At a time when Sderot and areas in the south of Israel have again come under rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, some 200 Sderot teenagers, ages 13 to 18, were able to enjoy a summer science camp experience in Jerusalem, thanks to the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (HU) of Jerusalem and the Committee for a Secure Sderot.

The two organizations joined together to create “Lend a Hand to Heal” – Sderot Youth Summer Knowledge Camp @ the Hebrew University, which provided a stimulating, week-long program at the Belmonte Science Laboratories for Youth on the Edmond J. Safra campus of HU.

The participants from Sderot comprised a diverse group of girls and boys from secular and religious communities, including immigrants and native Israelis.

They were introduced to educational and scientific programs at the university in fields such as astronomy, chemistry, physiology and computers.

Given the emotional toll taken by the attacks on Sderot, the teens also participated in workshops on post-traumatic stress disorder. Their program also included sports activities and tours of Jerusalem and its surroundings.

In addition to providing the teens with a good time, another goal of the summer program was to create a strong connection with the university, said Rami Kleinmann, executive director of Canadian Friends of HU, adding, “We hope it will encourage these teenagers to go on to higher education.”

Leadership seminars were also part of the program, with the aim of creating a new generation of leadership in Sderot.

“Our success as a nation and our motivation,” said Kleinmann, “comes from the strength of the children of Sderot.”