Koby Mandell Foundation was created only two years ago, yet already it
has touched so many shattered lives. Created as a response to the
brutal murders of 13-year-old Koby Mandell and his friend, 14-year-old
Yosef Ish-Ran, it seeks to “heal broken hearts” of injured terror
victims and their close relatives.
Camp Koby, near Ashkelon, consists of
seven separate sessions of camp, each lasting from a week to ten days,
for children ages 7 through 17. Three of the camping sessions are for
children from religious homes, two for boys and one for girls. In addition, three sessions are for children from
non-religious homes and are for both boys and girls. One session is for
injured children only.
No child is turned away – these children have paid enough
already and Camp Koby is committed to providing this experience for all
who need it. And even more unusual, if a child feels the need to
have a parent or best friend attend also, they are welcome to
participate. No child will be separated from his or her family or
friends – they have suffered too much already. And whereas in a
typical camp, cell phones might be frowned upon, at Camp Koby constant
contact and accessibility to a parent is typical and the youngest
campers dress wear their cell phones around their necks.
In its first year there was a total of 200 campers, this past
summer there were 600 and over 800 campers are expected for summer
Camp Koby is a way to regain the innocence these children have lost
through the terror attacks, it’s an attempt to restore their childhood
to them, if only for a brief week. Camp Koby is a regular summer
camp – swimming, water parks, art, drama and music and dance, as well
as horseback riding, rock climbing, and navigation skill building for
the older kids. And yet, nothing is as simple as it seems.
Art is really art therapy, drama and music and dance – all have
therapeutic aspects built right into the activity. The close
connections built during the summer camp are continued through weekly
phone calls with camp counselors and reunions on Sukkot, Chanukah, and
But the Koby Mandell Foundation does not only aim to heal the children.
The Mothers’ Healing Retreat allows bereaved mothers to stay overnight
at a spa for art therapy, narrative therapy and massage therapy.
Mandell, Koby’s mother, participates in this monthly
retreat. This is a safe and relaxing place for these
women to sit down and cry together and together to begin the healing
Young people ages 20-30 who are the victim or have lost a close
relative in a terror attack have their own retreats and plans are being
made for Father Retreats and Grandparent Retreats.
@The Source Israel met with Stacey Kravitz, the campaign coordinator
for the Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland, where offices are provided by
a good friend of the Mandell family. Ms. Kravitz is hoping that
bar and bat mitzvah celebrants will decide to donate money and art
supplies and sports equipment to the Koby Mandell Foundation. In
a better world, there would no need for a Camp Koby, but until that
day, the Foundation is also seeking support for camp scholarships and
Article by Deborah Rosenbloom