The launch of the American-style Jewish camp Kefiada in Yokneam this summer will contribute to that goal.
The camp is part of Federation’s mission to connect people through various programs and long-term experiences in Israel, the best way to get people passionate about the Jewish state, said Roey Shoshan, Federation’s Israel and overseas director.
Kefiada, which means “fun Olympics,” is a way for Federation to reflect Yokneam and Megiddo’s support for Atlanta, Shoshan said. “They always host us and offer ideas for programs, and it’s great, but we wanted to do something for them.”
The three-week camp would like to enroll 40 to 50 kids this summer, he said. It will help improve the Israeli youths’ English, transfer the experience of an American summer camp to Israel, and strengthen Atlanta’s relationship with Yokneam and Megiddo.
Every day the counselors will come up with 10 English words to teach the kids through games or songs in the style of American Jewish camps, Shoshan said.
The American counselors will stay with host families to familiarize themselves with the community and go on organized weekend trips. They will receive free airfare and a stipend for personal expenses.
Shoshan hopes by late April to select four counselors ages 20 to 25 who have a passion for Israel and experience in summer camps to travel to Israel for three weeks at the end of June. The counselors will be paired with Israelis and receive training by the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Each counselor will lead a bunk with about 12 children ages 9 to 12.
“I have no doubt that these counselors will come back after spending a month in Israel as great advocates for the program and our community,” Shoshan said. “Camp is all about forming relationships, and these kids are going to remember us forever.”
Shoshan hopes that within 10 years the program will produce a cohort of 40 people who stay connected and mentor the next generation in the region.
“We would really like to see more Israeli kids in our local camps,” Shoshan said, “and I think the program is a great way to introduce them to that.”