For Interfaith Families

Your child has a place at our camp. For over 30 years, the Reform Movement has been at the forefront of the Jewish world ensuring a welcoming environment for interfaith families and their children. As Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs has stated, “Creating pathways for Jews and non-Jewish partners to create active Jewish homes is a blessing.”

What happens at an URJ camp? What is Jewish living?

Camp is fun! Our campers experience a great atmosphere, responsible and inspiring adult role models, fun and challenging activities and programs, values not just taught but lived, and multiple opportunities to create strong and lasting friendships.

When you entrust your child to us at camp, they will experience what it is like to live in a completely Jewish environment. Living with the rhythms and calendar of Jewish living gives each child a fuller appreciation of the richness of their Jewish identity and heritage. They are taught the values of charity, justice and kindness. Experience has shown that they will bring these good values home!

Shabbat is one of the biggest highlights of our camp experience. In our 2015 surveys, campers said that Shabbat was one of the top three things they loved most about camp! During Shabbat, the entire camp comes together as one kehillah kedosha, or holy community, on Friday evening for blessings, dinner and song. Campers experience the fullness of a Shabbat celebration both spiritually and culturally. After dinner, everyone gets together on our basketball courts under the stars for one big Shabbat dance party. The energy and excitement of the evening is exhilarating and every single child can be seen enjoying themselves with their newfound friends.

At camp, whether it’s through our Shabbat experience or our daily blessings, each child’s pride in their Jewish identity is nurtured, while respect for those of other beliefs is strongly encouraged.

Will my child feel isolated or different because one parent is not Jewish?

Not at all. Many of our camp counselors themselves are wonderful products of interfaith marriages. Valuing each child as the unique individual they are, with the wonderful attributes they bring to our community, is core to our C.A.R.E. philosophy here at Camp Newman. We work hard to make sure that each child feels fully accepted – and part of that is recognizing them as a full member of the Jewish community whether they have one or two Jewish parents.

Will my child feel embarrassed if he doesn’t know how to do something Jewish?

Camp Newman is a place for your child to further their knowledge of Judaism in an experiential way. Every child who comes to camp brings a different skill set and knowledge of Jewish tradition and practice. They learn from us and from their friends at camp. This is a no-stress environment, where learning the levels of Jewish living is an enjoyable and natural progression.

Will it be a problem if my child has limited or no knowledge of Hebrew?

No problem! Campers pick up Hebrew at camp in an experiential way, learning some basic Hebrew terms, Hebrew blessings and phrases. They enjoy showing off when they return home.

When my child returns home, will she be uncomfortable with my not being Jewish?

Remember that many of your child’s counselors have experience with interfaith families – either their own, their relatives or their friends. We teach each child that the Torah mandates to honor thy father and mother. We emphasize to each child that this teaching is not based on the parent being Jewish – the teaching is based on honoring each parent. Your position as the child’s parent will continue to be sacrosanct. We will encourage the respect you are due as a parent, with no regard to your own religious beliefs.