ReJEWvenating Experiences of Jewish Summer Camp and Keshet Inclusion Curriculum

There were two powerful moments I personally experienced this past week that I will briefly share in this message.

  1. I joined a group of Federation staff and volunteers at Emma Kaufmann Camp, along with our colleagues from the JCC, to meet with and to evaluate three different programs supported by our Federation and to learn about the One Happy Camper program supported and managed by Federation:
    1. Staff in Training (formerly known as CIT’s) Israel experience – SIT’s traveled to Israel for their first month of camp. They spent a week in our Partnership2Gether communities of Karmiel and Misgav. They have now returned to camp inspired by their Israel experience.
    2. Israeli Shlichim (emissaries) – staff from Israel who infuse the camp with Israel content.
    3. Campers from Karmiel and Misgav – a group of 14 and 15 year old teens who attend the second session of camp along with our own Pittsburgh/American kids.
    4. One Happy Camper – through $1,000 grants funded generously by the Papernick Family Foundation and the Federation’s Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, these first time campers are incentivized to choose a Jewish camp experience.

      I returned from West Virginia to Pittsburgh completely reJEWvenated. It was remarkable to see how we help make Jewish camping so powerful with added connections to Israel and have successfully encouraged young Jews to select a Jewish camping experience over any other.

  2. Earlier in the week, our Federation staff participated in a two hour LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) sensitivity training session. The core of the curriculum was developed by Keshet, a national Jewish organization that works for LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish life.

    It was educational and eye opening for many of us as we tried to better understand terminology like “Orientation”, “Bisexual”, “Pansexual” and “Cisgender”, to name a few of our now better understood vocabulary. We learned in chavruta (in small groups) and as an entire staff. We began to discuss how we as a Federation can internalize our learnings. The LGBTQ segment of our community appears to be growing with around 10% of our Pittsburgh Jewish young adults identifying as part of it. As a Jewish Federation dedicated to the entirety of the community, growing our own understanding is critical if we are to be truly inclusive.

My pronouns are He/Him/His. And I wish you a Shabbat Shalom.

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