Admin on October 12, 2023
These last few days have been sad and concerning for many of us as we watch the events unfolding in the Middle East. My thoughts have included our day camp Shlichim, colleagues in Israel and everyone living in our partnership community in Karmiel and Misgav. As many of you know, we welcomed nine Shlichim (Israeli staff) to our camp community this summer. Their passion, knowledge and enthusiasm created a lasting impact, one that we feel more deeply now in light of current events. Through our shared experiences at camp, they helped to further our connection to Israel and to the Jewish people, something that’s at the core of our mission. The relationships created with Shlichim and our partners in Karmiel and Misgav only strengthen our community and fuel our desire to remain connected, especially during such difficult days.
Our camp leadership team has been in contact with our Shlichim since last Saturday and are relieved to share that they and their families are safe at this time. Two of them have been called back into active duty to serve in the Israeli army and we anticipate others will likely we called back as well. I know many of us are looking for ways to support our Shlichim during this difficult time. To that end, we’ve created this JAMBOARD – a “digital whiteboard” that we invite you to use to write messages, and post or draw pictures that our Shlichim will be able to view in real-time. Our messages, thoughts and prayers are meaningful and uplifting and are a way for us to show solidarity and support to our Shlichim and their families.
“Hi camp team! I did some volunteering today with kids who live near the Gaza border. They were forced out of their home because of the terror attack and are currently staying near me. We played, sang, danced and drew pictures. I did everything I could to give them a good time and bring them some happiness. It was so much fun for all of us and it made me really miss camp and all of the campers. I just thought it was important for me to share that camp had such a big impact on me and gave me so many fun activity ideas like the ones I did today with these kids. I can only hope for better and quiet days ahead and for the ability to be back in Pittsburgh working at camp next summer.”
Now is no different. We are here for our entire camp community and are committed to responding and supporting our children, staff and their families. We will do so through a trauma-informed lens by creating an environment that allows everyone to articulate how they are feeling and what questions they might have. As parents and professionals, we will always have opportunities to talk about scary and difficult things with our children. And when those opportunities arrive, it’s critical we provide a safe environment for such moments. I encourage you to click here and here for valued perspectives on talking with children about what’s happening in Israel now.
For our families and staff, we are here to support you and sit with you in any grief or trauma you might experience in the coming weeks. Feel free to be in touch with me or with a member of the team in the 10.27 Healing Partnership if you feel the need for additional support. You can contact the team at 412-697-3534 or [email protected] or at 1-888-796-8226 if you need immediate assistance.
In closing, here is our JCC’s statement on the situation: The JCC is concerned and deeply saddened by the recent series of attacks against Israel. Such unprovoked acts of violence bring suffering and pain to innocent people, and they undermine the prospects for peace and stability in the region. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this tragic sequence of events. We send wishes for strength and comfort to the people of Israel and reiterate our unwavering support for Israel and its right to exist as an independent democratic Jewish state.
Dear EKC Families,
The past several days has been a whirlwind of emotions for us all – searching for information as we watch Israel defend itself against Hamas and trying to understand how to share what’s happening with our children.
First and foremost, we want to express our support and solidarity with those affected by the unprecedented attacks against Israel. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people living in Israel, as well as those who have friends and family there. We have been fortunate enough to connect with everyone from our Israeli staff delegations over the past few summers, as well as having heard from our partners in Karmiel/Misgav on how things are going with our Israeli campers. This, of course, does not make things any easier for those most directly impacted, as our minds naturally shift to how we can provide support to our EKC family in Israel.
If you have any written messages, pictures your children have drawn, video clips, or anything similar that you would like to share with our closest friends and colleagues in Israel, please do share them with us and we will make sure they are received. As we continue to hear from a number of our Israeli staff and campers, they tell us how much our support means to them. Every note matters. Our care and concern for their safety matters. If your children have contact information for their counselors, or fellow campers, sending messages and checking in directly with them is a great way to help our Israeli family feel the love and support.
As we all continue to make our way through and try to process the events in Israel, we wanted to share some important information that may be helpful as you discuss (or consider discussing) the situation in Israel with your children.
Social Media: We encourage you to be more aware about what your children are seeing on social media platforms. You may even want to consider removing such apps from their devices for the time being. We have heard from a number of our partners that Hamas is planning to post or has already posted increasingly graphic photos and videos of hostages, acts of torture, and even executions on all social media platforms. These same partners share that, “Hamas is purposefully engaging in psychological warfare to strike terror in all Jews. Our young people (and we as adults) need to be protected and the videos and images seek to objectify and exploit human beings for visibility and to compromise individuals’ Jewish identity and spirit.” At minimum, please take into account that misinformation is rampant across social media, and images and information related to the conflict can be distressing. Have a conversation with your children where you encourage them to come to you with questions or concerns about the conflict.
Talking with your children: Each of our campers has a strong connection to Israel. Many of them have had either an Israeli counselor or camper in their cabin. Understandably, everyone, especially children, is going through a wide range of emotions at this time, and while we know that there is no right or wrong way to feel, we do have a few suggestions to help guide the conversations that you have with your children.
- Open, Age-Appropriate Discussions: Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings. Listen to them and provide answers that are appropriate for their age and level of understanding.
- Promote Empathy and Tolerance: Use this opportunity to reinforce the values of empathy and tolerance. Remind your children that people may have different perspectives and experiences.
- Share Positive Stories: Highlight stories of hope, resilience, and solidarity from Israel to balance the narrative of conflict and turmoil.
- Be Mindful of Posting: If your children use social media, remind them to be aware of the content they post or share.
- Reach Out to Our Camp Community: If you have friends or family in Israel and would like to send messages of support or get updates from our camp community, please feel free to share these with us. We would be happy to help facilitate communication and share messages with our Israeli friends.
Lastly, we want to share a statement from the JCC, including EKC, on what’s happening: The JCC (and EKC) is concerned and deeply saddened by the recent series of attacks against Israel. Such unprovoked acts of violence bring suffering and pain to innocent people, and they undermine the prospects for peace and stability in the region. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this tragic sequence of events. We send wishes for strength and comfort to the people of Israel and reiterate our unwavering support for Israel and its right to exist as an independent democratic Jewish state.
If you or your children have any questions or need additional resources to navigate these conversations, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to support you.
Thank you for being part of our EKC family, and let’s continue to stand together in solidarity with Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai | עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי