Archive for 'Holidays'

The Chanukah – Thanksgiving Showdown

November 15, 2013 by , under General Posts, Holidays, Letters from Staff.

Thanksgivukah Storytime with "Theo" Bears & Friends

By: Anna Simon, Community Relations Manager and Menurkey Expert

Menurkey, Thanksgivukah, Thanks-a-lot-a-kah…we’ve heard them all. Everyone is getting involved in the rare convergence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving this year. Whether you celebrate both of the holidays or not, it’s hard to avoid all the fuss. Everywhere on the web, you can find unique and unusual ways of celebrating the holidays. From cranberry applesauce and pecan pie rugelach to websites hawking menurkeys (yes, there actually is a site called and ideas for every imaginable craft on Pinterest, Thanksgivukah is flooding the market….at least in the U.S. Folks who have been deep frying their turkeys in oil for years, have the upper hand this holiday – though they probably use eight days worth of oil for just one day of turkey.

For many people, this is is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as these two holidays won’t coincide again until 2070. Maybe, you should go ahead and purchase that beautiful menurkey for your family so you can pass it down from generation to generation. Ah, Menurkey L’dor V’dor…a treasured and magical family heirloom.  If you don’t take it out of the package and use it this year, you could probably get a lot of money for it in 2070. Antiques Roadshow 2070 anyone? You could use the money to buy the flying DeLorean time machine your great-grandson will inevitably want for Chanukah. Think about it…it might be a wise investment.

So, with all the pressure to have the most Martha Stewart-y, Food Network-Worthy holiday celebration, what is someone who celebrates Chanukah to do this year? Whether you have pumpkin menorahs, turkey-filled doughnuts or a cornucopia filled with dreidels, Chanukah is still Chanukah…the essence of the holiday hasn’t changed (kind of like camp, right? While we have beautiful new buildings, the essence of Herzl Camp hasn’t changed).  So, go ahead and buy a menurkey, make some pumpkin spice donuts or play dreidel for cranberries…It won’t change Chanukah.

Now that you’ve figured out your celebrity chef-worthy dinner menu and your Pinterest-approved decor, what’s next? Do you paint your nails with blue and white turkeys? Do you dress your children up like maccabees and pilgrims? How about we just focus on the gifts? Not everyone gives gifts on Chanukah. Some people give a little gelt. Other people dedicate certain nights of Chanukah to a specific charity and donate money or volunteer. And, yet others may simply share meals with family or friends to celebrate. Whatever you do, we hope you find it meaningful and fun.

If you do choose to give a little something to friends or family members for Chanukah, why not give a gift that reminds them of something that is both meaningful and fun? We have the perfect solution…the gift of Herzl Camp gear! We’re excited to ANNOUNCE (yep, I said it but you can’t throw me in the lake):

 The new Herzl Camp online store is now open!

From adorable Theodor teddy bears and Ultimate Frisbee discs to retro treeline shirts and car magnets, we’ve got something for everyone. We even have our own version of “longs and longs”! Remember, back in the day, when your madrichim would tell you to race back to your tzrif and quickly change into longs and longs for evening program? You would run back and dig through your trunk to find that your entire collection of long sleeved shirts was limited to day-glo colors that were not going to allow you to truly Escape to Israel without getting caught. You no longer have to worry because we sell longs and longs in our store. You can be stealth and look awesome.

Click here to check out the store and start shopping. Note: Items in your order will be delivered in one shipment to your home address. If you wish to provide an alternate address for your entire order (IE, if you are sending a Chanukah gift), email us and be sure to provide your order number along with the alternate address. Items are mailed from our store two days a week.

What? These shirts never came in green! They do now!

Happy Chanukah! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgivukah! Happy Thanks-a-lot-a-kah!
Shabbat Shalom!

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Got Pomegranate?

September 12, 2013 by , under General Posts, Holidays.

Is your home filled with bowls of pomegranates throughout the High Holidays? Ever wonder what makes this fruit so special? Click here to learn more about the magic of the pomegranate.

