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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

‘Bringing these incredible kids here to share in the uniquely American experience of summer camp is a wonderful way to show them that they are not alone’

Sixteen children and siblings of fallen Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers visited Long Island and New Jersey last week as part of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) LEGACY program to attend an unforgettable weeklong recreation camp.

FIDF supporters from Long Island’s Mashadi Jewish community and in New Jersey hosted the Israeli teens – all of whom have lost a family member who was serving in Israel’s military – at their homes in the Great Neck, N.Y., and Deal, N.J., areas before and after the camp as part of the LEGACY experience.

At Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, in Wingdale, N.Y., the Israeli teens bonded with each other and spent last week camping with American peers, forming lifelong friendships. The Israeli children participated in American camp activities – swimming, archery, rock climbing, and arts and crafts – and in more familiar traditions like Israeli dancing and Jewish learning.

“In Israel, everybody knows either a family member or a close friend who was an IDF casualty. These brave children penetrated our bubble of Great Neck, and gave us a taste of what all Israelis endure year round. Our community welcomed these children, not with sadness and empathy due to their close loss, but with deep respect. We saluted them, as they and their loved ones are heroes who lost their lives on behalf of us and our country,” said FIDF supporter Yoni Nitzani, who hosted some of the children at his Great Neck Home. “Bringing these incredible kids here to make lifelong friends, meet the community, and share in the uniquely American experience of summer camp is a wonderful way to show them that they are not alone, and that Jews all around the world care for them, and are supporting them.”

“We are able to bring joy to a child who is in mourning, who does not have much joy at home. With FIDF’s help I can do this mitzvah,” said FIDF supporter Toby Cohen, who hosted a party for the children at his home in Deal, N.J., on Sunday, July 30. Cohen’s daughter, Rosie Bawabeh, helped plan the FIDF LEGACY trip in New Jersey.

Four counselors who had experienced similar tragedies and two active-duty commanders from the IDF Casualty and Wounded Department accompanied the children to help provide comfort and guidance.

The FIDF LEGACY program supports thousands of widows, orphans, siblings, and other family members of fallen IDF soldiers through a variety of recreational activities, financial support, and life-cycle celebrations.