Szarvas is More than Summer Camp for Albanian Jewish Teen

Szarvas creates a Jewish community for teens from Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and beyond.
Szarvas creates a Jewish community for teens from Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and beyond.

Not ready for summer to end? Neither is Besart, a 15-year-old from Albania whose exhilarating experience at the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation/JDC International Summer Camp at Szarvas, Hungary, has helped cement his Jewish identity. And that’s no small feat, considering that Besart is one of just 30-some Jews currently living in Albania. Prior to attending Szarvas, he didn’t have a single Jewish friend; now he has a whole community.

Besart is one of thousands of Jewish children and youth from Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and beyond to whom JDC provides quintessential summer camp experiences that help them connect with Jewish culture, traditions, and peers. Here’s what Besart had to say:

“Being Jewish is a good fortune because of Szarvas camp. It is the home of fun, when you always keep smiling, and you do not know the meaning of the word sad. It was an experience that I will never forget and will remain in my memories as one of the best things that happened in my life. Szarvas was like a home for me, because everyone there showed respect, love, and the best virtues. I really miss it now; I miss all my friends there, even though I talk with them on Facebook. Being together was fun, laughing all the time, playing, swimming... All I want now is for this year to pass fast, as fast as possible, so I can meet them again at Szarvas next summer. It is the place that makes me so happy I can’t explain it with words...”

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