Monthly Archives: June 2013

Camp Judaea Highlights – Week Two – First Session 2013

Shalom Camp Judaea Family,

Week Two of our First Session has been filled with so much fun, excitement and learning.  Our days have been busy with amazing peulot (activities), swimming, athletics, music, art, dance, out-of-camp trips and even a fantastic performance of the 40th Israeli Scouts Friendship Caravan!  We were all sad to say farewell to our First Session Rishonim (Taste of CJ) campers on Thursday.  The entire camp gathered to celebrate their first ten days of Camp with a slide show and pageant.  We are looking forward to their return to Camp as Offarim next summer.

On Sunday our campers will be venturing out to various forests and other natural attractions in Western North Carolina to experience the wonder of the great outdoors here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the end of their adventurous excursions, each eda (unit) will have an overnight experience in Pisgah National Forest.

Please enjoy this overview of what each eda (unit) has been up to this past week.

On behalf of the entire CJ Staff, thank you for the privilege of working with your family this session.  Shabbat Shalom!

Tom Rosenberg


OR WATCH CJ NEWS ON OUR VIMEO SITE (if you have difficulties with the HD link above)

rishonimrishonim 2


Shalom Rishonim Parents,

The Rishonim campers had a very busy last few days here at Camp Judaea. Last Sunday, we took a day trip to Tweetsie Railroad. The kids had a blast going on rides, exploring the petting zoo, and riding the famous Tweetsie Train! On Monday night, we took the campers on their very first overnight in the woods. We cooked hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner and later roasted smores and made banana-boats over the fire.

We also had fun filled daily schedules with peulot eda, rotational activities, and exciting tochniot erev (evening programs). The last peulah eda that we did was a spin off of the game Apples to Apples where the campers had to create Jewish symbols, religious symbols, and Israeli food out of random objects that they had collected. Some favorite rotational activities were playing gaga, horseback ridding, rock climbing, zip lining, swimming in both the pool and lake, and archery. Their favorite tochnit erev was a giant game of paint tag on the second to last night of camp.

The Rishonim staff and I had the best time with your children over the last 10 days. I can’t believe how fast the time flew by and how much we did in such a short amount of time. I hope that your children had as much fun as we did here at CJ. We can’t wait to see them in Offarim next summer!

Shabbat Shalom to you all and I hope you have a wonderful summer,

Emmy Cohn, Rishonim Merakezet


offarim 3offarim


Shalom Offarim Parents,

This second week of camp has been jam-packed with enthusiasm and excitement! We started off the week with our trip day to Tweetsie Railroad where the kids enjoyed a variety of rides, a petting zoo, and a park-wide train ride! Since last week, we have continued with our Jewish life cycle theme with a Bar Mitzvah themed peulah eda as well as an Israel Defense Force activity in order to incorporate the Israeli life cycle. Other than that, we’ve had a pool party, dance party, and have made it to the remainder of the rotational activities. We are all looking forward to another camp Shabbat together and yet another fun-filled week ahead of us!

Shabbat Shalom,

Shira Berman, Offarim Merakezet



Shalom Oranim Parents,

It’s been another great week at CJ with your kids! We went to Dollywood in Tennessee, swam in the lake, zip lined and we even learned about Sukkot and  Tu B’shevat. The chanichim have also participated in fun night-time activities like firefly catching, capture the sukkah (mattress), cupcake wars and we even made our own drums out of cups and rice and created a drum circle! Tomorrow we will be leading Kabbalat Shabbat where your children will be leading the entire camp in Shabbat services, performing an Israeli dance and song, and leading Havdallah. This Sunday we will be going on our overnight and we will get to also visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center. My staff and i look forward to teaching the chanichim about more Jewish and Israeli holidays next week and for more fun Oranim activities!

Shabbat Shalom,

Emily Shalev, Oranim Merakezet



Shalom Sayarim Parents,

Another successful week here at Camp Judaea completed! The week started off with Sayarim taking a fun filled day trip to Dollywood, an exciting theme park located in Tennessee. Amidst all the fun, we managed to find time to learn about some Zionist and Jewish heroes. Through interactive educational activities the campers learned about important figures such as Ilan Ramon, Omri Caspi, and Yossi Benayoun. The campers truly enjoyed themselves this week and have become a closer mishpacha (family).The Sayarim staff and I are looking forward to the activities that we have planned for the campers in the coming week.

