Camp B’nai Brith of Ottawa (CBB) has been awarded the Goodman Prize for Excellence in Israel Education at Camp – valued at $1,800 – by the iCenter for Israel Education, the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundation.
CBB participates in the Goodman Camping Initiative for Modern Israel History, which helps camps enhance and expand their commitment to Israeli history through dynamic Israel education in all aspects of camp in order to build deep and meaningful connections with Israel for the campers.
CBB Assistant Director Cindy Benedek said she is incredibly proud of how the camp has been incorporating Israel into its programming, and the kids are equally as excited about it.
“It’s really been a wonderful time for us. Our campers are really engaged and enjoying the experiences we’re providing for them,” she said.
According to Benedek, one of the major changes to CBB has been in its Friday night programming, where campers do different Israel-based activities each week after Shabbat dinner. One of these activities is “Israeli Shark Tank,” where campers represent a city in Israel and make pitches to “celebrities” about why they should come to their city. Benedek says this is a great way for campers to learn about Israel while having fun.
Another aspect of CBB’s Israel programming is the hiring of shlichim – Israelis who work in Diaspora communities and then return home – as camp counsellors and as a part of what Benedek calls “the Israel Experience Team.” Benedek said shlichim help infuse modern day Israel into CBB by bringing their everyday experiences to camp.
CBB Board Chair Michael Polowin is happy to see CBB embracing Israel education.
“One of the important pillars that we wanted to build on was our Jewish content, our connection to the community, and to Israel,” Polowin said. “Jewish summer camps are becoming very important as an alternative source of connection to our community … so we needed to improve our programming and we worked very hard to do it.”
Susan Rifkin, executive director of the Goodman Foundation, said CBB earned the award by going above and beyond the initiative’s program requirements by demonstrating a deep commitment to developing leadership, understanding and advocacy.
“The Israel landscape at CBB of Ottawa has changed drastically over the past two years, with the creation of the Israel Experience Team and the use of impromptu, teachable moments to convey an understanding and love of all aspects of Israel,” Rifkin said.
While it hasn’t yet been decided how CBB will use the $1,800 award, both Benedek and Polowin said it will be invested in something that will improve the camp experience.