Friday, July 28, 2006

Tsfat bombing shakes counselors

Two young women counselors at Camp Gan Israel in Portland are living on tenterhooks, uncertain about the fate of their homes and friends and loved ones in Israel.

Chaya Ceiitlin and Devora Neeman both make their home with their families in Tsfat, Israel, which has come under fire by Hezbolla rockets in the ongoing fighting between the Islamic terrorist organization and Israel.

Both women said they were in shock.

"We didn't get it," said Neeman, describing her and Ceiitlin's attitude toward the violence before it struck their hometown.

"Bombs never fell there—maybe 30 years ago," said the young woman, who, like her colleague Ceiitlin, will mark her 18th birthday soon. "I told Mom bombs are never going to get there, and the next day they were bombed."

Both women's families have evacuated Tsfat, the city known as a center of Jewish mystical learning. Tsfat was first struck by Hezbollah on July 13.

Neeman said her family's home was slightly damaged, windows blown out and a palm tree in the yard destroyed.

Ceiitlin's family home was, at last report, undamaged.

The two women's families live in different neighborhoods.

Both families left Tsfat July 13 to go to Kfar Chabad near Tel Aviv.

Ceiitlin's family is staying with her grandparents. Neeman's family rented space.

At Camp Gan Israel, Chabad of Oregon's summer day camp for children where the two women will continue as counselors for about another two weeks, they have helped campers write letters of support to Israelis.

"We find ourselves in the position of doing for our own families what we used to do for others," said Neeman, referring to the practice in Israel of providing personal support to other Israelis facing challenging and uncertain times.

Ceiitlin and Neeman communicate frequently with friends and family by text messaging.

"A friend sent me a very scared message," said Ceiitlin. "I feel so bad for her, I can't say anything."

Ceiitlin has two sisters who are working as Jewish camp counselors this summer in Californian.

"They are also in shock," she said.

Ceiitlin and Neeman said their anxiety stays with them all the time.

"We try to get over it together," said Ceiitlin. "But we can't."

They said it keeps them awake at night.

"We want to go home. We miss the family," said Ceiitlin who urged people to daven for Israel.

"Everyone can do something," she said. "Pray or do mitzvoth to bring positive light to the world."

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