Having trouble digging all those little seeds out of the fruit? Click here to learn how to quickly de-seed a pomegranate while also wearing your Shabbos whites. Or, you can try the wooden spoon method (though, we don’t recommend wearing white clothing for this one):

  1. Cut pomegranate in half from stem end to flower end
  2. Hold half of the pomegranate (cut side facing down) over a large bowl
  3. Tap the pomegranate skin with a wooden spoon until all the seeds fall into the bowl

Once you master either technique, why not enhance your break-the-fast meal by adding the seeds to a dark chocolate chip cookie recipe, a sweet kugel or even a mixed green salad?

Wishing you and your family a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Cup-O-Joe: I’m Counting On It

April 5, 2013 by , under General Posts, Holidays, Letters from Staff.

By: Rabbi Joseph Robinson, Director of Jewish Education

Editor’s Note: Cup-O-Joe is an on-going series written by Rabbi Joseph Robinson, our Director of Jewish Education.

My family and I just returned from our Pesach (Passover) vacation. It was a great to share in the reenactment of the Exodus from Egypt and spend quality time with family and friends. Throughout, I caught myself wanting to freeze frame on moment after moment. Could I find a way to grab these gems and never let them go? It was going so fast and it seemed as though our long awaited trip would just flitter away.  Weeks of planning and counting down the days were reduced to seconds.

It was not until the second Seder (Passover festive meal) that it hit me…we had been counting down to this trip, but when we got there, we should have started counting up. You see, from the second Seder, we begin what is called Sefirat HaOmer (the Counting of the Omer) which goes until the holiday of Shavuot.  While Pesach is the symbol of our liberation from slavery, Shavuot marks the acceptance of Torah and entry into a covenant with God. During the Omer, we literally count every day, holding onto that feeling of freedom until we are embraced by Torah and God.

Counting up should be our new focus. As we begin the “count down” to the end of the school year, and the beginning of camp, let us also keep in mind the tradition of the Omer. Our thoughts should not just be about moving on to the next thing. Rather, we should hold on to the sacred moments in our lives and begin counting up to them.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Get It? Jokes for Pesach

March 29, 2013 by , under General Posts, Holidays.

Why not share some of these gems at your Shabbos dinner table tonight…you’re sure to get a laugh (ok, they may be laughing at you rather than with you but that’s ok).

Knock Knock! Who’s There?

Eliya! Eliya Who?

Eliyahu Hanavi!

Q: Why do we use a Haggadah on Passover? A: So we can seder right words.

Q: What’s the difference between matzo and cardboard? A: Cardboard doesn’t leave crumbs in the carpet.

A group of leading medical researchers has published data indicating that Seder participants should NOT partake of both chopped liver and charoses. It seems that this combination can lead to Charoses of the Liver.

The Jews are camped in front of the Red Sea. They see the Egyptian chariots approaching. Moses turns to his PR man.

Moses – “Nu, where are those boats you got us?”

PR Guy – “Boats? You didn’t say nothing ’bout no boats.”

Moses – “So what do you want I should do? Part the waters and we can all just walk across?”

PR Guy – “If you can swing that, I’ll get you your own chapter in the Bible!”

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover!

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A Gift for Hanukah

December 7, 2012 by , under Benefits of Summer Camp, Holidays, Letters from Alumni, Letters from Parents.

By: Randi (Bernstein) Lachter

Last week, I met with our Rabbi in preparation for our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. The purpose of the meeting was to review the synagogue’s ritual requirements and rules. The Rabbi had a very detailed checklist that included assigning honors, the synagogue’s kashrut policies, attendance at Saturday morning services, setting up a rehearsal, preparing a drash and finally, continuing the commitment to Judaism after becoming a Bat Mitzvah.

