by Eliana Klein, Second Year Olim Fellow

The Olim Fellowship is a high-level leadership program during which first and second year GFC staff members learn from top educators and trainers as well as from GFC directors. Fellows have the opportunity to explore their own Jewish values as they transition from high school to college, Avodahnik to staff member.

Over the course of two years (Summer 2016, Winter 2016, and Summer 2017), fellows travel to the following URJ camps: Coleman, Crane Lake, Eisner, and Harlam. Along with the Olim Fellows from these other four camps, fellows become one Olim Fellowship community, learning from and having fun with one another.

The Olim Fellowship Has Inspired me to…

Learn from those around me

Olim has provided me with a lot of great opportunities. Among the coolest of these opportunities is as an Olim fellow I am able to learn from other Olim fellows that work at other URJ camps. I was inspired to bring the best part of other camps’ traditions to GFC. For example, while having a late-night dance party at Camp Coleman, the fellows from Greene, Coleman, and Harlam swapped some of our camps’ favorite dances. After this most recent retreat, I’m looking forward to bringing back Camp Harlam’s unforgettable version of Eliyahu HaNavi to Greene’s Havdallah services.

Be Audaciously Hospitable

As a camp counselor, I often find myself taking things I learn and subconsciously finding a way to apply it to camp. We often say that camp is our home away from home. As a counselor, it is my privilege to help my campers find a home at camp. At our last retreat, April Baskin taught us the importance of practicing Audacious Hospitality. The URJ is working to institute this on a nationwide level. As an Olim fellow, I am excited to return to Greene this summer and be able to create an environment that excels at audacious hospitality.

Start a Jewish Student Union on my Campus

Until I got to college, I was very involved in my Jewish community. In addition to going to Jewish camp for 8 years, I was on my youth group board all 4 years of high school. My friends had a running joke that I lived at my synagogue. Since there is no Hillel, Jewish Student Union, or Chabad on my campus, college was my first time not being surrounded by a vibrant Jewish community. I did not realize how much I missed the Jewish part of my life until I was standing in services at Olim. This inspired me to start a Jewish Student Union at the University of Northern Colorado. I realized how important my Judaism is for me. Now that Olim is over, I do not want my Judaism to be contained to camp.

Be a leader in my camp community

By being a part of Olim, we have already distinguished ourselves as individuals who want to be leaders in their camp community. Being surrounded by leaders from other URJ camps who share that drive to make their camps better is really inspiring.

Change the world (starting with your community)

Through Olim, we learned that the way to change the world is by starting with our own community. Community organizing utilizes harnessing what people are passionate about to enact change. Like most opinionated college students, there are a lot of things going on in the United States right now that I disagree with but I don’t feel like I have much power to change them. Through a session with Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, I learned how community organizing changes that. Now I know if I can get together enough people who are just as passionate as I am, real change can occur. I think that is pretty amazing.