Shabbat Shalom,

Eitan Bender, Sayarim Merakez




Dear Tsofim Parents,

Another busy week here at Camp Judaea has come to an end! This week Tsofim continued to learn about Israeli culture and society and managed to have quite a bit of fun along the way! We learned about Israeli food during one Peula Eda by having a cooking competition were chanichim made their own humus and Israeli salad. In another Peula Eda, the chanichim adopted the political views of different political parties in Israel, and tried to run for President of Camp Judaea.  The entire eda voted and by a landslide, elected Yesh Atid to run Camp Judaea.

Tsofim went on a day trip this week to Carowinds amusement park.  The chanichim got to spend a few hours going on all of the roller coasters and playing lots of games.

All of our activities this week have brought our eda closer together and we are trying to ignore the fact that in just a short while, the first session will be over.  We are looking forward to all of the activities and events we have planned for the rest of the summer!

Shabbat Shalom and Shavuah Tov,

Sam Morse, Tsofim Merakez




Shalom Kesher Parents,

My staff and I had another great week with your children. This week we took our Kesher theme, Jewish Identity, to the next level in New York City. We took a ferry around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and learned about the immigration process that some of our Jewish ancestors took when immigrating to the United States of America. We also visited the Jewish Heritage Museum, Chabad-Lubovitch Headquarters, and Temple Emanu-el, one of the largest Reform Synagogues in the country.  In addition, the chanichim (campers) had free time with their walking groups to see 5th ave, Time Square, and Chinatown. We were also fortunate enough to see a baseball game and attend a Broadway play. My staff and I distributed journals to each and every camper allowing them to write down their thoughts about our powerful, educational, and fun experiences that we had this week.

We all had a great safe trip and we are all excited to come back to CJ to continue the rest of the session together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Tali Burger, Kesher Merekezet


bogrim 2 bogrim


Shalom Bogrim Parents,

This week, Bogrim traveled all over the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. We kicked off the trip with a visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. There, we all got to learn about the history of sky travel and experience the exciting aircraft simulator.  Later in the week, the chanichim spent time at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Together, the chanichim learned the deep significance of the eternal promise, “Never again.” Finally, we visited the Newseum, a museum that explores the culture and history of journalism. On a journey outside the city, Bogrim got the unique opportunity to participate in a program at Kayam farms, a Jewish organic farm in Maryland. At the farm, we learned about how Jewish values govern sustainable farming techniques and how to apply the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam, or repairing our world. The tidal basin tour of the Jefferson, FDR, and MLK Jr. monuments took Bogrim’s understanding of the summer’s theme, dreams to reality, to a new depth. In addition to learning about these visionaries, the trip parallels Bogrim’s focus on Jerusalem as the nation of Israel’s capital. After a wonderful week of adventures, we are all thrilled to be back together with our Camp Judaea family this Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom,

Sarah Fine, Bogrim Merakezet



Camp Judaea Highlights – Week One First Session 2013

Dear Camp Judaea Family,

It’s been an exciting and fun-filled first week for everyone at Camp Judaea.  We’d like to share some opening week video highlights with you along with a little narrative about the activities of each of our Edot (Units) since the start of Camp.  

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom from the entire CJ Family,


       VIDEO:  Camp Judaea’s First Session Opening Day 2013

      VIDEO:  A Glimpse At Our First Week of Activities



RISHONIM (Taste of CJ 10 Day Session)

Shalom Rishonim Parents,

I can’t believe how fast this week flew by! We have been very busy having so much fun in the sun here at camp. We hit the ground running when the campers got here with peulat edas (educational activities) and rotational activities. So far we have learned about camp, Israeli cities, and how we celebrate Shabbat at camp (ask your child about the challah they made)!  We have also had lots of fun going to the pool, the lake (both boats and slide), ivrit, playing sports, rikkud (dancing), shira (singing), omega (ziplining), fishing, and so much more.

If you think this was a busy week, it is about to get even busier. Today we are spending the morning bowling and on Sunday we will be leaving for a day trip followed by an overnight in the wilderness. The staff and I have all been having such an amazing time taking care of your campers and experiencing the magic of Camp Judaea with them for the very first time. This group is made up of extraordinarily special chanichim and we are all already getting sad that in less than a week they will be leaving us!

Shabbat shalom to you all and I hope you have a wonderful weekend,

Emmy Cohn, Rishonim Merakezet




Shalom Offarim parents!

We had an eventful first week at CJ, filled with new activities, cheers, and friends. For our first peulah eda (educational activity by age group) we did a camp-wide scavenger hunt to learn about the five pillars of Camp Judaea: Judaism, Zionism, social growth, personal growth, and nature. Next we continued with the Jewish life cycle and learned about the brit milah and baby naming ceremonies. For our nighttime activities we’ve done an Iron Chef competition as well as several get-to-know-you games. The majority of the kids have already made it to all of the rotational activities including ropes course, horses, and the lake. Last night the Offarim campers got their “B.O.s”–which are their camp older brother or sister for the session–in a nighttime bonfire ceremony. We are all very much looking forward to spending a relaxing Shabbat together as a camp and then another exciting week ahead of us! Shabbat Shalom!

