Nadiv: Sharing the Best of School and Camp

by Ramie Arian and Abby Knopp

“Camp changes lives, from the cabin to the dining hall, and every inch of grass and gravel in between,” wrote Sara Beth Berman, in her application to become a Nadiv educator.

What is Nadiv? Nadiv is an exciting pilot program the Foundation for Jewish Camp has just launched which is building partnerships between Jewish schools and nonprofit Jewish overnight camps in six communities across the United States. Conceived in collaboration with the Union for Reform Judaism and with funding from The AVI CHAI Foundation and The Jim Joseph Foundation, Nadiv is placing full-time, year-round Jewish educators in several regions, a pioneering effort to create a new kind of position for qualified Jewish educators. Sara Beth was chosen to work at both The Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Atlanta, GA and URJ Camp Coleman in Cleveland, GA, beginning this summer.

The Nadiv educators have taken up their posts over the last few weeks, and their first major assignments are to direct the education programs of their respective summer camps, including two URJ camps other than Coleman: URJ Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, MA, and URJ Camp Kalsman in Arlington, WA. Throughout the course of the summer, they will communicate regularly with the heads of the schools where they will be working in the fall. Once school starts, they will serve as Judaic resources, experts in experiential education, and in some cases, classroom teachers with a focus on Jewish text. At the same time, they will devote attention to planning and organizing educational programs for their respective camps for the following summer.

Sara Beth is just one in a remarkable and promising group of young educators that has been recruited for these new positions. Each brings deep leadership experience in Jewish camps, significant teaching experience in a variety of school settings, and advanced training in Jewish education. One element of the program that is particularly exciting for these educators is the creation of a community of practice that will enable the six professionals to share concerns, problems and solutions with one another, so that they can garner strength and support from each other as they move through their programs in parallel.

Nadiv represents a unique partnership for the sake of creating a pioneering innovation in Jewish education. In the coming months, we look forward to seeing if…

  • …it is possible to marry the best of school-based with the best of camp-based education.
  • …this program is a successful platform for creating careers for talented educators that will be challenging and energizing, and will not simply “burn out” educators from overwork.
  • …sharing an employee will help institutions build a strong partnership marked by organizational synergies that will elevate a community. Or will normal institutional concerns over turf undermine an otherwise promising partnership?
  • …building a community around common practices helps professionals to overcome challenges when facing difficult circumstances.
  • …sharing an educator across two institutions will serve to promote recruitment of campers to the school and recruitment of students to the camp.

For more on the program, including a list of partnerships, please click here.

Ramie Arian is a consultant who specializes in project management and in research in programs related to Jewish experiential education. He serves as Program Manager for Nadiv. Abby Knopp is the Vice President, Program and Strategy at the Foundation for Jewish Camp.

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