Bring back that summer feeling

By Adina Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea Global

As we turn the page on summer and try to hold on to the final moments of sun,  we feel the shift from pre to post Labor Day (well, at least if you are in the Northeast). For those in the South or West, you are already deeply in the routine of school.

As I head into the office in 94-degree weather, although it still feels like summer, I know that the truth is, my summer is over. For YJ campers each year, the end of summer doesn’t just signify the start of school, it means the end of camp!

This summer, I had the pleasure of touring all seven camps and was reminded again of what is so unique and special about a Young Judaea camp. Let me tell you what I saw.

Unadulterated joy and laughter throughout the day. The playfulness of wearing pajamas all day, making string bracelets, having mud fights, bug juice, cheers and song, and of course the magic of a camp Shabbat. Not to mention the staff are sometimes sillier than the campers (to make it fun for the kids of course…)

I saw kids getting out of their comfort zone to try a new sport, meet a new friend, and challenge their existing perspectives by encountering different opinions.

At camp I witnessed incredible sportsmanship, balanced with healthy competition. While the joke is that we are all winners in Young Judaea, that is actually not true in color war, bikurim, and maccabiah. But most impressive is that the winning teams cheer on everyone else with as much enthusiasm as they cheer for their own win.

Lastly, I saw exemplary role modeling from our tzevet (camp staff). And while this applies to all staff, I am particularly talking about the young seasonal staff who would do anything to make sure that every chanich (camper) has the best experience possible: no camper left behind.

From the early morning wake up rituals to peulot laila tov (good night activities), they are the heroes that make every moment count. And it is only sweeter because they are part of a long chain of Young Judaeans passing on the traditions that their madrichim (counselors) gave to them.

These are just some of the highlights of what I saw at camp this summer. No wonder we are sad to let it go! Perhaps we can hold on to that camp feeling as we go back to our year-round lives.

As we wind up another fabulous season with over 3500 campers, I want to thank…

All the staff who gave their all this summer.

All the parents for trusting us with their kids.

All of YOU for supporting each of our camps and Young Judaea to make these magical summers a success!

See you in the summer of 2024!

Camp Registration is open already with early bird discounts – don’t wait!



Seeking solace through solidarity

By Adina Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea Global

I am writing you not because I have the perfect conciliatory words, but rather because I am at a loss for words and feeling, perhaps as you are, a desperate need to be in solidarity with fellow Young Judaeans. As it slowly sinks in that this is really happening in our precious Israel, that tomorrow will be quite different than today, and that this is only the beginning of a new and ruptured Israel, I feel a deep sense of loss.

As an American Jew in particular, albeit one who occupies herself daily with the pursuit of the Zionist dream through the sacred work of our movement, I feel like a witness, a bystander to what has been happening in Israel and the reality that they/we will have to live with heretofore. Perhaps we will wake up tomorrow and reason will prevail? No, that is fantastical thinking and likely not helpful at this point.

29 weeks of sustained protests by our brothers and sisters in Israel as they took part in a living democracy, broadening the patriotic tent, bringing different factions together under one flag. For what? To what end? And what now?

Not living in Israel, it can sometimes feel easier to turn it on or off, to pay attention or to ignore the headline alerts on my phone about Israel. But I know as well as you that the ramifications of this moment will be felt by all of us, those living in Israel and those outside of Israel. There is no limit to how off the rails this can go at this moment, because without limitation and reasonableness, there will be little justice and balance.

We will all need to become Rodef Tzedek and Shalom – pursuers of justice and of peace.

In just another day, we will enter Tisha B’Av, the timing, uncanny. Whether we equate this moment to a 3rd horban, destruction of the Temple, is still too early to know. But we do know that some of the same forces that are attributed to having caused our earlier historical downfalls, are now at play too. The lack of achdut, Jewish unity and the pervasiveness of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, both are rampant, and we must all take responsibility for that.

I often find it hard to connect to this day, but this year feels different. This year, I am strangely grateful for the timing of this day. Because I feel like I need a day of personal mourning and we need a day of communal mourning. It is tempting to try to find the silver lining and to jump to the comforting words. But we will get there. Soon enough, it will be Shabbat Nachamu and we can turn to the words of the prophets to find our nechemta, our comfort. But not before going through the narrow straits of Tisha B’Av.

Whether it has been your custom to fast or to engage in the mourning practices of the day, I invite you in the 25 hours of Tisha B’Av to find time for personal reflection, to think about the importance of this moment, to feel the brokenness, and to long for a return to our people, a return to Zion, that we may merit it once again.

Hashivenu Adomai elecha v’nashuva chadesh yameinu kekedem.

YJ Alum is awarded the Luxembourg Peace Prize

Recently, YJ alumnus Gershon Baskin, Ph.D. was awarded the “Outstanding Peace Activist” award under the Luxembourg Peace Prize for his continuing efforts for peace in Israel-Palestine. We spoke with Gershon to find out about his current efforts below!