Shira Berman, Offarim Merakezet




Shabbat Shalom Oranim  parents,

This past week has been so incredible with your children! They all have adjusted to camp and are having a blast! They have created an Oranim holiday, Wateronika, which they will celebrate at the end of the session. This is a holiday that they created and voted on to celebrate water in camp with a water fight and water front activities. They have also learned about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and forgiveness which helped bring a fresh start to a sweet new summer at Camp Judaea! We also have celebrated quite a few birthdays this past week and will celebrate even more birthdays this coming weekend and week! Your kids have enjoyed various activities this week including the omega (zip line) and kir tipus (rock climbing wall), the agam (lake), brecha (pool), sussim (horses),omanut (art) and more! Today we are going bowling and in a few days will be another fun trip! I am very excited for another week with these amazing campers! Wishing you on behalf of all of the Oranim staff Shabbat shalom and sahvuah tov.

Emily Shalev, Oranim Merakezet




Shabbat Shalom Sayarim Parents,

It’s amazing how time flies. This week Sayarim began its introduction into the eda’s theme this session, Jewish and Zionist heroes. The chanichim, through various interactive educational activities, learned about the values that most heroes share. The chanichim of Sayarim also learned about notable Zionist and Jewish figures such as David Ben-Gurion, Theodore Hertzl, Albert Einstein, and Sandy Koufax. During the activity in which the campers learned about David Ben-Gurion they also began to learn about Beer-Sheva and the Negev, which is the region in Israel that Sayarim will be focusing on this session. Not only did the chanichim participate in fun educational activities, but they also took part in peulot such as horseback riding, swimming in the lake, and riding the zip-line off of the climbing tower. Overall this week has been exciting and filled with enriching experiences that have set our eda on a course for an unforgettable summer.  As we light the candles tonight, we will think of how lucky we are to be spending Shabbat together as a Camp Judaea mishpachah (family).

Eitan Bender, Sayarim Merakez




Shabbat Tsofim Parents,

As our first week at camp comes to a close, we can look back on what was surely a wonderful and exciting start to the summer.  All of the kids were very happy to be back for another session at Camp Judaea and the new ones were quickly welcomed into the group.  We also began our educational peulot this week.  The chanichim were introduced to the diversity in both the geography and the population of Israel.  During one of the peulot, the kids were able to milk a cow on a kibbutz, put a note in the western wall, and donate “Tsofim Shekels” to different causes. In addition to the educational peulot, we were also able to ride horses, go swimming in the lake, and make necklaces and bracelets during Omanut (art).  Only a week into the session and our eda is already becoming very close. The first week of camp went by so quickly and we are all looking forward to all of the activities and trips planned for the rest of the session! We wish you a Shabbat Shalom and hope your week is as fantastic as ours!

Sam Morse, Tsofim Merakez




Shabbat Shalom Kesher parents,

My staff and I have had an incredible week with your children. They are all getting along so well and having an amazing time. So far, we’ve explored the meaning of identities and what it means to be Jewish. We also performed our Hatzagah (play) to the entire camp Thursday night, which was both educational and fun. All of the campers had a chance to swim in the agam ( lake) and the brecha (pool), as well as experience sussim (horses) and omanut (art)! Today we are going bowling, and having a peulah eda (educational activity) about Ellis Island to prepare for our trip to New York. We are leaving Saturday night after Havdallah and return Friday afternoon. I am very excited to spend a week with these amazing campers in New York!

Wishing you on behalf of all of the Kesher staff, Shabbat Shalom and Shavuah Tov.

Tali Burger, Kesher Merakezet



Dear Parents,

The first week of camp has gotten a great start. We have already led services twice and are doing our best to be the role models for all of the younger chanichim (campers). Our peulot eda (educational activities) have been engaging and interactive and the chanichim are truly learning from them. The Bogrim chanichim participated in an interactive program to simulate the process of the United Nations vote in 1947 that determined Israel’s international right to declare a Jewish homeland. The chanichim were put in the position of the Zionists fighting for Israel. Some of the obstacles on the road to statehood included learning some new Hebrew words, completing an exercise in teamwork and loyalty in order to exemplify characteristics of the Israeli Defense Force, and using knowledge and facts to persuade the United Nations council. Also this week, the chanichim learned about the Zionist heroes whose visions of Israel remain alive and vibrant today. The forum for this lesson was that of a television dating show in which the chanichim were split into groups and together had to learn about the hero each of their groups represented. In the game, Camp Judaea was the “bachelorette” and asked the Zionists questions in an attempt to find Camp Judaea’s perfect Zionist soul mate. The chanchim answered the questions posed by CJ and presented why they believe so passionately in their Zionist hero’s vision.

