This summer, more than ever, I realized how important Jewish summer camping is. Over 80,000 campers and counsellors attended Jewish overnight camps this past summer, which means that over 80,000 Jewish youth lived the events that were transpiring in Israel.

I saw this first hand. On the day that I visited URJ Camp George, the campers were organized in discussion groups. The topic of many of the conversations was the murder of the three Israeli boys, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Shaar and the murder of the Palestinian boy from Shuafat. The students knew about the events because it was personal. There were Israeli counsellors in camp and Israeli campers. They were affected by the murders, and they were affected by the war.

I visited Camp Ramah on the same day. There, too, the campers experienced the gamut of this summer’s emotions. Their concern about the three Israeli boys grew to grief when they learned of their deaths. Their grief turned to solidarity when they heard about the rockets that were being shot into Israel. They felt the fear that Israelis felt when the IDF discovered the tunnels that Hamas dug to infiltrate Israel and murder Israelis. They were connected to Israel, and it was personal. With Israelis in camp, the events were very real.

Israel was the topic of conversation not just at overnight camps but at Jewish day camps too. After I had visited Moshava Ba’ir, the Bnei Akiva day camp in the city, I stayed connected with the camp and saw that nearly every week they were doing something for soldiers in Israel. They wrote notes to soldiers and sent care packages. The soldiers sent back a selfie so that the campers could see the difference they were making. Little children and big counsellors followed the events in Israel each according to his or her level of maturity.

I have headed up Jewish day schools for 15 years. It is hard to find a stronger proponent of Jewish day schools than me. Yet, I have also always promoted Jewish summer camping. At camp, kids experience things they simply don’t experience at school. This is true whether they attend as campers or as staff members. They learn things that they don’t learn at school. In an immersive environment like a Jewish camp, students live and experience Judaism in a way they simply cannot at a Jewish day school. Jewish camps complement the learning that takes place at a day school. That’s why children need both–camp and school.

This summer I realized there’s another reason why we need to encourage children to attend Jewish camps–whether young children as campers or TanenbaumCHAT students who may have never attended previously and are now counsellor age. A Jewish summer camp makes sure that children don’t miss out on summer events that impact the Jewish community. In this case, thanks to the Jewish camping movement, over 80,000 campers at Jewish overnight camps and thousands at Jewish day camps walked this summer’s journey with Israel. These children are better for it. So is the Jewish people and so is Israel.

Dear friends,

Our TanenbaumCHAT Wallenberg Campus has thrived these past ten years under the able and elegant leadership of Mrs. Helen Fox. With grace and class, she has taught our students that one can actualize any dream provided one is willing to invest hard work and perseverance. It is, therefore, with sadness that I share with you that Mrs. Fox has announced her retirement effective July 31, 2015.

Mrs. Fox has invested her entire professional career to educating children. Starting as a teacher and then advancing to the role of administrator, she has affected the lives of over two generations of students. For 43 years Mrs. Fox has counselled, coached, encouraged, comforted, and educated thousands of students and hundreds of teachers. What a blessing it has been that for the past decade we at TanenbaumCHAT have had the privilege of her leadership!

We will miss Mrs. Fox but are excited that she will be able to pursue her many and varied interests in good health and with a loving family. In the meantime, she has offered to assist with all aspects of the transition to new leadership at TCW.

We look forward to celebrating Mrs. Fox’s accomplishments and this milestone. We pray that God will continue to bless her and her family with many productive, happy, and fulfilling years.

In conjunction with Ben Gurion University, TanenbaumCHAT teachers have planned a curriculum-based experience in Eilat that focuses on Marine Biology.  Students will be working in teams with graduate students learning how to do field research in a range of areas including oceanography, water ecology, and animal behavior.  They will work in laboratories, on the water, and if desired, underwater.  Much of their work will focus on the aqua culture at the north side of the Eilat bay.  Students will also visit key marine institutions and the Inter-University Research Ship.  

The program is aligned with the Grade 10 Ontario Science Curriculum and relates directly to the Biology and Earth and Space Science units where, for example, students examine the hierarchical organization of cells from tissues to organ systems in plants and animals and the impact of natural and human factors on organisms and natural systems.  It also reinforces what students previously have learned about climate change and ecological systems and further develops their scientific investigation skills.  

For a glimpse of how this program will unleash the inner scientist in our students,
watch THIS 50-second clip.

One of the laboratories in which students will be conducting experiments
can be seen HERE.

Our TanenbaumCHAT chaperones are Science teachers Ms. Carr and Mr. Kitchen. Rabbi Buckman will also accompany the students.

The mini-mester will be partially funded and is open to a limited number of students. Departure from Toronto is tentatively set for Sunday, February 8, 2015. Students return to Toronto Thursday, February 19, 2015. The program is scheduled over Family Day Weekend to minimize the number of days students miss school.

Students will be required to do some preparation prior to the mini-mester and will be responsible for a poster presentation at the end. Upon the students’ return to school, their teachers will make efforts to support students catching up.

For more information, come to one of two info nights: 7-8 pm on Monday September 29 at TCW or Tuesday September 30 at TCK. Parents and students are invited.

Please RSVP by noon on September 24 to info@tanenbaumchat.org.

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The victims were attacked not because of something they did but because of who they are.

9/11

Even if one doesn’t currently reside in the US, the events of September 11, 2001 still resonate thirteen years later throughout the world.

Today, girls in Nigeria are kidnapped and held ransom by terrorists.  Christians in Iraq are tortured and slaughtered by terrorists.  Western journalists are beheaded by terrorists.  Civilians in Gaza are used as human shields by terrorists.  Innocent Israeli men, women, and children are targeted for death by terrorists.

The list of perpetrators has grown:  Al-Queda, Hamas, ISIS, Boko Haram.

But one thing is constant.  The victims were attacked not because they did anything wrong.  New Yorkers on September 11, 2001 were simply going to work.  The girls in Nigeria simply wanted to go to school.  The Christians in Iraq simply want the freedom to practice their religion.  Israelis wanted to enjoy their summer vacation.

To paraphrase Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, they were attacked not because of something they did.  They were attacked because of who they are: Life-loving, freedom-loving people who respect individual rights.

These are the values that we must uphold and preserve because they give meaning to life even at the risk of life.