Hosting an Israeli Camp Counselor

(Published Jan 22, 2018)

In 2017, the Block family (Jeremy, Kelli, Teixler [6] and Hunter [3]) hosted a shlicha, Amit, for the summer. “Shlicha” is an Israeli camp counselor. 

“We had a lot of apprehension in the beginning, just because we can be messy and crazy, but she just kind of fit in and the kids both really loved her,” Jeremy said.

“[Amit] made us look at some of the things we take very much for granted here as new and interesting and special in a different way. We saw things from a new perspective, saw things through her eyes,’” Kelli said.

Amit’s close relationship with her family inspired Jeremy and Kelli to envision their own children’s behavior when they’re old enough to travel on their own. “We hope that ours miss us as much as she missed her family,” Kelli said.

Hosting Amit strengthened the Blocks’ own connection to Israel. For Jeremy, “it has made it exciting to go there, to bring my children there. Kelli would like to go now, and Amit has made it very clear that she would love to see us there.” To Kelli, who grew up Lutheran and converted to Judaism as an adult, Amit’s stay made even more of an impact.

“One of the things I have always had the hardest time getting my arms around was the Israel connection,” Kelli said. “So having the opportunity to become so close with someone from Israel and learning and understanding what she’s all about, hearing of her experiences with her family and her faith, it was very impactful. And not just Amit, but also the other two shlichot [Noa and Dana], because they spent quite a lot of time at our house as well.”

When asked what she would tell a family considering hosting for the summer of 2018, Kelli said, “Don’t let the unknown scare you. We were certainly apprehensive and nervous, but we thought it might be an opportunity to expose our kids to something new. Instead it was really good for all of us. She became part of our family, and not just for the summer. We plan to visit her in Israel when the kids are old enough to appreciate that they’re in Israel, and she plans to come back and see us.” She continued, “We also became close with one of the other host families, so it’s not just about getting to know someone from another place, but it also brought us closer with our local community. Particularly if you’re a family who has young kids in camp, there isn’t a reason not to do it.”