Jordan River Village - an empowering overnight camp experience for children living with chronic, genetic and life-threatening illnesses

Jordan River Village in Israel is a unique overnight camp for children living with chronic, genetic or life-threatening diseases and children with special needs. The Village is located in the Lower Galilee, near Giv’at Avni. The Village is a fully-accessible 60 60-acre campus with 12 climate controlled cabins with safe rooms; an unobtrusive yet centrally located medical center; an arts & crafts center, a multi-purpose Dining Hall with a teaching kitchen, the only fully-accessible climbing wall and zip-line in Israel; the only indoor hydrotherapy pool in Northern Israel; a Snoezelen Multi-Sensory Room; a sports center, and a professional stage in the large versatile theater. Additionally, the Village includes outdoor camping facilities, horse corral, petting zoo, and an archery area.

The Village provides a safe and unforgettable overnight camp experience, relying on on a professional and dedicated staff and more than 1,000 yearly volunteers, including 20 full-time volunteers who live on campus, staff all of the camper sessions and all this at no cost to children and family members.
To ensure that no family ever has to pay for their child to attend camp, the Village’s annual budget is supported within Israel from the government, corporations, and philanthropists, as well as friends and donors around the world.

Our campers range in age from 9 – 18 and live with one of 25 different conditions including, Cardiovascular Diseases, audiological disorders, chronic skin diseases, Cerebral Palsy, visually impaired and vision issues, Rheumatic Diseases, Severe Asthma, Cancer, Organ Transplants, Metabolic Diseases, Genetic Blood Disorders, Neurological Disorders, Epilepsy, Orthopedic and permanent injuries, life-threatening allergies, Dialysis Patients, Type 1 Diabetes, children with permanent breathing apparatus, and many others.

Jordan River Village’s campers represent the full spectrum of Israeli society– including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Bedouins; wealthy and poor; religious and secular. We bring children together and focus not on what makes them different, but what makes them the same – living with a serious disease or disability. Many of our 40 annual sessions are disease specific or combine conditions that are not dissimilar.

Our Mission

TO SUPPORT CHILDREN, OF ALL BACKGROUNDS FROM ISRAEL AND SURROUNDING AREAS, TO REACH BEYOND THEIR MEDICAL CONDITIONS THROUGH FREE CAMP PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO FOSTER FUN, INDEPENDENCE, RESILIENCE, AND PERSONAL GROWTH.

Our Board

Murray and Marilyn Grant z"l

Murray and Marilyn Grant were the founders of the Jordan River Village, and took part in its establishment until the first camp sessions in 2011. Murray and Marilyn made aliyah in 1971 from Connecticut, and lived in Israel for 35 years. Wherever they lived, they devoted their lives to help others and build a better society. Murray passed away in June 2012, on his way back from the village inauguration ceremony. Marilyn passed away in December 2014.

President - Haim Topol

Producer and actor. Haim Topol was the founder of Variety Israel in 1967, and served as its president of honor dozens on years. Topol agreed to take part in the establishment of the Jordan River Village, and served as chairman of the board until becoming president in 2020. Haim is highly honored, in israel and throughout the whole world.

Chairman of the board - Prof. Yaakov Ramon

Director of the Urology Department at Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center, Member of the Board of the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Member of the Board of Directors of the Jordan River Village since its establishment.

Vice chairman of the board - Sara Lahat

Yigal Galli

Born in France, holds a bachelor's degree in economics and art history from Tel Aviv University and a master's degree in business administration from INSEAD University - Fontainebleau, France. Served as CEO of multinational food companies in Israel and Europe. He currently owns companies in the field of organic food in Israel and abroad and ventures in the field of venture capital.

Yoram Belizovski

Dr. Yaakov Farbstein

Born 1946, married +5. Graduate of the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, specialist in general surgery. From 1989 to 2013 the director of the Poria Medical Center. From 1995 to 2003 first chairman of Israel's hospital directors. Member of the board of "Sarel", a company that supplies drugs and medical equipment to government hospitals.

Nira Dror

BA in Economics and MBA in Business Administration from Tel Aviv University. Director of public companies and partner in an angel fund that invests in startups. Formerly Director of British Airways in Israel and Europe (2003-1989) and Director of EL AL in America (2005-2003). HOTELBEDS Representative in Israel (2015-2006).

Shelly Ramon

Lawyer, Law Office H. Strix & Co., Tel Aviv. Member of the Board of Directors of the Jordan River Village since its establishment.

