2014 Leadership Team Revs Up for a Great Summer!

Snowy Aleph bunk area

Snowy Aleph bunk area

By Judith Tankel, 2014 TY Rosh Machane

This past weekend, some U.S.-based members of the Leadership Team (Merakzim, Roshim, Tochnit Tsevet and Hanhala) for Summer 2014 gathered at Tel Yehudah and started getting ready for the summer! While it was quite a shock (for me at least) to see our camp covered in snow, it was beautiful and great to be back home!

Leadership Team "War Room"

Leadership Team “War Room”

Over the course of the weekend we had a chance to celebrate Shabbat together, but also to discuss a lot of exciting ideas for the rapidly approaching summer. Together, we explored upgrades to specialty area programming and opportunities, discussed ways to improve our daily schedule to fit the needs of our program, got a jump start on staff pre-summer preparations, and just generally discussed how we can make camp better than ever.

It was wonderful to be back at camp and I think I can safely speak for the group that we can’t wait for Summer 2014 to start!

2014 Leadership Team at TY

Retreat Crew at TY (March 2014)

Judith Tankel went to Camp Judaea, Tel Yehudah, Machon in Israel, Year Course, worked at CJ, and has been a TY tsevet member since 2007 as a National Mazkirut member, madricha, kitchen tsevet and Merakezet before joining us in 2014 as our Rosh Machane.  We could not be more excited to welcome Judith to TY’s senior staff and cannot wait for another summer of amazing Onegs:)

#iheartTY Staff – A Message from TY’s Director

ihearttyIt’s hard to believe that in just four months we will be opening our 2014 season at Tel Yehudah.  But even though camp is completely encased in feet of ice, we are deep in preparations for an amazing summer.  We have been hard at work hiring the very best staff from across the United States, Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom. One of the reasons I always say that I have the very best job in the world is because I get to work with so many amazing young people each summer. They are dedicated, idealistic, responsible and deeply committed to our collective Jewish future.  Our staff is sure to create a fun and engaging time, ensure the physical and emotional health of our campers, and serve as amazing Jewish role models to our teens as they travel on their own journeys exploring leadership, Jewish identity, engagement with Israel and social responsibility.  

Over the course of the next few months we will be starting to introduce our staff to you through email and social media.   While we are sure to have camp defrosted and ready for our campers to arrive in June, it is truly the staff that creates the experiences that deeply impact our campers.  I know this personally because I was camper at Tel Yehudah many years ago, and I remain in touch with and inspired by many of the staff who influenced me as a slightly rebellious teen.   They helped me develop a deep sense of social justice, a life-long commitment to Jewish learning and teaching, and a meaningful relationship with Israel and the Jewish people.  As we enter our 66th summer, I am confident that this year’s staff will change the lives of our campers in profound ways as they did mine. 

~David Weinstein

Join the MORE THAN 450 Jewish teens already registered for summer 2014 at Tel Yehudah!



Get all of the information about programs, fees and discounts for 2014 here.

LionFest: A Recap of Young Judaea’s National Gathering of Teens

Naomi Solkowitz (2013-2014 National Mazkira of Young Judaea) shares a recap of a great Young Judaea weekend. Naomi will be joining the Tel Yehudah tsevet (staff) in Summer 2014!

LionFest 2014 was truly a gathering of the YJ tribes; bringing together teens from all around the country to participate in peulot (informal activities) featuring controversial issues in Israel and our first-ever YJ Winter Games (a mini-replica of our highly popular summer Maccabia, or Color War, competitions). 

LionFest 2014 Collage

We started the weekend off introducing our theme of controversial Israel issues with a bracket asking participants to decide a winner among many controversial mundane questions. Pop vs. soda, Coke vs. Pepsi, and chocolate vs. vanilla were just a few questions among many others vying for that number one spot.

After teens slowly but surely trickled in Friday night, mostly due to their cancelled then rescheduled and then delayed late flights, we began our Saturday with Young Judaea’s tradition of offering a few options of different styles of t’fillot (prayer services). Throughout the day, teens participated in a number of optional activities, educational peulot, and the YJ Winter Games, where brave representatives of each team took on our Manager of Youth Leadership and Education, Andrew Fretwell, in a rap battle.

Within our educational peulot, teens confronted the many controversial issues surrounding Israel. Participants had to decide whether Zionism was racism, learn the differences between a terrorist and a freedom fighter, discuss how Hatikvah and the flag might promote a certain viewpoint, and argue Israel’s case for a Jewish democracy. We ended our day of rest with shira shketa, rikud, and a dance party remembered for years to come.

Our next day at CYJ Texas gave participants a chance to meet National Mazkirut candidates and hear their platforms. Shortly after, teens chose between a wide array of workshop groups ranging from a focus on Israeli films, activism, discussing how art helps or hinders a movement, and Year Course orientation, the latter being limited to only those attending the program this coming year

Then, it was finally time to elect Young Judaea’s new National Mazkirut! Teens were asked to get in on the fun by dressing up as their best impressions of a grandma or grandpa. Needless to say, there was tons of baby powder used to achieve the perfect look for a head full of gray hair. We wrapped up the day by sipping some hot chocolate, eating funnel cake, and of course, discussing our favorite parts of the weekend.

