A new summer camp is offering something a little out of the ordinary this year. Beit Reuven Chabad is planning to take kids on a tour of Israeli cities — in Atlanta.
Liba Gurary, the organizer of the camp, described it as a trip to Israel with no passport required. “It’s a whole new concept we’re calling the Israel Experience,” she said during an interview at her office on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven.
“A lot of parents would love to take their kids to Israel for the summer, but maybe they can’t afford it or it doesn’t work out logistically, so this gives them a taste of Israel right here,” she said.
“Each week is another stop in a different city, and all the activities and trips are themed around cities in Israel. So the first week they’re going to stop in, say, Tel Aviv, so that will be a beach water-park trip, actually going to a Clayton County beach. It’s like a lake beach; it looks really good,” Gurary said. “It’s hard to find a beach in Atlanta. I did work hard on that one.”
The camp is a project of Chabad of Atlanta, directed by and run out of the Chabad Israeli Center Atlanta’s new home. It serves the Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Brookhaven and Buckhead areas. Gurary’s father is Rabbi Yossi New, Chabad of Georgia’s regional director.
Gurary, co-director of the Chabad Israeli Center with her husband, Rabbi Menachem Gurary, said, “A lot of camps are the same: They’re good and fun, but I think we’re going for something new and original.”
Six- to 12-year-olds will learn about the history, art and customs of each place they “visit” and will participate in related games. “For activities, we will have a sports tournament day,” Gurary said. “We will have a shuk day, like a carnival in a market setting. For the south, we have a kibbutz day with camel rides. We will have an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) day, and we’re going to be baking a different Israeli food each week, like burekas, falafel and our own pita.”
More universal items on the menu will include pizza and chocolate, Gurary said.
Haifa, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and Safed are the other cities on the list.
The camp will include swimming and last from June 27 to July 29 at a cost of $250 per week ($200 before March 1), and Gurary said a security firm has been contracted to keep an eye on things. She thinks the first year will attract 50 children. “I think we can get there, maybe even more. I really hope so.”
More information and registration are available through www.cicatlanta.com/camp or 404-252-9508.
The mother of five knows all about summer camps, having worked as a counselor starting at age 15. Gurary has been a teacher for years and runs a Hebrew Sunday school. She said the new camp will benefit the kids and offer them a special insight into Israel.
“They will come out with a nice sense of the Jewish homeland — what’s so special about it, why we should be interested in it,” she said. “I’m really excited; I think it will be really cool.”