A group of 80 children from recently rocket-stricken Ashkelon were able to enjoy a Hanukkah camp this past week, thanks to the initiative of a volunteer from Telfed, the Southern Africa Zionist Federation in Israel.
"We must do something for those brave children in Ashkelon who are under constant rocket attack from Gaza," Annette Milner-Gilad, an activist from Telfed, declared last month in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense before securing donations to arrange Hanukkah activities for the children.
Together with Dorron Kline, deputy director of Telfed, Lina Tarna, head of the volunteer division, and Michael Bar-Dov, Telfed's Ashkelon representative, the organization found partners from the municipality, Rotary and Netzach Israel, the Conservative community in Ashkelon.
The Burton Community Center, in cooperation with Ashkelon's welfare service division, identified the children, aged 6 to 11. More showed up on the first day, last Sunday, but could not be accepted.
The group leaders were mainly from the city's youth department, with a few extra assistant leaders from Noam, the Masorti youth movement, and Interact, the youth movement of Rotary.
Activities included workshops ranging from water conservation and science to creative arts and performances by clowns and other entertainers, as well as excursions in the city.
At the end-of-camp party, the enthusiasm of the children and conversations with the parents indicated the "success of the camp and the meaningful contribution it made to the participants, who could put their traumatic experiences aside for a few days," according to Bar-Dov, who served as project coordinator.
Bar-Dov added: "This program can definitely be seen as a successful pilot for similar projects. The goodwill and cooperation between the partner organizations bodes well for the future, and based on this, Ashkelon can look forward to more joint projects for the benefit of its citizens."