In addition to the outstanding educational programming this week, the chanichim have been engaged in exciting new tochnit erev activities, or fun evening programming! One night, the chanichim got compete in “Messy Olympics.” This event is a relay race in which the chanichim complete a series of messy games such as using only their hands to find chocolate chips in a bag of pudding!

In the coming week, the Bogrim team is enthusiastically looking forward to many great adventures in Washington D.C.! We are so thankful you sent your child to Camp Judaea and look forward to three more amazing weeks with them!

Sarah Fine, Bogrim Merakezet


Sleepaway Camp: A Remedy for Overparenting

Misdar Boker at Camp Judaea

Misdar Boker at Camp Judaea

Shalom Camp Judaea parents and friends:  I am delighted to share this fantastic article by US News’ Rachel Pomerance on the transformational effects of summer camp experiences.  It’s been a pleasure to speak with so many of our camp parents over the past 48 hours at the start of our 52nd season.  It is a privilege to be your eyes and ears while your children are here at Camp.  We’re taking great care of them and they are having so much fun!  

Each day at Camp Judaea is filled with opportunities for learning, sharing and developing independence and self-confidence.  This article highlights so many important nuggets of parenting wisdom that will help your child maximize the impact of their summer camp experiences at Camp Judaea.  Enjoy it and know we are working hard to provide a world-class camp experience for your family.  Laila Tov,  Tom

Sleepaway Camp:  A Remedy for Overparenting

by Rachel Pomerance

“What was the sweetest moment of your childhood?” is a question psychologist Michael Thompson regularly asks adults. Eighty percent of the time, he says, they’ll recall a memory in which their parents weren’t present. Why? Because the thrill of that moment often was steeped in the exhilaration of independence, says Thompson, author of “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow” and a psychologist at an all-boys school near Boston.

At a time when many American parents manage the minutia of their children’s lives well into college – a trend broadly referred to as “overparenting” or “helicopter parenting” – the above exchange serves to remind parents that letting kids go lets them grow. And, according to Thompson and other experts, sleepaway camp provides the perfect occasion.

[See: What Do Happy Families Know That You Don’t?]

Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions in Raleigh, N.C. and author of “If I Have to tell You One More Time …,” considers overnight camp training ground for adulthood – and a potential prophylactic against so-called boomerang children. “So many parents have 20-somethings who are coming home, and they can’t get them to fly from the coop, but how will they ever learn to do that if they don’t have opportunities to practice?” Summer camp provides a “structured, safe, well-supervised environment” to do that, she says. “It’s not like you’re sending them off to the city to go and fend for themselves.”

Still, it’s not easy for this generation of parents to let go, says McCready, who includes herself among the ilk of educated, later-in-life, highly-involved parents. “When they’re younger, it starts out to keep them safe, but we have a hard time backing off from that,” she says, explaining that walking a kid to the bus stop morphs into driving a half hour to deliver cookies at camp. “Eventually, we’re calling the college professor because our kid got a C on his philosophy paper.”

[See: How to Be a Better Example for Your Kids.]

If sleepaway camp seems like a good option for your family, here are some tips to prepare you and your child for an adventure experienced by 6 million American school-aged kids each summer:

1. Take baby steps. If your child can’t make it through the night at grandma’s house, he or she is not ready for sleepaway camp, says parenting expert Michele Borba, author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.” Borba recommends a trial run with a weekend retreat, like those offered through a local scouting group or Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Then, ask the counselors how your child fared to determine whether he or she is ready for a week or four away.

[See: Summer Camps for Adults.]

2. Anticipate their worries – and yours. Allay any concerns by preparing for them – be it a food allergy or fear of swimming. “If he’s scared to death of the water, then let’s take a couple practice swim classes before you go,” says Borba, who also suggests going online and looking at pictures t of the camp beforehand to help your child get acquainted.

If your child is shy, you may want to role play meeting new people and shaking hands, McCready says. And don’t hesitate to register your concerns with the camp staff – even if it’s about how to rein in your own tendency to “helicopter” in. “It is clear parents today are more anxious than their peers were 20 and 30 years ago,” says Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association. “That said, the partnerships between parents and camp directors have increased. Parents are encouraged to share their concerns with camp directors who are prepared to respond with responsible, informed answers.” She also recommends verifying a camp’s accreditation – “some of the best evidence the camp is committed to your child’s safety.”

