An Unforgettable Summer in Israel

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An Unforgettable Summer in Israel

 

By Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum

 

While most American boys spent their rain-filled summer vacation in the Catskills, many others opted to spend their summer touring the length and breadth of Israel with Camp S’dei Chemed International. “The great kedusha one feels here and the deep inspiration one gets praying at the Kotel is something that will surely last a lifetime,” said young Yehudah Holzer who lives in Lawrence N.Y. and whose father Dr. Barry Holzer  attended the camp during the first few years of its inception more than thirty years ago.

The boys spent the first and last week at the beautiful five star Kinnar Hotel situated on the shores of the Kinnerret. All rooms are air-conditioned and the hotel has its own swimming pool and its own basketball and tennis courts as well as spacious green  fields for sports. They also went swimming and boating in the sparkling blue waters of the Kinneret. 

Much of their time they spent touring the magnificent, spectacular sites around the country. They also visited the many holy sites such as the kevorim of the Rambam, Rebbi Meir Baal HaNess, Rabbi Akiva and others. They went Jeeping and explored the Golan heights captured from the Syrians during the Six-Day War. They took some magnificent hikes through scenic trails and streams leading to gushing waterfalls and swam around in its cool refreshing pools of water. They also spent a few weeks at the newly built Yeshivah Netiv Aryeh which is only a minute’s walk from the Kotel where they got to see and absorb the holiness of the ancient city of Yerushalayim in a way few tourists ever get to experience. It was encouraging to see that tourism to Israel is once again on the rise and the streets of Yerushalayim were once again filled with Jews from around the world.

The boys enjoyed tubing down the Hatzbani River and kayaking down the Yarden. They rode the chair lift to the top of the Chermon Mountain and the cable car going up the Menara Cliff. From there they enjoyed repelling down its steep cliff and going down the Omega ride that zips you down to the very bottom. One of the highlights of the summer was a trip down to the southern tip of Eilat where they went snorkeling and scuba diving among the magnificent coral reefs. There they also went banana boating, para-sailing, scuba-diving and took an exciting boat ride around the Red Sea. The boys went to the ancient city of Tzfat visiting the holy kevorim of the Ari, the Bais Yosef and the many other great Torah giants of times gone by. They explored the ancient fortress of Massada and bathed in the nearby Yam Ha’Melach – the Dead Sea. From there they hiked up to the oasis of Ein Gedi and refreshed themselves in its fresh waters that gush down the mountainside.

Rabbi Moshe Gottesman, who serves as the director of tours, has a thorough knowledge of the land and inspires the youngsters with stories from Nach and Chazal that directly relate to our history-soaked land. S’dei Chemed’s excellent ability to portray Israel’s relevance to the present combined with an intensive knowledge of the land have been the key factors in creating a first-rate touring program that has won the enthusiastic approval of all its participants and has given it the unsurpassed reputation in the Israeli touring field.

“The ruach ( spirit ) and kedusha ( holiness ) of a summer in Israel beats anything in the Catskills by a long shot,” says Benji Lintz a 15 year old from Valley Village in Los Angeles whose father also attended the camp more than twenty five years ago. “It’s a perfect blend of learning, playing, touring, and leisure,” says Ariel Fellman from Teaneck, New Jersey, the grand prize winner of the excellent middos award.  “It was the most memorable and spectacular summer of my life. It’s something that one must experience for oneself since no words can adequately describe it.” “ There is absolutely no comparison between a summer at S’dei Chemed in Israel to any other place in the world. It’s just awesome,” said Levi Melohn, who attends Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Flatbush, N.Y. “We got to see and experience Israel in all its magnificent beauty,” says Eli Scharf from Flatbush. “I loved every moment of it,” says Binyamin Eizicovics from Toronto, Canada, whose older brothers attended in past years. “It’s made an indelible impression on my life which I will cherish forever, and I made many new wonderful  friends with whom I hope to keep in touch,” says Jeremy Corcos a 16 year old from Dallas, Texas. “The boys in the camp are really nice and friendly,” says Itamar Rubenstien who came all the way from Mexico without a single friend. “I learned about the camp by surfing the web,” he adds. “I was looking for an observant touring program in Israel and S’dei Chemed came to my attention. It was my greatest summer ever!”

The camp was the first American camp on the Israeli scene, and over the many years since its inception in 1969 it has served thousands of youngsters from the USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

This year the camp also had a special Mesivta program specifically designed and tailored to the young ben-Torah of junior-high through high school.  S’dei Chemed is in a class of its own. It is truly a five-star intensive experience in Eretz Yisroel combining learning, touring and sports and is designed to instill a true love for Eretz Yisroel in all its participants. It offers six weeks of pleasant sunshine filled with pulsating excitement, and packed with thrills, pleasure, learning, playing, hiking, touring and never-ending fun and enjoyment. No wonder that every camper who was lucky enough to ever be there, claims that it was the most meaningful and magnificent summer of their lives.

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