[JDC Jewish Service Corps Fellows Rachel Feuerstein-Simon and Geraldine Gudefin are serving this year in the Jewish community of Mumbai. They just returned from a youth group summer camp, where they organized and led camp programming. You can read more from Rachel on her blog, Mumblog.]
Camp is a critical time for the Indian youth to bond, attend learning sessions and grow with fellow members of the Jewish community, as the chaos of everyday life in Mumbai usually prevents.
From May 13 to 17, the Jewish Youth Pioneers (JYP) – the Indian Jewish community’s youth group – conducted its bi-yearly Youth Camp. The camps are planned in collaboration between the JDC Jewish Service Corps members and the JYP committee, and we have to say it was a resounding success.
The camp is a five-day retreat where Jewish themed learning sessions and discussions take place. This summer’s camp was themed “Gadna,” and included a series of Krav Maga and security trainings.
While the Indian community is unique in its historical absence of anti-Semitism, the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai alerted the world and Indians at large to this tiny fraction of society. Because of this, an awareness of security issues has arisen that was previously non-existent. The camp focused on why this security is now a necessity and examined Jewish security within the framework of the global Jewish community.
Beyond the physicality of camp, there were a series of sessions conducted on all aspects of life in Israel, ranging from debates on religiosity versus secularism, to mock Kibbutz activities. The Indian community lacks formal and informal Jewish education, making retreats like this crucial to the Indian Jewish identity. It was touching for us to see the knowledge gained by the participants after just four days and the appreciation gained for Israeli society. It’s sad that this was our last Youth Camp with the JYP, but we are elated by the results and turnout of the camp!
courtesy of JDC Jewish Service Corps