Too many times you read articles about rockets falling from the sky or threats and terrorism in Israel. The truth is that more often Israel is a land of beauty and prosperity. As New Jersey teens who participated in the Israel Program Center of Greater MetroWest’s Kefiada English-speaking camp program, the latter expresses our experience here in the partner community of Ofakim (“Israeli families provide a haven for local teens,” June 28).
For four weeks this July, we lived in Ofakim, an area of Israel known for its low socioeconomic standing. We were showered with caring and hospitality — and food — and noticed no difference from our comfortable lives in New Jersey. Of course there were adjustments, like sharing rooms in the Israel Center apartment, preparing meals together, and telling stories to each other, but by no means did we fear for our daily safety.
One of the most intimidating things a person can imagine is the unknown, and for us, much of our time spent in Ofakim was just that: an adventure in the unknown — but what a wonderful adventure! After reading the article in NJJN about how our lives were in danger, we thought we would share with you what our lives in Ofakim were like. For three weeks, Sunday through Thursday, we ran a camp for the youth of the town together with our Israeli teen counselors. Following a full day of camp activity, the Israeli staff planned fun programs for us to learn more about Israeli life. Those few weeks were filled with excitement, education, and, most of all, fulfillment. It just all went by too fast. That is what we want you to understand about our experience. Yes, we missed our family members, but they had no reason to worry about us.
From all of us at Kefiada 2012 in Ofakim: We were safe, we were content, and our bellies were full.