Jewish Life & Values

Pluralist – Exciting – Joyful – Warm

At The Cohen Camps, campers experience exciting, inspiring Jewish daily life that celebrates heritage, Israel and Jewish values. We call these philosophies and values Our 10 Commitments, and you can read them below.

Eli and Bessie Cohen founded the Cohen Camps to nearly 80 years ago to connect young people to their communities. They envisioned trans-denominational, welcoming summer homes in which youth could explore their individual and collective Jewish identities and prepare themselves for their role in the larger Jewish community and the world. We continue this legacy today, every day, through Jewish music, learning about Israel, Israeli dance instruction, daily prayers in the Kosher dining halls, engaging cultural experiences, and special programs designed by our staff at each of our three camps. Here, Jewish life and learning are both personal and connected, thoughtful and fun!

Shabbat is a special time at each Cohen Camp. Each camp celebrates together in ways that alumni and visitors warmly remember as one of the most memorable and life-changing parts of their experiences. We welcome Shabbat each week with services: Tevya in its gleaming community building open to the outdoors with screens on all sides; Pembroke and Tel Noar under the trees in their inspiring Shabbat groves. After a traditional Shabbat dinner, each camp hosts spirited sessions of song and dance. Shabbat evening and morning services are led mostly by campers, afternoon activities encompass a variety of Jewish and Zionist themes for all campers, and Shabbat ends with Havdalah.

Jewish life and learning at The Cohen Camps can culminate in an extraordinary experience, the Dor L’Dor (Generation to Generation) Leadership Program for our oldest campers, an intensive five-week tour of Israel. Younger campers at all three camps relish the weekly Shabbat updates sent in by the Dor L’Dor travelers. This program and its teen role models help even our youngest campers discover the deep value in connecting with the historical, religious and cultural aspects of the State of Israel.

“My son came home with a stronger bond to his Judaism and the state of Israel.”
~Tevya Parent

“My daughter is proud of her Jewish heritage. Camp Pembroke has given that to her and so much more than I had hoped for.”
~ Pembroke parent

“We love the way our children come home with a love of Shabbat and a sense of community.” ~Tel Noar Parent

“Shabbat services are great. They are a perfect balance of fun and tradition.”
~ Pembroke parent

Our 10 Commitments

These philosophies and values guide our choices at The Cohen Camps.

1. Friendship and Teamwork (חברות). We see these as profoundly Jewish values. We nurture in bunks, on teams and in groups the closeness, fun, sharing, working together, and resolving of issues which help campers learn how to build and sustain relationships.

2. Diversity and Inclusiveness (קהילה). We believe the culture of the camps reflects the kaleidoscopic Jewish world we all live in.

3. Shabbat (שבת). We emphasize the uniquely Jewish experience of Shabbat: the energy and helping to prepare, the incredible community ruach of shared prayer, song, and dance; the special closeness and leisure on Shabbat day; the sensory beauty of the Havdalah ceremony.

4. Learning (לימוד). We want campers to deepen their understanding of Judaism – to apply Jewish thought and values to their lives, to uncover meaning in Jewish rituals, to gain inspiration from Jewish role models.

5. Rituals (מסורת). We select Jewish rituals which nurture in campers a special feeling of Jewish community, a sense of gratitude for the abundance they have, and a basic respect for Jewish tradition.

6. Service and responsibility (תקון). We seek to instill in campers the Jewish value of responsibility to others and to society.

7. Roots (שורשים). We want our campers to gain a certain feel for where we’ve been as a people, what values we have stood for, sacrificed for, and tried to bring to the world, and journeys Jewish families have made.

8. Israel (ישראל). We cultivate excitement about and personal connection with Israel both as our historic birthplace and as a real place, with culture and language, stories and issues, charisma and complexity.

9. Nature (טבע). We bring the vitality and wonder of the natural world into our communal awareness, adding a spiritual, reflective quality to camp life.

10. Leadership (מנהיגות). We encourage campers to participate actively, be creative, use and develop their skills, and take on roles of responsibility.