Sixteen children and siblings of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers visited New Jersey and Long Island last week. The visit, arranged by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ Legacy program, gave them the chance to experience summer camp. Local FIDF supporters hosted the Israeli teens at their homes in Deal and Great Neck, N.Y., before and after the camp as part of the Legacy experience.
At Camp Ramah in Wingdale, N.Y., the Israeli teens bonded with each other, camping with American peers and forming lifelong friendships. The Israeli children participated in American camp activities — swimming, archery, rock climbing, and arts and crafts — and in more familiar traditions, including Israeli dancing and Jewish learning.
“We are able to bring joy to a child who is in mourning, who does not have much joy at home. With FIDF’s help I can do this mitzvah,” said FIDF supporter Toby Cohen, who hosted a party for the children at his home in Deal. Cohen’s daughter, Rosie Bawabeh, helped plan the FIDF Legacy trip to the tristate area.
Four counselors who had experienced similar tragedies and two active-duty commanders from the IDF Casualty and Wounded Department accompanied the children to help provide comfort and guidance.
The FIDF Legacy program supports thousands of widows, orphans, siblings, and other family members of fallen IDF soldiers through a variety of recreational activities, financial support, and life-cycle celebrations.