Friday, March 30, 2012

obama israel and iran

Tags: Israel | bolton | israel | iran | obama | azerbaijan

Bolton Charges Obama Purposely Undermining Israel

Thursday, 29 Mar 2012 06:32 PM
By David A. Patten
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Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton blasted the Obama administration Wednesday afternoon for putting “just merciless” behind-the-scenes pressure on the Israeli government in order to persuade Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu not to launch an attack on Iran.

Bolton added that reported intelligence leaks by the administration could hurt Israel’s chances of successful knocking out Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Bolton’s comments on Fox News followed revelations Wednesday that the Israeli government has made arrangements with the government of Azerbaijan to use its airbases, which it would presumably employ to help it attack Iran.

Landing jets in Azerbaijan would make an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure much more effective, military experts say. It would greatly reduce the flight time, and refueling requirements, for Israel’s F-16 and F-15 jets.

Foreign Policy broke the news of the alleged Israel-Azerbaijan connection. It attributed the report to a “senior administration official.” Another U.S. intelligence source said the administration is “not happy” about Israel’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Azerbaijan in order to defend itself.
Bolton sees the administration’s leak of sensitive information as part of a larger problem.

“I think the Obama administration has long believed that an Israeli attack was worse than an Iranian nuclear weapon,” Bolton told Fox. “The president says that containment and deterrence of Iran is not his policy, and I think today that’s true. But it’s his plan B, it’s his backup plan when his current efforts at sanctions fail, diplomacy fails, and Iran gets nuclear weapons.

“And I think the pressure the administration has put on Israel has been just merciless behind the scenes,” he adds.

So far, Bolton says, Israeli officials show no intention of backing down from what they see as the existential threat of a nuclear-capable Iran. But the Azerbaijan leak indicates the administration is upping the ante.

“So the Obama administration has torqued it up a notch, and now they’re going to reveal very sensitive, very important information that will allow Iran to defeat an Israeli attack,” said the former UN ambassador. “I think that’s what’s going on.”

Last month, Israel inked a $1.6 billion arms deal for drones and an anti-aircraft missile defense system with Azerbaijan. Many foreign policy experts, however, remain highly skeptical that Azerbaijan would help Israel attack its powerful Persian neighbor to the south.

Bolton is the author of the Newsmax Magazine April cover story “Showdown: Iran’s Plan for a Second Holocaust Must Be Stopped.” He suggested he has no independent knowledge of whether Israeli has struck a bargain to use Azerbaijan’s airfields.

Bolton added that the leak could impair Israel’s ability to defend itself.

“Releasing this information, so that the Iranians now know about it, takes away a potentially very powerful mode of attack that hitherto the Israelis have been able to keep secret,” he said. 

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Best pesah joke

Pesah seder rituals borrowed from Romans

Israel can use their airbases for attack

Baku grants Israel use of its air bases'

03/29/2012 06:20

Senior US officials tell 'Foreign Policy' "Israelis have bought an airfield and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."

Government building in Baku, AzerbaijanBy Reuters
Azerbaijan has granted Israel access to airbases in its territory along Iran's northern border for potential use in a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, a report published Wednesday in Foreign Policy magazine quoted senior US officials as saying.
"The Israelis have bought an airfield," an official said, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."
Even if Israel doesn't use the fields for a direct air strike on Iran, Azerbaijan could still prove useful for Jerusalem's interests in the region. The bases could be used as a jumping point for IDF search-and-rescue units, the report quoted a US intelligence official as saying.
According to the Foreign Policy report by journalist Mark Perry, the Obama administration believes the Jerusalem-Baku relationship is raising the risk of an Israeli strike on Iran. Senior US officials have said that Israel's military expansion into Azerbaijan is complicating US efforts to defuse Israeli-Iranian tensions. "We're watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it," one official said.
The relationship between Israel and the predominantly Muslim country on Iran's northern border is believed to be robust. The Foreign Policy report quoted a 1995 article in The Jerusalem Post as saying bilateral relations started in 1994 and have blossomed ever since. "Strauss ice cream, cell phones produced by Motorola's Israeli division, Maccabi beer, and other Israeli imports are ubiquitous [in Azerbaijan]," theJerusalem Post article stated.
The unlikely bilateral relationship has taken center stage in the media this year.
In January, Azeri authorities implicated an Iranian citizen in aplot to kill Jewish teachers at a Jewish school in Baku.
A report published last month in The Times of London said that Azerbaijan is teeming with Mossad agents working to collect intelligence on the Islamic Republic of Iran, quoting an unnamed agent as saying that Baku was "ground zero for intelligence work."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pesah's 5 names

