JCC Camp Daleville Connects With Staff In Israel

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DALEVILLE -- A Jewish day camp in Lackawanna County is following the fighting in the Middle East closely.

Counselors and campers were able to Skype with a Jewish Community Center staff member who is in Israel right now, visiting family.

That online video call to Israel Friday with campers from the JCC's Camp Daleville was brief but one of these young campers was very engaged with learning about the serious situation in the Gaza strip.

Kids here at JCC Camp Daleville took a break from this sunny afternoon to focus on something much more serious: the fighting in the Gaza strip.

Rika Schaffer, a JCC staff member, spoke online with the campers while visiting her family in Israel, near where this war between Israel and Hamas is going on.

"We wanted them to understand that there are families, just like their families, that are living under this threat, that are trying to go about their daily lives," said JCC Camp Daleville executive director Dan Cardonick.

Rika's Skype connection was brief but she said where she is, most people are trying to not let this conflict with the terror group Hamas interfere with daily life.

"Most of the people are trying to live their lives, their regular lives. They go to camp just like you, people go to work, but everybody is on alert."

Campers of all ages sat, waving the Israeli flag.

"I learned what goes on in Israel and that's a lot different from what goes on here in the United States," said Jason Saunders, age 11.

Counselor Sasha Geyfman said she's supposed to visit Israel next winter,

"I saw on the news what was going on in Israel but talking with Rika made it seem a lot more real and was really scary."

Schaffer's communication was broken up as missiles threaten to hit near her in Israel at any moment. She said her community only gets a very short warning to get to safety.

"Everybody is on alert. We only have 15 seconds to get into a shelter."

Campers said they were surprised at how difficult it was to talk with Rika because of the war.

"There's not much connection so it was hard to put her up on Skype," said Elizabeth Aronzon.

While her coworkers wish her and the rest of Israel peace, very soon.

"We hope to continue to connect with Rika and hope to hear better news that there will be a cease fire, that peace talks will resume."

The JCC camp says they stand in solidarity with Israel and are anxious for their friend Rika to return back to the U.S. safely.