HDCA Newsletter – June 2024


Machaneh Galil and Gesher EDs Travel to Israel

In February of this year, David Weiss (Camp Galil ED) and Shoshana Lipschultz (Camp Gesher ED) participated in the Mission to Israel for Camp Directors sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC). Together with staff from FJC and colleagues in the Jewish camping community, they toured Kibbutz K’far Aza and the Nova Music Festival site, visited with Kfar Aza survivors at Kibbutz Shefayim, and heard from a former summer shaliach about his experience at Nova. They had the opportunity to meet people working with evacuated youth, including at a surfing program at Camp Kimama, and to hear from the Jewish Agency about their plans for preparing this summer’s shlichimot. Additionally, they met with representatives from the Bedouin community, from the Israeli Arab community at Givat Haviva, and with representatives from the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. Together, David and Shoshi also had an opportunity to meet with our Workshoppers, HeChalutz, Habonim Dror Olami and the World Zionist Organization.

We are very grateful for the Foundation for Jewish Camp for providing this opportunity to David and Shoshi.

David and Shoshi with Hechalutz leadership

Shoshi’s Reflection on the Israel trip (by Shoshi Lipschultz)

I want to share some personal highlights and thoughts about this incredible opportunity to learn with colleagues and experts in our field and to bear witness and hear testimony about the effects of October 7 on Israeli society. We spent time at the site of the Nova festival, and it was one of the most profound moments of Jewish unity I have ever experienced. The site of the Nova festival has turned into a memorial with photos of the individuals that were lost that day, as well as their stories, their artwork, and other meaningful objects. As we walked through, people were quietly learning, observing, mourning, and doing so as individuals. A gentleman entered the memorial with a violin, and he began to play. At first people continued to mingle, then organically, everyone was drawn to the man playing his violin. People got closer and closer. The music was traditional Jewish music that by and large everyone knows, such as Oseh Shalom, Eli Eli, and finally Hatikvah. What began as an individual experience, became truly a communal experience with the lift and life of music. It was a profound reminder of our interconnectedness, and the strength and resiliency of the Jewish Community.

I want to share my deep gratitude to the community of Kfar Aza. I recognize that I do have  some personal bias as the Brodutch family is from Kfar Aza. As you may know, their daughter was a camper with us last summer and was taken hostage on October 7. One thing that stood out to me on that day, was just how long it took to fully understand what happened and to respectfully clean up. There was spray paint outside the houses that indicated when the army came in, when homes were cleared from additional traps meant to cause more harm, and finally when remains were cleared. The dates went into late November, showing just how long the process was and how slowly the extreme details were to come out and are still coming out.

I also found myself in awe of the strength of the Kfar Aza community. The choice that this community has taken – to open up their Kibbutz to be a living museum so that people from all over the world can see the violence and destruction that took place there, is extremely difficult and complicated. This has not been an easy choice for them. They have chosen to value global education over privacy and they continue to make that choice with each passing month.

This choice is something that we discussed as camp directors while sharing ideas, thoughts, and plans for our summers. How will we care for our shlichim and Israeli campers this summer? Do we need to make changes to our programming? Does the value of building an inclusive community supercede the value of free speech such as when certain voices in our community may voice “Free Palestine” or “Ceasefire now” which can be triggering to some of our campers and staff or for our Israeli visitors this year?

These conversations remain ongoing and yet, one thing has become crystal clear for me. Our goals, to create the next generation of Jewish leaders, to create an intentional Jewish community, and to foster a nuanced understanding of Israel that starts with Ahavat Yisrael – a love of Israel, can not be defined by October 7. This summer, 2024, as we continue to build bridges, to foster respectful dialogue, and engage in our ever important work, we must also remember and create the joy of summer, of Jewish peoplehood and Ahavat Yisrael

Resetting The Table by Judah Altman, Mazkirol  

At the end of May, the leadership of all the machanot this summer gathered together for a Resetting the Table training. Resetting the Table is a Jewish non-profit that runs trainings around dialogue through difference courses. Their stated aim is  “Corageous Communication Across Divides.”

As a cohort, Habonim Dror participated in a two-day training that first set the groundwork for how to listen and engage in dialogue with people with whom you disagree, and then on the second day, delved into the specific case study of discourse around Israel and Palestine. The training focused on what to listen for, how to ask questions, and how to ensure that the person you are listening to feels heard and understood. It was an important training for Habonim Dror this summer knowing that discourse around Israel and Palestine is especially divisive this year and it is each Mazkirut’s job to manage that among tzevet, chanichimot, parents and stakeholders.

Habonim Dror would like to thank Machaneh Gilboa for making this opportunity possible. We know that all of the Mazkiriyot are better prepared and trained to lead their machanot this summer in healthy and happy ways.

Maapilimot Seminar by Zandra Campbell, Rakazol Chinuch

A couple of weeks ago, we wrapped up our ma’apilimot seminar! From May 23 to 27, over 50 college-aged movement members gathered together (our biggest ma’ap sem since pre-COVID!!) at Habonim Dror Machaneh Moshava to learn and play together. Ma’apilimot learned about the history of the Gaza strip and the ongoing humanitarian crisis taking place there, shared their experiences of the anti-semitism that has impacted us over the last year, and discussed how HDNA can be a source of resilience as we navigate this painful moment in Jewish history. We even started thinking about new projects that we can build as a movement in the coming years!

