, hiking, camping and laughter. It gave our teens a chance to get to know each other and come together as a group while being on the Kimama trip. The experience showed our Israeli teens parts of their very own country they had never before seen, while also making them aware that they are part of an Open Hearts Open Homes community loved from afar by our JCC of Northern NJ community.

While the OHOH teens were with the Camp Kimama staff, they were also fortunate to be guided, supported and nurtured by our fabulous counselor, Dana Rabinowitz (see photo below). Dana comes from the south, where the children live. She understands their lives, past trauma and current fears, since these are all a part of her own life, as well. She communicates well with the teens’ parents, helping them understand the OHOH program and helping to create a holistic approach between camp and home.

If you know teens at all then you’ll appreciate that we had another small win on this program so far. The kids have been without their phones this entire week! They are disconnected from their home world so that they can be fully immersed in the present experience. They are learning to be present and witness the “here and now”. Happily for the teens, they will be reunited with their phones Friday afternoon.

We thank every one of our OHOH community members who has reach out, read our updates and sent us a note of support that we can share with the teens. As we’ve said, pivoting to create this unusual program this year is a testament to the eternal support that our JCC of Northern NJ community has for our OHOH community in Israel.

Enjoy these photos from OHOH Camp Kimama!