I am happy to report that we passed with flying colors. The most telling moment was when the Rabbi asked about how we were going to keep Sonia committed to Judaism. “Do your kids go to Jewish Summer Camp maybe or . . .” I interrupted (maybe not the best etiquette but passion overtook me). “Are you kidding, of course they go to Jewish Summer Camp!” The poor Rabbi had no idea what she was getting into. I reminded her that when requesting Sonia’s Bat Mitzvah date, I clearly explained why summer was off limits for the Lachter family.  Within a few minutes of describing the power of Herzl, how Eric was a camper from ages 9 – 17 (yes, it’s true), how we both worked there for many years, how we met there, how my dad went there, how my closest, dearest friends are from Herzl and how both of our daughters are now campers, she responded, “You’ve got it covered.”

On my way home, I couldn’t help but reflect on how someone who grew up in Sioux City Iowa now living in Northern California, an area notorious for its unaffiliated Jewish population, confidently passed the Rabbi’s ritual test. The answer of course, is Herzl. I believe that Herzl is the reason we so strongly identify with our traditions, religion and Jewish values.  Our Herzl experiences shape our daily lives and actions in more ways than we know. I can honestly say that not a day goes by without some kind of Herzl moment.

So as Hanukah approaches and we say the blessings each night, I would like to suggest that Herzl Camp is indeed, the best gift we can give to our children. It provides a solid foundation that they will pass on to their children and will help sustain Judaism far into the future.  I am grateful for the dedicated staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to ensure we can provide this gift for many years to come.  Thank you Herzl camp, for the countless gifts you have given to our family. Friendship, laughter and a love of Judaism for Sonia and adventure, fun and excitement for Liza.

I would not trade it for the world. Herzl Camp shaped me, taught me skills I use everyday and provides me a solid grounding to which I can always return.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukah!

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Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

April 6, 2012 by , under General Posts, Holidays, Letters from Staff.

By: Anna Simon, Community Relations and Event Manager

Close your eyes. Ok, wait, don’t really close your eyes. Metaphorically close your eyes. I want you to think about something and really focus on it. So, just imagine you are closing your eyes, Ok? Ready. Go.

What is the meaning of tzedakah…to YOU?

What does it feel like to give tzedakah? Think back to your childhood. When did you first learn about it? Did someone tell you to give tzedakah? Did you talk about spending, saving and donating money in your family? Or, did you learn from watching others? Maybe your parents dropped change into the blue and white metal pushke on your kitchen counter before Shabbos dinner or your older brother had a “save-spend-donate” piggy bank. Perhaps you had extra guests at the seder table because your grandmother felt she must “let all who are hungry come and eat”. Or, maybe your family brought bags filled with canned food to shul with you on Yom Kippur for the annual food drive.

Giving tzedakah as a child or teen can be deeply meaningful and it can also be the spark that ignites a lifetime of giving. This summer, we are helping some of our campers light that spark and get more involved with giving tzedakah. We received a grant from the Jewish Teen Funders Network to create a Teen Philanthropy Board at camp. We receive a small stipend, training for our summer staff, and a curriculum, as well as $1,000 for the campers to distribute to charity at the end of the curriculum.  We are using this to complement our existing B’yachad community service programming where the 10th grade campers provide community service to a variety of local non-profits.  We are very excited about enhancing our community service programming and helping our campers give tzedakah!

This evening, as you gather around your table to tell the story of Passover, think about how you might make a difference in the lives of others. Ask the children and teens around the table how THEY can make a difference in the world by giving tzedakah this Passover. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe they will want to incorporate tzedakah in your seder in the future…a tradition that could be passed down from generation to generation.

Every seder is unique. Every family has their own traditions from the Maxwell House Haggadah or Cajun matzo balls to oranges on the seder plate or a theatrical performance of the Passover story. Whatever your tradition, may you have a happy and healthy Passover! And, may you get through all 1,200 versus of Had Gadya before Midnight.

Shabbat Shalom.

To help your kids learn how to allocate their own money for tzedakah, read “Spending, Saving and Sharing: The Three-Jar System” at Helpful Steps® for Parents.

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