Monthly Archives: August 2015

Concluding a Summer Full of Joy and Laughter!

Today our Camp Staff are saying their last tearful good-byes to each other and heading back out to travel or prepare for the college year ahead. Last night after all our campers arrived safely at home, the CJ Staff celebrated a very successful summer with a scrumptious and memorable Staff Banquet. In addition to some very funny staff superlative awards (for example, Nadav Itzhaki and Celia Calhoun were awarded “Most Likely To Work At Grandads Apples”), we honored the memory of the late Keith Berman by presenting the inaugural Keith Berman Israel Educator Award to Amanda Shames and Sydney Levy.  This Keith Berman award was generously established through a grant from Michele and Andrew Burger and annually honors outstanding American staff members who demonstrate outstanding passion, creativity and commitment to Zionist education at Camp Judaea.

Keith passed away earlier this year at the age of 48, but his legacy continues to live on at Camp Judaea.  His mission in life as a tireless advocate for Israel and Jewish education was honed during his decades of dedicated work with Young Judaea, whether it was working in Israel as director of Year Course or Hamagshamim or during the summers he spent at Camp Judaea working as the drama director or Rosh Machane during the late 1980s to early 1990s.  Keith’s summers at Camp Judaea were spent passionately devising ways to create innovative programming to teach the core values of Young Judaea – Zionism, Israel, and K’lal Yisrael.   Kol HaKavod Amanda and Sydney!  It is your passion that inspires us all to be better Israel educators.

Noa Salutsky, our Ivrit Instructor this summer who is a member of the Israeli delegation was also recognized for her outstanding work in and out of the cabin in the field of pluralist Jewish education. Noa earned the ישראלי מחנך award which honors the Israeli delegation member who goes above and beyond their normal responsibilities as an Educator.  Kol HaKavod Noa, AKA “Hebrew Woman” (our campers love learning Ivrit phrases from Noa and her team at Misdar Boker every morning).

Summer 2015 is officially over.  We hope that as you surround yourself with family and friends and light shabbas candles around the table tonight, your children will recount many happy memories from both sessions at CJ.  See you in 312 days right here at Camp Judaea!

CLICK HERE to enjoy the final edition of CJ News 2015!




Chanichim Vatikim

This summer, Camp Judaea decided to show appreciation to our returning campers by gifting them with awesome sweatshirts! These sweatshirts were given to campers who have been coming to camp for FIVE or more years and they say “Chanich Vatik” meaning Veteran Camper.

First session veterans

First session veterans

Our hope is that the campers will wear these sweatshirts year-round to show their loyalty and pride for CJ and also encourage other campers to continue to come to camp year after year— I mean, come on! Everyone wants one of those sweatshirts!


Second session veterans

We counted out 106 campers who were eligible for the gift this summer, but two of them need to be acknowledged even more publicly. Alyssa Bigelman and Rachel Ribner, two Chalutzim campers this year, have been attending camp for NINE summers! What an awesome commitment to the place they love from them and their families!

And the Winner Is…Bikkurim 2nd Session 2015

Thursday’s Bikkurim was definitely one for the books! The theme was “Biblical Couples,” though it was expanded to include Queen Esther and King Ahashveyrosh. Each team focused on teaching the stories of the famous couples (which also included Moses and Tzipora, Abraham and Sarah, and Adam and Eve) while also instilling the values of teamwork and good sportsmanship in the chanichim (campers). ed41010c-df94-441a-a683-49fa61212ba5

Bikkurim is a day for every child at camp to shine. The omanut (art) room opens up for artistically inclined members of each team to decorate their team plaques, and the winning plaque is hung in the Beit Ha’am for years and years to follow! The teams put forth volunteers to play in all sorts of sporting events from basketball to gaga and a campwide relay for the runners! There is even an element for the chefs among us…a S’more competition to see who can create and serve the most perfectly delicious s’more! This session, we added a step/stomp competition to indulge our dancers. Skits are written and performed for our actors to take the lead. And, of course, we have multiple pool events for our comedians, belly-floppers, and skilled swimmers! 0347cf29-764b-43a4-a83a-c88f55e39bae

The green team came out on top this session representing Adam and Eve. They were led by Nadav Yitzhaki and Francesca (Frankie) Luria. Though everyone is absolutely exhausted by the end of the day, it is always a highly anticipated event at camp which we all look forward to. This is a video you will absolutely not want to miss!4d480568-bb43-4106-930b-37f90d0ced85

CJ News and Other Camp Accomplishments

Here we are approaching the very last Shabbat, not only of second session, but of our 2015 Summer. Camp Judaea has had seven (soon to be eight) weeks worth of new experiences, Jewish and cultural education, mensch-making, and fun!
We couldn’t be more pleased with how the summer has been going…


Sayarim hanging at Dollywood on Monday!

This week, we commemorated Tisha Ba’av with a beautiful campwide ceremony. Monday was another trip day: Offarim went to Tweetsie Railroad, Oranim and Sayarim enjoyed Dollywood, and Tsofim, Kesher, and Bogrim had their overnights. On Tuesday, we were joined by Sheldon Low who rocked the Beit Ha’am!


Alyssa Bigelman and Abraham Lebos getting off the Chalutzim bus and racing to claim “first shower!”

Chalutzim safely arrived back at camp Wednesday afternoon after their ten-day outward bound experience in the woods. Bug bites and stubbed toes aside, they were all in great shape and eager to share stories of their experience!

Wednesday evening, the entire camp participated in Yom Tzofim, hosted by our Scouts, Amit and Emma. They transformed our entire back field into a scouts-themed carnival, and all of the campers and staff got to learn new skills and games. They had face-painting and even banana boat making over the fire!


Everyone enjoying Yom Tzofim relay races in the back field!

As the campers thought the evening was wrapping up with a traditional fire sign, we noticed four horses from the stables painted in red, blue, white, and green paint coming towards the flagpole. Before long, eight brave, excited, and dedicated captains came running into the crowd to announce Bikkurim!

Bikkurim was an awesome day filled with ruach! The four teams cheered, performed, and played sports all day long to impress the Va’ad (panel of judges). The theme was “Couples through Jewish History” which included Abraham and Sarah, Adam and Eve, King Ahashveyrosh and Queen Esther, and Moses and Tzipora. At the end of the night, the Green Team (Adam and Eve) were deemed the winners!


The green team giving their voices a rest during a silent meal in the Chadar Ochel.

At this morning’s t’fillot (prayers), Joshua Dela Cruz was joined by his family for his Bar Mitzvah. He delivered a D’var Torah and was given his tallis. Mazel tov to Joshua and his family, and thank you for sharing this simcha with your CJ family! This Kabbalat Shabbat will be “BO Shabbat” led by Bogrim and Offarim. We know they’ll make our last CJ Shabbat special and memorable.

Joshua (kesher) giving his D'var Torah in the Beit K'nesset!

Joshua (kesher) giving his D’var Torah in the Beit K’nesset!

Before the session wraps up for good, some of the staff members reflect back on their biggest accomplishments at camp thus far:

“Becoming close with my campers and fellow staff members”
Jared Schermer: Kesher, Cornerstone Fellow

“Finally breaking through to the campers who were afraid of heights and then were eventually able to go down the zipline, like Offie, Elissa Borak and Bogie, Alyssa LaFay!”
Yonatan Manor: Head of Ropes

“Incorporating 35 Israeli madrichim into the CJ family and providing fun Israeli and Jewish education into the camp curriculum.”
Neta Shani: Shaliach, Education Director

Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of CJ News!