Aviva Peterburg

Member of the Board of Directors of the Jordan River Village since its inception, and is also in charge of the events.

Elie Aloni

Past positions included - Head of the English Department at Midreshet Ruppin, Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture for Women Entrepreneurship in the settlements, Chairman of the Economics and Employment Division at Naamat National, an establishment of 30 businesswomen's clubs throughout the country, member of the official Israeli delegation to the UN Committee on the Status of Women, Director of Executive Training at Amdocs in North America. Involved in the village from its establishment. Among the other activities - volunteering at the "Immigrants Together" organization, employment for Ethiopian academics, a member of the board of directors at the Ruppin College of Technology, teaches presentation workshops in "exemplary" classes throughout the country and more.

Shmuel Friedman

Resident of Sde Yaakov, married + 3. Currently is a consultant and initiator of agricultural projects in developing countries, implementing innovative technologies. Previously, he served as a professional advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister Yair Shamir. In the years 2005-2013, he worked as the director of open areas and the director of the Grazing Authority, the Planning Authority in the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2012 he received the Yakir Medal of Druze, in the presence of the head of the community, dignitaries and the Minister of Agriculture. Between 2001 and 2013, he was an active member of the Danida project for regional cooperation on behalf of the Danish government. Volunteer member of the board of directors of the "Jordan River Village" since 2016.

Hava Bar Shay Glass

Hava joined Orom from Morris Kahn's group as a director in 2015, and mangaed the relationships and collaborations with the organizations in which he is involved in through his philanthropic activities. She was a director in leading organizations such as Maccabi Health Services, Amdocs and Flying Cargo Group, and served as CEO of Domestic Fedex in Israel. Hava serves as a director at Maccabi Health Services and Mei Avivim and as chairman of the Tel Aviv Expo. Hava holds a bachelor's degree in education and international relations from the Hebrew University and a master's degree in health systems management from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Sandra Shapira

Behind Sandra are more than thirty years of managerial experience in the fields of marketing and operations in industrial companies. Currently serves as a director of corporate communications and social responsibility at Amiad Water Systems Ltd. Active in the Jordan River Village Association since 2002 and a member of the Board of Directors since 2012. Considers this activity a unique right, and of great importance to the activities of the association, which allows the children of the State of Israel at all levels and despite their health condition to experience an active and enjoyable vacation.

Talya Berger

Currently serves as a marketing and innovation manager at a law firm in Herzliya. Mother of Oliver, an apprentice at the Village living with Epilepsy. In the last decade, she has been helping families with Epilepsy, and brings experience and empathy to every parent who sends their child to the village.

Ruthy Danziger

A nurse by profession, graduate of the Department of Nursing with a bachelor's and master's degree at Tel Aviv University. Ruthy is part of the activity at the Village since its founding.

Moti Dotan

Lives in Kfar Hitim. Served as head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council from 2001 to October 2018. Currently serves in a number of positions: Chairman of the Kinneret Drainage and Streams Authority, Chairman of the Bedouin Diaspora Planning and Construction Committee and Chairman of Kadima Mada Israel from the ORT Global Network.

Katia Citrin

Social worker, has vast experience in founding projects. She began her work in the Jordan River Village in February 2000 as the founding CEO. In October 2017, she retired and joined the board of directors of the Jordan River Village. "The Village is a magical place, allowing sick children from all walks of life to truly 'celebrate life.' It is a great privilege to be a part of this wonderful place."

David Ben Zeev

Dr. Moshe Papa

Our Staff

Yuval Halamish - CEO

CEO of the Village since July 2014. Married+2, served as Chief Intelligence Officer in the IDF, at the rank of Brigadier General. After leaving the army, worked in the HiTech Sector for 3.5 years. He holds a bachelor's degree in multidisciplinary social sciences from Tel Aviv University, and a master's degree from the University of Haifa in political science and national security studies.

Gal Dobo Glickman - Executive Director

Lives in the Golan Heights, married+1. Holds a bachelor degree in Communications and master's degree in Organizational Sociology from the University of Haifa. Worked as an Instructor in a post-hospitalization boarding school. Worked as the director of the sorting, locating and matching project for girls enlisting to the IDF. Works at the Village since 2016. Formerly managed the Instruction department and currently serves as executive director.

Dr. Hertzel Gavriel - Medical Director

Married+3, with 3 grandkids. Specialist in Pediatrics, specialist in Hematology and Pediatric Oncology. Director of the Oncology Unit for Children at Haemek Medical Center in Afula. Began volunteering with the Jordan River Village Association in 2001.

