Monthly Archives: June 2016

In Our Own Sight: A New Vision of Jewish Camp

A great article by our mentor and friend Rabbi Avi Orlow…

As parents, we want to see our kids succeed in all facets of life – whether that is getting into a certain college, establishing themselves in a career of their choice, or empowering them to compete in the global marketplace. In many ways, our children’s success is the “promised land.”

In Our Own Sight : A New Vision of Jewish Camp

The MIT Program at Camp Judaea

13569927_10206765951163109_1396437973_oThis week, we are proud to send off a group of our Madrichim in Training (MITs) from Camp Judaea to Young Judaea’s summer in Israel program, Machon. These incoming high school seniors spent Staff Training week and the first two and a half weeks of camp shadowing the in-bunk counselors and learning what a position of a full-time counselor looks like. They have made irreversible bonds and unforgettable memories with their chanichim and the staff members all while learning what it means to be a junior counselor, leader, and role model.

“My favorite thing about returning as an MIT this summer was coming back to camp and finally seeing “the other side” and being able to help make a camper’s summer amazing just like my counselors did for me.” –Lauren Solomiany, 2016 MIT

The participants of the MIT program are usually former campers who dream of working at the place which gave them so many wonderful summers. By providing this extra summer of training, it is our goal to prepare them for long-term success, not only at Camp Judaea– beginning as in-bunk counselors and working towards supervisory positions– but eventually leadership roles within the Jewish community and organizations around the world.13523789_10206765951283112_2017854475_o

“The most important thing that they should have learned is that there are a lot of duties that go into being a counselor since it really is a 24/7 job. Even though it might get stressful at times, it’s important to remember the balance between work and fun at camp!”
–Matthew Kaplan, 2016 MIT Coordinator

We hope that they will take the lessons they have learned from this experience and apply them throughout their senior year of high school and again when they return to CJ next summer as full-fledged staff members.

“Participating in the MIT program was an introduction to being a full blown counselor that let me explore different approaches to dealing with situations before taking full responsibility for the situations themselves.  Coming into this summer, I felt confident in my abilities to be a successful camp counselor.” –Michal Pollack, 2015 MIT


“The best part of being back at Camp Judaea as an MIT after two years is finally being able to see the tremendous amount of work that my counselors from when I was a camper put in to ensure that everyone was having a fun time. The lesson I’ve learned is that my purpose for coming to CJ has changed.  When I was a camper it was to have fun with my friends. Now as a full time staff member, I do everything for the kids.” –Bernie Faigenblat, 2016 MIT

Gabi Doobrow is working at Camp Judaea for her fifth summer.  She began her staff journey as an MIT in 2012.  Since then, she spent two summers as an in-bunk counselor for Kesher and Bogrim, one summer as the Sports Director, and this summer as the Bogrim Merakezet.  She recalls that patience is the most important thing that she learned as an MIT that has helped her to be successful each summer.


We hope our MIT’s have had an amazing time at camp and we thank you all for your hard work! We know those of you going will have a wonderful time on Machon!  For those staying with us for the rest of the session, we are happy to have you.  Looking forward to spending next summer, and many summers after, with you here at Camp Judaea…

“My time as an MIT taught me how to work with other staff members to achieve one goal; for the campers to have an incredible experience at Camp Judaea.” –Erin Cady, 2015 MIT


Our Second Week of Camp

Another week has FLOWN by at Camp Judaea! Last Shabbat, we were looking forward to our very first “Trip Days” of the summer; now we can tell you all about them. On Saturday evening, after Havdallah, Kesher boarded the bus to New York City and Bogrim headed up to Washington, DC. Each of these edot had very busy weeks filled with Jewish history and heritage tours that correlated to their eda’s theme of Jewish Identity (Kesher) and Dreams to Reality (Bogrim). These programs included: the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Declaration of Independence and Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a program with Stand With Us, visits to Reform, Reconstructionist, and Chabad synagogues, a guided tour of the National Monuments, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Israeli Embassy, and more. This morning, we welcomed them back to camp– we can’t wait to hear all about their trips!

