Campers and their parents gathered for a festive closing ceremony of Leo Baeck Education Center’s 28th annual Arab-Jewish Summer Camp, held on Friday, August 17, 2018, with the participation of honored guests from the U.S. Embassy in Israel, Omer Benziony, Cultural Program Specialist, and Jennifer Klarman, Deputy Cultural Attaché.
In their remarks to the audience of 90 campers and their families, Omer and Jennifer stated: “We are very proud of our long-standing partnership with the Leo Baeck Education Center and especially of the Arab-Jewish Summer Camp — a true and significant model of shared existence for all of Israel.” The ceremony included greetings in Hebrew and Arabic by several campers, and by Samia Diab, Director of the Leo Baeck Community Center, and Avishay Keynan, Camp Director, and concluded with a bilingual “looper” musical performance. Following the ceremony, campers and their families enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the community center swimming pool.
During the weeklong “Friendship Camp” session from August 12 to 17, 45 Jewish and 45 Arab children aged 6-11 from the Haifa area enjoyed a variety of activities aimed at getting to know “the other,” fostering friendships, trust, and connections, through teambuilding and fun. The camp program, organized by Avishay Keynan, and Eiman Ayad, Jewish and Arab camp directors, and led by an equal number of Arab and Jewish counselors, included:
- Day 1, Sunday – “I”: Introductions and getting to know each other, began a personal journal and dictionary in Hebrew and Arabic, presented a self-portrait, participated in arts and crafts and music workshops, and a circus performance
- Day 2, Monday – “You”: Participated in outdoor teambuilding workshops and leadership tasks to strengthen the connection between “you” and “me,” in a park and in our swimming pool
- Day 3, Tuesday – “Ago”: Survival in nature theme; day trip and multi-cultural discussion with Druze and Bedouins in the Carmel area; activities in the “Hanging Bridge” Park; cultural fair where children displayed their traditional costumes, food, customs, songs, and dance
- Day 4, Wednesday – “To Be”: Valley of Peace workshops, deepening connections by getting to know the identity and differences among the group members; educational field trip to a nature reserve to learn about interdependence among animals as an example of shared existence; bilingual theater in Acre, campers acted in short plays
- Day 5, Thursday – Day trip to an amusement park in Tel Aviv
- Day 6, Friday – “A Common Future”: Ending ceremony and joint activity with campers and their parents at the Leo Baeck Community Center.
Enthusiastic campers and their parents can’t wait for next summer’s camp session!