Dikla Alegra Levi brings Israeli culture and lots of fun to camp

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace, Editor]

From Lego® construction projects to swimming lessons to costume and hat-and-tie days to plays, gardens, songs, games and sports Summer Camp at the Jewish Community Center is underway.

This year, the fun includes getting to know Louisville’s shlicha [emissary from Israel], Dikla Alegra Levi and learning about Israel and Israeli culture.

At 25, Levi, from the Israeli town of Bat Yam near Tel Aviv, has completed her military service and is a criminology student at Bar Ilan University. This is her third year in the Shlichim Program. Her first two years, she worked at a camp in Durham, NC; first as a general counselor and then with a specific focus on Israel and Israeli culture.

“I took a year off [last summer] and did volunteer work at home,” she explained, then the Jewish Agency for Israel called her “and asked if I could come to a bigger camp and do programs.

“I didn’t know about Louisville until I met Julie at the convention for shlichim,” Levi continued, “and she got me excited” about this summer’s program.

She’s ready for camp and has lots of ideas for integrating Israel into summer camp fun. For one activity, she plans to use Israel’s nation anthem, “Hatikvah,” as a starting point for an activity that will help people understand the meaning of the song’s words through riddles. For another, she’ll introduce simple Hebrew vocabulary through a Bingo-type game.

Everybody celebrates birthdays whether they live in Israel or Louisville. One of the things Levi plans this summer is to have an Israeli birthday party so campers can experience an Israeli style celebration.

Army service is a normal part of life for Israelis, but seems different and novel to Americans, so Levi brought her own Army badge and pin to show to campers and will encourage the children to create their own pins as they learn more about the Israeli Army.

Levi is eager to meet adults as well as children and has prepared some things for adults, including a CD with Israeli songs, and is looking forward to meeting many people here. “I invite people to come and talk. I want to know who I am. I love to speak to people.”

While her mission here is to teach Louisvillians about Israel, Levi is also eager to learn more about Louisville, its Jewish community and local customs.

Levi is the eldest of three siblings. She has a sister, Batel, and a brother, Yitzik. Her mother, Bella, “used to work with Alzheimer patients, then she got sick. Now she works in telemarketing.” Her father, Chaim, works for Sayellet Yroka and fields complaints about the destruction of public property.

For her Army service, Levi maintained communications systems, fixing phone lines and making sure equipment was operational. “Once,” she recalled, “we received a frantic call that half the phone lines in half the bases in the country were down and no one knew why.” It turned out that a fox had chewed through some of the lines. The incident made the newspapers, and Levi and her team hung a photo of the fox in their room.

Levi described Bat Yam as a quiet residential community 10 minutes from the beach. The weather is often hot and humid. Only recently has the town begun developing gardens and parks.

She is a volunteer with Migdolot [Lighthouses], an outreach program in Bat Yam for at-risk teens.

It has been Levi’s dream for a long time to work for the police department. When she returns to Israel, she will participate in the civilian patrol. She plans to finish her degree and get a second degree in clinical criminology. When she finishes, she hopes to get a job working with criminals.

In her spare time, she likes to read and is partial to mystery books.

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