Camp Koby — a different kind of liberation at Passover

Camp Koby — a different kind of liberation at Passover

Every year, Camp Koby, a project of the Koby Mandell Foundation, runs a series of camps and programs in which several hundred bereaved children participate. This year’s Passover Camp was able to take place thanks to a grant from the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

The Koby Mandell Foundation has been running camps for bereaved children since 2002. It was established by Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell following the murder of their son Koby, who was stoned to death along with his friend Yosef Ish-Ran by Palestinian terrorists in May 2001.

Rabbi Mandell, the foundation’s founder and president, said, “We are grateful to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey for their leadership gift, which helped make the Passover Camp possible this year. They, and all their donors, should truly be proud of the meaningful and lasting impact they helped create. The therapeutic programs of Camp Koby are an invaluable source of strength to these bereaved children.”

This year, the need for the Camp Koby Passover camp was particularly strong. More children had been bereaved this year, and the several months of terror through which Israelis have lived have revived their sense of insecurity and trauma. Passover Camp was oversubscribed by 20 percent more than its budget had allowed.

“Thanks to an anonymous donation that arrived just the week before camp, we were able to add a sixth bus of campers, enabling all the kids who wanted to attend to do so,” Rabbi Mandell said. “This summer we’re expecting a similar if not greater demand for Camp Koby, and plans and funding are being secured to be sure we are able to accommodate all. This is especially important, not just this year but in general, as there are numerous programs for bereaved adults, but children are often left out of the healing process. Camp Koby fills this niche.”

All Camp Koby programs have three components: They are fun, they include social integration, and there is therapy involved in each program. Hundreds of therapists have worked with the campers, mostly through creative arts and play therapies like art, music and drama. The therapists help the kids express themselves and heal during the camps, and therapies are customized to the different ages and backgrounds of the campers.

Camp Koby helps bereaved children, shown here in 2015, to heal.
Camp Koby helps bereaved children, shown here in 2015, to heal.

The Koby Mandell Foundation has earned its reputation of being Israel’s leading organization helping kids cope with bereavement. By helping to heal the invisible scars, Camp Koby campers are made stronger thus making all of Israel stronger.

“Thanks to the support of the Jewish Federation this year, and many others, we were able to make our Passover Camp possible,” Rabbi Mandell said. “We need to support the children going through the bereavement process so that they can become the future leaders of Israel. They know the worst, and they will also know the best.”

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