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Teenage Cancer Survivors on Thanksgiving Trip to Israel

A group of teens and parents are in Israel - many for the first time–to celebrate recovery from cancer, thanks to Chai Lifeline & Hartman Family.
By Hillel Fendel and Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 2/7/2010, 9:32 PM / Last Update: 2/8/2010, 7:12 PM

Yoni Kempinski

Fourteen teenagers and their parents are in Israel - many for the first time – to give thanks and celebrate their recovery from cancer.

The trip is billed as “ten incredible days in Israel for teens who have completed their treatment for cancer or who have learned to successfully manage complex chronic illnesses,” and the participants say it is all that and more. It is organized by Chai Lifeline, and provided absolutely free for the child and one parent by the Hartman Family Foundation of Chicago.

Rabbi Shlomo Crandall, Regional Director of Chai Lifeline’s Midwest region, is leading the tour. “This is a trip to Israel for those who have come through some very difficult experiences,” he told Israel National News, “and who want to show gratitude to G-d for being able to come here.”

They spent Sunday morning dancing, singing and praying at the Western Wall, as can be seen in the video below.

The group is totally non homogeneous: “Teenagers and their parents from all over the United States, and Canada too - religious and not religious, of different levels of Jewish observance and knowledge – who didn’t even know each other before. They hail from Washington, D.C., Cleveland, New Jersey, Toronto, California, and a girl originally from Uruguay who now lives in Florida. It’s a very special experience for all.”

Among the other sites that the group has seen and will be seeing are Tzfat, the Western Wall Tunnels, the City of David, Rachel’s Tomb, the Golan Heights, Gamla, and even a pre-State bullet factory disguised as a bakery in northern Rehovot. They also are being treated to an archaeological dig in Beit Guvrin, located between Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva, and they swam in the Dead Sea, hiked in nearby Ein Bokek, visited an army base and rode jeeps in the Galilee.

“We were waiting for a long time to celebrate the fact that my daughter, and all the other children here,” said one very emotional mother, “are healthy now, and we have the privilege of coming here, to the Wall and say thank you to G-d, and to Chai Lifeline, for helping us through this so-difficult part of our lives… We are so happy!”

Chai Lifeline’s mission is "to restore the light of childhood to children whose innocence ended when life-threatening or lifelong illness was diagnosed. Through programs that address the emotional, social, and financial needs of seriously ill children, their families, and communities, Chai Lifeline restores normalcy to family life, and better enables families to withstand the crises and challenges of serious pediatric illness."