6 thoughts on “Jewish Summer Camps: Nostalgia for Bygone Liberal Zionist Past – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Reading your article reminded me of the heyday of seminary and school religious training in the Catholic Church post Vatican II. It seems there was a similar spirit of openness to the world, questioning, solidarity with the poor and oppressed – ‘aggiornamento’ as Paul VI called it.

    Since then, the church too has been ‘hijacked’ by conservatives, drowning the brave strains of ‘GODSPELL’ under the heavy monotones of Latin Mass chants. And of course, the ‘witchunts’ of unorthodox bishops and clergy that have accompanied the slamming doors of the church as it reverts back to its comfortable state of being a ‘mausoleum’ rather than a beacon of light in the world… a loss. I am looking for other schools for my children…

  2. In a very funny way, that traces my life history, as well.

    At least one set of my grandparents met at a camp like that. So did my parents. I’m not terribly fond of it, but I do owe my existence to its.

    And I spent the best day of 2006 at the Mideast Peace Camp. It’s a totally magical program.

  3. Richard, thanks for this post. I grew up (and fairly old) without having any idea of the meaning of Judaism. I worked with many Jews, had a serious relationship with a young New York Jewish fellow who later became a Rabbi, At no time did any of us every talk about our religious differences. My boyfriend’s parents were totally accepting of me. I attended seders at their home, and again nobody referred to the fact I was raised Catholic. Instead they explained the meaning of some of the rituals and made me feel totally included.

    It was only after I started visiting Palestine that I became part of various activist groups, made up primarily of Jews. Only then did I learn words like “zionist” and “settlement” sand “occupation” and later (as I saw it being built) “apartheid wall.) All of this has been a great gift to me as it has continued to open my mind to understanding the difference between Judaism and Zionism, not to mention learning to appreciate some of the beauty of the Jewish religion.

    I enjoyed reading of your experience at various camps. As a child I never knew here were such things as summer camps, but I know I would have loved to attend one. Perhaps they didn’t exiist in England, and if they did I imagine they weren’t happening during the war when I would have been the right age to go.

    Clearly your experiences at camp have been very important in many ways, and I am glad this blog is one result of all that canp life.

  4. “But unlike Sucharov I don’t believe the Zionist summer camps teach diversity or probing ideas as they might’ve in the 1960s.”

    Chaver Richard

    Believe what you want, but the plain facts are that you would rapidly change your mind if you sat in on any of the many Israel-related sichot at any of North America’s 7 Habonim Dror machanot. Diversity – yes. Probing ideas – yes. Better than the 60’s – yes. Allow me to arrange a visit for you. All 7 camps are in vibrant session.

    Chaver Steve, Executive Director
    Habonim Dror Camp Association

  5. And what should the average non-Jewish American conclude about Zionist Camps and their graduates? There are many kinds of summer camps, but I know of only one kind (Zionist) where a reasonable argument can be made that there is a focus on the politics of foreign-nation patriotism, i.e. Israel. This may seem theoretical, but when you are a non-Jew (like me) who has been on the receiving end of domestic Zionist inspired (and implemented) repression of open discussion about Israel in an otherwise supposedly neutral American academic setting, one has grave doubts about the capacity of graduates of these camps to handle, as adults, sensitive responsibilities where conflicting interests between Israel and US policy are in the mix. Having seen repressive Zionism thwart free and open discussion in the “land of the free”, unless you can convince me otherwise, I would have a threshhold doubts about the capacity of any Zionist camp graduate to balance objectively with any issue relating to Israel or its ardent “supporters” in the US.
    Now, show me how I am unrealistic.

  6. my mother was the camp Solomon Schector nurse on Whidbey Island, Washington state. It was Fort Casy, and the colonel’s house is still there, along with some of the barracks that were used as housing for campers. I as a girl of 6, 7, 8, and visted there a few days ago. I am trying to find out if there are any records of the camp from the early 60’s, not having any luck. Camp Solomon Schector is still active in the Seattle area.

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