Why are this year’s Passover hikes different from all other years?
Traditionally on Passover, Israel’s youth movements take hundreds of thousands of kids on overnight hiking trips to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and school vacation.
For over a year, due to the pandemic, youth movement activity has been either prohibited or severely restricted. Though the current activities must also comply with strict regulations, Dror Israel’s youth movement members feel that they have been truly freed on this Holiday of Freedom.
With over half of Israelis fully vaccinated and COVID cases dropping precipitously, Dror Israel’s youth movement will finally be taking tens of thousands of kids on daily hikes. COVID safety measures mandate that there will no sleeping out, and the hikes and activities will be in smaller and more local groups than usual. And of course, everyone will wear a mask.
Maya Kotzer, 10th grade junior counselor, said, “At first we were disappointed that we wouldn’t be sleeping out. But then we saw that it decreases stress and worries for both the kids and parents, and for us too. Lots of kids were afraid to come back to activities, and this allows for a gradual return without giving up on the youth movement spirit and fun.”
After a year of distance-learning, being separated from their friends and stuck at home, and worrying trends of loneliness and depression among children and teens, the youth movement is finally able to bring Israel’s kids together for fun and informal activities in the great outdoors. The kids will enjoy this much needed outing with their friends, counselor-mentors and this season’s beautiful wildflowers, which smell even sweeter this year.