From The Hartman Institute

Wet Hot American (Jewish) Summer

A conversation with author Sandra Fox about summer camp and its role in the formation of American Jewish identity

Sandra Fox’s 2023 book 'The Jews of Summer,' looks at the history of American Jewish summer camps. (Courtesy Sandra Fox via JTA)
Sandra Fox’s 2023 book 'The Jews of Summer,' looks at the history of American Jewish summer camps. (Courtesy Sandra Fox via JTA)

Every summer, thousands of American Jewish teenagers leave their homes to spend weeks making trouble and memories in what might be their favorite place in the world: summer camp. But Jewish camp isn’t just fun, games and reenactments of Aliya Bet; it’s a place for Jewish kids to learn about history, ritual and belonging, an opportunity for teens to understand themselves as part of the Jewish story.

In this episode, host Yehuda Kurtzer is joined by Sandra Fox, Visiting Assistant Professor of Hebrew & Judaic Studies at NYU and author of “The Jews of Summer: Summer Camp and Jewish Culture in Postwar America,” for a conversation about summer camp and its role in the formation of American Jewish identity. In a conversation that ranges from Color War to hookup culture to Yiddish immersion, they explore the ways in which Jewish camping has always been, and continues to be, a site for the negotiation of the American Jewish community’s hopes and anxieties about its future. Listen here:

Identity/Crisis is a weekly podcast from the Shalom Hartman Institute about news and ideas.

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