Havdalah on the Arctic Circle by Tanya, 13
My name is Tanya and this is my first time at The Jewish Agency summer camp. My friends told me I had to participate in the camp and they were right!
From the very first day I saw that this is going to be more than just an educational camp, but to tell you the truth, I was worried that it was going to be like school. But then all the campers were divided into “ships”! The counselors explained to us that during the camp we would be going on a 10-day journey to different worlds – the world of childhood, the world of the Jewish past, the world of Israeli citizens, and the world of Jewish communities of the past and the present. During our journey we “visited” many countries and saw Jews from all over the world. We also learned how to make Havdalah in “polar day” conditions, when there are no stars for more than a few months, and we even had to save our treasures – texts, shofar, tallit, holidays, and traditions – from pirates!
At first you think it is simply a game but then you realize that this is much more than just a game. I mean that from seeing the bigger picture of the Jewish world you understand the beautiful puzzle you have in your own world.
Under the Canopy of Heaven by Ilana, 16
My name is Ilana and this is my fourth time at The Jewish Agency summer camp. For me it is a place where I can feel comfortable expressing myself as a Jewish person. Every time that I’m here is special and exciting. This year’s theme is “exploration” and we are “explorers” of different worlds. Every day there are so many new things to do and learn, and our counselors always find ways to surprise us, even those who are experienced campers like me.
Today was an event devoted to the traditional Jewish wedding and the chuppah – the “canopy” or the tallit under which the bride and groom stand during the ceremony. It was so exciting even though we knew it was only a show – it was still the first time I’d ever seen a Jewish wedding! I didn’t even know that the ceremony is full of inner logic, that every little thing is a symbol of something bigger, something that has meaning for all Jewish people. For example there’s a glass that is broken because we are remembering the Temple in Jerusalem, and the canopy is a symbol of the future home that the couple will build together.
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 year's summer camps in Khabarovsk.Israel In Your Community