Monthly Archives: July 2015

Spread the Love: CJ News

And it’s Friday again! How did that happen? We had another great week at camp! Can you believe it’s already the second Shabbat of second session? Looking back on the week, it’s hard to believe so much has happened.

Kesher traveled all the way to New York City to enjoy the sights, sounds, and culture. They had an awesome time and returned safely back to camp this morning. On Monday, the remaining edot embarked on trip days: Rishonim to Tweetsie Railroad, Offarim, Oranim, and Sayarim had their overnights, and Tsofim and Bogrim spent the day in Carowinds. By Tuesday afternoon, everyone was back in camp sharing stories of their trips.

We also said “Bon Voyage” to our 33 Chalutzim campers who are currently in the woods with the North Carolina Outward Bound program. We are confident in their abilities to work together and with their staff to support each other through the ten-day program. We can’t wait to hear stories when they return next week!IMG_4275

Wednesday morning Tsofim headed over to Camp Rockmont to participate in Campstock. They played sports and had races against the other participating camps and really liked getting to meet the rest of the campers. As part of the program, each camp decorated a water barrel to be displayed in Downtown Hendersonville. Thanks to our Omanut (art) staff for helping with this project!

Thursday we said goodbye to our adorable Rishonim campers with a graduation ceremony and slideshow. Their parents loved it, and many of the campers cried about leaving camp, their friends, and their counselors. We are sure they’ll be back next summer to enjoy the full session! In the afternoon, we were joined by Judaic Mosaic, a Jewish rock band who led songwriting workshops and performed for the whole camp in the Beit Ha’am. It was awesome to host them!

Today, Bogrim left bright and early for Sports Day! It’s another inter-camp program with all sorts of sporting events, games, and races. They will be judged on game scores, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Bogrim is set to return with plenty of time to get dressed and ready for Kabbalat Shabbat tonight (which Sayarim will host).

There really is never a dull moment at camp with trips, peulot rotations, cabin bonding, meals, and chuggim (electives). This session, a certain chug has really stood out to us as special and meaningful, and we want to brag about it to all of you! It’s called “Spread the Love.”

Amos, a Tsofim counselor, got the idea to start the “Spread the Love” chug last summer during staff training in intersession. The staff was brainstorming new elective ideas, and it popped into his head that there should be a group of campers and staff who worked to share happiness and love throughout the camp. Another staff member hopped on board and came up with a name, and from there, the chug grew!

This session, there are 12 campers in the group led by Amos and another counselor, Remi. Their mission is to do little things to make people smile and make everyone feel loved and appreciated. So far, they have:

  • Decorated pet rocks to give as gifts
  • Written compliment signs and posted them on cabin walls, bathroom doors, and in public places like the chadar ochel and Israeli Culture Center
  • Used chalk on the sidewalks to write out uplifting messages and designs
  • Gone to people around camp to sing to them and cheer them up
  • Decorated sheet cakes and delivered them to the Office, Maintenance, Health Care Center, and Kitchen Staffs
  • Practiced making compliments more personal and less materialistic
The Health Care Center posing with their yummy cake!

The Health Care Center posing with their yummy cake!

In addition to making individuals feel loved, the group also wants to leave a more permanent mark on Camp Judaea. They have planned to paint a mural on the side of the shed that is near Flagpole. It will say in Hebrew “Anachnu Ohevim CJ” which means “We Love CJ” and will feature people holding hands around a heart. It’s an inspiring group and we are so proud of them!

This Shabbat, we hope that you are also surrounded by love. Shabbat Shalom, CJ Family. Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of CJ News!

Making Mensches this Shabbat at CJ

As the campers load the buses to go bowling at Tarheel Lanes, I can’t help but look back at the whirlwind of a week we’ve had here at Camp Judaea. With full cabins, an over-flowing chadar ochel, and a flagpole line-up with campers and staff standing shoulder-to-shoulder, it’s crazy to think that just a few days ago, these campers were elsewhere and second session hadn’t begun. Everyone seems to be adjusting well to the CJ life, and our values are already rubbing off on the chanichim (campers).

This summer, we have been focusing on character values and working towards making every camper and staff member a well-rounded and respected individual. The term, “mensch,” is often used in Jewish culture to describe individuals who possess strong values and are well-received by others, one with integrity and honor. We are using our Making Mensches: A Periodic Table, inspired by Tiffany Shlain’s Periodic Table of Character Strengths, to guide us as we teach these values to our campers and watch them put them into practice.

We’ve asked various campers and staff members what they think it means to be a mensch and what qualities are most important in a good person. Some of their answers are rather inspiring…see for yourselves!