But whatever you do, try not to show your concern to your child. “Don’t let your anxiety come through. Deal with that on your own,” McCready says. As Borba puts it: “Keep yourself calm because your kid is feeding off of you.” And when you do say goodbye, make it a quick and matter-of-fact one, she says. “You can cry in your own car.”

Remember, too, “every child’s going to have little pangs” of homesickness, she says. (According to Smith, only 1 to 7 percent have homesickness that requires intervention). Talk to the counselor before rushing to rescue your child, Borba advises. “If it doesn’t work at all, and he’s shattered, then so be it. There’s always next year.”

[See: Have Anxiety? There’s an App for That.]

3. Celebrate unplugging. If the camp doesn’t allow cellphones, don’t flout the rules. “Trust the [camp leadership] that they’re going to do the right thing for your kid,” McCready says. Have everyone in the family write something in an old-fashioned letter, she says, and send it so it gets to camp by the time your kid does. The correspondence provides both parent and child with a rare and special memento. “Don’t send emails to the camp counselor,” which can suggest a lack of confidence in the child’s ability to handle the experience, she says.

[See: Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online.]

4. Make this time count for you. You know that thing you want to do that you can’t seem to find time for? Here’s your chance. “Organize your closet, or take a vacation or if you have other children at home, that’s an opportunity to do special time with them,” McCready says.

[See: How to Stop Feeling Selfish About ‘Me Time.’]

5. Remember why you’re doing this.

According to Thompson, there are certain things parents can’t give their kids – such as happiness, self-esteem or friends. And there are other things that “the magic of camp” provides: social skills, leadership training and new relationships with counselors, kids, nature and even oneself. Among the hundreds of campers he interviewed, the most frequent comment he heard about camp was: “I can really be myself here.”

If you need something more concrete, McCready suggests making a list of everything you want your kids to get out of the camping experience, and fix it to the fridge for regular reassurance.

Learning is FUN at Camp Judaea!

Some of our Kesher chanichim during a peulah

During the off-season this year, the Merakzim Team and Camp Directors have been busy developing really fun and hilarious activities (peulot) for each of our Units (edot).  A tremendous amount of resources have been invested in a well thought-out progression of educational programs beginning with our Rishonim (Taste of CJ) campers all the way through to our Chalutzim campers.   Each unit (eda) embraces a programmatic theme that combines Israel cultural and Judaic educational concepts.  Each eda also studies a particular city or region of Israel.

Here are our Eda Themes and Regions or Cities for our 52nd Season:

Rishonim (Taste of CJ) Introduction to Israel Eilat Kibbutzim/Moshavim
Offarim Israeli Life Cycles The Arava Jewish Life Cycles
Oranim Israeli Holidays Haifa Israeli Celebrations
Sayarim Zionist Heroes Beer Sheva Jewish Heroes
Tsofim Israel Culture/Politics Tel Aviv Israeli Music
Kesher Jewish Identity/Spiritualism Tzfat Search and Travel Shantipi
Bogrim Zionism –Dreams To Reality Jerusalem  
Chalutzim Tikkun Olam Golan Nature and Self-Reflection

This year Camp Judaea was selected to participate in a two year fellowship:  The Goodman Camping Institute for Modern Israel History through the Foundation for Jewish Camp and The Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundation.   Our Goodman Educator, David Berlin, and our Education Director/Shaliach, Muli Makmel, are leading this initiative along with five summer leadership staff who are serving as Goodman Fellows.

Dozens of new and very fun activities (peulot) have been created with specific desired educational outcomes for each eda.  We’ve hired 32 Israeli staff to ensure that we create an immersive and contemporary Israeli environment at Camp with authentic and creative ideas.

We know our campers will bring home so many new experiences to share with their families and friends.  They’ll have great stories about Israel and their own Jewish identity to share.  In just about ten days all of the fun will begin with the start of our First Session.  We cannot wait!

Kol Tuv,

Sig Tom R

Tom Rosenberg
Executive Director

A D’var Torah

Written by Michele Burger, CJ Alumna and Board Chair-Elect

In this week’s torah portion, Parshah Bamidbar, the Jewish people are going into the desert or wilderness – the middle of nowhere. In reading the Parshah to prepare for the D’var Torah, it made me realize why the Jewish people had to be in the desert in order to be transformed.  It was necessary for the Jews to be in a neutral environment removed from all distractions to learn why each one of them was important and why they were critical to the larger group. Continue reading