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An accessible and engaging treatment of the experience of Jewish summer camps.
This book tells the story of how Jewish camps have emerged as creators of positive spiritual experiences for Jewish youth in North America. When Jewish camps began at the dawn of the twentieth century, their leaders had little interest in creating Jewish spiritual experiences for their campers. Yet over the course of the past century, Jewish camps have gradually moved into providing primal Jewish experiences that diverse campers can enjoy, parents appreciate, and alumni fondly recall. Making Shabbat Real explores how Shabbat at camp became the focal point for these primal Jewish experiences, providing an interesting perspective on changing approaches to Jewish education and identity in North America.
About the Author
Joseph Reimer is associate professor of Jewish education at Brandeis University. He is the author of Succeeding at Jewish Education and coauthor of Promoting Moral Growth: From Piaget to Kohlberg.
“This gracefully written book is an outstanding ethnographic account of how Shabbat is created and transmitted at three different camps, which highlights the power of the quotidian of music, dance, prayer, community, and leadership. Reimer offers a rich and detailed understanding of what learning and education mean in these different contexts that vastly enlarges previous scholarship on summer camps… An especially timely work, as religious life is changing dramatically, and Reimer has offered many insights that should be helpful to anyone interested in how meaning is made and transmitted in religion.”
— Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor Emerita, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota
“From ruach mosh pits to post-havdalah hugs, Shabbat practices at camp differ from year-round Jewish life. This smart, engaging book sheds light on this phenomenon through historical analysis, rich ethnographic descriptions, and beautiful photographs from three contemporary camps of diverse denominations. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Jewish education - and camp alumni who want to take a trip down memory lane (or dirt path).”
— Sarah Bunin Benor, author of Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps
"This book is for anyone who has experienced Shabbat at a Jewish camp and wondered what made it so special. After describing in detail how Shabbat is observed at three different camps, Reimer unpacks the core values of each camp, and the ‘rituals’ that allow some seemingly conflicting values to co-exist. Finally, he brings in key theoretical constructs to explain how lore and ritual intertwine to make Shabbat at camp so memorable.”
— Isa Aron, Professor Emerita of Jewish Education, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion