A group of people traveled for hours to help a Jewish girl fulfill a decision she made at FJC’s Jewish summer camp in Rostov, Russia.
After years of running an overnight camp on the Don River, this year FJC’s popular Rostov Jewish summer camp, moved to a larger camp site on the Azov sea, geared to accommodate the growing demand for Gan Israel Rostov. More than 200 campers enrolled this year, from Rostov and the southern region of Russia, including 40 children from war-torn cities in Ukraine. The majority of our counselors were graduates of Rostov’s local branch of FJC’s EnerJew youth club, which has revolutionized youth activities across the FSU.
At a special evening event following the Friday night meal in the girls’ camp, the community’s Rabbi Chaim Danzinger spoke about the importance of everyone having a Jewish name. He encouraged the campers to go to synagogue when they return to the city, to receive a Jewish name. One girl – an orphan from Lugansk, East Ukraine – said she has wanted to choose a Jewish name, but since the situation deteriorated in her city, there is a no longer a Rabbi who can help.
“I was very moved by this 10-year-old girl, Katya, who so badly wanted to receive a Jewish name. I decided that if she wants this so badly, we must bring a synagogue (Minyan) to camp to help her. Monday morning the minyan arrived and 28 girls took upon themselves Jewish names in a really moving ceremony,” said Rabbi Danzinger. “Katya is now Kaila, and she left back home to Ukraine with a big Jewish smile.”
After the naming ceremony, the person who arranged the minyan from Rostov, Sholom Ber Nezhni, told Rabbi Danzinger, “When you asked me to bring the minyan to camp, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to the hours on the road. I thought to myself, ‘is this really necessary?’ But just watching the last three girls, 3 sisters from Ukraine, come up one-by-one to choose their own traditional Jewish names, brought such joy to my heart and was so emotional, reminding me of my own journey 13 years ago when I received a Jewish name. I’m so glad I came.”