Affiliation Benefits for Children | Reconstructing Judaism

Affiliation Benefits for Children


Camp Havaya

Camp Havaya (formerly known as Camp JRF) is a joyful and welcoming Jewish youth community that transforms lives. This top-rated summer camp provides a fun, creative and inclusive Reconstructionist community for young people ages 7 to17.

Every day, campers enjoy arts and crafts, basketball, canoeing, concerts, dance, drama, street hockey, gardening, hiking, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, a ropes challenge course and much more. Camp Havaya is a place where our children can open up to the possibilities of life—and Judaism—and become their best selves. We provide our campers with countless opportunities to try new things and experience success in ways they never thought possible. We help them discover that being Jewish isn’t something that only happens in a classroom a few hours a week; together they learn that being Jewish is cool, fun and part of everyday life.

A recent addition to Camp Havaya is the Eco-Village for teens which features six round canvas yurts and house bunk beds made of sustainable wood. The deck of recycled planking includes stadium seating which forms an outdoor amphitheater and meeting place for teens to hang out. Nearby, two large, accessible bathhouses with bright yellow metal panels on the outside and eco-friendly modern design elements inside are the result of a successful multi-million dollar fundraising effort.

Every summer, over 400 youngsters come to Camp Havaya from communities across North America, Israel and the world. Our community includes all kinds of families— interfaith, multiracial, LGBTQ and families from all socio- economic situations. On a campus of 120 wooded acres in South Sterling, PA, our staff, campers, and faculty experience a safe and fun summer, make lasting friendships, forge their own Jewish identities and participate in creating a values-driven Jewish culture. Year after year, our campers say that a summer at Camp Havaya is “one of the most awesome and unique experiences ever.” 

No’ar Hadash

No’ar Hadash (“new youth”) promotes innovative and fun Jewish youth programming year round from a uniquely Reconstructionist perspective. Teens from across North America take part in creative activities designed to meet their religious, intellectual, spiritual and social needs. Through No’ar Hadash, Reconstructionist teens generate and participate in programs that are important to them and that speak to who they are as teens and as Jews. In addition to the summer Israel Experience, an annual teen kallah (retreat) offers a wonderful weekend experience in cities that have included New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

No’ar Hadash Israel Experience

Teens who join this unique summer trip to Israel begin and end the experience at Camp Havaya, where they engage in community building. Participants travel to Israel for a month-long interactive experience of the land and the people. They spend time in all parts of the country as they climb, swim, sing, hike, learn and explore. The program includes Shabbat in Jerusalem, tikkun olam projects, experiences with Israeli peers, and discussions of life in contemporary Israel; it also connects the teens with Reconstructionist rabbis who live in Israel.

Related Resources

A Little Text Study for Board Meetings

Monthly, single-page Jewish text handouts intended for short, 10-minute Reconstructionist Torah study at the beginning of board meetings.


Surviving in the One-Room Schoolhouse

In this classic article, Rabbi Julie Greenberg explores successful mixed-age classrooms in Jewish schools. 


Making Our Synagogues Vessels of Tikkun Olam

This article is adapted from a talk at the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Tikkun Olam Kallah, March 2003.

News and Blogs

When the Call Comes, Will Your Congregation Be Ready?

Best practices in responding to congregational inquiries.


Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Education Series

This three-part family education series addresses issues related to bar/bat mitzvah. It is designed for a large group of parents and students and uses active learning exercises. It covers issues around Jewish identity, the meaning of bar/bat mitzvah, and common concerns that parents and students have about the process.

News and Blogs

No Success Without Learning To Fail

“Fail Forward” is the mantra of entrepreneurs. Take risks. You will fail, guaranteed. Learn from it. Once a little smarter, boldly launch again. Entrepreneurs believe, as Robert Kennedy did, “to achieve greatness, you have to fail greatly.”


Building the Jewish Future

Rabbi Sid Schwartz describes a lifetime of building new Jewish organizations that meet the Jewish community’s ever-changing needs.