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Jewish Life at Jacobs Camp

At Jacobs Camp, it is the goal of our counselors and faculty to send campers home better than when they arrived: more curious, brave, social, and excited about their Jewish identities. This isn’t an easy task, because the children you’ve entrusted us with are already so amazing. I’ve had the honor of working with campers during our Jewish Life programs, and I’m excited to report back on all the ways I’ve been watching them grow!

Olim, our most curious unit, has been a ton of fun to work with. Whenever faculty pulls out our Torah scroll for them, Olim always has at least 100 excellent questions like: How were day and night created before the sun and moon? If I stare at a bush long enough, will it start to burn too? Do rainbows appear because someone is done being sad? Why do Jewish people sing so much? Olimers are being encouraged to step outside their comfort zones and try new things during Jewish Life activities, including gardening, crafts, and scavenger hunts.

Garin and Maskilim have been wonderful during our activities on Gemilut Chasadim (loving kindness) and Tzedek (justice). During Kehillah hour, we’ve been talking about issues related to food insecurity. They’ve been sharing all the ways they volunteer with their schools, synagogues, and families to stop hunger in their communities. Garin and Maskilim are exploring and exercising their ability to empathize with others. These campers are also mastering skills like teamwork and listening for activities including text studies, skit creating, and beautifying camp before Shabbat.

I am constantly blown away by Talmidim! These campers have such a strong and continuously growing sense of Tikkun Olam, their responsibility to repair the world. During their Kehillah hour, Talmidim explores some really challenging material, including topics like gun violence, reproductive justice, and antisemitism. Campers are carrying important conversations with such thoughtfulness and respect. They’re also learning to critically consider the different opinions of their peers with empathy and curiosity. Incredibly impressive for a group of 14 and 15-year-olds!

My favorite moment from this summer may have been during last night’s song session, where Chalutizm were all sooo enthusiastic to have Olim “teach” them the camp songs they grew up with. It brought several counselors (mainly me) to tears. At every opportunity, they’ve been cheering our younger campers on. Having such wonderful young Jewish role models at camp provides so much to our Jacobs community. All of our Chalutzim campers have had the privilege of attending Jacobs Camp over multiple summers, and it shows!

It’s not easy making amazing kids even more amazing, but it’s happening at Jacobs camp. Everyday, we see the results of year-round planning (AKA Jacobs Magic) when our campers are excited to try new things, open up to make new friends, and want to tell us about how they lived their Jewish values today. Thank you so much, not just for letting us provide your kids with memories for a lifetime, but for making an investment in your children’s futures. For so many of our campers over the last five decades, Jacobs Camp has helped them towards realizing their full potential as Jewish leaders in their communities.


About the Author

Ed Abraham

Ed Abraham is the 2023 Director of Jewish Life at Jacobs. He lives in New Orleans with his kitten, Herman. Ed loves sleeping in on Shabbat, making necklaces in the art room, and giving high fives.