By Itamar Gendelam
In Greek mythology, Atlas was a Titan (half God, half warrior) condemned to hold up the celestial heavens for eternity. Thanks to this punishment Atlas will be forever known as a symbol of long lasting suffering and an ability to carry a heavy burden.
Similar to Atlas, as an Israeli staff member at Camp Harlam, I too feel as if the world is resting on my shoulders. Because of me, Israel will no longer be a word campers just say during services. From now on, the campers when thinking about Israel will identify Israel with me and my fellow Israeli staff members.
This heavy burden we feel as Israeli staff members is the exact reason many of us came to camp. Having the opportunity to be the face of Israel in people’s minds and hearts meaningful to us because it allows us to de-bunk Israeli stereo-types and share first hand what it is like to live in the Jewish people’s homeland.
I wanted to be the guy that links all that’s beautiful here to all that is beautiful back home. That connection is something that I’m trying to make everywhere I go. But sometimes you don’t have to do much, at Harlam I immediately felt the connection.
While I was sitting in services, I was hugging people I didn’t know, singing prayers I’m not familiar with, dancing, cheering and smiling and all that connected me to this bizarre situation is the fact that I’m Jewish and these people are too. And in that weird way I felt like I was home. I felt safe, loved, appreciated and happy. That just emphasized for me that I want to give others the feeling that Harlam gave to me.
Thank you, Camp Harlam, for the opportunity to connect others and to help build the campers connection to Israel.
Itamar Gendelam is from Karkur, Israel. He recently completed a pre- Army Service Program, located at the northern most part of Israel, where he spent his time volunteering, studying and hiking. He is trilled to be spending his summer at Camp as a cabin counselor in Arava.