>Wisdom of the Doughnut, by Olya, 12
Hi, my name is Olya. This is my first time at the Jewish camp. Before I came here, I thought that everything about being Jewish is just about the past. I never knew my grandfather because he passed away before I was born. I only knew that he didn’t eat certain foods, and that he celebrated the New Year in the fall, because he was Jewish.
At camp we had an event devoted to Jewish-Israeli cuisine and our counselors explained to us all the kosher rules and the logic behind it. We learned the differences between pita and challah, strudel and sufganiyot (Hannukah doughnuts) and that many ideas and traditions are connected to the food. I understood that my grandfather acted the way he did not because he was strange but because he kept in his mind a part of tradition and of Jewish peoplehood, and that he and I are not only individuals but a part of an old, interesting culture. I like the idea of special food and I’m going to explore all Jewish traditional dishes.
I Did it My Way, by Asya, 26
Hello! My name is Asya. I was once a participant at The Jewish Agency’s summer camps, and now I’m a counselor.
From the time I was 13, the first time I went to the camp, I knew I want to be part of... something. But I was only 13. I didn’t even know what I wanted to be part of. I just knew I had a desire to connect with something larger than myself.
With the help of the camp, I discovered Judaism and Jewish culture, leadership projects and social activism... because I took part in all the camp’s follow-up activities in the city, that The Jewish Agency provides throughout the year.
I wanted to taste everything, and to make my way in this vast culture and people.
I think my way is to keep on learning and never stop, and to share all I know for all those who are still looking for their Jewish way in the world. My way is to ask as many questions as I can, and to find as many answers as possible, together with the children at the camp.
I want to give these children the same opportunity that I had – to learn, and to choose to be part of something wonderful.
Our Activities and Impact
Jewish Agency summer and winter camps across the former Soviet Union (FSU) serve as a high-impact gateway for Russian-speaking youth to meet and share life-transforming, Jewish identity-building experiences with their peers, many for the first time. Trained counselors from the FSU and Israel provide campers with an immersion in informal Jewish and Israel education. Counselors, many of whom are alumni of Jewish Agency camps themselves, are inspiring role models as they awaken campers’ Jewish identity and connection with Israel and global Jewry as well as their Jewish heritage.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Jewish Federations of North America for their generous support to 2013 summer camps session:
The 2013 Jewish Agency summer camps in the former Soviet Union were 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, International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC), 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, Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and The Genesis Philanthropy Group.Two moving stories from this summer's camp in MinskIsrael In Your Community