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June 21, 2022 11:10 am
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Israeli Children Forget Cancer, Celebrate Life in NYC

avatar by Ayelet Raymond

Opinion

Israeli children living with cancer and rare syndromes visiting New York City’s Times Square for HaKav HaMeached summer camp; photo provided.

Last week, HaKav HaMeached, an Israeli organization supporting children living with cancer and rare syndromes, brought 30 children to New York to fulfill their dreams for 10-days of summer camp activities.

The co-founders, Israel and Chaya Sheinfeld, have funded this organization for the past twenty years. “This is the kids’ first international trip after three years of lockdown due to the pandemic, and we are so glad to be back in New York … giving the kids the best summer experience so they can forget all the challenges they are dealing with medically,” said the Sheinfelds.

The camp slogan is “the way to heal starts with a smile.” I was invited to volunteer because of my popular Instagram account, and brought my tea-cup Pomeranian Kiss, who is an AKC emotional support dog. We joined the group on the party bus, and I got to hear the inspiring stories the kids shared with me while touring various sites in New York.

One of the girls shared that she was in New York four years ago to undergo chemotherapy, but she didn’t get a chance to tour New York. Now that she is in remission, she was thrilled to visit the city, and was even able to go back to the same hospital as a visitor where she was treated four years ago.

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On one day, we went to the popular amusement park Six Flags, where the kids, who are normally bound to their wheelchairs, got to ride some of the scariest roller coasters in the park and experienced the sensation of flying through the air like superheroes.

It truly warmed my heart to see this; it represented both the best of Israel, the American Jewish community, and Jewish philanthropy. This is a prime example of the love in our community, not the distorted headlines about what happens in Israel, or political infighting among American Jewish groups.

Seeing the smiles of the Israeli children during this trip put everything in perspective for me — about what matters in life, and what should matter to us all as Jews.

“These children come to this unique camp free of charge, where they can put aside their illness and do what other kids like to do … have fun,” said the Sheinfelds.

It was truly my honor and privilege to be part of this trip.

Ayelet Raymond is a film and musical director who lives in New York City. She collaborated with young Broadway performers to create the American children’s television show “My Hebrewland.” She is the creative force behind the Kosher Barbie character and social media personality.

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