Noya Baram - Head of Resource Development

Timrat resident, married and grandmother of 3 grandchildren. Lived and worked at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and Mexico. JDC Israel has been her professional home for 19 years, where she served as a senior program manager in the development of community programs, such as preparation for adult life for at-risk youth, and worked with social investors from Israel and abroad.

Leonid Krel - Maintenance Manager

Hold's a master's degree in mechanical engineering. Started working at the Village as head of the maintenance department in June 2011.

Liraz Levi

Shahaf Asher

Mirit Buchbut Asor - Head of Children Registration

Lives in Tiberias, married to Eran and mother of Ann and Peleg. Holds a BA in economics and business, previously worked in costumer services and event planning. Mirit has been working in the Village since December 2016.

Etti Gabay Chen - Outreach program

Born and raised in Genigar, part of the Village since 2017. What Etti likes most in the Village is the beauty, the magic and the good will that's spread throughout the Village.

Lior Zussman - Dietician

Clinical dietician since 2006. Graduated with a master's degree in the Department of Nutrition, Health and Behavior at the University of Haifa. Specializes in treating babies, children and adults. Lior has been working in the Village as a dietician since the summer of 2011, from the first vacation cycles - with great love, responsible for building the Village menu and adjusting special menus for the children, families and staff. Lior believes that the food is an important part of the vacation experience, and it should be individually adapted to each child who comes to us to allow him and his parents to be relaxed about this as well.

Galit Amit - H.R

Jordan River Village Educational approach

As a member of SeriousFun Children’s Network, Jordan River Village adheres to a philosophy of fun combined with therapeutic programs to help campers see beyond their medical conditions to experience the magic of childhood. These principles include:

  • Offering programs that are always free of charge
  • Maintaining a fully handicap accessible and adaptable campus which is appropriate for various populations
  • Providing constant medical support
  • Extensive use of volunteers who are employed to create the Villages’ special atmosphere
  • Creating vibrant projects with purposefully designed programs to foster fun, success, learn life skills, and discover new things

Our educational approach has four goals which in combination helps create the special culture of the Village.

1. Fun & Joy– Jordan River Village provides an opportunity for children living with serious illnesses to experience overnight camp. Our goal is to get the child dive into an environment where he/she has the opportunity to have new and fun experiences, entertainment, laughter and friendship – all the beautiful things in life. For the child, everything should flow naturally from the first moment they enter the Village till they depart. Even with the sharing of difficult memories and complex stories about their disease, children will gain a sense of well-being and belonging from the opportunity to share their story with a new friend, and to find a sympathetic ear and a warm and caring heart.

2. Experience Success– “I did it” is an important sentence in kid’s life. For children who attend the Village this sentence is usually linked to a painful medical exam, a surgery, procedure, or complex healing process. At the Village, the children experience a week of a different kind of success– challenges and games, activities and sports, performances and art. Here we focus on the journey towards success. Regardless of scope, each success is important—that is why we enable children to select the areas where they would like to be challenged. The final product has its own importance whether it is an emotional experience or physical accomplishment – it  symbolizes a big step forward. Campers learn that their inner abilities have passed major tests in their lives and these successes are good and positive.

3. Social Cohesion– We often hear from our campers that parents do not understand their difficult experiences and what they are going through, especially the social impact. For this reason, we believe that the friendships formed at the Village are critical. The most notable experiences from the session are generally linked to the relationship with other kids or counselors. Campers connect on a very deep and emotional level that enable them to break down barriers and grow stronger from their new friendships. As one child said: “with children like me, I am most free”. In most of our sessions we welcome campers from various cultural and religious backgrounds, different geographic regions, and of different ages. The campers find that even through they have big differences, they also have a lot in common, and building from that commonality is how they create strong and lasting friendships.

4. Opportunity to Reveal New Content Worlds– A critical part of childhood is exploring something new. This concept indicates that the child’s soul is limitless. For a sick child, these opportunities can be limited or much harder to acquire. At Jordan River Village we always work to give our campers innovative workshops and community activities. Every camper has the opportunity to experience something new – culinary, art, drama, music and our adventure tower. Our activities are designed to focus on the emotional experience. To ride a horse, you need to acquire technique, but the experience, the feeling of being on a horse, to guide and to mentor him, to watch his world from the saddle is about the emotional experience.

