By Stephanie Goodling
Five years ago, Shani Kalmanovich spent the summer in the Lehigh Valley as one of the four Israel teen counselors who traditionally help “bring Israel” to Camp JCC each year. Now, she is newly graduated from the army and teaching and studying while looking forward to returning to the Lehigh Valley for another summer of fun at camp.
Her first time in the Valley was also her first time “so long time out of my country without my parents,” but she felt “like I was at home; it was amazing.”
“This experience I had in the Lehigh Valley exposed me to this world of the Jewish community in the diaspora, the connection between them and Jewish community in Israel. And because of the visit in Allentown, I continued and did a gap year before the army in Baltimore [in the ShinShinim program]. It was the most amazing experience in my life. I came to find myself as a people person. I connect with people,” she added.
Kalmanovich has been back to visit the families who hosted her in the Lehigh Valley before, and she is excited to return to our community again.
“I think this is something really important, to continue this connection, and I just love this area and all the people,” she said.
It is not yet certain if the teens from Yoav will be able to join her at camp this year, but either way, Kalmanovich is prepared to bring Israeli culture to the campers. She is looking forward to the opportunity to guide and teach the children, as teaching is what she did in the army and what she wants to do in the future.