Summer Spotlight 2016: Connecting to the Land, People & Language of Israel

The summers that youth spend away from home are critical ones in terms of personal development. Kids are not only growing physically, but they spend these years thinking a lot about who they are and their place in the world. According to Miriam Chilton, the Vice President of Youth for the URJ, there are four key questions that young people are trying to answer:

  • Who am I?
  • To whom am I connected?
  • To whom am I responsible?
  • How can I bring change in the world?

URJ camps and summer programs are providing resources to help young people answer these questions for themselves. In this year’s Summer Spotlight series, we highlight each of these four main questions and take a look at how they are being addressed during a URJ summer. This is the third installment: Connecting to the Land, People & Language of Israel. 


Connecting to the Land, People & Language of Israel 


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Along with friendships and personal growth, fostering a relationship with Israel is an indispensable part of a URJ summer experience. Whether you are at camp in North America or on an Israel program, URJ camps and summer programs introduce participants to Israel in a unique and engaging way. From seeing the land, to meeting the people, to learning the language, here’s how URJ camps and summer programs are helping to bring Israel into the lives of Jewish youth. 


Bringing Israel to Camp

Campers celebrate Israel Day at URJ Camp Jacobs.

Campers celebrate Israel Day at URJ Camp Jacobs.

At URJ Camp Kalsman, the Israeli ropes supervisor arrived at camp a couple weeks early so he could grow some of his favorite foods from home at camp, giving the campers a taste of Israel throughout the summer.

One participant at URJ Kutz Camp felt a connection to Israel for the first time by learning that loving Israel doesn’t mean always agreeing with it.

A camper at URJ 6 Points Sports Academy North Carolina reflects on the role that the shlichim (Israeli counselors) have in fostering his relationship with Israel.

URJ Crane Lake Camp celebrated Erev Yisrael (Israel Evening) with Israeli food, Israeli songs, and learning directly from Israeli counselors.


Bringing Camp to Israel



A counselor at URJ Camp George had the exciting opportunity to spend a semester in Israel with NFTY-EIE High School in Israel

URJ Crane Lake Camp said n’siyah tovah (safe travels) to a group of former campers as they embarked on their journey through Israel with NFTY in Israel. A former URJ Camp Kalsman camper wrote a letter back to his summer home during his summer with NFTY in Israel.

A participant on NFTY in Israel recaps her week spent with a group of Israeli teens.


From Shalom to Salaam: Connecting with Israel through Language

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A staff member at URJ OSRUI showering her Israel pride.

On URJ Mitzvah Corps Israel, participants are learning that speaking a common language can go far in brining people together and creating peace in a divided land. Despite an apparent language barrier, one participant felt a special bond with an Israeli child through play and simple conversations in Hebrew. Another participant recounts a powerful story of a Jordanian border guard and an Israeli farmer setting aside the tension felt between the two countries and communicating by sharing fruits and kind words.

At URJ OSRUI, Chalutzim campers have decided to dedicate their summer to an immersive Hebrew program. On the younger side of camp, campers are engaging in fun and creative activities to start their Hebrew journeys.


Read all 4 Spotlights >