More on Our Jewish Values – Commitments #6 to #10 Explained

  • In articulating our Jewish purpose in the manner of our 10 Commitments we have created a language that helps focus and guide us through the rhythms of planning and running our camps. In my previous posts I explained in general the core values that makes our camps – Pembroke, Tel Noar and Tevya – Jewish camps and the 1st five of the 10 commitments that guide us. Here are the next five that build upon the first five, and are no less important, to complete the picture of Jewish life and learning at the Cohen Camps.

    6. Service and responsibility (תקון). We seek to instill in campers the Jewish value of responsibility to others and to society. This is expressed in a number of big and little ways – from recycling to Big Brothers/Sisters, from caring for animals to waiting on tables, from reading Torah for the community to “singing in” guests to the camp. Inspired by the Jewish vision of repairing the world, we try to plant the seeds for campers to grow into the sort of “menschen” who help others in need and contribute to the greater good of the community.

    7. Roots (שורשים). We want our campers to gain a certain feel for where we’ve been as a people, what values we have stood for, sacrificed for, and tried to bring to the world, and journeys Jewish families have made. Staff and guests’ personal stories and Tisha B’Av activities enrich a sense of identity, helping anchor campers as they begin deciding which directions they want to go in.

    8. Israel (ישראל). We cultivate in campers an excitement about and personal connection with Israel. Israel has always been a constant for all three Cohen Camps (part of our camps DNA), beginning with my grandparents who were early, ardent supporters of the efforts to create a Jewish state. Through cultural activities (music and dance) and through a relationship with our hand-picked Israeli staff campers come to see Israel not only as our historic birthplace but as a real place, with culture and language, stories and issues, charisma and complexity. Many of our campers participate in our Dor L’Dor Leadership program as counselors-in-training which includes a 5-week Israel experience and generate their own Israel stories.

    9. Nature (טבע). We let campers experience nature as a partner in Jewish life. The beauty of creation forms a backdrop for playing and praying, learning, singing, and dancing. This brings the vitality and wonder of the natural world into our communal awareness, and adds a spiritual and reflective quality to camp life.

    10. Leadership (מנהיגות). We encourage campers to participate actively, be creative, use and develop their skills, and take on roles of responsibility. We see leadership as a particularly vital capacity in Jewish life – as crucial in a family as it is in a community, and what characterizes contributions Jews have made to general culture. Our staff models leadership skills for campers, as our older campers model it for younger campers; our counselor-in-training experience in Israel features leadership development; and most of our counseling staff is comprised of former campers.

    As we move ahead as an organization we look to build on these core commitments and continue to honor and nurture the spirit of each individual camper and counselor, and give them a vibrant experience of Jewish community which support them on their journey.

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