Borya’s First Shabbat

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 1.28.50 PM“My grandmother said I’m Jewish,” Borya whispers, “But she never told me about this nice holiday.”

It’s Shabbat at The Jewish Agency for Israel-sponsored summer camp. Bella is a counselor and Borya, a nine-year-old camper, traveled far from Odessa to participate in the week-long exploration and celebration of his heritage.

“We have a lot to learn from young children who don’t remember Soviet times and are proud to be Jewish,” explains Bella. The children’s enthusiasm is encouraging; a reminder that Soviet Jews robbed of their culture under communism can become part of a thriving Jewish community.

Each summer, the Jewish Agency brings young Jews like Borya from across the former Soviet Union for a week that provides Jewish identity-building workshops and social activities in a relaxed camp setting. Jewish Agency Summer Camps in the FSU create a vibrant sense of community for youth with fragile ties to their Jewish cultural and religious heritage.

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Working with our global partners, Minneapolis Jewish Federation helped over 21,000 campers attend over 130 camps in 20 countries last year. These experiences are helping to reignite Jewish life for children and adults across central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union after generations of religious oppression.

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