‘Israeli’ summer camp in New York
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‘Israeli’ summer camp in New York

New program seeks to strengthen Jewish identity and knowledge of Israel by immersing campers in Hebrew

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image of a Jewish summer camp (Courtesy the Foundation for Jewish Camp/via JTA)
Illustrative image of a Jewish summer camp (Courtesy the Foundation for Jewish Camp/via JTA)

American kids no longer need to travel across the world to enjoy an authentic Israeli summer experience. That is, as authentic an experience as Rockland County, New York, has to offer.

New York’s 92nd Street Y has introduced 92Y Camp Bereisheet, a new Hebrew-language day camp for children starting kindergarten through fifth grade. The program, now accepting applications, will immerse youngsters in the standard Jewish summer camp activities, along with Israel-specific ones, such as learning about the country’s geography. Rather than roasting hot dogs over an open fire, campers will bake pita in a taboon, and must be proficient in Hebrew.

Camp Bereisheet is an outgrowth of the 92nd Street Y’s “Israeliness” initiative, which has served Israelis in the New York area since 2007. Activities have included an after-school Israeli cultural program, shira b’tzibur (Israeli singing evenings) and an Israeli book club — all conducted exclusively in Hebrew.

“92Y Camp Bereisheet provides children with a top-flight American day camp experience — but with a distinctly Israeli flavor,” said Rebecca Singer, the director of Israeliness. “And because all activities are conducted in Hebrew, kids will feel more at home, while they are encouraged to build meaningful friendships, learn about Israel and take risks.”

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