Camp Yavneh is a Jewish pluralistic summer camp that celebrates k‘lal Yisrael (all Jews are one) by bridging the differences that span the various movements of Judaism. Our campers come from all Jewish backgrounds including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and unaffiliated. Yavneh creates a community in which people have the opportunity to engage and challenge each other through interpersonal connections. This deepens their own understanding of Jewish life and tradition while helping them gain an appreciation for, and understanding of, alternative points of view concerning observance and philosophy.
Yavneh remains one of the few Jewish summer camps that is independent of any denomination or particular Jewish philosophy. Interactions at Camp Yavneh take shape both formally and informally. Every morning the camp offers several choices for t’fillot (prayers) where everyone participates in some form of prayer service. T’fillot span traditional, egalitarian, learner’s and a rosh chodesh women’s t’fillot. We have also compiled our own siddur (prayerbook) used in all the prayer services.
The camp is committed to Shabbat observance and to Kashrut. On Shabbat campers take part in a variety of activities from studying to playing sports. Yavneh provides many types of educational programming, providing opportunities for campers and counselors to express differences of opinions, while engaging in a shared theme or activity. Every summer in addition to the curriculum of daily Jewish studies, the camp develops a theme, which unites everyone around a universally shared Jewish idea. Some of the themes have included Jerusalem 3000, the centrality of the Jewish values of human dignity and respect, and ethnic communities in the Jewish people.
We believe that dedication to the Jewish people, to Israel, and to being a member of a Jewish community are essential for Jewish continuity. These values are instilled through day-to-day interactions between counselors, campers and specialty staff, and are reflected in camp-wide activities. In this time where Jews from different denominations and backgrounds are becoming increasingly polarized, our campers will be well equipped to enter the larger Jewish community with a greater tolerance and understanding of all Jews. This understanding is essential to fulfilling our hope for the future of a more unified Jewish people.