On Sunday, Offarim, Oranim, and Sayarim packed up and embarked on their overnight campouts. During the day, they each got to visit different nature-themed attractions: Offarim went gem mining at Emerald Village, Oranim visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center, and Sayarim hiked up all of the stairs to the top of Chimney Rock! After experiencing these special places, they traveled to beautiful campsites in Pisgah National Forest in an old growth forest at the base of Mt. Mitchell where they visited a picturesque waterfall, collected wood for the fire, helped cook dinner, enjoyed s’mores, and slept in tents all night. They had spectacular weather and all returned healthy and happy to camp on Monday morning.

Rishonim and Tsofim also had trips out of camp. Rishonim traveled to Dollywood and Tsofim to Carowinds where each group spent the day on roller coasters, rides, and playing carnival games. Tsofim will have their own overnight this coming Sunday, as will Kesher and Bogrim.
On Tuesday evening, the whole camp got to participate in Erev Tzofim— and Israel and Scouting-themed festival put on by our resident Tzofim, Omer and Noa, and the rest of the Israel Culture department. The campers and staff paid tribute to fallen soldiers, learned the music and choreography to some of the Caravan songs, made rope friendship bracelets, and competed in relay races! It was a wonderful event, thanks to our Mishlachat members for coordinating and leading it.

Thursday was also a very special day in camp. For the first time ever, Camp Judaea held Yomanut! (Yom+Omanut=Art Day!) We welcomed four artists with different artistic specialties to camp, and they each led workshops for our campers. We had a Jewish cartoonist who helped the campers and staff illustrate this week’s parsha and put it together. In one workshop, the campers got to press their own olive oil and then make doughnuts using the oil they’d made. Two murals were completed: one using mosaic tiles and the other using yarn– we plan to display these murals somewhere in camp. The final workshop was a musical experience with Israeli musician, Shimon Smith! This afternoon as we prepare to welcome Shabbat, Shimon will perform a concert for the whole camp. We are really looking forward to it! Our first Yomanut was a success, and we hope to continue the new tradition.

While the campers were enjoying Yomanut, we also had a graduation ceremony for our Rishonim group. The first Taste of CJ session came to an end yesterday after 10 incredible camp-filled days. Parents and grandparents joined us for refreshments, a slideshow, singing, closing remarks, and of course, the Rishonim cheers as we sent off the newest CJ campers. We can’t wait to welcome them back next summer for Offarim! We are also so excited to welcome Taste of CJ Daled – Rishonim campers for the Taste of CJ Daled session this coming Monday.

In addition to all of the special programming we had in camp, we also had a few special guests visit. The Lefkowitz family stopped by on Monday to check out their old stomping grounds. Pearl and Howard Lefkowitz met at Camp Judaea before sending their children Darren, Marnie, and Ryan to CJ in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Now Darren is married to Esther Falchook, also a former camper of Camp Judaea whom he met when they were Kesher campers in 1996! While here, Darren told us that his summers spent at Camp Judaea “helped shape my Zionism.” Marnie (now Ahram) and Ryan and his wife Amy each have two young daughters who will all, hopefully, join us at Camp Judaea in the coming years. We very much enjoyed having the whole Lefkowitz family here and showing them CJ in action.

“The tour was exciting with all of the Camp’s improvements & enhancements; and at the same time, nostalgic, by bringing back memories of our youths and the impact that Camp Judaea had upon us. Elana, Tom, and Matt made us feel royally welcomed back! Howard & I are most grateful to CJ both then and now.” Pearl Lefkowitz

We also welcomed Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat from the Reconstructionist movement to Camp who was visiting on behalf of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. We had a lovely time sharing our beloved CJ with him and explaining our traditions. He observed many of our activities and reported that he was very impressed with the level of Judaism and Jewish Education out campers experience every day at CJ. Thanks for joining us, Rabbi Jeff!

