No Jewish child shall ever be left behind

by | Apr 5, 2013 | Other News

“When I took the job of UJFT president, I made a promise to myself that I would never do anything to weaken our community, but only to make it stronger and I would never let a lack of funds prevent a Jewish child and family from experiencing the wonders our people and our community have to offer,” says Alvin Wall. “That is why I am pleased to announce in cooperation with the Simon Family JCC and Tidewater Jewish Foundation that no Jewish child will be turned away and unable to attend the JCC day camp this summer because of a lack of a family’s ability to pay.”

It is understood that it is the job of a strong Jewish community to make sure that each succeeding generation be prepared to take its place in Jewish history. Such preparation requires a strong Jewish identity and support of the institutions and vehicles needed to build and reinforce that vital sense of communal and individual self esteem. Tidewater has been such a community for many generations and must be so for many generations to come.

The correlation between a Jewish summer camp experience and a positive Jewish identity has been repeated in study after study. Children who attend Jewish camps are not only more likely to have an increased Jewish identity, but tend to also engage in more Jewish practices, increased Jewish communal volunteer activities and a greater knowledge of and fondness for Israel. Jewish summer camp experiences, combined with Jewish education and Jewish youth group activities, are frequently the prescription for a strong Jewish adult, Jewish family and Jewish community.

JCC summer camp is often the springboard for such positive experiences and results according to Professor Steven M. Cohen, author of the recently completed study, The Jewish Learning Presence in JCC Day Camps: Current Reality and Realizing the Potential. “At a time when fewer Jews maintain friendships with other Jews and when those friendships are critical for building and sustaining Jewish engagement, Jewish day camps bestow Jewish friendships upon campers.”

“Jewish day camping offers a young child the opportunity to experience Jewish life in a non-pressured, non-academic setting,” says Helaine Katz, associate executive director at the 92nd St. Y in New York City. “From three years on, a child learns that Jewish is not just something you are, it is something you want to be.”

“I am thrilled that we will be shouting from the proverbial rooftops and doing whatever we can to inform all families that a Jewish day camp experience for their child is not beyond their means,” says Wall.

by Harry Graber