"Not Kosher" On the Jewish Camping Menu?

"Not Kosher" On the Jewish Camping Menu?

Having fun at Camp Gan Izzy, Shorthills, NJ.

by B. Olidort

July 26, 2007

Few overnight camp directors could have missed a small news item about a whopping 11.2 million dollar gift to the Federation of Jewish Camp (FJC) last week.

The grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation will “provide financial incentives to Jewish pre-teens in target communities west of the Rockies to enroll for the first time in Jewish nonprofit overnight camps,” said the press statement on the FJC website.

Echoing a sentiment of so many who’ve known this intuitively, even before studies confirmed the long term benefits to Jewish continuity that come from a 24/7 Jewish immersion experience, Al Levitt,  Jim Joseph Foundation president, said, “Jewish camping is one of the keystones for connecting these youngsters to the Jewish community." 

The FJC mission statement and other information with illustrative graphs on the website, confirm its commitment to Jewish camping as an effective means of enhancing Jewish affiliation and Jewish identity.

With a constituency of over 130 non profit Jewish camps, the FJC, to its credit, is helping a lot of Jewish kids who might not otherwise afford it, the chance to spend a summer, or a few weeks of the summer, at a Jewish camp.

When I clicked on “find a camp” I found an interesting menu offering me a choice of everything from “Lubavitch”—once again, Chabad seems to defy categorization—to  Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Secular, Cultural and more.

And then there was a choice of dietary preferences. This included Kosher, Kosher Availability, Kosher Style and Not Kosher.

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise, but then, if the FJC is doing what it does to “increase Jewish practice” among other Jewish identity-building points, it behooves a miminal standard that would require, at the very least, that camps serve only kosher food to be eligible for FJC support.


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