In addition to making mensches all around CJ, we’ve kept everyone nice and busy this week. All of the cabin photos have been taken, siblings and cousins have been photographed together, and, of course, there are hundreds of pictures of our campers in action all over camp. The Bible Players performed Wednesday afternoon, and they were a big hit! Thursday night, our Offies were awakened by the Bogrim campers, and they all met in the amphitheater for a BO bonfire and s’mores. Today, Rishonim, Sayarim, Tsofim, and Kesher are off to bowling before lunch. After lunch, Offarim, Oranim, and Bogrim will bowl while Kesher prepares to lead us in Kabbalat Shabbat and the other units get in the Shabbat mindset with cleaning and primping. All of our Chalutzim campers are finally here! And just as quickly as they arrived, they are off on a white water rafting trip today with all of their counselors. We know they’ll enjoy this bonding time before their big outward bound trip to the woods. Here’s this week’s edition of CJ News to show you all that we’ve been up to!

As we slow down for a change of pace this Shabbat, we hope you’ll think about what makes a mensch and what you can do at home to instill some of these values in our campers and future campers. Shabbat Shalom from everyone here at Camp Judaea!

Welcome to Second Session 2015

Our first full day of second session is wrapping up, and despite gray clouds, rain, and lots of puddles, everyone had a wonderful day!

All of the fun activity areas have special locations for rainy days along with activities that are easy to do when the weather is less than ideal. This keeps everyone entertained and safe even when it’s too wet and dreary to keep up with the normally scheduled activities like pool, ropes, and sports.

The kitchen has been serving delicious comfort foods. Last night’s dinner was spaghetti and meat sauce, a major hit! This morning we had french toast sticks, another favorite, tacos for lunch, and a traditional turkey dinner with yummy brownies for dessert. Our chefs are hard at work making sure that everyone, including campers with special dietary needs, are full and healthy!

Tomorrow is Wacky Wednesday! Campers and staff are encouraged to wear their silliest outfit and clothing combinations— mismatched socks, funny hats, clashing patterns, etc. Some of our staff members are arranging to have award certificates made for the cabin who rocks the wackiest outfits of the day!

We also have special visitors coming to camp tomorrow— the Bible Players! They’re a traveling troupe of two who perform comedic scenes from the Bible. We are very much looking forward to seeing them perform and sharing a few laughs with them before dinner tomorrow!

If you haven’t yet watched the CJ News video highlighting Opening Day of Second Session, make sure to do that! It was an awesome day with wonderful energy.

First Session Wrap-Up

By now, our first session campers have been reunited with their families and are moving on to the next phase of their summer vacations. We know our first session parents are dying to know every exciting detail about your child’s month here at CJ. One of the biggest complaints that we get is that when parents ask their children how camp was, they respond with a grunt— “good”— before passing out and sleeping for the next day and a half. Here are a few questions and topics to bring up to help combat the CJ Blues and get your campers talking…and we know they can talk!

How many times did you go down the zip-line?  Climb the tower?

What was your favorite meal?

Who was your bunkmate?

Where did you go on your day trip?

Which chuggim (electives) did you choose?

What did you learn during Bikkurim?

Ask them to teach you their favorite cheers.

What was your favorite morning Midah or Middot (Jewish values)?

Ask them to sing one of the songs they learned in shira (the singing activity) with you.

What was their funniest moment at camp?

We hope this gets the conversation flowing for you! If your camper has extra cute or funny responses, we’d love to hear them! Email Elana:

We also hope you’ll share the weekly CJ News videos with your campers, as they have not had the chance to see the finished products while here at Camp. The Bikkurim video went live last night, but here is the final week’s edition! All of the videos from first session are located in this folder on our Vimeo Channel.  Shabbat Shalom from your CJ Family!

Triumph of Triumphs: Bikkurim 1st Session 2015

Yesterday was finally Bikkurim, and everyone can agree that it was well-worth the wait. The Va’ad (group of four staff members who planned, led, and judged the competition) chose the theme “Israeli Triumphs” and assigned each of the four teams wars that resulted in victories for Israel. Blue Team: Independence War, White Team: Yom Kippur War, Red Team: Six Day War, and Green Team: 1st Lebanon War. The captains researched the history of the wars and wrote cheers, skits, and songs that related to their research so that the chanichim would have a deeper understanding of what each war meant and earned for Israel.u1302754_p15591582

The events of the day included: flagpole skits, cheers at meals, walking cheers, captains’ challenges, Water Maintenance challenges, pool events like funny dive and synchronized swimming, silent meals, sports, a giant relay race around camp, human Jenga, team songs, and plaque painting.u1302754_p15531285

This Bikkurim, we added a new position and new element to the competition. We are lucky enough this summer to have four consecutive winning Bikkurim captains on our staff. Rachel Cohen (White Team, 1st Session 2013), Jonathan Burger (Red Team, 2nd Session 2013), Sydney Levy (Red Team, 1st Session 2014), and Blake Mars (White Team, 2nd Session 2014). A “Mefaked,” meaning commander, was assigned to each team to assist and advise the captains as well as to find out who the ultimate Bikkurim champion would be…u1302754_p15522796

At the end of the night, the Red Team (Six Day War) was crowned the winner. They were led by Tal Shmuel and Haley Kaplan. Their Mefaked was Blake Mars. They wow’ed the Va’ad and the audience with their upbeat song, original cheers, and good sportsmanship.