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pesah humor

Monday, March 26, 2012

Conserative 1-4

Legumes on pesah

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Parasha Vayikra

Parashaat tzav

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Amazing tikkun olam

Abigail took my course and conerted with us. and now this
Rabbi Ginsburg

Shavua tov. Brian and I wanted to say this is a small part of the legacy you are leaving. Thank you again for you patience and guidance. We enjoy this Mitzvah Project and look to the future with doing as much as we can to help "Repair the World".


Brian and Abigail Danyleyko

Friday, March 23, 2012

J Street's failure

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Ruthie Blum

J Street or Pal Street?
The phenomenon of professing support for Israel while simultaneously abetting its enemies seems to be the new fashion among Jews on the far Left. Rather than simply coming out in the open with their hostility, they have figured out a way to do more harm to their brethren by calling themselves “true-blue” Zionists who are merely concerned about Israel’s “declining and endangered” democracy.
This so-called concern extends to all facets of Israeli society and statehood. Whether they are “worrying” about the “religious-secular divide,” the “economic gap between rich and poor,” or the “plight of Israeli Arabs,” this group can always be counted on to have a dim view – and to express it at every opportunity.
But their absolute favorite point of “distress” is the one that gains them the most brownie points among those Israel-haters who came out of the closet as soon as the statute of limitations on anti-Semitism ran out after the Holocaust: the “Palestinian problem.” To be more precise, they are perturbed by the problem that Palestinians have with Israel. That the main problem Palestinians have with Israel is that it exists at all doesn’t feature in their discourse.
No Jewish organization is more troubled by the Palestinians’ predicament than J Street, the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace organization that was established in 2008 to counter-balance AIPAC’s work on Capitol Hill, which has consisted of looking out for Israel’s interests by representing the position of any and every Israeli government.
J Street’s executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, wanted to change all that. His idea was to look out not for Israel’s interests, but rather for those of “peace in the Middle East” – a euphemism for Israeli concessions in exchange for nothing. Well, nothing other than terrorism, that is. But Ben-Ami and his ilk don’t see it that way. In their view, if it weren’t for Israeli settlements, the Palestinians would have no reason to commit acts of terror. Too bad the Palestinians don’t actually agree with that, as has been proven repeatedly with every Israeli withdrawal from anywhere.
But because Ben-Ami has impeccable Zionist credentials, his ability to garner support for a two-state solution that the Palestinians keep rejecting while undermining the Jewish state as a whole is quite an easy task.
His late father, Yitzhak, was among the leaders of the Irgun (the militantly anti-British Mandate underground) in pre-state Palestine. From Tel Aviv – a city his parents were instrumental in establishing -- Yitzhak Ben-Ami traveled to Europe right before the outbreak of World War II as an emissary for the illegal immigration of Jews. From there, he went to the U.S. to raise funds for the Irgun.
It was Yitzhak Ben-Ami who personally purchased the Altalena arms ship, and who was on it when it was attacked off the coast of Tel Aviv by the newly formed Israel Defense Forces, at the order of David Ben-Gurion, the head of the provisional government and subsequently Israel’s first prime minister. The clash, that has its repercussions between Left and Right in Israel to this day, caused him to emigrate to the U.S., asserting that he would not live in a country led by Ben-Gurion. It is thus that his son Jeremy, now 49, came to be born in New York.
That he grew up to be the kind of Jew whom his father would have considered a member of Ben-Gurion’s camp is fodder more for psychoanalysis than politics. One wonders what his father would have made of this week’s J Street conference in Washington, titled “Making History.”
Ben-Ami Jr. couldn’t have been too happy a camper at the event, which consisted of a lot of wailing on the part of “well-wishers” wishing Israel would stop being so intransigent – you know, like Peter Beinart (there to promote his book, “The Crisis of Zionism”) and Amos Oz (always on the lookout for junkets abroad to promote his entire body of work).
Not only did a mere 2,500 activists attend the conference, as compared with more than 13,000 at AIPAC’s gathering three weeks ago at the same venue. But its raison d’etre had long ago wilted. Grad missiles from Gaza, Fatah reconciliation with Hamas, and Iranian nukes tend to put a damper on concepts like “peace process.”
Still, Ben-Ami and his flock were not deterred from insisting that Congress not focus too much attention on Tehran, when there are Israeli settlements obstructing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
U.N  Human Rights Council members in Geneva couldn’t have said it better themselves. In fact, they just passed a resolution to establish a “fact-finding mission on the influence of settlements on Palestinians,” a Palestinian-initiated maneuver that has caused Israel to suspend ties with the body and reprimand the Palestinian Authority for engaging in cynical political moves, rather than coming directly to the negotiating table. Yet they have no more intention of doing so than J Street has of persuading anyone other than its own “amen corner” that it is pro-Israel.
Ruthie Blum, a former senior editor at The Jerusalem Post, is the author of a book on the radicalization of the Middle East, to be released by RVP Press in the spring.