As a ma’apilimot body, we laughed, we cried, we played, we danced, we asked questions and brought dilemmas, old and new. This space was such a healing space, and the ma’apilimot of HDNA proved that it is possible to have difficult conversations and disagree deeply with one another from a place of love, care, and shivyon erech ha’adam. This ability represents a step towards the Jewish value of tikkun olam in a profound way.

As always, we are so inspired by the youth, and we have so much faith in our ma’apilimot to lead their chanichimot this summer and into the future ♥️💙

Workshop 73 by Judah Altman, Mazkirol

On May 20th, Workshop 73 came to a close. While it was a very turbulent year, the Workshoppers showed resilience and unity as a kvutzah throughout the entire year, and Habonim Dror is extremely lucky to have them as a part of the movement. In the last few months of Workshop, the Workshoppers lived together in Haifa, working in the ken with their sister movement HaNoar HaOved VeHalomed. During their time in the ken, the Workshoppes ran after school programming and taught English in school. Interspersed within this, the Workshoppers had many seminars to attend that were both regularly scheduled programming, and seminars that had been delayed due to the war. These included: History of Habonim Dror seminar, Habonim Dror Olami world seminar, and Jerusalem Seminar. During Jerusalem Seminar, the Workshoppers moved to Jerusalem to engage in hands-on education on the conflict, shared existence, and life in Jerusalem. Additionally, in March, the Workshoppers travelled to Poland. While the year was a difficult one, filled with ups and downs due to the war and tragic incidents, they emerged stronger together and now are all heading to machaneh to lead their respective communities.

Meet Brian Tucker – Camp Miriam’s new Camp Committee Chair.

Brian hails from Eastern Canada where he and his older siblings attended Machaneh Gesher.  He began going to camp at a very young age and eventually was a member of the first Madatz (counselors-in-training progam) at Gesher, and of the first Machaneh Bonim in Israel cohort (MBI-Aleph).  Some years ago  he moved to Vancouver and after quitting his job, “checked in” with Miriam and was hired on as the Business Manager.  He was later hired as “Camp Manager,” a role which required him to stay at Machaneh throughout the summer to provide adult leadership together with the shlichim.  He recently signed on as Camp Committee Chair in which role he is responsible for the overall direction of Camp Miriam.

Brian lives in Victoria, British Columbia.  In his professional life, he is a Co-op Coordinator at the University of Victoria, helping UVic Science students to find meaningful work experiences related to their degrees.  Although his children currently do not attend camp, Brian’s niece Ayana is currently a member of Miriam’s Madatz cohort.

As Camp Committee Chair, Brian says he “hopes our capital campaign is successful, and we are able to expand the capacity of machaneh and improve upon our existing facilities.”  He notes that the events of October 7th have “added complexity and different voices” to the conversation at Machaneh Miriam.

Brian and the Miriam Camp Committee are assisted by professionals Leya Robinson, Director of Camp and Community Engagement, Anya Levi, Manager of Finance and Administration, and Jay Eidelman, who was recently hired to serve as Director of Strategic Planning and Fundraising.  New Shaliach (Israel emissary) Aviad Levi Yair and not-quite-former Registrar Leah Levi round out the team.

Baruch haba, Brian!

Meet Mira Sussman – Machaneh Tavor’s new Board Chair. 

Mira is a third-generation Habonim member and lifelong Tavornik.  Her children now attend Machaneh and she has served on Tavor’s board for many years.  Mira had intended to step down from the board when her most recent term was up, but agreed to take on the Board Chair responsibility to ensure the continuation of strong adult leadership for Habonim Dror Camp Tavor.

In this role, Mira is working closely with Executive Director Danya Shapiro to steer Tavor through the headwinds of the current political situation in Israel/Palestine and on American college campuses.  She notes that Tavor will welcome three summer shlichimot this year as tzevet members.  With many diverse opinions among the tzevet, board and chanichimot, Mira hopes to ensure that Tavor remains a welcoming environment for all.

One of the issues that Mira is tackling is a lack of parent/community presence at camp.  She notes that in the wake of COVID, Tavor hasn’t held a Visitors Day for many years.  So, in late May the entire community was welcomed to Camp Tavor’s inaugural Spring Open House/Visitors Day.  As Tavor’s newsletter noted, “the event was filled with unforgettable moments as everyone came together to create stepping stones in the beit-o (art room), canoe on Lake Kaiser, and share meals around the campgrounds. The joy was contagious, especially when we danced rikkud (Israeli folk dancing) under the mitrya (pavilion).”

Mira is also intent on revitalizing Tavor’s kenim that meet in the cities where chaverimot live (primarily Ann Arbor and Chicago).

B’hatzlacha, Mira!

Habonim Dror Machanot in the News

The North American Jewish community has been very focused on the challenges and difficulties that may arise at Jewish summer camps this year. Here are just two of the articles highlighting our machanot:

In this article in Haaretz  Rosh Machaneh Isaiah Beenhouwer and Chinuch Ari Moore of Machaneh Gilboa talk about how Gilboa is preparing for “…conversations that have been and will be incredibly difficult.”

Haaretz: “…How U.S. Jewish Summer Camps are Preparing for a Year Like No Other”

And in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent the question is “How Are Jewish Camps Responding to Oct. 7?”  Machaneh Galil’s Executive Director David Weiss discusses their approach this year.

Habonim Dror Alumni to Visit Israel Together 🇮🇱

A Habonim Dror alumni solidarity trip to Israel is being planned for mid-September 2024.

Stay tuned for details shortly!