1. 2016

    Day 16 — Haifa

    We went to see the Bahai Gardens and learned about the Bahai religion. We went inside the shrine and had to keep completely quiet out of respect for the holy site. We overlooked the gardens from above and saw the beautiful port city of Haifa in front of us. Next we went to the Umm el-Fahem art gallery where we played with some clay and sculpted some unique creations.

  2. 2016

    Day 15 — North of Tel Aviv

    We departed from Tel Aviv and headed up north. The landscape was very different from the south. We were now surrounded by pine trees, olive trees and bushes instead of desert. Our first stop was the Ein Shemer Eco-existence Ecological Greenhouse where we listened to an eye-opening talk. An Arab-Israeli explained how Arab-Israelis feel in a Jewish country and her relation with Palestine. Their aim is to create bonds between Arab and Jewish kids and mold a future Israel with no stereotypes or preconceptions. The Greenhouse itself had a very nice purpose: kids and teens who have difficulties at school go to the greenhouse and use their imagination to solve day-to-day problems.

  3. 2016

    Day 14 — More Tel Aviv

    We started today off by meeting with a speaker from IGY (Israeli Gay Youth), with whom we discussed how LGBTQ rights have progressed in Israel. We asked our speaker about what life in the army is like for LGBTQ youth and the strides that have been made to create a more inclusive environment.

  4. 2016

    Day 13 — Tel Aviv

    We started our day today at the Shimon Peres Center for Peace.  With an amazing view of the sea, we listened to a representative who explained the mission of the center and the different projects they take part in.  We learned about the various ways the center works to achieve peace between Arabs and Jews in the area.  After the meeting, we headed to Rabin Square, the site where Yitzhak Rabin, an Israeli Prime Minister, was assassinated while attending a rally for the Israel-Palestine peace agreement.  Once we had taken in this historic sight, we headed over for a surprise visit to our counselor Leila’s parents’ apartment.  The apartment had a beautiful roof where we got to enjoy snacks and drinks while overlooking all of Tel Aviv.  

  5. 2016

    Days 11 & 12 — Shabbat

    Yesterday, we visited Moshav Nativ HaAsara along the Gaza border. We talked to a resident of the area and learned what life was like at the Moshav and practiced running to a bomb shelter. We also saw the decorated walls along the border. Next, we went to the Ayalon Institute, where we learned about the secret production of bullets in an underground facility in the 1940s. We shopped at the shuk (market) in Tel Aviv and bought plenty of pairs of "Israel pants" before heading to the hotel. We had Kabbalat Shabbat at the port in Tel Aviv and watched the sunset. Before the end of a long day, we exchanged the gifts we got for our Shabbat buddies.

  6. 2016

    Day 10 — Be’er Sheva

    Today was a relaxing break from the exhausting days prior, such as our hike up Masada and sleeping in the Bedouin tents after riding camels. After waking up around 7:30, we ate breakfast at the Kibbutz Gvulot dining hall. We then hopped on the bus with Issa (the best bus driver ever!) and drove to the desert city of Be’er Sheva where we got to go on a tour of the Chatzerim Air Force Base. The tour was amazing because we saw all different types of Israeli aircraft on display. Some were presented in photograph form but we got to see the actual models of the older planes in an outdoor display area. We even got to enter a real Israeli aircraft to watch a video describing the history of the Israeli Air Force. We even managed to get in a few pictures of us inside some of the old helicopters and planes before we left!

  7. 2016

    Day 9 — Exploring the Negev

    Today we said goodbye to Kibbutz Ketura and went first to Machtesh Ramon (Ramon Crater). We visited the visitors center, and learned all about Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut in space, and about the crater itself, including its ongoing formation over millions of years and the wildlife that inhabits the crater.

  8. 2016

    Day 8 — Fun in the Sand

    This morning we woke up to freshly-made pancakes from the kibbutz. Man, were they delicious!. After breakfast, we spent time with one of the original members of the kibbutz and learned about the different committees (i.e. environment) and the general assembly that make important policies and decisions on behalf of the entire kibbutz. We split into groups and dove into real issues that occurred either at this kibbutz or at a neighboring one. After deciding what we would do in our individual committees, we brought it to our own Asefa (general assembly) and discussed what we would do to solve each predicament. It was a great experience and enlightened us to the behind-the-scenes of such a unique and efficient community.

  9. 2016

    Day 7 — Masada

    What time did you wake up today? We woke up at 4 AM. After a short drive from our campsite to the base of Masada, we started our hike. Thirty minutes and many calories later, we were at the top of Masada. We toured the ancient ruins, sang and danced, and began our hike back down. Strangely enough, the hike down was much, much more difficult than the hike up. After a quick breakfast, we were off to the Dead Sea.

  10. 2016

    Day 6 — Into the Desert

    We departed from Jerusalem and headed towards the desert. After crossing into the West Bank, the group met with teen representatives from the Alon settlement. We discussed topics that ranged from basic facts about the settlement to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. It was interesting to see the similarities that the two of our groups had with each other even though we were raised in very different environments. Likewise, the arguments raised against different ideas were interesting to hear about, and we achieved greater understanding during this meeting.

Camp JRF is now Camp Havaya.

Worry not! We have a new name but, deep down, we’re still the same incredibly diverse and welcoming community where kids explore Judaism in their own ways and become the best versions of themselves.

Learn more about why we chose this name or click through to visit our website. Either way, we can’t wait to welcome you to Camp Havaya this summer!