  1. What YJ programs are you an alum of?

I joined YJ in 1970 when I was in 9th grade. I joined the Smithtown Club in Long Island.  It was a new club that year and soon turned into the one of the largest clubs on Long Island despite the relatively small number of Jews in the area. I went to Camp Tel Yehudah for my first time that summer to what was then called regular. In 10th grade I was elected to the Mazkirut of Long Island – we then adopted the name Gesher Shalom. In the summer of 1972 I went to Machon (Bet) and worked in the kitchen in order to stay in Camp. The following year I was elected Senior programmer on the mazkirut and went to MA in the summer and worked as assistant Dairy Cook.  The following year I was elected to be Mazkir Gesher Shalom. In Dec. 1973 we had national convention in Israel for the opening of Kibbutz Ketura. I worked in the kitchen the whole summer as Dairy cook I went on Year Course – section 2 in 1974-75.

After YC I worked as Dairy cook in alef.  I did my first year of University at Tulane in New Orleans and work with YJ down there.  The following year I moved back to NY to live together with our group from Year Course in a Bayit on the Upper West Side.  I was Senior Program Director for Long Island YJ.  I worked one summer as dairy cook in Sprout Lake – its first summer and my last summer in the States I was a merakez in Camp Judea Michigan (summer 1978). I made aliya in September 1978.

  1. Tell us a bit about your career.

You can read it all in my bio:

Gershon is the Israel/Palestine Director of the Holy Land Bond ( and the Middle East Director for International Communities Organization – Middle East (ICO)

He was the person responsible for the secret direct back channel between Israel and the Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilead Schalit.

From 2012 until 2020  served as Country Manager for Palestine in Gigawatt Global working to develop mid- and large-scale commercial solar energy projects Palestine.

From 1988 – 2011, he was the Israeli Co-Director and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) – a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think- and “do”- tank located in Jerusalem.

During the Premiership of the late Yitzhak Rabin, he served as a special advisor on the Israeli- Palestinian peace process to a secret team of intelligence officers established by Mr. Rabin.

Since February 2005, he has a weekly column in the Jerusalem Post. His weekly column is also published in Arabic in the Palestinian daily newspaper AlQuds and in Hebrew on a news and opinion website D’

He holds a Ph.D. in International Affairs from University of Greenwich. His dissertation was on Sovereignty and Territory in the Future of Jerusalem, parts of which were published as a book Jerusalem of Peace.

Baskin’s book In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine was published by Vanderbilt University Press.

  1. Yasher Koach on this prestigious award! We would love to know more about your current activities in making peace in Israel.

Other than being a Jerusalem Post columnist since 2005, my weekly columns now appear in Arabic and Hebrew as well.  My work is through a British based Non-governmental Organization called International Communities Organization – ICO -which is accredited by the UN and works in conflict zones with frozen or failed peace processes.  I am running 3 secret back channels between some very important Israelis and Palestinians -preparing today for tomorrow. And through the impact investment fund we created under the name The Holy Land Bond to invest in housing for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, to create possibilities for Jewish Arab integrated housing in Israel’s mixed cities, and to support Jewish Arab joint tech ventures.

  1. What if anything about Young Judaea may have led you to where you are today?

YJ taught me that moving to Israel was not a change of address, but a change of essence – our lives have to be meaningful in terms of making Israel a better place.

  1. Do you have any advice for YJ teens today on how to get involved in peace activism in Israel?

Contact me.




YJ Teens Regional Updates

June 2023

So far Empire has had a fantastic year. We started 2023 with the BEST event EVER for Empire Cupcakes for a Change. We had a cupcake designing context as well as an educational program about women leaders. That event and all events to come will further create new friendships as well as make bonds between people stronger. For now, the next event is Northeast convention! We hope to see you there! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @empireyoungjudaea to be updated on events and DM us if you have any questions!

Hi Young Judaea! New Jersey has had a splendid year! We started it off with the annual Northeast Kickoff in NYC’s Central Park! We had an amazing NJ turnout, and we had fun playing icebreakers and different games to really get people involved and excited. Next up for Jersey was the Pins for Presents at the North Brunswick Bowlero, where friends came to bowl and learn more about the spirit of Hanukkah. The very next day was the Shine A Light Rally, where we stood up against antisemitism and showed that we are proud of who we are. Since then, we have been hard at work, brainstorming new events and activities for Young Judaeans to participate in and have fun with, all while learning a thing or two about their faith and culture.

LINYC has had a fantastic year! We have been able to bring the YJ community together three times starting off with a bang with Northeast Kickoff. We hung out in Central Park, playing games and bonding. To celebrate Hanukah we had Latke Paloozah on Long Island. We had so much fun playing Chanukah themed games and attempting to make latkes. Finally, we recently had an ice skating event where old and new Young Judaeans had the opportunity to connect. Currently, the LINYC Maz is working on programming for Northeast Convention. LINYC is so excited for the future and can’t wait to continue this year’s journey.

Midwest has had a busy and exciting beginning of 2023! The Midwest Mazkirut worked diligently for months to plan an impactful Midwest Convention. During the weekend, over 40 participants came and took part in educational and engaging peulot led by their peers. The peulot focused on themes such as consent, building community, and learning from our mistakes. Also during the weekend, we had our annual Asepha in which we elected our new Mazkirut members for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. We have so many fun ideas for the new year and can’t wait to share them with everybody!