The Village’s rules –Throughout our programs the Village promotes a positive psychological approach because a positive outlook strengthens the camp atmosphere and encourages the success of our campers. Whereas we want all campers to challenge themselves and take safe risks at the Village, to ensure camper safety we create clear limits and boundaries that are reinforced through logical consequences.  

We act in order to:

  • Offset some of the emotional and physical effects that their diseases and treatments cause.
  • Reinforce the children’s positive approach over time and improve self-esteem and courage that will last beyond their stay at the Village.
  • Give hope and help the children to forget their disease, even for a short period of time.
  • Teach the children how to cope better with the daily challenges and build a sense of personal value.
  • Encourage emotional strength.

The Village counselors are dynamic, positive energetic and fun. Most of them are, weekly volunteers and year-round youngsters. Each volunteer and staff receive intensive training on how to work with children and teenagers who are living with life-limiting diseases. We aspire our staff to provide campers with strength and positive energy, which creates a special atmosphere at the Village. The staff help create meaningful relationships between the kids and themselves. They are also responsible for managing all the session activities.

Ethical Code

Jordan River Village is a nonprofit voluntary association (NGO) that is supported by volunteers, philanthropic dollars, government grants, and friends in Israel and around the world. Jordan River Village is recognized by the State of Israel as having a unique
• facility specifically purposed for children living with serious illnesses and special needs
• educational vision
• child-centric programming
• model for the psycho-social treatment of sick children and teenagers. Studies have shown that positive experiences can benefit a child’s healing process by improving self-esteem, self-confidence and their tools for coping with their illness. We apply this principle to all activities and experiences at the Village. Jordan River Village’s work centers on 3 core values:
Love – Love permeates everything we at the Village. We strive to create a joyful and happy environment where camper experience self-pride, support their peers, empathize with others, and enable each other to succeed.
Respect – At the Village every child is an individual with specialized needs. All staff, volunteers, and other campers acknowledge individuality and desire to be special while trying to build an empowered community of kids who each struggle with living with a serious illness.
Safety – The Village has clear rules and boundaries to ensure safety and stability. We vigilantly employ these standards to ensure that all children and staff are safe and able to experience the full fun camp experience. The Village is a pluralistic project with children and staff coming from different cultural backgrounds, religions and socio-economic levels. The Village staff ensure that we provide each child with a welcoming environment where all their needs are taken care of. We reject any form of discrimination. The Village welcomes children from neighboring countries with life-limiting conditions to enjoy the camp experience as well. Jordan River Village is fully committed to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Village seeks to be a local and international model of friendship, treatment for children with special needs and life-limiting conditions, and providing for the well-being and happiness of each child that comes through our gates. It is used as a blueprint for our educational philosophy, behavioral approach and for all interactions between the employees, volunteers and campers at the Village. Everybody who comes to the Village, staff, students, volunteers, visitors, and lay leaders, are bound by these principles.

Our Friends Organizations

United Kingdom Friends of JRV

The United Kingdom Friends of JRV works to support the Jordan River Village through a variety of events and donations.
The UK Friends of JRV is a registered tax exempt organization and has obtained a gift=aid status.
United Kingdom Trustees of JRV:
Gordon Hausmann
Gail Ronson
Chaim Topol
If you are interested in making a donation through the United Kingdom Friends of Jordan River Village, please contact:
UK Friends of the Jordan River Village
Ch. Hausmann and Co.
5 De Walden Court
85 New Cavendish Street
London W1W 6XD
UK
Tel: 44-207-436 6333
E-mail : gordon@chhausmann.co.uk

American Friends of Jordan River Village (AFJRV)

AFJRV supports Jordan River Village, where children of all backgrounds living with serious illnesses in the Middle East can reach beyond their medical conditions to experience the fun and healing benefits of overnight camp at no cost
We accomplish our mission through fundraising activities, public outreach, and community engagement.
AFJRV is a US registered 501(c)(3)—all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
AFJRV Board of Directors:
Claude Bernstein- Chairman

Talia Berger

Eiran Gazit

Matthew Kayton

Danny Lane

Dennie Raviv

Neil Ruben

Ariella Saperstein

Leigh Steiglitz Morales

Laura Visochek

William Weitzer

Gary Wolff

Ayelet Zurer

To make a donation click here >>
For more information, get involved, or have questions, please contact:
Gail Androphy, Executive Director
244 Madison Avenue, Suite 482
New York, NY 10016
888-999-3054
gail@afjrv.org

Organizaional Transparency