A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Beloved Camp Ben Frankel counselor among those murdered at music festival near Gaza

Gili Adar (Photo Courtesy of Kalanit Chappell)

Among the 260 Israelis who attended a music festival near Gaza and were murdered by Hamas terrorists Saturday was Gili Adar, a beloved counselor at Camp Ben Frankel in the summer of 2017. She was 24 years old and from Lapid, a settlement community near Modi’in.

“She was part of the Israeli Scouts program and had come to spread love and inspiration about Israel to our camp community, which she did,” said Aaron Hadley, executive director of Camp Ben Frankel, a Jewish sleepaway camp in Makanda, Ill. “She was a very joyous person who loved music. I suppose that it’s notable she was at a music festival.”

Hadley said Adar had many friends at camp and is being remembered on the camp’s social media page by counselors and former campers.

“The outpouring of love and tributes on our social media platform has been amazing,” said Hadley, who explained that Camp Ben Frankel has always had a rich history of Israeli involvement. He estimated that 25% of the camp’s counselors are native Israelis. About 100 youngsters attend the four-week co-ed sleepaway camp each summer.

Adina Levy was co-counselors with Adar in 2017. Along with a third co-counselor, they were in charge of the girls going into eighth and ninth grade.

“The three of us became so close,” said Levy, a fourth-grade teacher in Kansas City who grew up in St. Louis, attended Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School and graduated from Parkway Central High.“We had this running joke. If she messed up in English, we’d kind of tease her a bit, all in fun. One day she says, ‘You know guys, I am really smart and really funny in Hebrew. You don’t get it, and you don’t give me enough credit.’ The way she said it, she was just so funny and sweet and joyful. We would always laugh about that.

“The kids just loved her,” Levy continued. “She was so good with them. She really connected with everyone quickly. You know someone is part of a group when there are inside jokes, and we immediately had all kinds of inside jokes with Gili.”

Levy said after hearing the news of Adar’s death on Tuesday, she wrote down some remembrances of their friendship. She plans to send them to a friend who is a neighbor of Adar’s parents to give to them.

Levy said she heard from several camp friends Tuesday.

“I think we’re all still processing it. We are all supporting each other. Really, there are no words,” she said.

Adar’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 11 near her home in Israel. At first her family thought she was missing but then learned her body had been identified Tuesday morning.

Levy and Hadley said some kind of virtual memorial with camp friends would likely take place for Adar, perhaps later this week.

| RELATED: Soldiers say Hamas terrorists murdered 40 babies in kibbutz attack

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About the Contributor
Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief
A native of Westbury, New York, Ellen Futterman broke into the world of big city journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the latter part of the 20th century. Deciding that Tinsel Town was not exciting enough for her, she moved on to that hub of glamour and sophistication, Belleville, Ill., where she became a feature writer, columnist and food editor for the Belleville News-Democrat. A year later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scooped her up, neither guessing at the full range of her talents, nor the extent of her shoe collection. She went on to work at the Post-Dispatch for 25 years, during which time she covered hard news, education, features, investigative projects, profiles, sports, entertainment, fashion, interiors, business, travel and movies. She won numerous major local and national awards for her reporting on "Women Who Kill" and on a four-part series about teen-age pregnancy, 'Children Having Children.'" Among her many jobs at the newspaper, Ellen was a columnist for three years, Arts and Entertainment Editor, Critic-at-large and Daily Features (Everyday) Editor. She invented two sections from scratch, one of which recently morphed from Get Out, begun in 1995, to GO. In January of 2009, Ellen joined the St. Louis Jewish Light as its editor, where she is responsible for overseeing editorial operations, including managing both staff members and freelancers. Under her tutelage, the Light has won 16 Rockower Awards — considered the Jewish Pulitzer’s — including two personally for Excellence in Commentary for her weekly News & Schmooze column. She also is the communications content editor for the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Ellen and her husband, Jeff Burkett, a middle school principal, live in Olivette and have three children. Ellen can be reached at 314-743-3669 or at [email protected].