Nahariya Youth Choir celebrates Israel
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Nahariya Youth Choir celebrates Israel

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The Kolot AMAL choir from Nahariya, pictured at the JCC of Paramus, sang at a number of local events last week and were heard by an estimated 2,500 people. courtesy UJA-NNJ

Kolot AMAL, the youth choir from Nahariya, in the north of Israel, hardly had a chance to recover from their delayed flight (there was an extra stop in Athens, Greece, on the way from Israel because of last week’s contaminated fuel scare) before they were busy performing in North Jersey. The 10 AMAL high school students, accompanied by three teachers, visited as part of the Partnership 2000 program organized by the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey and its sister city, Nahariya.

The group performed in front of about 2,500 people – at Yom HaZicharon ceremonies at the YJCC in Washington Township, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, and The Frisch School in Parramus, as well as at Yom Ha’Atzmaut shows at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey in Wayne and the Jewish Assisted Living Home in River Vale.

One of the highlights of the visit was a collaborative program at the JCC of Paramus. Called “Celebrate Israel,” it was convened by the community shlichim (Israeli emissaries) together with six congregational schools and including the Bergen County High School for Jewish Studies. The 45-minute “Celebrate Israel” show told the story of modern Israel, and included songs by Kolot AMAL, video clips, and readings by students. “This was a wonderful way to teach our local students about Israel,” said Marcia Kagedan, the congregation school principal at the JCC of Paramus, “It makes Israel real for many of our children.” The show was followed by break-out groups for different grades and an Israel engagement discussion between parents and this writer, shaliach for UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey.

Another highlight for the group was a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other sites. Kolot AMAL traveled and spent the day with a group of 20 juniors and seniors from New Milford High School. Colleen Tambuscio, the social studies teacher who arranged the trip together with Sarit Ron, UJA-NNJ Partnership 2000 staff member, said, “Many of the students from New Milford High School have only heard about Israel. Now they’re meeting Israelis their own age.” Tambuscio visited Nahariya last year and began a twinning project between the schools about the Shoah.

“It has been an intensive and tiring trip,” said Kolot AMAL’S Mor Sebag, as she boarded the bus for JFK airport, “but it’s been really good. We’ve met so many people,” she added. Mor and more than half of her friends will be serving in the Israeli army in just a few months time.

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