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20 siblings of fallen soldiers arrive in US for summer-camp experience

Six of the 10 counselors are IDF soldiers in their last year of military service who also lost loved ones and attended the same program when they were b’nai mitzvah age.

Two of the campers with El Al flight attendants, who also went on the summer-camp program when they were teens, during the flight from Israel to the United States, July 2023. Photo by Ori Shemesh/FIDF.
Two of the campers with El Al flight attendants, who also went on the summer-camp program when they were teens, during the flight from Israel to the United States, July 2023. Photo by Ori Shemesh/FIDF.

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF’s) 18th annual Legacy Summer Camp for b’nai mitzvah children and siblings of fallen Israeli soldiers kicked off on Tuesday, offering 20 teens the chance to spend time in the United States with others who have experienced similar losses.

The two-week program runs from July 11 to July 25.

This year’s program is hosted by FIDF’s Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and Philadelphia/South Jersey chapters. It runs in partnership with Yad Bonim and the IDF.

Campers arrived on a specially organized El Al flight with attendants on board who also took part in the program while in their teens.

After being greeted in Philadelphia, the group arrived at Capital Camps in Waynesboro, Pa., for 10 days before going to Washington, D.C., where participants will tour the capital and spend Shabbat with the local community. The trip culminates with a visit to New York City and a pool party in Westchester, N.Y., before heading home.

Six of the 10 counselors staffing the delegation are IDF soldiers in their last year of military service who also lost loved ones and attended the same program when they were b’nai mitzvah age. The delegation is led by officers from the IDF’s Casualty Unit who accompany the children and counselors throughout their stay.

“It is an absolute privilege for those of us in Baltimore to participate in the Legacy Camp program and show all of the campers and accompanying soldiers how important they are,” said Jenn Goldmeier, past host and FIDF Legacy Camp co-chair. “We want the group to return to Israel knowing and sharing the message that the FIDF loves and supports them.”

The campers at Ben-Gurion International Airport before their flight, July 2023. Photo by Ori Shemesh/FIDF.
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