Schlicha Dafi Chen Says Goodbye

My journey to Louisville started about eight months ago, when I signed up for the JAFI “shlichim” program. After many try-outs and interviews, I finally got the happy news about my acceptance and about the camp I am going to. “LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY?! Where is it?”

Since I had no previous knowledge I really didn’t know what to expect.
Three months ago, if I was asked to describe America, I’d probably describe New York City or LA, tall sky scrapers, heavy traffic, narrow alleys and people who are not necessarily nice.

From now on, when you ask me to describe America, I’ll say huge green golf lawns, a wide river, historic sites, sports fans and the kindest people in the whole world.

Being a camp counselor is never an easy job. Internationally.  Regardless of which language the campers speak. So here is the full English-Hebrew dictionary to the counselor:

•    I miss my mommy – ani mitga’agea le’ima. – .אמאל‭ ‬עגעגתמ‭ ‬ינא
•    I need to go potty – ani tsarich pipi. – .יפיפ‭ ‬ךירצ‭ ‬ינא
•    This is boring – ze mesha’amem. – .םמעשמ‭ ‬הז
•    When are we going to swim? – Matay holchim labrecha? – 
?הכירבל‭ ‬םיכלוה‭ ‬יתמ
•    I forgot my… (Anything possible!!) – Shachachti et… – … תא‭ ‬יתחכש
•    This is fun! – ze kef. – .ףיכ‭ ‬הז
•    I love camp – ani ohev et hamachane. – .הנחמה‭ ‬תא‭ ‬בהוא‭ ‬ינא

But as hard as it may be, it is also the most rewarding job on earth. The feeling I get when I hear campers saying “let’s play rainbow bunny!” (the Israeli version of duck, duck goose), humming a song I just taught them, dancing around with an Israel-flag-printed-blowup-guitar to the sound of Israeli music, is priceless and I wouldn’t replace it for the world.

I want to thank Betsy Schwartz, Mike Steklof, Sara Wagner and Stu Silberman for the opportunity to have this amazing experience and for the help and support in all subjects and matters.

This past 11 weeks I’ve learned the meaning of the phrase “home away from home.”

Dafna Schurr and Eddie Cohen hosted me on my first two weeks in Louisville. It was a great soft landing living with Hebrew speakers and such a warm caring family. Thank you so much!!

For the past nine weeks (and one more to go) I am hosted by the Gitter family. Greg and Laura became a second pair of parents for me and Joel and Josh became the brothers I never had. Thank you guys for all that you’ve given and showed me. This experience would have never been the same without you!

Last but most certainly not least, I want to thank the community of Louisville for being welcoming, loving, caring and supporting. Thank you for the opportunity to become a part of your community. You will be in my heart forever.

Dafi Chen, Shlicha, summer 2014.

Editor’s note: Dafi Chen wrote this letter to the community the last week in July.

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