Seven Inspiring Years at Havurah at Tel Yehudah

By, Julia Smirnova, Havurah Program Manager and Rosh Machane Bet  

My first summer at camp as a madricha (counselor), in 2009, I was lucky to be in the presence of magic happening right in front of my eyes. While the summer started as an opportunity to spend a couple of weeks working with my friends at a summer camp, it turned into the privilege of leaving a lasting impact on the lives of teenagers.

Now, seven years later, on the last day of camp, I feel honored to have witnessed yet another cohort of proud Russian-speaking Jews depart camp.

julia Julia in 2009 and 2015

My favorite thing about the Havurah program is that for many teens, it is their first time being surrounded by so many other teens who share a common heritage as them.  The moments I love the most in Havurah is when teens discover a side of themselves they didn't know they had.  Teens discover a desire to speak and improve their Russian language skills.  Teens discover their love for Israel and the complexity that comes along with it.  Teens surprise themselves with the level of independence they find at camp, the challenges they figure out how to overcome on their own, and  the commitments that come with living in a community.Each year our teens at camp inspire me and remind me why I wait all year long for the summer! 

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