When Bracha Mondshine from Moscow celebrated her 10th birthday last Friday morning, campers sang ‘happy birthday’ to her in: English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Greek, Russian, Gaelic (that’s Irish!), French, Russian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Swedish, Danish, Italian, German, Hungarian and Dutch.
This multinational camp for European Tzeirei Hashluchos in Gothenburg, Sweden is in full swing now, with over 50 campers and counselors in attendance, from 20 different cities throughout Europe, and some counselors coming from the US.
“My campers inspire me,” says one of the counselors, who comes from Crown Heights. “They are very strong in their chassidishkeit, very sincere. The ahavas Yisroel between the kids is wow…. I’ve never seen anything like this before in a camp. They are more sensitive to other people, because of the way they have been brought up [on shlichus.]”
Devorah Leah Krinsky lives all year in Vilna, Lithuania.
“I love camp!” she exclaims. “The best part is getting together with friends. And after camp we still keep in touch. Here there is canteen and so many Jewish books and I learn so much from Tzivos Hashem and learning class every day. We never miss learning and I like that. It makes me feel closer to the Rebbe. I feel so proud to be a Shlucha, ’cause we are all here together and we sing, talk about shlichus and have farbrengens. When I come back to Vilna – there the other kids are not frum- I keep that feeling of pride and it makes me stronger.”
“Shabbos is really special,” she continues. “So many Shluchos together, singing and telling stories, and there is so much achdus in camp, so if you feel lonely it can never be for more than a minute, ’cause everyone cares about you. We share our nash together and tell stories and jokes.”
“There are loads of frum, Jewish girls here, who are also shluchos. I really like that. It makes me feel normal, because they are all like me!” smiles Shaina Lent, 10, from Dublin, Ireland, in her lilting Irish accent.
“The whole camp is a family, very united. The atmosphere is very chayusdik and chassidish,” says another counselor. “Being that this is a camp for Tzeirei hashluchos, everyone here shares the same mindset, same goals and focus. It just makes the camp that much more special.”
Most of the campers live in remote communities around Europe, with few -if any- Lubavitcher or frum, or even Jewish friends their age in their places of shlichus. When they get together for camp, there is such a joy that the chayus is indescribable.
Rabbi Gershon Grossbaum of Minnesota, world mikve expert, was in Gothenburg for a couple of days, working on the new mikve, and addressed the campers on Shabbos. He says, “I found that the chayus of the kids of the camp was such that it will definitely benefit them in their shlichus and carry them throughout their lives.”
Gan Yisroel for European Tzeirei Hashluchos was founded in 5769 by Chabad of Sweden, together with the support of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky of Merkos Leinyonei Chinuch, in response to the urgent need of a camp in Europe for these children. A boys camp for Tzeirei Hashluchim will beezras Hashem take place this year too in Sweden, for the first time. 30 boys are already enrolled.
Rabbi Alexander Namdar, who directs the camp with his wife Leah says, “Our goal is to nurture these children in their lives as young shluchim, to give them the chance to meet old and new friends, and to return home strengthened in their connection to the Rebbe. Baruch Hashem our ideal is to give these European shluchimlach the best possible camp both spiritually and materially.”
“It’s an incredible group of children,” says Leah Namdar. ” I can only congratulate the parents who have raised them in this way, many of them in very remote locations. The staff is a very devoted and chassidishe group of girls, and they provide the kids with a chassidishe dugma chaya..and tons of fun.”
Interestingly, Gothenburg, Sweden was the last stop of the Frierdiker Rebbe and his entourage of family and chassidim in Europe, since the boat SS Drottningholm departed from the port of Gothenburg on 27 Adar 1…. in tof shin. (1940) Now the city continues to serve as a connector between different countries, and a place of inspiration for young shluchim and shluchos.
Registration is almost full for the boys camp. www.tzeireihashluchim.com
To be a partner in this project/make a donation, please visit www.chabad.se