Looking out the window, I saw beautiful hills and trees as the sun set and the clouds rolled into the area. Around the living room sat three daughters, two parents, and two dogs. From the furniture and wall decorations, we could have been sitting anywhere in the world. But we were not in Deerfield or Mendota, Kansas City or Columbus; we were in Zikhron Ya’akov in Israel. I was sitting at the home of the Fruchtman family who made Aliyah from the Chicago area five years ago. The two older girls attended camp in the past while the youngest daughter would be joining us at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for the first time. I was warmly welcomed and it was a pleasure to meet the Fruchtman family.
I was touched by the Israeli-ness of the meeting, from the cookies and cakes on the table to the offer of hot or cold drinks to the exquisite Hebrew accents of girls. This was a family that acclimated well and quickly to Israel. They succeeded in making Israel home, were happy, well adjusted and successful. It was moving and impressive. David still conducts his work in the US but from his home in Zikhron Ya’akov, making the occasional commute to Chicago. Karen has her own business here and volunteers in a number of settings. The girls attend school and after-school activities, called hugim here, and are busy all the time.
In talking with the girls, it is clear to me that for them, this is home. Coming to camp is a chance to stay in touch with friends in the area and to maintain their connection to the Masorti or Conservative Movement year-round. The girls are involved in Noam, the Masorti youth group equivalent to USY. The Masorti Movement plays a role in their lives and they are able to maintain that connection in the summer.
The normality and warmth of the whole visit was amazing. Camp Ramah in Wisconsin is fortunate to have a family like the Fruchtman’s in our community, as well as the rest of representatives in Zikhron Ya’akov: The Shetreet Family, The Kutas-Bernstein Family, along with Michal and Shimi!
Thanks for taking time out to meet with me in Zikhron Ya’akov. It was great to be there.
More updates from my time in Zikhron and up North to follow, both here and on my own blog at www.hamirpesetsheli.blogspot.com
Rabbi Loren Sykes