“I hope that the campers understand the deeper history of Israel and appreciate how we got the land and State of Israel. Many of our CJ community call Israel home or a second home, so I hope that in learning about these individual war triumphs, they realize just how special of a place it is.
Even I learned some new historical information from the research and cheers. Until yesterday, I hadn’t heard of the Four Mothers movement which persuaded Israeli public opinion and ultimately the IDF to withdraw from Southern Lebanon.
A “MENSCHionable moment” I witnessed was during the campwide relay race. At one point, the teams had to start a fire. All of the other teams had already moved on and finished the race, but the red team was stuck. What was so nice was that the team never stopped cheering for each other and supported their teammates until they were able to complete the task. Even though they came in last for the event, they were still proud to have finished it.”
Avi Kessler, Va’ad


“It was important to me that the campers, especially on my team, understand the importance of the Holy Land and how hard Israel fought to earn its territory. I hope that they were able to see and implement the middot (character traits and values) that we’ve been teaching from the Making Mensches Periodic Table. I also, more than anything, hope that they had fun throughout the whole day. My team stood for the triumph during the Six Day War…and honestly, I knew very little about that war before starting to plan and research for Bikkurim. I learned that Israel grew three times in size and fought to get the Old City. It was beautiful to see the Bogrim campers acting like leaders and mensches when they talked to the campers in younger edot. They spoke with such passion and excitement, which everyone was able to see. The younger kids were in awe, and the staff was very proud. It was an incredible experience to lead this team and to see how happy we were able to make this group of kids. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity— and now I’m going to Disneyland!” Haley Kaplan, Red Team Captain

The captains, Water Maintenance, Va'ad, and Mefakdim pose with the beautiful plaques their campers made.

The captains, Water Maintenance, Va’ad, and Mefakdim pose with the beautiful plaques their campers made.

Our Third Week at CJ: First Session 2015

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and our last full week of camp can attest to that! This week at CJ we had: day-trips, overnights, Sammy Rosenbaum in concert, fake-Bikkurim, glass-blowing workshops, StandWithUs programs, Yom Tzofim, the Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan, and the Stern Dugout Dedication. With everything that has been going on, it’s hard to believe that the first session of 2015 is starting to wind down. It’s even harder to believe that in less than two weeks, a whole new group of campers (291!) will be arriving at camp, ready for the best summer of their lives!

Sunday afternoon, Sammy Rosenbaum from Atlanta, came to CJ and performed for the entire camp in the Beit Ha’am. Everyone had a nice time jamming to his guitar, singing, and song-leading. He joined us later for our traditional Sunday night barbecue.u1302754_p15113977

On Monday, Offarim traveled to Tweetsie Railroad and Oranim and Sayarim spent the day at Dollywood. These three groups were back at Camp in time for dinner. Tsofim went to Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest, Kesher got to walk through the caves and caverns of western North Carolina, and Bogrim walked across the mile-high bridge at Grandfather mountain. These groups then met in Briar Bottom campgrounds where they built tents, collected firewood, cooked over a fire, and slept all night before returning to camp Tuesday morning.

Tuesday night, the staff pulled the ultimate prank on the campers by announcing Bikkurim (color war) at evening flagpole. (Everyone looks forward to Bikkurim, but its date is usually a big secret to the campers.) After short team meetings with the stand-in captains, we let the kids know that it was not actually Bikkurim and that it was still coming later in the session. After the confusion subsided, the campers came around and admitted that it was a funny joke. They are still very much excited and looking forward to the real Bikkurim! (But no, we won’t tell you when it is!)11010533_10152825157607471_6910910383173146910_n

Marnie and the omanut (art) staff arranged for a glass-blower to come to CJ for three days both sessions. Devan Cole came up from Georgia to set up his glass-blowing station and lead workshops for interested campers in Tsofim, Kesher, and Bogrim. Each group had 8 campers and the workshops lasted 3 hours.

Thursday evening, our Tzofim, Emma and Amit, transformed Camp into an Israeli Scout festival! There were different activity stations around CJ, and the edot moved from station to station to learn about the fundamental teachings of the Scouts movement in Israel. As part of the program, Yoni Kaplan, from StandWithUs, led discussions with our staff and campers about Israel and how to teach and support Israel advocacy.

IMG_0451Friday morning, the family of George and Eva Stern, the very first directors of Camp Judaea, joined us for the dedication ceremony of the brand new softball dugouts! All of our campers sat on the field as Tom, Ralph Kurland, another former CJ director, and the Stern family shared a few words about George and Eva. Bogrim had the honor of playing the first inning of a softball game in Eva and George’s memory.

This afternoon, we are excitedly awaiting the arrival of the Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan. They are going to help ring in Shabbat by performing for the whole camp in the Beit Ha’am. We are so looking forward to their show!

Tonight is BO Shabbat, so Bogrim and Offarim have been working all day to decorate the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) and prepare a song and dance to help welcome in Shabbat.

Check out this week’s edition of CJ News!

If you have any CJ-related News you’d like us to share, or if you are interested in being a guest-blogger, please email Elana: