Region: Krasnoyarsk and peripheral communities.
Camp location: Krasnoyarsk (Russia)
Brief history of the community: The first report about Jews living in Novosibirsk refers to 1816. There were some hundred Jews there at the time. After that the community grew up to 12,000 Jews in 1970s. Many left after the Soviet Union collapse and today according to the last census (2002) only 3,3 thousand Jews live in the city.
In 2011 269 Jewish children and youth participated in the Jewish Agency summer camp program in the region.
Camp concept: In summer 2012 the Jewish Agency conducted two sessions in Novosibirsk for ages Jewish children aged 7-12 and 13-16. Each camp session united different range of topics that covered variety of historical elements (twelve tribes, Exodus) and modern ones (Modern Israel, history of creation, important events in the life of Modern Israel, Zionists congress).
In their own words:
Ilana-Naomi, 9 years old
My name is Ilana-Naomi, I’m 9 years old. I’m from Novosibirsk. It is my first time at the camp and I came here with my brothers and father. My father works as a mashgiah here. My brothers’ names are Natan and Daniel. We keep Jewish traditions at home. My mother and I always clean the house before Shabbat and make challot (Shabbat bread). I like helping my mother. My mother and I light candles and our father makes Kiddush. On Saturday he goes to the synagogue.
When I first told about my life in our group others could not believe me. We learn here about Shabbat and Jewish holidays but they never met anyone their age that lives like that. Many campers, even not from my group, came up to me asking how to persuade their parents keep Shabbat.
After the camp my group and counselors will come for Shabbat in my home!
Vanya, 14 years old
My name is Vanya. It is my first time in the camp. My sister insisted on my coming to the camp as she works as a counselor and spends most of her free time in the Jewish Agency activities center. I never thought that my elder sister is so cool! I liked learning about Jewish heritage. In our family only sister and grandfather know a lot and make all the family gather at Shabbat table, but since now I’ll join them! Shabbat in the camp was different. It was like having hundreds of friends! We were singing and dancing and I felt myself on a right place!
One of the most memorable events in the camp: Shabbat
One of the most memorable days was Shabbat. Counselors spent a lot of time discussing that day, thinking about details, formats of work with children, texts to use. On Sunday morning all the campers were returning home and Shabbat was actually the last day in the camp and the intention was to make it special and unusual.
After morning sessions in groups where campers learnt about Shabbat they were invited to prepare the camp to Shabbat. Each camper could decide what to do. There were options to decorate the dining room, prepare post-cards, set tables, learn Shabbat songs etc. Everyone was busy during that afternoon. When the entire camp gathered for Kabbalat Shabbat campers and counselors hardly recognized each other. Everyone was so beautiful and delighted. Celebrations continued until late in the night. No one wanted to leave this magic atmosphere!
On Shabbat morning football tournament was organized. Campers made teams, got uniform, judges were selected. Those who didn’t participate in football match were suggested to organize a group of supporters. The entire camp was at the field that morning! Girls organized the group of cheerleaders and danced between the football periods. The event was very lively and energetic.
In the evening after Havdallah counselors organized evening of memoirs where participants could give feedback for the camp, recall funny moment, change e-mails and contacts in social networks, sing, draw or do whatever they felt that evening.