Bay Areas first Jewish camp fair set for Feb. 1

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With parents dashing to investigate summer options for their kids, Orli Rinat has decided to make it easier. The Los Altos Hills resident is presenting a Jewish Camp and Summer Programs Fair to help families research the wide range of possibilities, from local day camps to travel programs.

Representatives from more than 70 summer programs in the United States, Israel, Canada, Eastern Europe and Costa Rica will be on hand at the fair, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 1 at the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. Admission is free.

The event is the first such fair in the Bay Area, according to Rinat.

“The idea came to me because each summer many of my friends and I spend a huge amount of time trying to figure out what summer camps and programs are available for our children,” she said. “So I got some friends together and we organized this fair to help other local families.”

Among the camps that will be represented is Camp Szarvas in Hungary, which began in 1990 This summer 60 high school students will be chosen to represent North America at the camp.

The Atlanta-based Etgar 36 programs will also be represented. Etgar is designed to help American high school students to see America through Jewish eyes, according to founder Billy Planer.

The challenge on this trip is twofold: The first is learning to combine dual Jewish and American identities. The second is confronting the many issues and problems facing America, while exploring their country.

During a five-week bus tour, a group of teens will discuss Jewish history, practice and involvement, and political, social and religious issues that are virtually impossible to get inside a classroom.

Also on hand will be a representative from the annual Summer Jam, presented by Panim: The Institute for Jewish Leaderhip and Values. In the nation’s capital, Jewish high school students from across the country will gather on the campus of George Washington University to explore the connection between Judaism, community service and activism.

Over the course of three weeks, they participate in community service projects, immerse themselves in the study of Jewish texts and values, and gain advocacy training from experts on domestic and international policy issues. Information is available at www.panim.org.

For those interested in traveling to Israel, the Arava Institute for Environmental Science offers innovative college environmental studies programs. Information is at www.arava.org.

Closer to home, Camp Massad in Canada (www.campmassad.ca) offers a Hebrew immersion experience. The camp has been operating for 51 year on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, providing Judaic and Israel-focused programming, sports, arts and scouting.

The fair will also include representatives from Bay Area and California camps and JCCs, adventure programs, academic programs, and specialty and family camps. Job and scholarship opportunities will also be presented.

The event is sponsored by the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, the S.F.-based Bureau of Jewish Education, the Jewish Federation of Greater San Jose, the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay and Planitjewish.com.

The Jewish Camps and Summer Programs Fair takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1 at the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center, Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Information: (650) 941.6532, [email protected] or www.israelcentersf.org/fair-2004.html.