Category Archives: Young Judaea Activities


See Why Teens are Choosing to Make a Difference with Camp Judaea’s TIKKUN Program!

Impact. Leadership. Bonding.

Sadie helping with a home demolition in Columbia, South Carolina

“Tikkun was a wonderful experience where we got to see how the less fortunate live and the results of natural disasters long term. We as a group were able to help by devoting time and energy to our projects. Building someone’s house was an experience I will not soon forget.”


Joshua working to write a peulah at CJ

“The Tikkun program at Camp Judaea was an experience that I will always treasure. Being able to go hands-on and actually see the change I am making in a person’s life, is so inspiring that I wish I could do it over and over again until everyone is helped. Although it was far away from camp, we still felt like a part of the Camp Judaea community. This opportunity to volunteer allowed me to shift from being a camper to hopefully becoming a counselor and start helping the children at Camp Judaea.”


Skyler (right) and Melissa Stein

“Every summer at CJ, my friends and I learned the importance of supporting one another along with helping our community. During Tikkun we got to utilize these skills and lessons to give back to the community in an intimate and hands on way. I can’t think of a better manner in which to conclude my time as a camper at Camp Judaea. Not only did I bond and grow closer to my best friends, we also got to work together to accomplish something absolutely incredible. My time in South Carolina was the most fulfilling experience I have ever had and I recommend it to anyone looking to push themselves and help those who not only need it, but deserve it.”


Charlie (front) with Jonathan Spier

“Tikkun is a great program to spend your summer in because it requires the leadership that is necessary in order to make the transition from camper to staff. For our experience, five days of the Tikkun program were spent fixing houses that were damaged because of natural disasters in South Carolina, but for the rest of the program we spent our time in camp being the Tikkun role models for all the other little campers spreading אהבה ןתיקון עולם (love and doing good) around Camp Judea. Yes this program was lots of fun, but it also prepared me for my future in being a leader.”


Who: Rising 11th Graders

What: Community Service and Leadership program in partnership with the St. Bernard Project

When: Pick the Session that’s Right for You!

  • First Session: Tuesday, June 11 – Wednesday, June 26, 2019
  • Second Session: Wednesday, July 17 – Thursday, August 1, 2019

Where: Camp Judaea – Columbia, SC – Asheville, NC- Hendersonville, NC

A Shabbat Message to Young Judaea Families

Dear Young Judaea Parents,

We write to you today as your camp directors, educators, Jewish leaders, and parents. We share in the grief and pain of the devastating shooting in Pittsburgh.

As Young Judaea camps, in times of crisis our instincts guide us back to the place we feel safe: camp. Camp is that one place in the world where good always wins over evil, where love conquers hate, where values are celebrated, and where diversity is appreciated. These are troubling times for all of us, but children especially are challenged by these tragedies that simply don’t make sense. We wish we could bring all our campers back to camp to celebrate this Shabbat together and close the gates to the outside world. Since we cannot, we hope this email will help you bring camp to your Shabbat table as you tackle this difficult conversation.

Whether you celebrate Shabbat every week, once in a while, or never, we encourage you to take the time to sit down together as a family for Shabbat dinner this week. The Shabbat table, filled with tasty food, warm challah, and Shabbat candles sets the stage for any conversation. Just asking your kids to share their thoughts will open an honest dialogue. Children might not understand the complexities of the environment in which we live, but they can understand hate and they know the difference between evil and good. We have found that even our youngest campers can grasp that when bad things happen, a strong sense of community is needed. At camp we have all witnessed the enormous power of the camp community gathering together to support one another through conversation, prayer, song, and simply being together when someone has experienced loss or pain.

Sometimes children feel the need to react – to try to right the wrong or fix the problem. Perhaps suggest writing a letter to families in Pittsburgh, making a commitment to stop hate, or lighting a candle for the victims. Giving your children an outlet to express themselves will empower them to understand that even though they are young, they are not powerless. They can affect change whether it’s through daily acts of kindness, speaking out for those who can’t, or simply by giving a hug to a friend in need.

Shabbat, the day of rest, is the ideal backdrop to talk about peace. At camp we use this time for reflection and to check in with our campers. Through a simple game of Roses and Thorns, your children can discuss their “highs” (roses) and “lows” (thorns) of their week. These conversations can lead to the question, “What is one thing I can do to make the world a better place?” and help to develop a culture of open conversations. In turn our children will feel that they have a voice and are being heard. We have included some links below to help navigate these sometimes difficult conversations.

