Jewish Federation of Monmouth County has taken one more step in its efforts to boost Jewish youngsters’ “identity and connectivity.”
This year, its scholarship fund has increased from $12,000 to $20,000, which will enable more youth to take part in Israel travel opportunities and attend Jewish summer camps.
The funds are available for eligible youngsters to attend Jewish day and overnight camps and take part in such programs as March of the Living, mitzva/service trips, and travel to Israel sponsored by area day schools.
Applicants qualified for financial assistance will receive between $250 for day camp and $500 for overnight camp, said Ariella Lis Raviv, the federation’s manager of community impact.
“We think camp is an essential part of building a strong Jewish community, and developing campers’ Jewish identity and connectivity,” said Raviv. “Going to Jewish camp is like a booster shot for an immersive Jewish experience,” she said.
Qualifying camps must be nonprofit programs with a focus on Jewish and/or Israeli cultural and recreational programming, Raviv said.
“The camp must be explicitly created as a Jewish camp. We don’t give scholarships to a camp where even though many of the kids are Jewish, the camp has nothing to do with Judaism,” she said.
Backyard camps that only accept Jewish youth of certain backgrounds are not eligible, said Raviv, adding that she consults the Foundation for Jewish Camp for lists of qualified overnight camps.
“It’s very meaningful to me that federation understands the importance of Jewish camping and how it can make such a tremendous difference in a child’s life,” said Rabbi Avraham Bernstein, director of the Gan Israel Day Camp of Central New Jersey, one of the camps for which scholarships are provided (see sidebar).
For Manalapan resident Rachel Rettig, a senior at Freehold High School, a $250 federation scholarship helped her to attend the March of the Living in April. The annual program brings thousands of students from around the world to Poland, where they explore sites of prewar Jewish life and the Holocaust. On Yom Hashoa, the participants march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
The trip culminates with a trip to Israel for celebration of Israel Independence Day.
Rachel said she “really appreciated” the federation’s help. “I paid for the trip myself, and every little bit of the scholarship money helped,” she said. “Going on the March of the Living was something I definitely needed to do to connect with my ancestors, who endured so much pain and suffering.”
To obtain more information about camp and Israel travel scholarships, contact Ariella Lis Raviv, manager of community impact, Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, at 732-866-4300 x14, firstname.lastname@example.org.