Summer Youth Experiences

Remembering Mark Levy

March 3, 2014
Recently, I attended the funeral of Mark Levy, z"l, in Los Angeles and had the honor of celebrating his life. Mark and his wife, Peachy, have been deeply committed to the future of the Jewish people for decades.

URJ Camp Offers Incentive Program for Jewish Military Families

February 27, 2014
The URJ is proud to announce an innovative Camper Incentive Program for Jewish Military Families on Active Duty, open to Jewish families with at least one parent on Active Duty in the United States Armed Forces. The program will be offered at the URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, MS, which has served more than 10,000 Jewish children since 1970. Incentives vary in amount from $250.00 to $3,000 per child, based on the military rank of the parent(s) and the child's age. An individual incentive is available for each child enrolled for camp from participating families. Says URJ's Director of Camp and Israel Programs Paul Reichenbach,

Putting "Inspired Engagement" into Motion

February 11, 2014
The powerful roll out of the newest implementation steps of the Campaign for Youth Engagement at the recent URJ Biennial in San Diego has generated excellent feedback and momentum. Our Reform movement-wide approach is called Inspired Engagement, a transformative teen and young adult network, which integrates diverse program offerings into one seamless year-round matrix in order to increase access to, and promote lifelong participation in, the joys of Jewish living. Here are some of the exciting specifics...

The Chadash Program – A New Path for Young Adults with Disabilities

February 10, 2014
by Rabbi Michael Torop and Rabbi Betsy Torop The first summer after we arrived in the region, we began to serve as rabbinic faculty at URJ Camp Coleman.  After a long day in the car, we arrived at Coleman for the first time at dinnertime.   We walked into the chadar ochel (dining hall) with Gideon, who had just turned six, and our two other children (ages 4 and 18 months).  We were thrilled to be there and instantly felt at home when we walked in.  Gideon buried his head in his father’s lap and covered his ears against the din of 500 campers eating dinner.   Gideon is on the autism spectrum and has some intellectual disabilities as well.  The noise of the chadar ochel was just the first of many challenges that he faced at Coleman – the place he has come to love more than any place on earth.   We are both products of NFTY, and Jewish camping has been central to our lives in every way.  It never occurred to us for one minute that our URJ camp wouldn’t be the place that our children “went home” to every year.  But it was clear early on that Gideon would need some help.  His self-care and language skills were well below age level and his inability to read social cues made us worry that he would be the target of teasing.  The thought of just putting him into the mix of a boys bunk was terrifying.

Three Stories: URJ & Ramah Camps Come Together To Learn

January 30, 2014
The URJ Service Corps program is designed to engage young URJ Camps staff and alumni, who will apply their experience, talents, and skills to create experiential, camp-style programming for families and youth in synagogue communities around the country. Working in partnership with the National Ramah Commission, the program seeks, over three years, to have a total of 80 young adult educators engaged in part-time youth leadership roles in Conservative and Reform communities throughout North America, working actively to recruit for camp and to help reenergize the communities they serve through innovative, inspiring, and immersive Jewish programming. In early January, Ramah and URJ Service Corps Fellows met in California, where they learned, shared, and explored this new and exciting role in the Jewish community. URJ Service Corps Fellows from three of our camps shared their stories: