Apr 22, 2013
A Camp Before the Summer
Camp Gan Israel - Illustration photo

The impact a summer has had on Ukrainian Jewish boys, has led Chabad bochurim to return there in middle of the year.

For the past 12 years, Camp Yeka has received funding from various places which covered the majority of the cost of each camper’s food and lodging.

Unfortunately, this year there is no funding at all.

This year the staff from the previous summers have undertaken to raise the entire $65,000 needed to give 110 Jewish Ukrainian boys the summer experience they so desperately need and deserve.

Without the help of generous donors such as yourself, the children who have so enjoyed this respite from their difficult life, will remain on the dangerous streets of Ukraine or in abusive homes.

Support their work at CampYeka.org

The following article was written by Rishe Deitsch in 2012 by the Nshei Chabad Newsletter about the summer of 2012:

Every summer, bochurim come to the Ukraine and do a three-week overnight camp in one location, then move to another location and start all over again with a new group of campers. The campers get attached to the counselors, and since it's summer and they're free anyway, very often the campers want to come along with the counselors to the new location for more camp.

"At first I could not believe the boys wanted to travel for 25 hours on a train from Minsk [Belarus] to Crimea [a region near the Black Sea] to have another three weeks of camp," said Ephraim Yarmak, 21, who spent several summers and Pesachs as a counselor in the Ukraine.

"But then I understood. Camp is all they wait for the whole year. It is when the boys, many of whom live in very uncomfortable or even hostile environments, come alive. It is when they are given unlimited love and attention, given the time of their lives and given a full dose of the 'oxygen' of Torah. Not to mention American treats like chocolate bars and licorice."

Just to try to give American readers some understanding of the difficult lives of these Ukrainian children, let me share with you what one counselor told me: "Many Yidden come to Berditchev to visit the grave of Reb Levi Yitzchok, and nobody turns down a child beggar. So, many Jewish children living in Berditchev survive by begging."

Levi Katzman, 24, spent six summers in the Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia as counselor and head counselor. He will never forget the day he found a pile of challah rolls in a camper's drawer. He asked the child why he was keeping them.

"To take home," said the boy.

"But they'll be dry and hard by the time you go home," Levi explained.

"It doesn't matter," insisted the boy. "My mother will still be happy to have them."

Ephraim Yarmak was teaching his campers that Hashem created the world in six days; Adam and Chava lived in Gan Eden for a short while, etc. At the end of the learning session, Ephraim noticed tears rolling down the cheeks of one small camper.

"What's wrong?" asked Ephraim.

"For me," replied the boy, "camp is Gan Eden. And I know we only have a short time here and then it is going to end, just like it did for Adam and Chava."

Ephraim was once in a suburb of Dnepropetrovsk for Shabbos. They had nine for the minyan.

"We went out searching for a tenth man. We saw a group of young men. I walked up to them and asked, 'Anyone here Jewish?' They all pointed to one guy, who said,

'My name is Yosef Yitzchok. I went to camp with you guys twelve years ago; I had a bris then and took Yosef Yitzchok as my Jewish name.'

After completing the minyan, Yosef Yitzchok stayed for seudas Shabbos. We sang all the camp songs he still remembered."

And the rest of the story is told in captions...

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Opinions and Comments
You can give money to the cause speak to the bochurim that are in charge
They sell stuff as well
(4/22/2013 4:49:08 PM)
Camp "Yeka" gives these kids the future they deserve!
I have had the honor of hosting for Sukkos a few former campers - some that grew up in orphanages and some from broken homes. When the boys walked into my house, with their bochurim "peers" it was impossible to know the difference between the two groups. The "campers" were completely frum, hat and jacket, and so happy to be zoche to have come to the Rebbe's shchuna. They spoke (in Russian - counselors translated) about the camp experiences that changed their lives!
(4/22/2013 6:38:11 PM)
The camp is being funded by the counsler only this year.
you can donate at campyeka.org
(4/22/2013 6:58:35 PM)
This is the direct link
(4/22/2013 8:18:39 PM)
Wow - so nice to read that our bochurim care so much to raise the funds and devote their summers to give these kids what many American kids take for granted.
kol hakavod
(4/22/2013 9:19:14 PM)
yeka soldier
None of this is in any way exaggerated. The children in camp all cry the last day, this camp leaves a massive impact on them and a sixeable percentage end up going to yeshiva. Many of them turn out to be chasidishe bochurim that you wouldn't be able to point out as "different" walking down kingston. This yr we have no $ plz plz plz help anything counts go to the link on top. Please help us and join I the zchus of helping and being mekarev these kids
(4/22/2013 10:37:03 PM)
I want to go after seeing that kid with a tear
(4/23/2013 12:46:08 AM)
the camp is being funded and run purely by bochurim this year. the community has absolutely no input. bochurim in yeshivas are taking time to fundraise and prepare an amazing camp that saves these kids lives!!!
please donate. campyeka.org
(4/23/2013 9:12:57 AM)
heads up - N'shei
N'shei Chabad Newsletter is publishing a SEQUEL to this beautiful moving article, in its upcoming tammuz issue
this time the article/pics will be about the Russian orphan girls
they too are so sad when their counselors leave
to check if your sub is current - click on the link in article to nsheichabadnewsletter.com
thank you
(4/23/2013 7:57:55 PM)
such a kiddish hashem
(4/24/2013 12:21:22 PM)
these young bochurim make a everlasting impact on these young children. its sad to hear where they come, these bochrim r like their parents looking out for them spritualy and phisicaly. Truly amazing. If i spoke russian i would've done this!
(7/15/2013 3:16:43 PM)
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