J Street Failure Reflected at Conference

Omri Ceren | @cerenomri 03.23.2012 - 8:00 AM

J Street is holding their annual policy conference this weekend, and the group duly requested speakers from the White House and the Israeli embassy in Washington DC. The results are unspinnable. The Israelis let J Street cool its heels until this week before dispatching deputy chief of mission Barukh Binah. Binah recently concluded a stint in Jerusalem as a Foreign Ministry deputy director-general, in which capacity he publicly castigated J Street for dishonestly manufacturing an anti-Israel publicity stunt, then building an entire media campaign around the stunt, then fabricating an Israeli apology related to the stunt. Sending him to be the embassy’s speaker was not the world’s most subtle move. The White House’s announcement of its surrogate, the vice president’s national security adviser Tony Blinken, left Ben-Ami bitterly complaining that the choice was a snub. He’s right. Blinken, for all that he is an experienced hand, is several rungs below U.S. National Security Adviser Jim Jones, who appeared at the first J Street conference and left J Street boosters musing about the group’s potential power.
J Street has gone from fantasies of being the anti-AIPAC to complaining publicly about its diminished influence. The spiral was a function of many things, but mostly of the group aggressively pushing counterproductive, failed, and toxic policies in Israel, in Congress, and in the media.
Israelis were always skeptical of J Street, even as the group was embraced by the Obama White House as the President’s anti-Israel enabler. Israeli embassy officials declared that J Street was damaging Israel, was “a unique problem,” and was “fooling around” with Israeli lives. When J Street’s founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami publicly insisted upon Ambassador Oren’s presence at the group’s first conference he was rebuffed, leading Ben-Ami’s White House allies to attack Israel over the snub in Israeli media outlets (reports from the conference justified Israeli skepticism). Last year Israel’s minister for public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs flatly called J Street anti-Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu won’t take meetings with the group’s delegations.
In the meantime J Street’s public campaigns – many implemented with tone-deafness and some with frankly shocking incompetence – eroded its Congressional support.
Its embrace of Richard Goldstone was followed by a fumbled cover-up. Its support of anti-Israel U.N. campaigns triggered a fistfight with Congressional allies. Itsdefense of anti-Semitic rhetoric is seeping in this weekend’s conference. Its coordination with pro-Iran lobbies has been unreal.
Its stance on Cast Lead angered Israeli victims’ organizations..
J Street officials got caught misleading reporters on overseas Arab and Muslim funding and then launched a clumsy spin campaign. Then they got caught misleading other reporters about Soros funding and launched another clumsy spin campaign. When the group did its fundraising in public it was for yet another effort to pressure Obama into pressuring Israel.
On a smaller scale J Street launched campaigns to defend anti-Israel media campaigns and anti-Israel art and anti-Israel artists. Its PR flak defended Mary Robinson. Itbrought into the fold an apologist for the Muslim students who went after Ambassador Oren at UC Irvine. A J Street delegation held meetings with Palestinian diplomats in Ramallah on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day over Israeli objections and then Ben-Ami bragged about the trip in the Jerusalem Post. One of their board members met with Hamas.
Unsurprisingly the group has become toxic in Congress. Associating with J Street costs votes and chills relationships.
As a small example: last year some House Republicans threatened to defund the Palestinian Authority. The move was opposed with various degrees of publicity by Democrats, the White House, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. J Street ostentatiously launched a three-month public campaign to push back, which culminated in44 Democratic signatures on a letter. 44 is 10 fewer Democrats than J Street secured for far more controversial 2010 letter calling on Obama to pressure Israel on the Gaza siege, which J Street had to lobby for by proxy.
This time J Street was too weak to directly push on an open door in Congress. The White House and its political liaisons undoubtedly noted as much.
J Street and other anti-Israel Jewish groups will never totally collapse. They will always have a constituency, and that constituency will always pretend that they’re on the cusp of influencing the policy discussion. But everyone else seems to be tired of pretending that J Street is anything but a particularly elegant case study of how fringe progressive collapses under its own weight.