This week when we light our Shabbat candles, our thoughts will be with the Pittsburgh community and with all of you. We pray for the world to heal and for love to conquer hate. We pray our children will never have to live through another week like this, and that together we build a better world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Robin Anderson, Director, CYJ Midwest
Helene Drobenare Horwitz, Executive Director, Sprout Camps
Frank Silberlicht, Director, CYJ Texas
Walter Synalovski, Executive Director, Camp Judaea
David Weinstein, Director, Tel Yehudah

Camp Judaea Launches TIKKUN for Rising 11th Graders

Enroll Now!

Tikkun aims to offer our campers a continued experience at Camp Judaea based on a combination of leadership training and community service. Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is a value that we practice at camp and hope to instill in our chanichim and tsevet. This program will be an opportunity to apply this practice and provide experience that will help participants emerge as leaders and dugma’ot ishiot (role models) — and eventually great madrichim at CJ.

We are thrilled to pilot this program with our campers’ TY summer in mind. Tikkun will begin on July 18th, after the completion of Tel Yehudah’s first session. Campers are not required to attend Tel Yehudah to attend this program.

Tikkun will include service learning, leadership development, and time to enjoy being a camper at CJ! A program highlight will be a trip to Columbia, SC for a six-day service learning mission. Our campers will be working with Saint Bernard Project (SBP), a non-profit organization committed to natural disaster relief and rebuilding. SBP has been in Columbia, SC since October 2015 aiding families who were affected by severe floods. To date, SBP has restored over 50 homes and still has a waiting list of close to 1000 families. During their stay in Columbia, campers and staff will be staying in dorm rooms at the University of South Carolina and enjoying kosher meals prepared in cooperation with Beth Shalom Synagogue. We are still finalizing additional details for this trip and working with partner organizations in the Columbia area to explore additional recreational and educational activities for that week.

Campers will be engaging in community service a total of 40 hours over the course of the program. Certificates of community service hours completed will be presented to campers at the end of the program.

Limited spots are available.

Details at-a-glance

Rates and Dates:
July 18-August 2
Tuition: $2750 (early bird) and $2850 (after October 31)

Schedule Overview:

July 18-July 21 Group bonding, pre-trip preparation, preparing Friday afternoon and Saturday activities for the rest of camp, preparing proposals for legacy projects to be completed during the last week of camp.

July 22-July 27 Volunteering on site in Columbia, SC with the St. Bernard Project. Housing will be in dorm rooms at the University of South Carolina. Kosher dinners will be eaten at Beth Shalom Synagogue.

July 27-August 2 Back at CJ for the last Shabbat, legacy projects at camp

Click Here to Enroll for Tikkun

Young Judaea-South Florida, Keeping Camp Alive All Year Long…

My name is Sivan Raz, I’m 27 years old and this is my second year working as Young Judaea South Florida Shlicha (Israel Emissary). This past year we tried to build a strong group of teen leaders. We are so proud of this team of talented teens who spent hours coming up with programs for their peers and the younger children in the South Florida Young Judaea community.

This past year we organized monthly activities in focusing on different topics but with one thing in common: they all relate to Israel or Judaism.  We tried to share as much as we could from our knowledge with the younger kids so that they feel connected to Young Judaea, Camp Judaea, Judaism and Israel.

During my first year, we participated in volunteering programs at the Kosher Food bank, held a Chanukah Bikurim, celebrated Purim with an overnight at the office and more. This year, we opened with a pool party, gathered for Chanukah, had a terrific day bowling and are gearing up for the annual Bikurim this coming Sunday. In April, we will bring the 5th – 8th graders together for an overnight celebrating the idea of B’nai Mitzvah, and in May, we’ll close the year with a joyous family picnic.

We also take part in community events in Miami and Broward Counties such as Tu B’Shvat at TY park and the annual celebration of Israel Independence Day at the JCC’s and at the CB park.

One of our proudest moments was the return of the Southeast regional convention which was held this year in Ft. Lauderdale. We came together to learn and play, and we hope that next year, more teens will join us!

Our main goals are to bring the community together during the year so families can see each other, not just at camp, but also during the year and to empower our teenagers to plan and lead activities that reflect the values of CJ and Young Judaea.

We are now working on a Hadracha (leadership) course that will give our teens the opportunity to learn the skills of how to be a successful leader and counselor in the community; developing leaders who will ensure a lasting Young Judaea presence even after I return to Israel in the fall.

