• Summer camp in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    Summer camp in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • Summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova.

    Summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova.

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • Summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova.

    Summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova.

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • Summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova.

    Summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova.

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
  • Summer camp in Minsk, Belarus.

    Summer camp in Minsk, Belarus.

    , The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
Blog

Jewish Voices from the Former Soviet Union

Read these moving testimonials from Jewish Agency summer camps in Russia, Moldova, and Belarus.

I knew that I’m Jewish, but neither my parents nor my grandparents could explain to me what that means. I can understand why – they grew up in totally different times. Here at camp, we are discovering all together what it means to be Jewish. We have a chance to discuss it with counselors, who are also our friends, and with other campers. Now I know that to be Jewish is interesting: you always learn something new about yourself, your family’s history, and your future. For me it is important that now I, too, can explain to others what it means to be Jewish, and this makes me stronger. – Marina, St. Petersburg

Today we built sukkot. The counselors explained that Sukkot is celebrated in the fall, but for many campers, including me, camp is the only chance to learn about different Jewish holidays. So each day of camp is devoted to a different holiday. Our group decorated our sukkah, and we prepared to welcome guests – the “ushpizin.” Our counselors visited the sukkah dressed as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many other Jewish heroes. Every guest made a gift for us, one that symbolizes an aspect of Jewish ethics, and we discussed what makes our people unique and what saved our culture over the ages. For me, the most important symbol is the Tablets of the Ten Commandments. It contains concepts of all our philosophy, and where our culture started, and this is what kept our uniqueness through the ages as a people. – Max, 15, Kishinev, Moldova.

Today the whole camp visited the town of Babruysk! It is a city near Minsk. I’ve never been there. We were all very excited because we knew the counselors had prepared a quest for us in the city – a scavenger hunt. We began at the old synagogue building. If you didn’t know the architectural clues, you wouldn’t know it was once a synagogue.

During the quest, learned about the history of the Jewish community of Babruysk in the past, their clothes and way of life. We explored the history of local writers and artists. It was very interesting, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, and I thought to myself that if I wasn’t here, together with the camp, I would never know that all these people existed, and that there is such a rich Jewish history here!

Finally, we got to our last station of the hunt. I saw a tall building with a big Magen David on the gate – this was a current synagogue. I felt that there is no end to Jewish history – ours is a never-ending story! – Lena, 15, Minsk, Belarus

***
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) for their generous support of the 2014 summer camps session. 

The 2014 Jewish Agency summer camps in the former Soviet Union are being provided with support by UJA-Federation of New York, The Jewish Federation of Cleveland, The ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Jewish Federation of St. Louis, The Jewish United Fund / Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Crown Family Foundation, The Nathan T. Sedley Memorial Fund and the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and The Genesis Philanthropy Group.

02 Sep 2014 / 7 Elul 5774 0
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