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A prayer for camping

תושבי שכונת שרת בטיול לצפון

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin 

Shalom Sivan, I am Hadas Lixenberg, activities coordinator in the Sharet neighborhood in the city of Lod. I work under the auspices of the Lodaim and Keren Shahaf organizations. During the last four years, we have been striving to transform the Sharet neighborhood, an older area of the city with 5,000 residents, into a unified community. One of the aspirations articulated by those living in the neighborhood was to take some day trips -- for example, to Jerusalem. So we decided to take a day's tour of Jerusalem, including visits to the Machaneh Yehudah Market and the Kotel (Western Wall).

At the Kotel, one of the children, who had made aliyah from Ethiopia, asked me if praying at the Kotel makes our dreams come true. Yes, with God's help, I answered him. I did not ask him about his particular dream but on the way home asked if he could tell me about it. He said that at the beginning of each year the teacher asks the students about what they did during summer vacation and they answer: I went camping. 'What is camping?' he asked. 'At the Kotel I said I want camping too.'

I was deeply moved by his words and told him let's go, let's organize a camping trip. I thought that maybe three or four kids would come along. But now I am writing to you from the North as part of a group that came here in three buses with fifty tents and lots of men, women, and children. In essence, we had brought the entire neighborhood on a camping trip up north which, for most of the participants, was the first time they had ever done anything like this.

During the past few weeks, we held a campaign for tents, sleeping bags, and other gear. A multitude of good people, community groups, and business owners contributed to this effort. The feeling was that the entire nation of Israel wanted this neighborhood to go camping.

Today we sailed in the Kinneret, visited Tiberias and hiked to a natural spring. Tomorrow we will visit the Valley of Springs south of Tiberias and Beit She'an. It is difficult for me to explain the enormous significance of this trip. I keep repeating the passages we read in the Torah this past Shabbat about the good land to which we will all return: "For the Lord your God is bringing you to a good land, a land with brooks of water, fountains, and deep water sources that emerge in valleys and mountains, a land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil-producing olives and honey." And, by the way, if you see us up north today, come and say hello.

I looked at the boy on the bus whose prayer at the Kotel started all of this. When school begins this year, he will definitely have something to tell his teacher when she asks what he did this summer."


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