For me growing up in the Tzofim (Israeli scouts) movement, being involved in the community and leading activities in Israel was a life-changing experience that shaped me as who I am today.  That was my main reason for coming to the States and working in a youth movement. For me, this is an amazing opportunity to see a youth movement working abroad with the same values and passion that I had as I grew up. This past year and a half was so much fun, exciting, educational and meaningful, and I couldn’t do it without the great teens and their families that support Young Judaea with all their hearts.  Let’s have a great Spring and Summer together!

The Truth Is…

Written By: Bryan Spiegelman (Bogrim 2012)
Article Originally Published by The Times of Israel

As a Jew raised in Miami, Florida, I was taught to believe that Israel was perfect, and so I did. For about 18 years of my life I built my Jewish foundation on Israel’s perfect nation. The Land of Milk and Honey was exactly that, strong, pure and sweet. The State of Israel is a place that acts as a safe haven for Jews from all around the world, thrives in business and economy, and maintains a people with a sort of hospitality that you won’t find anywhere else in the world — it’s like everyone is family. Here you will find some of the “nicest” people, some of the most beautiful views, most amazing cities and most importantly, you will find a country full of history.

It’s hard to find a more compassionate country. Israel has made a strong effort to be the first responders at disasters worldwide, including the earthquake in Haiti, the avalanche in Nepal, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Israeli scientists and researchers have made progress in the cure for cancer search. The IDF is a strong and prideful army that does whatever it possibly can to protect the civilians of this great nation.

From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Haifa to the Golan Heights, Eilat to the Dead Sea you will see things, those of a dream, and meet people that make you feel like you belong. It’s a melting pot. Jewish people from all over the world and all sects of the religion come to Israel to feel familiar and welcomed. There are Jews from every hemisphere who come live here because it feels safe and warm, not only because of the temperature. But just like there’s warmth, there’s also cold.

There is a bitter social and religious divide. We know about the Palestinian-Israel conflict, but wait, there’s more. The Haredi Jews don’t consider secular Jews as Jewish. The homosexual people who live in Israel don’t have the right to get legally wed because a homosexual union is against Jewish law. There is racism directly pointed at Jews from Ethiopia, Eritrea and other African countries who only want a safe place to live and this was there only option.

Look at Israel through a wide lens, not a narrow one. Open your eyes, because if we continue to be narrow-minded then this won’t be fixed—it must be fixed.

To truly love Israel fully, love her for real. Love her for her beauties and her flaws, just like any relationship. The Jewish people are in this for the rest of eternity and in order to keep Israel moving forward, the racism must stop, the dilemmas must calm themselves and the divide must not be so bold.

Never forget about the Israel that we already know and love, but don’t be naive. It’s time to step up and make the change.

Bryan Spiegelman is from Miami, Florida. He is a proud Jew and he has been involved in the youth movement Young Judaea for twelve years of his life. He was raised in a family that luckily was able to go to Israel on vacation, twice. Bryan is now living in Israel for nine months on Young Judaea’s Year Course, experiencing the real Israel life.

Four Atlanta-Area CJ Alumni Receive Prestigious Impact Grant

Four Camp Judaea alumni were chosen to be participants in the The Shirlye Kaufman Birnbrey Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) Impact Fellowship Program. The prestigious program provides Atlanta Jewish students in the 11th grade with the extraordinary opportunity to connect to the Jewish people and the land of Israel by attending a fully-funded semester of Alexander Muss High School in Israel. The applicants of this program endured a competitive application and interview process, and we are so proud to announce that four of the five Fellows this Spring are former Camp Judaea campers.

MIRIAM PANITCH, North Springs High Schoolimage1-6

Miriam attended Camp Judaea for seven summers and credits CJ with teaching and allowing her the space to be herself in any situation and find acceptance. The AMHSI semester will be Miriam’s fourth time in Israel, having been with her extended family to celebrate the Hadassah 100-Year National Convention, on a school trip, and for her brother’s Bar Mitzvah which will take place this winter. At Camp Judaea, Miriam most enjoyed learning from the Israeli Scouts and making pita, and she looks forward to delving deeper into understanding and experiencing Israeli culture. She enjoys attending school football games and spending time with her friends, but is very excited for the opportunity to meet new people and study in a different learning environment. She is confident that her upcoming semester in Israel will provide her with strong leadership skills and encourage her to continue forming her Jewish identity.

