Source: The Jewish Week
This summer a group of youths from the North American Russian Jewish community attended the two - week (July 19-Aug. 3, 2009) Havurah camping program at Camp Tel Yehudah at Barryville, N.Y. The 9th to 11th graders participated in various fun and educational activities in close contact with other campers at the Young Judea national senior leadership camp. Through a variety of innovative informal educational and recreational experiences, Havurah participants were provided an opportunity to explore and deepen their relationships with Israel, Jewish traditions, and Jewish culture and identity. The special educational curriculum tailored to the needs of Havurah’s teenage participants was developed by Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) educators.
Though Russian speakers, who demographers estimate make up some 20 percent of American Jewry, and 25 percent in the New York metropolitan area, comprise a significant segment of American Jewry, most of them have had little exposure to Jewish religion or culture in the former Soviet Union. As a result, years after the last big wave of immigration, they have little connection to the larger American Jewish community today.
The new camp program, believed to be the first of its kind to target Russian-speaking teens, is part of an effort to provide new frameworks for young Russian Jews to engage their Jewish identities.
Funding to subsidize the program’s cost, was provided by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, whose aim is to promote Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.