Region: St. Petersburg and North-Western region of Russia.
Brief history of the community: The first Jews came to St. Petersburg together with the newly re-settled government in 18th century. But these Jews had to convert to Christianity in order to keep their right to live in the city. Until 1917 the Pale of Settlement law restricted Jewish presence in the city. Officials say that there are about 90 thousand Jews living in the city. Many international and local Jewish organizations work in the city.
In summer 2012 over 500 Jewish children and youth participated in the Jewish Agency summer camp program in the region.
About the camp by campers and counselors:
Olga Rutgaizer, educational director: Every summer I’m happy to see that children are still interested in Jewish learning and have great time in our camp. Central parts in our educational program this summer were – Israel, Holocaust and Shabbat. Counselors worked as one team and during the whole 10 days of the camp there were no problems.
Our camp works as a university. Campers get their students’ cards on the first day, choose departments and additional seminars and actually plan their time. It is not that we teach them, we learn together with them. In every theme that we open for discussion we try to find how we can apply it to our today’s life, in what way we can use it.
I’m sure that these kids will become great Jewish leaders in future!
Tosha, 15 years old: I like that in this camp we deal with Jewish themes through art. We are treated here as adults. From the very first day we could choose a group, here we call groups “faculties”. We are not made to learn about Jewish tradition. It is so interesting here! Every day I open for myself new themes, new ideas. But we do not sit indoors all day long. We also have sports and entertaining evening activities. It is the best of all the camps I’ve ever been to!
Mirra, 11 years old: It is my third camp and every time I enjoy the camp a lot! Every year I find new friends from different towns. My mother says that in my age she did not have such a great opportunity to learn about Jewish heritage. When I return home I will tell her everything I’ve learnt here.
Tanya, 21 years old: It is an amazing camp. Both campers and counselors enjoy every minute, every day being here. For someone from the outside it might sound boring – “a Jewish summer camp”. But in reality it is a lot of fun. Jewish heritage is all about our life and it is always interesting to learn about yourself. During the school year I will continue seeing my campers at the follow-up activities in the Jewish Agency.