We have another full week ahead! Sunday we have the second round of trips; Offarim, Oranim, and Sayarim will head out to amusement parks while Tsofim, Kesher, and Bogrim will have their overnights. The Kesher group, after their Broadway inspiration this week, will perform a Hatzaga (play) for the whole camp. Bikkurim is coming up over the next two weeks, but we won’t tell you when! So many adventures ahead of us!
After such a non-stop week and all of the upcoming excitement, we could not be more ready for Shabbat. It will be so nice to have everyone together as we rest, reflect, and rejuvenate. We wish you a Shabbat Shalom from Camp Judaea…

Please enjoy this week’s edition of CJ NEWS!

CAMP JUDAEA NEWS 2016 – WEEK 2 from Camp Judaea on Vimeo.


First Shabbat at Camp!

As our campers prepare for our first Kabbalat Shabbat, it’s time to reflect back on this first week of Camp. It’s hard to believe that so much has happened in such a short amount of time, and yet, we are ready to wake up tomorrow and start it all over again!

Last Friday, the Camp Judaea tsevet (staff) celebrated Shabbat together. No sooner had Shabbat ended before we moved right into Shavuot, the Festival of First Fruits and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Then, without even coming up for air, we met our campers and families on Opening Day! Parents, siblings, board members and volunteers, special guests, and of course, our campers, flooded Camp with so much excitement and ruach–more than ready to kick off the session.

We proudly broke ground on our new Chadar Ochel on Tuesday and continue to make plans to officially begin construction in early August after camp. Campers, parents and alumni snapped up CJ t-shirts, water bottles, hats, and more throughout the day — everyone loves to wear our swag throughout the year! Thanks to all who supported camp by purchasing CJ sportswear.

Since we said farewell to parents and guests, our campers and staff members have been enjoying non-stop fun! They jumped right into the swing of things– swimming, singing, dancing, playing sports, and of course, learning. Between Wednesday and Thursday, each group had the opportunity to enjoy at least eight rotational activities. Then when you add in two chuggim a day, peulot eda, and tochniot erev, we are looking at an additional eight activities! Keeping busy with outrageously fun activities has helped to cure any initial homesickness, and everyone is having a great time.

Last night was an extra special evening for our Offarim and Bogrim campers. Our young Offies were awakened by their Bogrim big brothers and big sisters for their BO reveal. Each session, we pair up our youngest and oldest 25-day campers as big brothers/big sisters. They enjoy s’mores at a campfire, get to know each other, and learn BO cheers and songs. This morning, they were surprised once again when they found out they’d be going BO-Bowling! Throughout the session, the Bogrim continue to provide mentorship, leadership and nurturing to their “littles.”

This evening, our Tsofim campers will lead us at Kabbalat Shabbat as we welcome in Shabbat with beautiful singing and dancing. Tsofim campers will also then lead t’fillot tonight and tomorrow morning.

Looking ahead, Kesher and Bogrim will depart for New York City and Washington, DC respectively Saturday night after Havdallah. They have amazing itineraries planned by their Trip Directors and Merakzim. Then on Sunday, the rest of camp will head out on overnight campouts and day trips. Everyone is excited for all of the adventures ahead of us after a relaxing and meaningful Shabbat!

Make sure you check out this week’s edition of CJ News!

CAMP JUDAEA NEWS 2016 – WEEK 1 from Camp Judaea on Vimeo.

We’re having a great time at CJ!

We had a wonderful first day!


Aruchat Boker: French toast sticks, fruit bar and yogurt bar, oatmeal
Aruchat Tzoharayim: Cheese pizza and caesar salad
Aruchat Erev: Chicken tenders, french fries, salad bar

Good morning from Misdar Boker!

French toast sticks for breakfast and a visit from Hebrew Woman to kick off the morning…Hebrew word of the day was mahar, meaning fast!13413657_10153476121197471_4903313023339247327_n

The day started off sunny and hot, but we had a bit of rain in the afternoon and evening.

And we certainly didn’t waste any time before putting our Sayarim campers to work milking the goats!