Our last day in Austin, Texas was one of sorrow and excitement. Half of convention departed back home and half stayed in Austin for a day of community service. Those who stayed went to Green Gate farm where they helped with weeding, washing vegetables, and moving bricks to help construct a new kitchen.

Even with the winter weather in the Northeast, the turnout to convention was remarkable. Everybody that came showed incredible enthusiasm and dedication towards convention and Young Judaea.

Check out pics from LionFest 2014 here!

It’s All About Sarah

“After my first summer at Havurah, I felt connected to a great community. Havurah instilled a pride in me of my Jewish heritage, and helped me to understand it alongside my Russian heritage.” -Sarah Benenson

sarah benenson

Recently, Sarah Benenson, a former Havurah camper at Tel Yehudah was highlighted in E-Jewish Philanthropy for her presentation to the Funders Summit: Engaging Russian Speaking Jews in Jewish Camp, convened by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), in partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Sarah is one of many teens whose life has been impacted from a summer experience in Havurah, a summer program for teens from Russian-speaking families.  Sarah had the opportunity to connect to her Jewish roots by meeting other teens like herself, Russian-speaking Jewish peers as well as American Jewish counterparts, at Camp Tel Yehudah.  She embraced her love for Israel and her commitment to the Jewish community in the United States.  Upon completing Havurah, Sarah has stayed active by traveling on Young Judaea’s Alternative Winter Breaks, attending Young Judaea national conventions, working at Camp Young Judaea- Sprout Lake and soon will be taking the ultimate leap: traveling to Israel on Year Course.  All it took was two summers, and the impact will last a life-time!

Read more about Sarah and the Funders Summit: Engaging Russian Speaking Jews in Jewish Camp in It’s All About Sarah: Creating a Stronger Connection Between RSJs and Jewish Camp 

A Special Message about Mel

ImageDear Friends, 

Our beloved Mel Reisfield, legendary Young Judaea educator and icon, is ailing and is currently in the hospital in Jerusalem. All who wish to send their love and get-well wishes are encouraged to post them on our website.  

A few times a week YJ alumni Gil Troy and Heidi Stern, close friends of the Reisfields, will print out these blessings and share them with Mel and his family. 

To respect the family’s privacy, and because Mel has some good days and some more difficult days, we are asking close friends who wish to visit him in the hospital to use discretion. 

Mel, Yaffa and their family are feeling everyone’s love and are buoyed by it. 

Todah Rabah, 

The Young Judaea Family 

Calling All TY 12th Graders!

Keep Calm and Go on Year Course!

Hakshivu Hakshivu Na! Registration for Young Judaea Year Course 2014-15 is officially open!

As a Tel Yehudah camper, you know better than anyone the amazing, fun, life-changing experiences Young Judaea has to offer. Now, it’s time to take it to the next level. Does the idea of spending nine months traveling, learning Hebrew, doing volunteer work in various settings and experiencing what it’s really like to live independently – all with your best friends from TY – sound appealing?

If so, register now for Young Judaea Year Course, because it’s the program for you! Expand your mind, your horizons, and your life experience as you discover Israeli culture, volunteer, study, and develop your Jewish identity before heading off to college. Young Judaea Year Course, the original gap year in Israel, gives you the opportunity to step out into the world, gain valuable life experience and skills, and begin the transition to independence.

On Year Course, you can:

  • Earn up to 30 college credits through the American Jewish University (accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges) while studying Israeli history, geography, literature and philosophy.
  • Learn Hebrew through a combination of formal studies and life experiences where you get to practice what you have learned
  • Live in your own apartment with some of your best friends and volunteer within your local community
  • Take “off the beaten path” hikes throughout Israel, becoming acquainted with all the wonders of this majestic land

As you anticipate your high school graduation this year and make important decisions concerning your future, please take a moment to visit our website and watch our video. For more information or if you have any questions about the program, contact Rebecca Haberman at (800) 725-0612 or yearcourse@youngjudaea.org.

To apply today, visit www.youngjudaea.org/yearcourse/applynow. As a member of our TY family, you are entitled to receive $1,000 off program tuition if you apply by December 1, 2013.

Final Day to Register at 2013 Prices

Final Day to Register at 2013 Prices

Secure your spot for summer 2014 at Tel Yehudah and save up to $500.

And Finally….Camp Judaea Loves Tel Yehudah too!

Find out why CJ campers love Tel Yehudah so much and want to make sure that Jewish teens from across the South descend on Tel Yehudah this summer.

Register Today and Pay Last Year’s Prices!!

Just One More Week to Register at Last Year's Prices

Secure your spot for summer 2014 at Tel Yehudah and save up to $500.

Midwesties Love Tel Yehudah!

Find out why Camp Young Judaea-Midwest campers love Tel Yehudah so much and want to make sure that their fellow Midwesties register for summer 2014 TODAY.


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