A fourth cohort of Lekhu Lakhem, a program that prepares JCC-affiliated and independent Jewish camp directors as Jewish educational leaders launched on Monday, Sept. 19th. Lekhu Lakhem, a program of JCC Association and the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is a two-and-a-half year professional development program for Jewish camp directors (and selected assistant directors) jointly sponsored by the two organizations and funded through a generous grant from The AVI CHAI Foundation.
“Lekhu Lakhem differs from most Jewish educational leadership programs in its focus on the process of establishing values and goals rather than acquiring a specific set of tools,” says Dr. David Ackerman, JCC Association senior vice president and director of Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Jewish Education. “Ultimately, the Fellows’ work in the program is learning to imagine and articulate the Jewish society they aspire to for their individual camps.”
The name Lekhu Lakhem is Hebrew for “go forth,” an allusion to the Biblical command (in Genesis 12:1) to Abraham and Sarah to set out on the journey that would lead to the establishment of the Jewish people. The program is designed to lead top camp professionals on a journey that will deepen their understanding and appreciation of Jewish tradition, practice, history and literature. Lekhu Lakhem helps the directors to understand that they serve in their camps as Jewish role models and educators.
In the course of the program, the 20 Lekhu Lakhem fellows attend four, four-day seminars held in camp locations across the United States, plus a 12-day seminar in Israel. Throughout the months of the camp “off season,” they are provided with faculty mentors, who engage the fellows in regular, periodic, small-group study of Jewish texts, conducted via video-conference. The opening seminar was held. Sept. 19th-22nd at the Capital Camps Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA.
The program allows those who have the leadership skills to assume directors’ roles to create a foundation and build their capacity as Jewish leaders, enabling them to have the confidence to pass that learning along.
“From the inside it so welcoming and comfortable, but from the outside the walls seem impassible and foreboding. This is the age-old challenge of Jewish education,” according to Rabbi Avi Orlow, vice president of program and innovation at FJC. “For the camp directors in Lekhu Lakhem who manage their own castles it is crucial that they get through the barrier to see themselves as insiders to Jewish education to ensure maximum impact of all of the campers staff and their families.”
The cohort is the fourth iteration of Lekhu Lakhem for directors of overnight Jewish camps. The first two cohorts, plus an additional group exclusively for day camp directors, were sponsored by JCC Association, and were limited to participation by directors of JCC Associated-affiliated camps. Starting with the third cohort, launched in 2013, the agency partnered with FJC in sponsoring the program, and extended eligibility to directors of independent Jewish camps across the United States and Canada.