Through the efforts of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) LEGACY program, spearheaded by the FIDF Women's Brigade, 44 Bar/Bat Mitzvah-age children of fallen Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers will spend eleven days at JCC Camp Chi in Lake Delton, Wisconsin this July.
For these Jewish teenagers, the usual excitement of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah is marked with the reminder of their loss. The FIDF LEGACY mission was designed to bring these teenagers together into a community of support, where they can reflect on their Bar/Bat Mitzvah experiences and escape the daily reminders of war and loss.
LEGACY participants benefit from the closeness of their Israeli friends and Camp Chi peers while enjoying waterskiing, sailing, rock climbing, horseback riding, and participating together in other traditional JCC Camp Chi activities.
"It is such a privilege to be able to send these children to two carefree weeks of camp. The LEGACY program enables these children to just be kids, and it is the least we can do for these families who have been through so much" says Jenny Newman, Chair of the FIDF Women's Brigade.
The FIDF Women's Brigade raises funds through an annual Spring Event and year-round fundraising to provide these children with the trip of a lifetime. On June 27th, at The Art Center - Highland Park, Friends of the IDF's Women's Brigade will bring together women from the Chicagoland area in support of FIDF LEGACY Program for an evening that includes cocktails and dessert, a fashion show and raffle, and an emotional speech by a distinguished guest. To contribute or attend the Spring Event, please contact Lauren Waldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-372-8512.
Local Bar/Bat Mitzvah teens can also show their commitment to IDF soldiers through the FIDF Mitzvah Program. Benjamin Bellick of Chicago, IL, gathered donations for his Bar Mitzvah and raised over $18,000 for this year's LEGACY program through the FIDF Mitzvah Program. Bellick explains, "I chose the Legacy Program for my mitzvah project because of my strong connection to the camp the kids will be sent to. Camp Chi has been a part of my life for many years, and it feels good to know that other kids will get to have such a great time at camp like I do. At Camp Chi, I get to forget about everything and just focus on fun and developing strong camp bonds. It is so important for these kids to have opportunities to have fun because for some of them, the world seems bleak and dreadful, yet really, despite their hardships there is still room laughter and happiness."
In addition to financial support, local Jewish-American families can host LEGACY teens for a weekend in Chicago this July, before they travel to Camp Chi.
About Friends of the Israel Defense Forces
FIDF initiates and helps support social, educational, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for the young men and women soldiers of Israel who defend the Jewish homeland, and support for the families of fallen soldiers. In its 30th year, FIDF offers a number of programs, all which better the wellbeing of those serving in the IDF. For information about FIDF and the LEGACY program, contact the FIDF Central Region office at 312-372-8500 or Chicago@fidf.org.
About JCC Camp Chi
Located near the Wisconsin Dells on 600 beautiful acres, JCC Camp Chi is the Midwest's premier Jewish overnight camp for boys and girls ages 9-16. Modern facilities bring campers' summers alive with horseback riding, team sports high ropes/climbing tower arts and crafts, and expansive water adventure. Campers live in gender- and age-specific villages, engage in specially-tailored activities, Israel education programs, Shabbat celebrations, and embrace respect, community and kindness. Interaction and connection with other Jewish campers and Israeli staff provide the framework for pride in their Jewish heritage.
About JCC Chicago
JCC Chicago is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring a strong and vibrant Jewish life and community for generations to come. JCC is a partner in serving our community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation. For more information, contact Rachel Smith at 847-763-3661, or visit www.gojcc.org.