The History of American Jewish Summer Camps


Thursday July 8

Time (Eastern Time)

5:00 PM  –  6:00 PM


Every summer, millions of young Americans pack their bags and go to sleep-away camp for weeks or months at a time. Among them are hundreds of thousands of Jewish campers and counselors. 

Whether they know it or not, they are participating in a 100-year-old American Jewish tradition, following in the footsteps of the pioneers who first embraced camping in the early 20th century as a way of escaping the city, preserving tradition, and forging a Jewish identity. 

Join the Museum for a program exploring the fascinating history of Jewish summer camps, moderated by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Jacobs will be in conversation with Dr. Gary P. Zola, the Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and editor of the 2006 anthology A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping (co-edited by Michael M. Lorge), and Dr. Jenna Weissman Joselit, the Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies & Professor of History at George Washington University and curator of the 1994 exhibition A Worthy Use of Summer: Jewish Summer Camping in America.