Chad gadya song of seder explained

Thursday, March 22, 2012

seder tips for kids

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The March on Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post

"Global March on Jerusalem": If it's not about Israel, it's not about us
David Harris
March 18, 2012
Here we go again.

First, it was the various "Freedom Flotillas" that tried to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza by sea.

Now it's the "Global March to Jerusalem" (GMJ), slated for March 30th.

Whether by sea or land, the goals are the same: to provoke confrontations with Israel, give Israel a black eye in the world media, and pursue a strategy of delegitimizing Israel’s very right to exist.

For anyone willing to scratch the surface and understand their language and imagery, the organizers of GMJ are quite transparent about their outlook and objectives.

When they speak in their manifesto of freeing “Palestine,” they mean not just the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel itself.

When they show their logo, Israel is effectively encircled and engulfed by the movement.

When they speak of “the defense of Jerusalem and its liberation,” they mean the entire city, whether it was part of Israel before 1967 or not.

When they speak of “occupied” lands, they don’t mean from the 1967 war, when Israel was faced with threats of annihilation and emerged victorious, but from 1948, when Israel was first established.

When they speak of “protection of the Holy Places,” they mean Muslim holy places, not Jewish, since they don’t even acknowledge the Jewish people’s age-old connection to the city. As for Christian sites, I wouldn’t bet on it, regardless of the rhetoric.

When they claim that Israel seeks “to destroy the Muslim and Christian presence” in Jerusalem, they are turning truth on its head, as never before have all religious sites been as protected as they are today.

When they invoke the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe the “Zionist campaign” in “Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine,” they blithely ignore the demographic figures, which show dramatic increases since 1967 in the Arab population in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and what they refer to as “the rest of Palestine.”

When they invoke “apartheid,” they are conjuring up a situation that doesn’t exist, as anyone who understands the specific meaning of the term in white-ruled South Africa, including none other than Judge Richard Goldstone in his New York Times op-ed, readily grasps.

And when they speak of the “non-negotiable and inalienable rights of the Palestinian People, including their families, to return to their homes and lands...,” they mean flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians and four generations of offspring, ending Israel as a state, pure and simple.

Just look at some of those endorsing the GMJ.

Remember Reverend Jeremiah Wright?

The same Jeremiah Wright who rails against America, despises Israel, and doesn’t seem to have many good things to say about Jews.

He’s on the Advisory Board of the Global March to Jerusalem.

So is George Galloway.

Yes, the same George Galloway who was expelled from the British Labor Party, had rather cozy ties with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and is deemed a friend by such “peaceful” groups as Hezbollah and Hamas.

There’s Hilarion Capucci of the Greek Melkite Church, who was arrested in 1974 for smuggling weapons to the Palestine Liberation Army and sentenced by Israel to 12 years in prison.

There’s Greta Duisenberg, the Dutch woman who famously said on television, in 2005, that she “understood” Palestinian suicide bombers responsible for killing Israelis.

There’s Judith Butler, a Berkeley faculty member and avowed anti-Zionist. She rejects the notion of Israel, believing instead in a happily-ever-after “binational” state, and supports the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel.

And there’s Richard Falk, a UN special rapporteur, who may be best known for his claim that 9/11 was an inside American job. His views about Israel, for which there is a long paper trail, aren’t any more cogent.

The list goes on, but the point should be clear about the GMJ mindset.

For the true believers who spearhead this effort, joined by some starry-eyed followers who don’t realize they’re being manipulated, the real focus is not on peace, coexistence, or human rights.

After all, had the advancement of peace, coexistence, and human rights been the goal, they might, for starters, have considered some other marches while in the neighborhood.

For instance, there’s a “caravan” from Asia coming to the GMJ. They’re traveling by land, passing through Iran, where, according to the website, the 120 participants are meeting with “Iranian prominent figures.” An Iranian delegation of “artists, poets, students, and activists, as well as some Members of Parliament, will then join the caravan.”

Hmm, that’s interesting.

