The Western Region welcomed 27 LEGACY children, counselors, and commanders to Los Angeles for a once-in-a-lifetime getaway vacation, which included an extraordinary summer camp experience at Kibbutz Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus, a behind-the-scenes VIP trip to Universal Studios, an incredible visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Hollywood, and a guided walk around Hollywood to see the famous walk-of-fame and other iconic landmarks. This incredible itinerary offered the children the rare opportunity to simply enjoy being kids – to escape their woes, experience their youth, and have fun!

Upon their arrival at Kibbutz Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus in beautiful Glendale, CA, the LEGACY children were greeted with warm smiles, open arms, and backpacks bursting with goodies, which were generously assembled and donated by FIDF Western Region supporter Cindy Dubin and her son, Ryan. While at camp, the children formed lifelong friendships with their American and Israeli peers and created extraordinary memories that will last a lifetime. “It has been an amazing experience to be able to host these Israeli teenagers at our camp. In such a short time, they have become part of our family,” said Randy Schwab, CEO of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, the non-profit organization that owns Kibbutz Bob Waldorf on the Max Straus Campus. “The FIDF LEGACY Program is important because these teenagers need to know that there is a whole community in the United States that supports them, and Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters is fortunate to be a part of that.”

In a special welcome dinner, hosted by Nava and Eli Marmur at O’Woks in Los Angeles on July 19, the 2015 LEGACY participants were honored and celebrated by over 70 FIDF supporters. “The LEGACY Program embraces these children whose families have suffered such immense losses,” said Mr. Marmur. “Through their sacrifices, Israel is safe, secure, and strong. Our support of FIDF’s LEGACY Program is the least we can do to show them how much we love them, care for them, and stand by them.” With a delicious meal and an unforgettable live performance by IDF injured veteran Ron Weinreich and his band, Americans and Israelis united and bonded, singing and dancing to popular Hebrew and English songs. The conclusion of their trip proved to be bittersweet; the children, counselors, and commanders were excited to return to Israel and share their experiences with their friends and families, but they also were incredibly sad to leave their new extended family in Los Angeles. The LEGACY Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program ensured that these children know that they are never alone and that their family members are never forgotten.