FJC’s Jewish community of Mariupol, a city on the forefront of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine, went on a much-needed break last week to a family camp in a forest-and-lakes Svyatogorsk in Donetsk region.
The camp, which concluded today, lasted a week and provided 70 community members and their families, including the community’s rabbi and his family, a relaxing getaway summer experience filled with peace and serenity that are constantly missing in their day-to-day lives.
“I am so grateful for this fairy-tale!” said Sarah Gutnikov, a mother of two and Mariupol resident, upon arriving at the camp grounds. “We have been here only one day so far, but I am already overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery, the peaceful atmosphere, the interesting program planned for us, and most of all by the opportunity to really relax in a Jewish setting. I will use the opportunity to learn more about Judaism and spend time with my family.”
The campers went on fun activities around the camp complex, which also offered a large pool, playgrounds and children’s activities. They spent the Shabbat together, enjoying good company and delicious food; they hiked, swam in lakes and rivers, prepared BBQ and just enjoyed their time off.
“This camp is a dream come true for many of us,’ said Rabbi Mendel Cohen, chief rabbi of the Mariupol community and one of the trip organizers. “I am very happy to be here with my community, to see the smiles on the faces of our children and their parents.”
The Mariupol family camp was organized by the community itself and sponsored by the FJC, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and the Finger Foundation.