Chag Chanukah Sameach. Here in the middle of Chanukah, I feel blessed by both the light and warmth of the existing burning candles as well as the excitement and expectations of the days and candles yet to come. As a camp director, this month of Kislev affords me that same blessing - it's a time of both looking back on a great past summer and getting excited about the summer to come. In the spirit of Chanukah, I want to share with you eight TY lights that are still burning or soon to be lit.
Light #1: We had such an amazing summer in 2012. I continue to hear from campers and parents about this past summer and the impact on their lives. I feel the light of Summer 2012 still burning in the friendships that were made, the actions that our campers are taking to repair the world, and the excitement about coming back to camp or spending the coming summer with us in Israel.
Light #2: This past summer Tel Yehudah and Young Judaea became independent from Hadassah. And while we continue to receive generous support from Hadassah, our independence has led to the establishment of a new TY Board and a deeper commitment from all of our alumni, parents and friends. The people who have stepped up to serve on the new board represent decades of connection and commitment to TY. It is a great blessing to have these dedicated Judaeans now driving the ship forward.
Light #3: Now going into its fifth summer, our Havurah program for campers from the Russian-speaking Jewish community has just been selected for inclusion in this year's Slingshot Guide, recognizing the "50 most innovative and inspiring Jewish organizations in North America." We are proud to be counted with other organizations that are truly changing the landscape of American Jewish life. Havurah will be opening registration next week for summer 2013. We continue to enjoy the great support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Jewish Agency for Israel for Havurah.
Light #4: We are excited to announce a brand new Tel Yehudah program that won't even take place in Barryville: J-Build Portland. In partnership with AJSS (American Jewish Society for Service) and Tivnu: Building Justice, we will have a group of 20 teens living and working in Portland, Oregon this summer with a focus on pursuing social justice through service. Learn more about J-Build Portland here.
Light #5: With the generosity of alumni and friends, we successfully completed our fourth matching grant program with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Funds raised through our Chai Match program will help us better meet our growing scholarship needs as well as maintain and expand our facility. We are in the process of completing work on a new maintenance shop with funds raised through Chai Match. We are blessed to have such wonderfully generous supporters.Find out more information about how you can also support TY here.
Light #6: We are truly blessed with the an amazing committed group of staff every summer - young people who have grown up in Young Judaea and attended TY, Israelis who represent the very best of Israel, Brits who come to us through our sister movement, FZY and others who share our values and mission. Already, we have loads of staff applications for 2013 and we cannot wait to work with them this summer. You can join our team by applying here.
Light #7: It is amazing to see the commitments our campers take with them when they leave camp and demonstrate all year long. We are so proud to see so many of our TY campers involved in Young Judaea programs designed to help bring relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy as well Katrina in New Orleans. As part of the "YJ Responds" Initiative, 40 Young Judaea teen leaders, college volunteers and staff came together this past weekend to make an impact, working with the Shorefront YMHA at Brighton Beach to assist local Jewish residents directly impacted by Sandy. Read the reflections on one participant, Sarah Benenson (TY Havurah camper) here.
Light #8: Every day we receive more and more camper registrations and staff applications for summer 2013. With the growing numbers of young people committing to join our community this summer, we get more and more excited for the winter to end and the light and warmth of summer to return to Barryville. Join us this summer by registering here.
May the lights of Chanukah bring warmth and hope to you and your family. We look forward to seeing you in Barryville soon.
David and the TY Team