Every year, Greene Family Camp is lucky to welcome approximately 35 Israeli staff members to GFC. These staff members are part of a group of almost 1000 Israelis that travel to the United States every summer to work and share in the community of Jewish summer camps.
The Union for Reform Judaism and Greene Family Camp have a close connection to the Jewish Agency for Israel- a quasi-governmental organization which works to spread Israel education and engagement across the world. The Jewish Agency works with communities across the globe. They recruit, train, and place shlichim, emissaries, to work in congregations, JCCs, and of course summer camps. Every summer at GFC we have had Israeli staff members fill a variety of roles in our camp – counselors, specialists, unit heads and many more. Israel is important to us, and sharing our culture of Reform Judaism with our Israeli staff is just as important. You often hear from alumni and campers that having an Israeli counselor is a special treat. They begin learning about Israel and Jewish communities all over the world while they are at camp, and they have a unique opportunity to live with Israelis in our community.
We have been given the unique opportunity to welcome two staff members from an additional global Jewish community. This summer, our staff will include two Jews from the Abayudaya community of Uganda, in Africa. The URJ worked with the leaders of that community to select and train a small number of staff members to join six URJ camps this summer. These participants went through a comprehensive screening process, just like all of our other staff members. We partnered with the Jewish Agency for Israel to help lead the screening process in Uganda, and the Jewish Agency also sent their trained staff members to help guide the process in Uganda and meet each of the applicants. Each applicant participated in an extended interview process, including an in-person meeting with the representative from the Jewish Agency, as well as a skype call with a director at GFC. The selection process also included a multiple day seminar learning about URJ camps, what it means to be a counselor, and participating in workshops to evaluate and improve their skills.
Yoash Mayende and Phincas Emmanuel are joining the GFC community. Yoash has traveled to the United States before, and has actually worked at another Jewish camp in previous summers. He is most excited about seeing and learning from another Jewish community, and visiting another camp in a different part of the United States. Phincas has never been to the United States, but is very excited about traveling. He loves to ride bikes and is looking forward to all the different activities we do at Greene.
Both Yoash and Phincas are very excited to teach about their Jewish community in Uganda, sharing some of their traditions and excitement for Judaism. They are both active members in the Abayudaya Jewish community.
We are very happy to extend our program and community to include the Abayudaya community. I hope you will join us in our excitement and welcome both Yoash and Phincas to the GFC family!