Voices from the field

Letters from Camp: Exploring a Work in Progress

Tel Yehuda

It’s Friday at Tel Yehudah, so it must be time for the weekly Israel Update!

It’s a longstanding tradition at this teen leadership camp that staff share news from Israel with all campers at the conclusion of each week. This summer it’s turned into an exciting, challenging, and stimulating forum that people look forward to.

A team of Israeli staff members met half a dozen times with the Rosh Mishlachat (head of the Israeli delegation) and the camp’s director of education to frame the weekly sessions. They identified three essential questions that the sessions have been exploring all summer long:

  • What is the role of religion in Israel?
  • Who is an Israeli?
  • What is the "conflict" in Israel?

“Our overall arc was meant to inform our chanichim (campers) about the many, many pieces that make up Israel,” explains Director of Education Jacey Gluska. “We wanted them to struggle with things and feel passionate and proud about things.”

The group decided to explore these questions through weekly discussions, and to bring it all together in a fourth session that put a panel of staff—comprising Israeli, American, and British staff members—in front of groups of campers.

One of the Israeli panelists, Amir Moadi, is a member of the Druse community, and he brought a unique perspective to the sessions. Campers posed questions to him that provided him an important opportunity to explain his perspective. Asked “Why are you here?”, Amir responded that he cares about his country, and that campers want to learn more about it. “I can share things you would not hear otherwise,” he said.

The final program of the session, Jacey says, “was meant to encourage and inspire our chanichim to be thinking about the future of Israel, which is a work in progress, and consider ways that they can be contributing to this future.”

Each summer, The iCenter, in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Jewish Agency for Israel, collaborates with dozens of Jewish camps across North America, helping their staff members infuse Israel into the magic of the summer season. Whether camps participate in the Israel @ Camp Intensive or another regional program, or receive the educational resources we send each spring, their work helps make Israel an integral part of the camp experience for tens of thousands of young Jews. As members of The iCenter team visit camps across the U.S. and Canada, we share Letters from Camp that highlight some of the innovative and effective ways that camp staff members are helping campers engage with Israel.