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Israeli teens attend kidney camp program
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Israeli teens attend kidney camp program

At the Gottscho kidney camp program, from left, Dr. Lew Reisman; Israeli teens Bar-Shalom Azulay, Aviv Bar-Or, and Stiven First; Neomi Zanhendler; and Frost Valley YMCA CEO Jerry Huncosky.
At the Gottscho kidney camp program, from left, Dr. Lew Reisman; Israeli teens Bar-Shalom Azulay, Aviv Bar-Or, and Stiven First; Neomi Zanhendler; and Frost Valley YMCA CEO Jerry Huncosky.

Three Israeli teenagers with kidney disease attended overnight camp this summer, thanks to the Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation’s kidney camp program at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, NY. 

The foundation, which was established by Eva and Ira Gottscho of Millburn in memory of their daughter, Ruth, has been sponsoring the program for 43 years; this is the first time the program includes campers from another country. 

The Israeli teens — Stiven First, 16; Aviv Bar-Or, 17; and Bar-Shalom Azulay, 16 — each of whom has had a kidney transplant, joined 30 American kids attending the program. 

It is the only such program that mainstreams kidney campers with the regular camp population. During their two-week stay, they receive the dialysis and/or medications they need at the dialysis center.

Ruth Gottscho died of kidney disease in 1960 at age 15. The late Rabbi Max Gruenewald, who at the time was religious leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn where the family were members, was on the original foundation board. 

Ruth’s sister, Judy Gottscho Eichinger of Teaneck, who runs the foundation, said, “My sister always dreamed of going to sleepaway camp but couldn’t because of her illness.” 

For pediatric nephrologist Dr. Lew Reisman, who lives in Israel and volunteers overseeing the Frost Valley program, having Israeli youngsters participate in the Gottscho program has been a longtime dream, and not only for their benefit. “The Israeli kids represent all that’s good about Israel. American kids will have the opportunity to get to know Israeli youngsters, giving them a deeper understanding of a society that’s always in the news.” Neomi Zanhendler is the program’s kidney transplantation coordinator from Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel. 

Contributions to the program can be made at gottschokidney.org. — NJJN

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