AMY KAPLAN, Allatoona High Schoolimage1-5

Amy is so excited for her first trip to Israel and has been dreaming of having this opportunity since her first summer at Camp Judaea. Each of her six summers spent at CJ began with her walking through the front gate knowing that she is home where she was accepted and celebrated, and she looks forward to being in a place where being Jewish is not considered “different” but rather “just a part of life.” This program appealed to Amy because of her passion for seeing the world, as the curriculum includes a significant amount of experiential teaching and learning. Before Amy embarks on her big journey, she will compete with her school’s drama troupe with their one-act rendition of The Miracle Worker at the state level. Her involvement with drama continues with Miss Firecracker which will keep her busy up until the day before she boards the plane to Israel! In the future, Amy hopes to travel the world and help people and animals.

BENJY NADOLNE, Alan C. Pope High School14713557_10154679193197888_2906603450951839557_n-1

Benjy, a soccer player and involved USY member, will travel to Israel for his third time. His first experience was with his 8th grade class while enrolled at The Davis Academy and the second being with his family after his sister’s Bat Mitzvah. Benjy spent two summers at Camp Judaea where he learned how to live and work with a team, developed confidence and maturity, and worked towards being independent and able to care for himself. His favorite CJ activity was Tzofim, scouts, during which he was exposed to how Israeli children and teens spend their time. For his upcoming semester in Israel, he is looking forward to the experiential aspect of the program; transferring what he learns in the classroom to the physical historical and cultural locations. Benjy aspires to work in the field of engineering or for AIPAC.

ALEX CREATH, Lakeside High Schoolfb_img_1478476419913

During Alex’s four summers at Camp Judaea, she appreciated the time spent with the Israeli Scouts, as they brought a unique sense of personality to every peulah (activity) and entertained campers with hands-on activities and souvenirs to take home and cherish. In fact, Alex can still be seen wearing some of the Israeli Scouts T-shirts she received! Her experiences with the scouts at Camp Judaea made her “a little more brave.” Alex also loved the art program at CJ. She felt at home with the exceptional art staff and was inspired by the projects and the way they were tied to Judaism. Alex knows she will benefit from soaking up her entire AMHSI experience; however, she most looks forward to meeting new people and bonding with them over life-changing memories. Alex spends much of her time in music and the arts; she is a member of both concert and marching band where she plays the flute, piccolo, and the baritone. In addition to her love of music, she is also a writer and a member of SKALD at her school. Alex hopes to attend college in the mountains where she will study nursing, women’s studies, and psychology.

Michele Burger of Camp Judaea Receives Outstanding Board Leadership Award at National Camp Conference

This month, JCamp 180®, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), hosted more than 450 leaders from non-profit Jewish camps and other organizations during its 12th annual conference. During the event, top individuals and camps were honored for their growth in managing their daily operations and for their collective efforts in raising $90 million through HGF’s matching challenge grant campaigns to support Jewish children’s camps across the country.20_gmp10076

Michele Burger, was presented with the Outstanding Board Leadership Award for her significant contributions benefiting generations of Jewish children. Ms. Burger is the President of the Board of Directors of Camp Judaea, in Hendersonville, N.C.  During her term as President, the Camp Judaea board has strengthened its governance practices, revised its by-laws, recruited new executive leadership, developed and implemented a new strategic plan, and inspired new levels of philanthropy.  As a result of Michele’s commitment to strengthening the board, CJ’s enrollment has grown by over 50% and over $4 million has been raised in capital and scholarship campaigns.

“With this award, Ms. Burger joins a distinguished group of board leaders who have made significant contributions to the world of Jewish camps,” said JCamp 180® Director Mark Gold. “We are thrilled to have been able to recognize her contributions through this award.”

21_gmp10082To date, JCamp 180® has contributed more than $15 million in matching grant funds and $14 million in consulting services, which equates to more than 80,000 hours, for Jewish children’s overnight and day camps. The result: Jewish camps have raised another $225 million on their own to be used for capital improvements, expansions, and endowments, helping Jewish camp attendance grow from 43,000 in 2004 to 73,000 campers across the nation today.

Today, JCamp 180® serves 115 camps. The goal of the program is to engage Jewish camp leaders in utilizing best practices, helping them to grow attendance by improving their facilities, better using technology and social media, and raising funds for scholarships, capital improvements, and endowments. JCamp 180® staff work onsite with camp professional and lay leaders to help with board development, governance, strategic planning, alumni outreach, and other personalized organizational, recruitment, and fundraising initiatives. Participating camps take part in successive matching grant initiatives led by JCamp 180®.

