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Southern & Jewish, the ISJL’s Regional Conference

Feb 1, 2024 | Alumni, Friendships, Jacobs Blog, Summer 2024, The Jewish World

Jacobs Camp is truly a home-away-from home for me. I spent sixteen amazing summers in Utica! My first summer there, I was eight years old. I didn’t miss a single summer at camp (until I went on a NFTY-Israel trip) and then returned to serve as counselor, unit head, and then as Assistant Director. I was so fortunate to have sixteen summers of the Jacobs Camp magic, and then to share the magic with my three children, who also spent many wonderful summers as campers and later as staff members. 

What was it about camp that made it such a “holy” place for me? First and foremost, it was the friendships. I have maintained camp friendships for 50 years. Camp was also the  first place I ever met a female rabbinical student and realized that a career in the rabbinate was possible (I didn’t go to rabbinical school, but I have devoted my career to the Jewish community). I experienced the joy of being surrounded by Jews in this special place. I learned new tunes in Hebrew, and tried new things – ah, the good old days of copper enamel in the art room! Enjoying free time with my friends and an occasional game of ping pong were also highlights for me.

As an adult, how can we recreate these moments that make camp so special?  Although Jacobs Camp is truly a special physical place, it’s the people that create the experiences, the lifelong connections, and the magic.  

We create that same magic each year at Southern & Jewish, the ISJL’s regional conference, which this year will take place June 23-25 in Jackson, Mississippi. This conference is open to all southern Jewish adults: rabbis, cantors, and educators, teachers, lay leaders, performers, and parents who want to meet new friends, create art together, learn from national educators, network with other southern Jews while sharing meals and playing games (let me tell you, our trivia night is intense!).  

Some participants have called the conference the next best thing to spending time at camp. I think so too! Please join us. You can register now, and take advantage of our early bird pricing!

As someone who grew up in Jackson, a small southern Jewish community, it’s still a treat to be part of this community gathering – sharing stories of small-town Jewish life and finding solutions to shared concerns. Communities of all sizes find connections and opportunities for growth when they gather for our annual conference. There’s something special about being Jewish in the South. Being able to still help create southern Jewish magic is truly a privilege, and I’m grateful to Jacobs Camp for inspiring my lifelong Jewish journey.

For more information on all of our programs visit

About the Author

Michele S.

Michele Feldman Schipper is the Chief Executive Officer of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life.  Michele and her husband Ken (not a Jacobs camper… but we met at a Jewish camp in California!) have three adult children: Alana, Jacob and Eric. Favorite camp foods: fried chicken and Saturday night cook-out Herbie burgers, IYKYK.