Go fourth!

Go fourth!

Summer camps look for Jewish angle in planning July 4 celebrations

Fourth of July 2011 at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in Wingdale, New York.

While many people will celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and barbecues, many of the Jewish summer camps where area families send their children are looking for more creative, and Jewish, ways to mark the day.

At Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, housed in Wingdale, N.Y., “One of our traditions is to have a camp-wide live concert,” its associate director, Rabbi Amy Roth, said.

This year, Ramah-Berkshires, affiliated with the Conservative movement, is the summer home for about 570 youngsters.

On July 4th, Ramah will welcome back the Brian Gelfand Group, Roth said. She pointed out that the band blends modern musical styles with traditional Jewish themes, frequently concentrating on the relationships between the communal and the traditional – issues that often surface in American Jewish life.

Also, she said, “they know our camp repertoire, so they’ll play a variety of modern Israeli songs together with Americana. One of our big traditions is for the entire camp to sing along as the musicians play ‘American Pie.'”

The camp dining room will be decked out in red, white, and blue streamers, Roth said, and the day’s menu for the day will include tricolored ice pops.

“We’ll have an all-American dinner, with fried chicken and apple pie,” she added, and “a lot of kids will wear red, white, and blue.”

Alan Silverman, director of the religious Zionist Camp Moshava in Honesdale, Pa., said that while the camp does not plan special activities for July 4th, “We basically acknowledge the wonderful experience Jews are presently having in America.”

Silverman said that on Wednesday morning, during the time set aside for announcements, “We’ll talk about the day and mention the fact that, currently, life for Jews has been special in America. One of the most important things in the Jewish religion is hakarat hatov, recognizing the good. We should recognize when good things happen and be grateful for it.”

Helene Drobenare, director of Young Judaea’s Sprout Lake Camp in Verbank, N.Y., said the camp will do two things on July 4th.

First, she said, “We’ll celebrate the independence of the United States and have a barbecue and American sing-along,” stressing the ideas of freedom and heroism.

In addition, the camp will commemorate the anniversary of the raid on Entebbe, a hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Israel Defense Forces at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976.

“We’ll talk about the heroism of the Jewish people,” she said, adding that programming would include “reenactments of different scenarios.”

Campers will also learn about Yonatan Netanyahu “and the importance of the event to Israel and to all of us.”

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