“JCamp 180® has played a major role in transforming camps into more professional and sophisticated organizations,” says Gold. “This program has helped these non-profit Jewish camps raise more money in the last ten years than they had in the previous four decades, thereby enabling them to better compete with other non-profit and for-profit camps.”

During the 12th annual JCamp 180 Conference, participants took part in training sessions, workshops, networking opportunities, and speaking programs geared to help non-profits better manage their operations. Speakers included Cara Greene Epstein, Steven Meyers, the author of Personalized Philanthropy: Crash the Fundraising Matrix, Rabbi Marc Baker, Head of Gann Academy in Waltham, MA and former Pomegranate Prize winner, and Peter Himmelman, the Emmy and Grammy nominated singer-songwriter and author.  These speakers and dozens of workshop leaders led discussion on the conference theme “Open, Generous, and Connected.”  Other topics covered included fundraising, board development, strategic planning, enrollment, and technology.

About JCamp 180®:

JCamp 180® is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, located in Agawam, Massachusetts. JCamp 180® provides training and support to the Boards of Directors of non-profit Jewish overnight camps and selected educational institutions in the areas of Board Development, Strategic Planning, and Development. In addition to this Board support, JCamp 180®also provides these institutions with technology assistance ranging from Web-related services to donor databases and social media. For further information about JCamp 180®, visit

Shana Tova!

Shana Tova 5777 from Camp Judaea on Vimeo.

In just a couple of days, we will say goodbye to 5776 and welcome the Jewish New Year 5777 with apples and honey, well-wishes, and hopes for a sweet new year.  As we proudly reflect on the past year and recent completion of our 56th summer season, we are so thankful for the amazing memories that were created by campers and staff and the wonderful opportunities that Camp Judaea provided them.

As we celebrate our own successes and accomplishments, it is important to remember those whose year was not as sweet and full as ours.  In 2016, Camp Judaea served 623 campers and over 35% of those campers received financial aid based on need.

Now we look ahead to our 57th season and watch our enrollment climb faster than ever before.  Many of the applicants have already indicated that they will need financial assistance in order to send their children to camp, and we anticipate even more will request help as we get closer to the summer.

Every child should have the opportunity to attend Camp Judaea and should not have to miss out on a summer of Zionism, friendship, and fun due to financial circumstances.

You can make Camp Judaea a reality for deserving campers by making a gift to the Camp Judaea scholarship fund.

A family that you so generously helped send to camp last year could not be any more thankful:

“…You have made a very difficult time for our family so much easier and taken an incredible weight off of our shoulders and made our souls sing…Then today when I received your email (about scholarship), I literally let out a sigh of relief that my kids, through you guys, will be shaped to be the humans I want them to be, and be kind, compassionate, and have a strong love for all Jews and mankind.”

Click here to make a “sweet” donation today to Camp Judaea’s scholarship fund.

Thank you and Shana Tova!

From Strength to Strength

tomOur Executive Director, Tom Rosenberg, finishes his term with us here at Camp Judaea and takes his role as the CEO of the American Camp Association. We are very proud of Tom, his hard work, dedication, and leadership for Camp Judaea, and we wish him all the very best in his newest endeavor.

A search committee was formed and has been working since early in the summer to find the perfect fit for a new Executive Director. Until then, Leah Zigmond will assume the role of Interim Director and continue to lead the CJ team.

Leah joined the Camp Judaea family last November as the Associate Director and has been working tirelessly to enhance our program and take our Israel and Jewish education to new heights. Leah, her husband, Simon, and their two sons moved to Atlanta a few years ago after living on Kibbutz Lotan in Israel’s Southern Arava desert for 13 years.

leah“The family feeling of Camp Judaea reminds me very much of Kibbutz life, which I experienced firsthand for 13 years. I love how much campers and staff care about each other and the feeling of community that we have at camp-wide events. We will all miss Tom so much. He has been a wonderful mentor to me in my first year at CJ and has prepared us well for our next steps. I look forward to working with the entire CJ family to really look at what it means to be a Pluralist Egalitarian camp and how best to serve our diverse population. I am excited for the opportunity to mentor staff, dial down into our Zionist Education curriculum, and make sure that we are offering our best version of a modern and experiential approach to teaching a love and appreciation for Israel.”

We have full confidence in Leah and the professional team at Camp Judaea in their ability to help transition us seamlessly from strength to strength!

As the search process continues, we look forward to updating the CJ community along the way.

tom-and-leahSee, even camp directors have fun sometimes!

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