Not a word about addressing, say, issues of human rights concerns in Iran, though the country suffers from no shortage of them.

Moreover, if Iranians are joining the “caravan,” what does that say about Tehran’s involvement in the GMJ?

After all, in a tightly-controlled country like Iran, politically-motivated caravans don’t just happen to arrive, meet, and leave. Nor do local groups spontaneously join the ranks without a green light from the political leadership – a leadership that seeks a world without Israel.

So, in the spirit of truth in advertising, the GMJ should simplify its mission statement to:

By hook or by crook, we are a movement to dismantle Israel. We have no interest in a two-state agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. We embrace absolutely anyone who shares our single-minded goal. We couldn’t care less what happens in any other country in the region, be it state-sponsored murder, repression, torture, religious persecution, or gender discrimination. After all, if it’s not about Israel, it’s not about us.
For more information, visit

Haggadah briefly

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jewish Summer camp

The Magic of Jewish Summer Camp

/ 25 Adar 5772

Amy Skopp Cooper, national assistant director of the National Ramah Commission of JTS, director of Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, New York, and 2011 winner of the prestigious Covenant Award, on the joy, power, and community of serious Jewish camping.
I spoke last week at the Leaders Assembly of the Foundation for Jewish Camp on a panel, hosted by the Jim Joseph Foundation, with President Richard Joel of Yeshiva University and President David Ellenson of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. We were there to celebrate the enormous achievements of serious Jewish camping in North America in recent decades, to thank donors such as the Jim Joseph Foundation who have greatly assisted in that achievement, and to reflect upon the still-greater possibilities to be tapped in years to come. I share the gist of my presentation to the Foundation for Jewish Camp here.
First things first: I was proud to address the gathering as chancellor of JTS, the institution that founded Camp Ramah more than 60 years ago and which has worked closely with it ever since, and doubly proud to speak as the parent of two former campers and counselors. I know first-hand, as well as through my scholarly work on Judaism in North America, the tremendous role that intensively Jewish camps play as a vehicle of Jewish education, a building-block of Jewish identity, and a vital source of Jewish community. That role is why JTS is intent on working ever more closely with Ramah. We want to help grow the Ramah network through new camps, new sorts of camps (such as Ramah Outdoor Adventure in the Rockies), and increased numbers of campers. We hope to participate in deepening the links that join Ramah to Israel and to heighten Ramah’s impact on experiential education that takes place in day schools and congregational schools—and to increase Ramah’s impact on JTS. The challenge facing all of us in Jewish education, I think, is to take the phenomenally successful model of Jewish camping in places like Ramah and adapt it to the generation that tweets, blogs, multi-tasks, and routinely embraces changes with which people of my generation struggle to keep up.
The current enthusiasm for serious Jewish camping is well justified. There are not many things any of us could do for the future of Judaism and the Jewish community in North America that would be more effective than getting more Jewish kids to spend more time in serious Jewish camps, experimenting with different educational aims and methods at those camps, and increasing the presence there of Hebrew, Israel, and compelling, relevant teachings from the Jewish tradition—such as Jewish ethics pertaining to relationships and other issues that are at the forefront of kids’ and teens’ minds. Our people, our tradition, and our society will be the better for this effort.
Why is this so? There are two major theoretical sources for understanding why Jewish camps like Ramah matter so much right now.
The first source is the Torah. We Jews are here, I believe, to build communities guided by Torah, and to carry forward the tradition of thought and practice that has Torah at its core, so as to serve as God’s partner in a covenant designed to make the world better—more just, decent, and compassionate. To that end, we Jews were not constituted as a religious group alone but as a people: a nation; a global community; diverse and disparate local communities. We need the enhanced ability to get things done in the world that comes from community, and the added resolve to go against the flow. We know from the Torah, as well as from our own experience, that participation in the building and maintenance of communities can take individuals higher and deeper than almost any other activity in which they engage. Communities focused on what Martin Buber called a “Living Center,” capital L, capital C, have the proven power to elicit, as nothing else can, the gifts and talents with which we are blessed.
The Torah demands and makes possible a kind of wholeness. We yearn for that wholeness: heart and soul and mind wrapped up together, every member of the group needed for the task at hand, every experience and source of wisdom valued. And, as wise educators know, when you teach lessons that seek to take hold of a person, especially when these lessons go against the taken-for-granted assumptions of a larger culture, the teaching must be operative 24/7—“when you lie down and when you rise up”—and must take place in public space and not just private space—“sitting in your house and walking upon the way.”
