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Hazerim Visit

It is not easy to "wow" junior high school kids these days. The dedicated teens who participate in ESRA's Project of Excellence at the Ruppin Marine Science Institute in Michmoret are no different…  

Text and photos by Judi Argaman

The 38 kids in the project come from two schools in Netanya. Once a week, they are bussed to Michmoret which is located right on the beach.

These kids get far more than a hot meal and transportation. They learn about marine biology, environmental ecology, water sports, water safety and they have had incredible learning and social experiences.

The Project of Excellence is not new. However, this year there is something a little different: ESRA member, Eileen Elan from Herzliya has joined Meira and Jack Applebaum, our long-time supporters, and contributed money to ESRA for this project. Eileen is a bereaved mother — she lost her son Carmi in 2008. Carmi was killed in an Air Force cadet air crash disaster, as he was learning to become a pilot. He was 19.

Eileen wants to keep Carmi's memory alive by contributing to a worthy project which would reflect Carmi's loves and hobbies. He had been an avid surfer and kite surfer and spent many hours at the beach. The Michmoret program was a perfect match.

So on a bright warm day in May, all of the 38 youngsters, along with our wonderful student supervisors from Students Build a Community, Mawa and Raphael, were Eileen's guests as they set out on a bus trip to the Hatzerim Air Force base and flight school.

We were greeted by our guide/pilot Major "O" who was in the same pilots' course with Carmi back in 2007. He was our guide, first sharing with us stories of Carmi, who was his friend.

After a sandwich lunch outside in the enclosed area of the base, we had a thrilling view of what being a pilot is like — including trying on the flight gear and the helmet, seeing the simulators, and hearing all sorts of interesting facts about the pilot course and learning to fly, with a lot of information about the various aircraft. We visited the commemoration room for fallen colleagues, including Carmi. We were also able to view the debriefing room in action.

The highlight, of course, was actually seeing the planes, climbing up to the cockpit, and taking photos next to the planes.

Not only did everyone, adults and youth alike, have a great time, but this definitely was a visit with a message: To remember our fallen soldiers and their families and learn about who they were. In this case Carmi served as a wonderful role model for these youngsters. Eileen told the story of his life and tragic death with so much courage and there wasn't a murmur on the bus while she spoke.

It was exciting to see the kids' enthusiasm, curiosity and interest. They had so many questions and lots of discussion on the return journey, and I overheard a conversation between a few of the boys and girls, saying "I'm going to be a pilot! I wanna go to flight school. I'm going to be a combat soldier and do something significant".

If you remember in the beginning of this article, I asked how do you impress a teenager and how to "wow" them. This visit was a big WOW.

Thank you ESRA

Thank you to the Elan family. 

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