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The Hiddur Initiative is a new project of the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), aimed at helping camps become more effective at delivering Jewish educational experiences to their campers and staff, in ways that align with each camp’s unique Jewish mission.
Study after study demonstrates that camp works - the influence of Jewish summer camp on the ways in which Jewish adults engage with the community can be felt long after the last sunset of the summer. Over the last several years, camps have taken their educational mandate more seriously by strengthening Judaic programming. Despite this activity, Jewish education across the field of camp is still very much a work in progress with great opportunity for further development. The Hiddur Initiative will create new ways to achieve systemic change and growth in Jewish experiential education at camp.
Participating camps will create stronger, more complete and elevated Jewish experiences for all of their stakeholders. Through Hiddur, senior professionals, program staff, and key camp lay leaders will work with a seasoned organizational coach to enhance their organization’s ability to transmit Jewish values, culture, and tradition in line with their camps’ missions. This initiative will empower camps across the spectrum of Jewish life, to maximize the Jewish outcomes they seek for their campers and staff.
What does Hiddur mean?
The concept of beautifying or enhancing a Jewish ritual by appealing to the senses is called Hiddur Mitzvah. Sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colors elevate our experience of ritual acts. Through The Hiddur Initiative, camps will use all of their senses to create reinvigorated models of Jewish learning and living at camp and all year round.
What are the goals of The Hiddur Initiative?
Beyond camp programming, Hiddur is about creating new ways to achieve systemic change and growth in Jewish culture at camp. The work of each camp will be to focus in on what specific Jewish experiential learning outcomes they want to see in their campers, staff, and camp community. What do they want them to know, value, and do differently after having spent time in their camp? What activities will foster these outcomes? Through identifying answers to these questions, camps will establish and enhance systems by which camps actualize their unique Jewish missions. Hiddur will focus on outcomes in the following Jewish ritual areas:
• Shomrei Adama: Nature and Environment
• Ivrit: Hebrew Language
• Eretz Yisrael: Connection to Israel
• Shabbat: Marking Sacred Time
• Tikkun Olam: Social Justice
• Tikkun Middot: Personal Ethics
• Kavanah: Spirituality and Mindfulness
How it works:
The first Hiddur cohort is comprised of eight overnight camps. The participating camps have committed to a three year process to enhance Jewish experiential education at their camp with the help of a Hiddur coach. The coaches, all seasoned leaders in the field of Jewish camp and organizational life, are guiding the camp in maximizing the full potential of their Jewish mission.
Each camp will form a Hiddur team, including professional and lay leadership, to holistically ensure that the work of Hiddur aligns with and impacts the broader vision of the camp community. The eight camps will participate in a Community of Practice together to share experiences and ongoing results of Hiddur, and to further develop their ability to effectively implement Jewish experiential learning at camp. Camps will also have access to Ignition Grants to fund new Jewish initiatives.