By Roy Druker

Note from URJ Camp Newman: Unfortunately, a proposal now threatens to end the J-1 Visa program that allows international staff like Roy to join us for the summer. To learn more and to take action, click here!

I’m 22 years old and live in Bnei Zion, a small village 40 minutes north to Tel Aviv. My sister, Noam, who is now 20, serves in Intelligence, and my brother, Dor, is a student at IDC. I served in the army for three and a half years in a unit called Yaalom (Bomb Disposal Unit Special Forces), and finished on May 18, 2017, – just days before I arrived at URJ Camp Newman.

During my army service in Israel, I decided to go on Birthright as a soldier. I wanted to attend the program to meet and create bonds with other young Jewish Americans, and to represent the state of Israel as best I could. Birthright was an amazing experience and I learned a lot. And it was during that trip, I met Samara Leader and other members of URJ Camp Newman, and heard all about the camp. I became really excited about the idea of having the chance to influence and work with young American campers, so I started the process to apply to camp. Only a month after finishing my service, I arrived at URJ Camp Newman.

Camp is unlike anything I expected; there are more differences between the cultures than I ever imagined. However, it has been extremely interesting and fun to learn about a whole new culture and connect with Jewish Americans of different age groups.

During the summer, I was a general counselor for sessions like Hagigah – where 10th and 11th grade campers are trying to express their bonds to Israel and Judaism through art.

My main goal while I was at camp was to present the best side of Israel and to try to form stronger ties between the camp community and Israel. I did this by creating activities about Israel, having conversations with the campers about my life as an Israeli, and ultimately sharing the deep feelings I have for my country. I think and hope I have achieved my goal by the end of my campers’ time here.

I loved contributing to the cause and mission that camp is fulfilling. I hope to find a way to continue working with the URJ organization because I love the idea of being part of a program that does such an amazing job connecting and creating bonds between different Jewish communities around the world.