Voices from the field

Letters from Camp: A Taste of Home

Camp JCA Shalom

Liam Levanon was in his element: serving up warm, creamy helpings of handmade hummus. He was thrilled to bring one of his passions—“the best freshly made hummus you’ll ever have!”—to campers and staff at Camp JCA Shalom.

Liam is a member of the mishlachat (delegation of Israeli staff) at camp. Back home, he works in a hummus restaurant, so he’s passionate about hummus, and sees it as much more than a central staple of the Israeli diet. "Hummus," Liam says, "is a powerful example of the intersection of the various cultures and peoples of the Mideast." While he makes and serves hummus, he shares stories from home—and who can resist a good story when it comes with a serving of divine, fresh hummus?

Liam’s passion translated into two days of prep, as he soaked the chickpeas, assembled the ingredients, and then hand blended each batch fresh (and warm!) for each rotation of campers as he shared stories of the rich cultural "mash-up" that is Israel, including teaching them both Hebrew and Arabic words that illustrate this.

Camp JCA Shalom’s leadership has long understood that members of the mishlachat are eager to bring themselves and their stories to camp, and that campers are just as eager to hear those stories and gain insights into Israeli life and culture through these staff members. Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) are encouraged to infuse their stories into everything they do in camp as they fulfill their various roles all summer long, but it all comes to the forefront on Yom Yisrael (Israel Day), when Liam and the rest of the 20-strong mishlachat enjoyed a unique opportunity to highlight a taste of home. And in Liam’s case, it was, quite, literally, a taste!

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.