By Rachel Heaps, Co-Education Director
After spending the last year living in Israel, I realized that it is incredibly hard to teach Israel in America. There’s so much information that simply cannot be communicated without being immersed in the culture, people and politics. Which is why, when JC told me that the theme for this summer is Israel, I was wary. How could we ever teach about all of Israel in 24 days of camp?
So what do we do in lieu of putting every single camper on a plane and shipping them off to Israel? We bring Israel to camp!
Each and every one of our campers gets to have an Israel immersive experience: We use Hebrew words and phrases – like chofesh (free time) takes place in the emek (valley); campers form relationships with our Mishlachat (counselors from Israel); and we keep Jewish time and ritual as part of our daily lives (we say blessings at every meal and have daily t’fillah/worship).
On top of all that our campers also get to know Israel through their cabin names. By the end of the summer our Olim campers will be experts on Israeli snacks – because their cabins are named after two of Israel’s most popular ones, Bamba and Kif Kef. Our Garin campers get to live in some of Israel’s largest cities – Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Eilat. Our Maskilim campers are becoming experts on some of the most influential people in Israel’s history by living in cabins Golda Meir, Henrietta Szold, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and David Ben-Gurion. And, Deganya, Yahel, Sasa, Tzuba and Sde Boker – some of Israel’s and Reform Judaism’s most historic kibbutzim – now are known to Talmidim.
WIth all of this, we hope that campers get a small yet clear picture of Israel – its history, its culture and its people. There’s certainly a lot to cover but we are up for the task!