GREAT NECK (WABC) -- Young kids from several Jewish day camps gathered again Wednesday on Long Island, reinstating a summer ritual that was missed so much during the pandemic.
More than a thousand Jewish campers with Chabad day camps in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, gathered for a unity celebration in Great Neck.
"It's all about people coming together. We call it Junity, Jewish Unity and there's strength in numbers," said the head of Chabad of Great Neck, Rabbi Zevy Geisinsky.
The kids, mostly second to sixth graders, are from Camp Gan Israel, which is the largest network of camps on Long Island.
The kids traveled to the Chabad of Great Neck for their carnival.
"My favorite part was the train because it was really bumpy and fun," camper Nili Robenzadah said.
"It's really amazing. It's really fun to see my friends again," camper Maytal said.
Two years ago, campers were not able to see their friends.
"That was sad. I didn't like it at all because just on the screen all day, I couldn't see my friends," camper Mordechai Ezagui said. "I only saw them in video. We couldn't hang out and have fun together."
"The education from zoom, remote learning, to being at home loneliness to coming back together, this is the most rewarding thing we can do for them, to give them, to give them happiness in a camp setting," Geisinsky said.
The event isn't just about having fun amid COVID. Organizers at the Chabad of Great Neck say this week in Judaism, has a deeper meaning.
"This is the week, it's called the 9 Days and it represents the time period where in Jerusalem there are two holy temples standing. They were destroyed," Geisinsky said.
The 9 Days are observed this year from July 28 to August 6.
This year, it serves as a prelude to a once-in-seven-years observance. In Judaism, it is known as the Year of Gathering.
"The way we make peace with each other is, yes we have differences, God made us all different, unique and special individuals and our job is to find similarities and we can bond with each other," Geisinsky said.