BY JONATHAN COHEN,
THIRD-GENERATION PRESIDENT, THE COHEN CAMPS
We have always considered our camps (Pembroke, Tel Noar and Tevya) to be involved in the informal Jewish education business (shh, don’t tell the campers). This began with my grandparents, Eli and Bessie, who believed that Jewish education in all of its forms was an important means to strengthening the Jewish community. In this, and my next, post I’ll explain in more detail the 10 Jewish Commitments that comprise the philosophy and values that guide our camps.
Friendship and Teamwork (חברות)
We see these as profoundly Jewish values. We try to nurture in bunk life the closeness, fun, sharing, working together, and resolving of issues which helps campers learn how to build and sustain relationships. We challenge campers to create and excel as teams and groups, and encourage older campers to interact with and support younger campers. Our staff models for the campers how to honor and respect each individual, be empathic and compassionate, and contribute to the community. We help our campers associate Jewish living with intimate friendship and collaboration.
Diversity and Inclusiveness (קהילה)
We place great emphasis on the uniquely Jewish experience of Shabbat – the energy and helping which goes into the preparation for Shabbat, the incredible community ruach of shared prayer, song, and dance; the special intimacy and feeling of leisure on Shabbat day; the sensory beauty of the Havdalah ceremony. Each camp celebrates Shabbat with its own traditions. It is a highlight of the summer for many campers, and many alumni cite it as among their most enduring memories from camp.