YU Israeli Summer Camp Service Learning Initiative to Serve 300 Underprivileged Campers
The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) announced today that its Counterpoint Israel Program, a month-long service-learning initiative that aims to empower the next generation of Israeli youth via an exciting, Jewish values-driven summer camp experience, has tripled in size with the addition of three new camps in Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi.
With the program returning to the communities of Arad and Dimona as well, Counterpoint Israel will serve 300 Israeli campers from varied socio-economic backgrounds in five student-run camps from July 3 – August 5.
Support for this year’s Counterpoint expansion is being provided by Keren L’Yedidut (The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) and the Jewish Agency.
“I am very proud of the young Jewish leaders who took part in these summer camps which really impact hundreds of children in Israel’s southern periphery,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of IFCJ. ”As a graduate of YU, I’m glad to see the University continue to encourage the next generation of the Jewish community to take an active role in strengthening Israel and its population.”
Now in its seventh year, Counterpoint Israel will be staffed by 70 undergraduate students from the U.S., Canada and South Africa. A group of 10 post-high school students enrolled in gap-year programs affiliated with Yeshiva University’s S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program will assist as well.
As in past years, the Dimona program – run with additional funding by Repair the World and Sharon and Avram Blumenthal – and the program in Arad – run with additional support from the Jewish Federations of Central New Jersey and Delaware and the Fisher Family Foundation – will include enrichment classes given in English and workshops in arts, fashion, music, dance and sports, all with the goal of improving the students’ English skills while promoting a positive self-image and traditional Jewish values.
“The Counterpoint initiative has proven to be one of the most effective and powerful tools in educating and empowering Jewish youth in the Negev, impacting entire communities and preparing YU students to be future Jewish leaders,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF.
“Counterpoint continues to grow and succeed due to the truly unique atmosphere it creates. It fosters an environment in which young, underprivileged Israeli students feel loved, accomplished and comfortable enough to open up to new people and experiences, and gives our counselors a chance for self-discovery and the opportunity to hone their skills while taking on the roles of Jewish change agents.”
Because they serve a different segment of the population, the new programs in Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi will focus on providing structure and continued education opportunities to local youth at risk who need to improve their academic standing and stay out of harm’s way during the summer months. Working in conjunction with the respective municipalities and the Ministry of Education, Counterpoint has arranged special educational incentives for all campers participating in the program.
“Counterpoint Israel has become an integral part of the lives and Jewish identities of the teens in Dimona and Arad and an educational lifeline for the cities’ municipalities. The CJF realized that it needed to do something to make sure that this trend not only continued but reached as many students as possible,” said Shuki Taylor, director of CJF’s Department of Experiential Jewish Education.
“Though this new element – working with youth at risk, largely from Ethiopian and Russian communities – brings many challenges with it, we are confident that the Counterpoint ‘magic’ will prevail and the rewards will be great for Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi and the global Jewish community.”