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Thursday will be a great day, too.  We are expecting clear and sunny skies and a full schedule!  If you haven’t followed us on Facebook, we invite you to do so!  We are also on Instagram.  We will be posting pictures, statuses, and live updates on these platforms.  There will also be weekly parent emails with the week’s summary and CJ News video, so stay tuned!

First Session Opening Day 2016

IMG_9546…And we are officially open! First session 2016 has begun! At 8:30 we began checking-in our early birds, and at 9:00am, our gates opened, and the fun began. Campers carrying backpacks and pillows followed their counselors to the cabins with their parents a couple of steps behind (hey, these mountains are for real!) The staff and parents helped the campers unpack and set up, tours of camp were given, T-shirts were sold— the whole camp was alive with excitement and energy!  If you haven’t had the chance to see the video of the gate opening, check it out below!

IMG_9627As 10:30 approached, everyone headed up to the Chadar Ochel to witness the ceremonial ground breaking on the new Chadar Ochel which is scheduled to be ready for summer 2017! Sam Levy, our incoming Board Chair, and Tom Rosenberg, Executive Director, made a few remarks to kick-off the event as music played and people cheered. We are so grateful to our Board Members and Special Guests who traveled in for this momentous occasion, our supportive camp families, and our excited campers for sharing this day with us.  It was hot, but it was great!IMG_9644

At 11:00, families enjoyed a beautifully presented brunch. There were blintzes, bagels and lox, salads, fruit, and a whole table of pastries. The rest of the morning was spent taking in the sights of camp, catching up with friends, meeting counselors, and buying old-school CJ Swag!IMG_2420

By 1:00pm, most parents and families had departed and the campers started on an activity rotation. Rishonim went to Rikkud (dance), Offarim to Teva (nature), Oranim to Shira (singing), Sayarim to Kadur-regel (soccer), Tsofim to Kickball, Kesher changed into their suits for swim tests and pool time, and Bogrim hit the basketball courts. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, the groups switched activities and remained busy so as not to waste any precious camp time and to reduce possible first-day-homesickness.

It was wonderful to see all of our parents and alumni visiting camp today! They were curious and enthusiastic about the renovations happening at Camp. Many took advantage of the development pamphlet and signs posted around our property which showed our first-phase diagrams of the new buildings coming and had wonderful feedback to give! For those of you who weren’t in Camp today, we are expected to have a new Chadar Ochel (dining hall) debuting in May 2017, a new Art Barn, an expanded Zwerner Family Beit Knesset, and new Cabin Village. We are very excited about all of these projects!

IMG_9652Today we also celebrated our CJ Alumni and Members of the Legacy for the Generations Society who all proudly sported special pins for the day!

It was a very busy day for parents, campers, and staff, so tonight will be an early one. We can’t wait for our first full day of camp tomorrow! Parents, be on the look out for your First Night of Camp postcard which should arrive within the first week.

Laila tov, CJ family…

Safety and Security is our #1 Priority at Camp Judaea

At Camp Judaea, the safety of our campers and staff is of the utmost concern. This year, our Board of Directors has invested considerably in security upgrades at Camp and we want the entire CJ Family to be aware of these valuable improvements. We deeply appreciate the trust you are placing in Camp Judaea with your children and we are striving to far exceed industry security and risk management protocols for Jewish residential summer camps.

In partnership with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department and Hendersonville Police Department, Camp Judaea’s security team will be staffed by armed off-duty law enforcement officers on a 24/7 basis while camp is in session. We have also invested in a state of the art surveillance system which is monitored by the officers on duty. We are very fortunate to have an excellent relationship with the Henderson County Sheriff’s department and look forward to another great summer collaborating with them for the benefit of all of our campers and staff.

We also have installed a modern “ram call” loudspeaker and alert system which will both provide greater communications and emergency preparedness when needed as well as programmatic opportunities every day. Finally, Camp Judaea subscribes to One Call Now, a wonderful tool which will help us communicate important messages with camp families via voice, text and email messages in an emergency.DSC_0580