Monthly Archives: March 2010

Camp Judaea Staff Member Brings Win to Iron Chef Team

By Barbara Sofer
Monique Benzaquen of San Juan, Puerto Rico wants to be a pastry chef when she grows up. So she combined her love of Israel with her love of cooking and signed up for the Culinary Track of Hadassah’s Young Judaea Year Course. Benzaquen has just finished three months of the year course, and was part of the winning team in the Iron Chef competition in Jerusalem.

The hands-on program challenged each team to produce a gourmet three-course meal for a cook-off.

The cooking school with its teaching kitchen is located in the heart of the city’s famed outdoor market Machane Yehudah. Each team was dispatched to select ingredients. But not until they returned with their purchases and began cooking did they hear what the secret ingredient they needed was .

Benzaquen and two fellow-Judaeans minded their peas and cucumbers, selected fresh chicken to roast, and filled their baskets with luscious fruit. Then the secret ingredient was announced: chocolate chips.

“Chocolate is easy in desert, but we needed to use it in every course, “said Benzaquen “How do you combine chocolate and asparagus?”

Making use of her experience with South American food, she suggested that they sprinkle the asparagus with coarse salt and then dribble chocolate on it.

For a main course, they roasted chicken in lemon juice and fresh thyme.

The piece de resistance turned out to be the dessert, which won them enough points to clinch the championship. They filled crepes with mango, strawberries, bananas, and chocolate chips, and served a refreshing smoothie from the same ingredients.

“What a great way to get to learn to cook and get to know Jerusalem at the same time,” said Benzaquen.

She and her fellow chefs have spent three months in Israel’s capital, and will spend three months each now in the coastal city of Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, and last in the desert town of Arad.

The students recently had a tutorial in wine and the Torah, understanding the Biblical and Talmudic sources of making and drinking wine. The opening activity in Tel Aviv will be a scavenger hunt in the city’s many coffee shops, many of them key sites of historical events. Benzaquen is hoping to do an internship with a top pastry chef. 

This summer, Monique will join the Camp Judaea staff in the kitchen!

Camp Judaea Breaks Ground On Amphitheater

Hendersonville, NC–Camp Judaea breaks ground on their new amphitheater.  Over 300 donors have contributed to this project and their support has been instrumental in achieving this dream. Major donors include the Florida Atlantic Chapter of Hadassah and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. 

The amphitheater will be an open-air venue for plays concerts and films. The amphitheater will include a performance-style stage with the audience in front of it surrounded by ascended seating overlooking the lake. 

Construction of the amphitheater will be complete by the opening of the 2010 summer season. Ribbon cuttings, presentations, and musical performances will dedicate the new space on each session’s opening day.

Camp Judaea’s Hadracha Program to Receive College Credit

ATLANTA, GA – February 24, 2010 – Camp Judaea, the premier Jewish and Zionist camp in the southeast is embarking on an exciting new venture. Beginning this summer, Camp Judaea (CJ) will offer college credit for its Hadracha Leadership program.

The Hadracha Program, offered to campers entering 11th grade, is a leadership training course that focuses on team work and Jewish leadership while working with CJ’s younger campers. Participants will receive hands-on training and experience in event planning, curriculum and activity building, public speaking, organization skills, child care and supervision.

In a first ever initiative, CJ will partner with the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies based in Cleveland, Ohio to award college credit for the Hadracha Program. The credits earned could be eligible for transfer to the camper’s future university as an elective course. “We are building the leaders of tomorrow for Jewish communities all over the southeast”, said Sandra Bass, Director of Camp Judaea. “The Hadracha program is an incredible opportunity for these young adults to learn how to be real leaders and instill Jewish values and education within their peers and fellow campers.”

The curriculum of the Hadracha program will teach the participants how to be informal Jewish educators and leaders and will emphasize the importance and impact that Jewish camping has on the community. Siegal College is one of a handful of higher education institutions in the U.S. training Jewish educators and is recognized nationally for its expertise in the field of informal education. Provost Brian Amkraut comments, “Siegal College recognizes the powerful role that summer camps play in educating the next generation of Jewish leadership and we believe that Camp Judaea will serve as an effective living laboratory for these students to explore fundamental issues of Jewish education in the 21st Century.” For more information on Siegal College, visit or contact Jennifer Mirmelstein at

Running the course will be Lori Goldstein, Assistant Director of Camp Judaea. Lori is currently a Masters Degree candidate in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education at Siegal College. Lori will work directly with Dr. Jeffrey Schein, chair of the Education Department at Siegal College to ensure that curriculum meet the participant’s needs. Dr. Schein served as senior consultant to a major national project of the JCCA, training camp directors, and crafted a curriculum for experiential learning in summer camps now being adapted to the unique culture of Camp Judaea.

Campers wishing to participate in the Hadracha Program must attend first session at Camp Tel Yehudah, Young Judaea’s national senior camp in New York and then second session at Camp Judaea. For more information on Tel Yehudah, visit

Camp Judaea places special emphasis on Jewish heritage and a connection to Israel. Each summer over 500 campers from the South and Mid-Atlantic states participate in two, four, or eight week sessions. Located on 118 acres of lush, rolling terrain that offers clean air, blue skies, Camp Judaea is nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each age group has a theme-oriented program consisting of informal educational activities programmed by the staff. Camp Judaea’s programs also include horseback riding, sports, challenge course, arts & crafts, environmental education, drama, swimming, canoeing, archery, and more. Camp Judaea is equipped with two kosher kitchens and provides an enriching Shabbat experience.

For more information on Camp Judaea and the Hadracha program please visit or contact Lori Goldstein, Assistant Director at 404-634-7883 or