Judaeans for Generations: An Interview between Father and Daughter

An interview between Stu Stein and Gabriella Stein

Stu Stein was a chanich at CYJ Sprout Lake and Tel  Yehudah. He has been the Kitchen Manager at Tel Yehudah since the late 80’s.

Gabriella Stein is from Long Island and was a chanicha at CYJ Sprout Lake and Tel  Yehudah. She served as the Long Island/New York City Borgrim Programmer and is the current Chavurah Programmer on National Mazkirut.

Questions for Dad: 

1. What year were you in Young Judaea/what was your participation like?

I started in camp in 1979 as an offie at Sprout Lake.  I then got to TY in 1985 (got my name on the Beit Am wall as a “meemer” as I believe you call them now). I went on Year Course in 1989-90 and I’ve worked on and off again (more on than off) at TY over the past 30 summers.

2. Were you on Maz?


3. What kept you in young Judaea?

YJ was my home, it was where my friends were it was where I went to have fun.  YJ was a lot different when I was growing up than it is now.  There was less competition from outside interests.  They didn’t really exist.  Instead, we had weekly club meetings and regular conventions and we able to spend more time with each other than the kids today can.

4. Did anyone before you do YJ?

Not in our family.  My mom was in Hadassah and that’s how we learned about it.

5. Why did you choose to send your kids to YJ and not another, bigger Jewish youth org?

That’s easy.  I never really left Young Judaea.  Gabriella was “walking” around TY before she could even walk.

6. How has YJ changed throughout the years and how do you feel about the changes?

YJ has evolved with the times.  The things YJ chooses to focus on has changed with the changes we see in society.  It focuses on the issues that matter to the teens that make up the membership.  That’s always been true about YJ.  What I’ve always loved about YJ and camp, TY, Sprout, Texas, it’s that we reinvent the place each summer.  Each person that comes to camp brings with them their own likes and dislikes and talents and plans and together we all the campers, the staff, the head staff, we all reinvent the place and no summer is ever the same as the summer before or after.  That’s pretty special.


Questions for child:

1. What is your experience in Young Judaea (junior camps, maz, etc.)?

My experience in Young Judaea began in 2013 when I started my first summer as a camper. From that summer on, I was hooked. I have been going back every year since. I even joined a few sessions of TY-fi! Last year I was on the LINYC regional mazkirut and this year I am on the National Mazkirut, and I am so grateful to have had both opportunities. Through Young Judaea I met my closest friends, connected myself to my Jewish identity, and strengthened my leadership skills.

2. What connection do you feel to YJ? Is it a strong connection?

To say that I have a strong connection to YJ would be an understatement. YJ is a huge part of my life. I couldn’t imagine myself not being connected to this organization

3. YJ has gotten smaller since your dad was in YJ, what made you stay? 

I think the fact that this smaller organization is the one I grew up with has something to do with it. Until I learned what YJ used to be like, this was just the norm for me. The main reason I continued to come back was because, as cheesy as it sounds, it became a home for me. As each summer came, there was never a “hey Gabriella, do you want to go back to camp next summer?” conversation. I stayed for the people, the environment, and because I would have cried for days if I wasn’t able to return (needless to say, the Covid summer was a rough one in the Stein house.)

4. How has YJ changed during your years? 

During my time serving on Maz and being involved in Year Round, I would say YJ has stayed fairly consistent. Most events we had a fair number in attendance. This year is where I am really starting to see things change, maybe it is just the shift in perspective from a younger camper to an older camper and now staff.

5. Do you plan on sending your kids to YJ?

Is that even a question??? Without a doubt yes. If my future husband doesn’t wish to send the kids to camp he will be the one getting sent away. And it wouldn’t be to a summer camp.

6. Favorite YJ memory?

One of my favorite stories and memories from my time in YJ is my firefly story. My friends know this story like the backs of their hands because of how often I reference it. This story takes place in my second or third year at Sprout Lake. Our counselors had arranged for us to “sneak out” one night (it was like 8pm), and they sent us out in shifts. We snuck quickly and quietly to the grass behind the BK (Beit Knesset). I don’t think I had ever felt so sneaky, and I don’t think I will ever feel that sneaky again. Our counselors told us we were there to catch fireflies. So we had fun quietly trying to catch as many of the little creatures as we could. If you have recently been to Sprout, you know that all throughout the day there are Gators driving around camp. At night, that is no exception. So, every few minutes a Gator would roll by and our counselors would quietly yell “GATOR! DOWN!” and all of us would drop to the floor. Now looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t assume all 40 of us were invisible to eye of the Gator’s driver, but that’s camp magic for you! After some firefly-catching-fun we were told to sneak back to the bunks. We crept home and made it back safely (PHEW!) As each of us were getting back into our beds one of the upper staff members charged into our bunk. We were scolded. Humiliated. I swear girls cried. Once we were at our most emotionally vulnerable, after being ripped apart for our mistake by a scary man who was probably at least 2 and half times our size, in walked HB. “Just kidding! We brought Oreos!” Everytime I tell that story it makes me want to smile. I found my home that night.