CKids Gan Israel Denmark Welcomes Jewish Children from Across Europe for Another Meaningful Summer Experience
The smell of fresh pine, the sound of children davening, and the sun’s warmth on your face, summer camp holds a special place in the hearts of Jewish children and adults alike. However, last summer, for the children of the Ukrainian Mishpacha Orphanage, the summer camp experience was more than a mere escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. It was a chance to regain the sense of normalcy they desperately needed after fleeing the horrors of war.
Although initially intended for kids in Europe and Scandinavia, when the children of Odessa’s Mishpacha Orphanage arrived at CKids Gan Israel of Denmark in the summer of 2022, they were welcomed with open arms and showered with attention and love. One staff member, Chana Levertov from Texas, saw how these children, fresh refugees from war-torn Ukraine, barely had any clothing of their own. She immediately reached out to family and friends to share the plight of these children. Within five hours, Levertov had raised over $1,500. She divided the funds among the campers and set off to get them their essential needs.
Another camper came from a broken home and the counselors did everything they could to reach out to her and make her feel loved. On her birthday, they threw a beautiful party for her. Upon seeing the cake, the girl burst into tears. She said it was the first time she had ever been given a birthday cake.
Four years ago, Rabbi Levi and Chaya Plotkin inaugurated the original CKids Gan Israel overnight camp, catering to Jewish kids in Florida and the East Coast. Since then, two new CKids Gan Israel’s were launched, one in Denmark by the Lowenthals, catering to Jewish girls in Scandinavia and Europe, as well as boys and girls camps in Wisconsin led by Rabbi Avremi and Shaindy Schapiro for Jewish kids in the Midwest. Each camp is locally-funded and maintains the CKids standard for authentic Yiddishkeit, dedicated staff and nonstop fun.
Last summer, with the help of CKids International, The Lowenthals transformed their local overnight camp into a central one. The camp unites Jewish children from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds, and all counselors are multilingual, with seven different languages spoken throughout the campground. With campers from all over Europe, including Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, Sweden, and Holland, it represents an audience that is as diverse as Europe itself.
“For many European parents, sending their children overseas for overnight camp is not an option.”, says Mrs. Rochel Loewenthal, Director of CGI Denmark. “We are proud to enable these children to have the life-changing Gan Israel camp sleepaway camp experience right here in Europe.”
The staff of CKids Gan Israel of Denmark not only provide for the children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, but they also strive to create positive change in the lives of their campers. “The impact of a summer camp experience on a child can be life-changing, and CKids Gan Israel is dedicated to bringing that experience to Jewish children all across the globe,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. The camp is one of ten CKids Gan Israel programs pledged by Rabbi Kotlarsky, with the goal of having all ten up and running by the year 2030.
The impact of the camp doesn’t end when the summer does. The staff keep in touch with their campers and are thrilled to see that many of the Mitzvos that the children learned about and took upon themselves to do throughout the summer have stayed with them. One girl took it upon herself to always say Berachos before she ate, another started davening every day and yet another put her phone away before Shabbos.
The trademark CKids Gan Israel quality programming and resources and staff training are also an integral part of the camp, producing a one-of-a-kind well-balanced summer experience. A safe, warm and fun environment for every child, providing a most impactful appreciation for Torah and Mitzvos. It’s this appreciation that they will undoubtedly bring back to their homes, where they will unpack it into their daily lives.
To find out more information or register, visit http://CKidsganisrael.dk