That’s where camping in North America rises to meet the challenge of a social reality that for the most part does not place Jews inside Jewish gates or Jewish doorposts very much of the time. The Jewish part of life is usually off to the side, marginal to the main business of life as we live it—and so a Jewish educator wants to create a counter-reality, where sports take place in Jewish space, where drama and arts take place in Jewish time, and where Torah is studied and practiced in surroundings filled with Jews, Jewish commitments, Jewish images, and Jewish fun.
These imperatives are amply confirmed by current sociological and pedagogical theory. We know from social scientists such as Peter Berger about the “social construction of reality” and the need for “plausibility structures” strong enough to bear the weight of transmitting values. Educational theorists and developmental psychologists have explained over and over why giving kids a space of their own, safely away from parental supervision, can have the remarkable effect of making those kids committed to bringing new energy, direction, and ideas to the service of their parents’ ideals.
Jewish camps like Ramah regularly accomplish that. They make the parents of campers wish that their own Jewish lives were more like camp, their synagogue services more like those at camp, their friendships as intense as those one forms at camp and often keeps for life. At its best, a camp such as Ramah creates a world where Jewish kids can come to be at home in the world, including the natural world, at the same time as they grow comfortable inside their own bodies and skins. They are places where teens can feel themselves growing, and growing more confident; coming alive intellectually and emotionally and, yes, awakening sexually. They are places where they reach the bedrock of self, in the dining hall and the bunk, and so no longer need worry that they’ll be “found out” as being less than what they are and less than what they want to be. Add other elements such as Hebrew, Israel, the fact that studying and even davening are part of the culture rather than the counterculture; factor in the information that campers and junior staff learn less from books than from activities with good friends supervised by teacher-role-models just a few years older than they are; and you have a Jewish reality where community is not discussed or planned but danced, sung, played, loved.
I’d add one more piece to this mix, which is the particular genius of Ramah: camp is a place where education for the staff at every level is given pride of place, where they keep growing and learning Jewishly well into their twenties and beyond. Now, thanks to new programs like Ramah Service Corps, the staffers of Ramah are bringing the spirit of camp, and especially of the kind of learning that goes on there, to schools and communities around the continent, and by doing so they are interesting more young people in signing up for the Jewish magic of summer.
I’ve learned from my colleagues in JTS’s Experiential Learning Initiative, sponsored by the Jim Joseph Foundation, that school classrooms where you sit in rows and spend time studying texts until the bell rings can be sites of Jewish learning no less experiential than what goes on at camp. But it’s harder. Experiential learning requires engagement of multiple faculties, it demands reflection of the whole self, it thrives on passion. It takes long twilight hours, benefits from raucous dining halls, and makes good use of swimming and baseball.
Camp is not the only venue where valuable learning of this and other sorts takes place. Day school is the next best thing in terms of creating Jewish social realities, and has the advantage over camp that it is school, which for kids is the heart of social reality, 5 days a week, 10 months a year. Congregational schools have to work extra hard to create community and transmit meaning. Many good congregational schools accomplish this now, despite the obvious difficulties raised by afternoon fatigue, competition with soccer and music lessons, uneven quality of staff, and lack of total support from the parent body. Congregational as well as day schools will benefit, JTS believes, from a healthy dose of experiential learning that we hope to transmit from its home at Ramah. Jewish camps can’t do the job of making Jews all by themselves. Educators, community leaders, and donors in the world beyond camp need to show that they also care about living Jewishly, building communities, and learning Torah. But what a difference a good camp makes!
As the chancellor of JTS, as a scholar of contemporary Judaism, and most of all as a caring Jew, I thank the Jim Joseph Foundation and Foundation for Jewish Camp and everyone else who is helping us build camps, sustain camps, and bring Jewish kids and counselors to camps in ever-increasing numbers. I’m grateful in particular to everyone who has played a role in building and sustaining Ramah over the past six decades. The difference camps are making to the Jewish future is incalculable—and well-demonstrated by the difference they have made to the Jewish present.
We need to take advantage now of possibilities and resources that are available at this moment for camps, other educational venues, and training grounds for ideas, personnel, and innovation, such as JTS. We won’t want to look back a generation hence having missed what everyone recognizes as a tremendous opening. The investment we make in camps will repay itself many times over.