[by Phyllis Shaikun]
Brandon Carney, a 16-year-old junior at Collegiate, had a wonderful experience in Israel this past summer as a part of B’nai B’rith Beber Camp’s Pioneer Israel Experience along with his friends Alanna Gilbert and Jordyn Levine. This marked his sixth year with the camp, and he plans to return next year as a counselor-in-training.
“We had lots of fun,” says Carney. “I traveled with my Louisville friends, and it was great to go with other kids as well from our sister camp in Pennsylvania. Israel is such a special place.”
He had visited there two years ago with his father’s family, but he was involved in more active experiences this time. They rafted down the Jordan, rode camels and saw Eilat, which he hadn’t been to previously.
Since Carney’s mother, Ellen, has family in the north of the country, he was able to meet and stay with them for several days. He saw the Harry Potter film with English sub-titles, enjoyed a barbecue in a kibbutz on the Jordan and stopped by a Mediterranean beach. “It was cool meeting new relatives,” he says, “and they invited me to bring a friend along.”
The group did the things most tourists do – visited Jerusalem, shopped in the shuks, spent time at Yad Vashem and saw Independence Hall in Tel Aviv. They felt very safe, he reports, since they had a medic on the bus who carried a rather large weapon. Carney would very much like to return to Israel, perhaps for a semester abroad during college.
Back at home, he plays on Collegiate’s tennis team and serves on the student government. He fulfilled his Pledge 13 obligation and participates in his school’s Day of Caring projects. He also volunteers with the Louisville Hebrew School and Adath Jeshurun’s Sunday school. He thinks everyone should be encouraged to give back to the community.
Being Jewish is very important to Carney, so this trip with his camp friends was particularly rewarding. He says it was wonderful to see everyone grow “Jewishly” on the trip. He remains grateful to his parents and grandparents, whom he considers his role models, for “setting an example that put him on the right path.”
Although he is very busy with school work, Carney realizes that college applications for next year are a looming issue. With his dad, Marty, pulling for his alma mater, the University of Michigan, and his mom, Ellen, an Indiana grad who is leaning in that direction, the coming year should be interesting one for the entire Carney family. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca Carney would probably be wise to remain neutral on the subject.