Camp to Help Kids Shape Their Jewish Identity

By Luebke, Nancy | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

Camp to Help Kids Shape Their Jewish Identity


Luebke, Nancy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Nancy Luebke Daily Herald Correspondent

All the fun of the camp experience with the values and beliefs of their temple will be combined for the first time this year for Jewish children heading off to Camp JRF in Ingleside, Ill.

This is the first summer for Camp JRF, short for Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. The camp offers a program based on the Reconstructionist approach to Jewish life that integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with contemporary insights.

Campers will have an opportunity to form relationships with new friends and Judaism, while swimming, singing, canoeing, playing tennis or hiking.

According to Elliot Zashin, registration coordinator for Camp JRF, one of the reasons the camp is located in Illinois is because of the three growing Chicago area congregations that are affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement. Those congregations are Beth Shalom in Naperville, JRC in Evanston and Shir Hadash in Deerfield.

Children from three families who are members of Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville will be among the first campers to attend the new summer camp. Peter Temes, whose 11-year-old daughter is attending summer camp for the first time in her life, said that Camp JRF represents an opportunity for his daughter to be in a Jewish cultural environment while she has fun at summer camp.

"We're originally from the east coast, now living in Naperville. As a Jewish family, we have a sense of being in the minority here that we haven't felt in other places that we've lived," Temes said. "At camp, my daughter will be one among many instead of one among few."

Temes said he wasn't looking for a religious camp for his daughter to attend; the cultural experience was more important. At Camp JRF, the children will explore Jewish tradition and shape their own Jewish identity through the arts and activities that include studying text about being part of a group, searching for spirituality, utilizing Hebrew vocabulary, connecting to other ideas of community celebrating diversity, recognizing their relationship to the land and people of Israel, mending their portion of the world and by striving to become menschen - those with admirable character and surpassing decency. …

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