Yesterday marked the return of Yom Israel – a campwide day to celebrate and learn about Israel. As camp’s Israel education program has evolved, Yom Israel had felt like an obstacle – when Israel is woven into all aspects of programming – music, dance, food, Z’man Kodesh, and there are campers and staff from Israel – why carve out a single day to focus only on Israel? Does that imply that it isn’t part of daily camp life? This year, with the joyous return of our Israeli camper contingent, we’ve rekindled Yom Israel not as a single day to focus on Israel but as the cherry on top of our robust Israel programming!
From Israeli dancing on Saturday night to Wednesday’s Israel focus for Z’man Kodesh, learning about Israel is woven into all aspects of camp and our Israeli campers and staff bring teachable moments into daily cabin life. Herzl’s founding as a Zionist camp is never far from our minds as we strive to carry out our mission to “develop commitment and love for Judaism and Israel” and live up to our core value of “embracing the people, the land, and the story of Israel” every day.
Israel activities grow and change as campers age. Our Ha’atid campers explore Israeli landmarks like the Path to Peace by making their own mosaic walls or tasting the different produce grown in the Golan Heights, while our oldest campers engage in deeper discussions. For example, our B’yachad campers took a deep dive into the Israeli national anthem – Ha’tikva. They listened to recordings of the song sung by groups in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and today and compared and contrasted how the anthem had changed and evolved over time. They then compared and contrasted the USA’s anthem with Israel’s. Ask your Yacher what they took away when they come home!
Also returning this year after a two year Covid hiatus is our Israeli campers! Campers from Sderot come to Herzl in 8th and 10th grade to live in cabins and participate fully in camp alongside our American campers. These friendships create real and personal knowledge of Israel in a way that lessons and activities never could!
Yesterday’s big celebration saw all of camp dressed in blue and white, a fully decorated Chadar hosting dance parties, song sessions at Ner Howie, delicious Israeli food (including Aroma coffee for the staff!), and Israel-themed activities throughout the day. Special thanks to our Mishlahat (Israeli staff) for helping to plan and execute this event in the most authentic and engaging way! It truly was the cherry on top of an amazing summer of learning!
Interested in learning more? Click here for a video chat with Rabbi JP about Israel programming at camp.