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Camp Be’chal Lashon Creates Happy Campers of all Colours

Jewish summer camp home to Jewish youth of all stripes
By: Nelly Lalany
Published: August 12th, 2011 in News » World
Children at the first camp run by Be’chol Lashon, a group for Jewish mixed-race youngsters

Countless studies have confirmed that Jewish summer camps provide Jewish youngsters with important identity-enhancing experiences, a stronger link to their Jewishness, and friendships that often last a lifetime.

Camp Be’chal Lashon, located near San Francisco, is no exception, but it does seem to be rather exceptional.

The unique summer camp brings together an eclectic, and perhaps surprising, array of atypical Jewish youngsters, youngsters from a variety of backgrounds and of various colours.

The camp gives these youth the unique and life changing opportunity to practice their faith in a warm, welcoming and nurturing setting. of colour.

Take for example, 11-year-old Amalia, a jewish girl who is part Brazilian and Chinese. “If there are Christians of all colors and all kinds, and Muslims of all colors and all kinds, then why would Jewishness be any different?” she asks rhetorically.

A fellow camper by the name of Joesh Rowen-Keran, 14, and born to black and Korean parents and later adopted by an interracial couple says, “Being Jewish isn’t looking a certain way. I could look at anyone and not know if they are or aren’t Jewish. You can’t know till you know the person.”

While the typical American Jew, has for centuries, been caucasian, “the times,” as another Hebrew noted some years ago, “are a changin’!”

Israeli law granting instant citizenship to those who make aliyah hasrecently led to an influx of Ethiopians and Indians, two cultures that are often associated with other religions, generally slam or Christianity.

Given that the largest cultural group of Jewish immigrants to the U.S. came from Eastern Europe, it has effectively set the tone of a “jewish look” since the early 1900’s.

According to a new study, demographers Gary and Dian Tobin found in a survey that an estimated 10 percent of America’s six million Jews were non-white. Generally, their journey into the community has been through conversion, adoption, and interracial parentage.

The Tobins themselves adopted an African-America boy named Jonah. Through their experiences raising a child of a different ethnicity, they began to wonder about acceptance and inclusion with regards to Jews of colour.

For 10 years up until Gary Tobin’s death in 2009, the couple began to take their concerns to another level by running a speakers’ series on Jewish diversity. They held retreats for multi-racial Jewish families, eventually culminating in theopening of Camo Be’chol Lashon last summer, home to 25 Jews of colour this summer. .

“Camps transmit Jewish life effectively because they create a unified existence of friendship, independence and positive adult relationships in Jewish space, a calendar built on Jewish time such as Shabbat, and Jewish content,” says Riv-Ellen Prell, a professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota. “These camps succeed because they effectively create a sense of the importance of Jewish life and learning through performance, creativity and physical activity.”

No doubt the happy campers at Camp Be’chal Lashon would agree.

Related articles: Summer Camp, Camp Be'chal, San Francisco
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Camp Be’chal Lashon Creates Happy Campers of all Colours

Jewish summer camp home to Jewish youth of all stripes

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New book reveals the British planned to smuggle estrogen into Hitler's food

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Day 3 of the London riots brings threats to the city's largest Jewish community

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Panic In DC As Starbucks' Schultz Calls For CEO Boycott

Schultz urges Americans to go on strike against their politicians

European Holocaust Education Receives $200,000 Grant from U.S.

Vienna’s Centropa awarded for its innovation

Camp Be’chal Lashon Creates Happy Campers of all Colours

Jewish summer camp home to Jewish youth of all stripes

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