Jewish Federation holds contest to collect camp and Israel trip memories

This summer, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati held a competition for recipients of overnight Jewish camping and Israel travel grants funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. Campers were asked to submit photos, videos, letters, postcards, or stories; Israel travelers entered by posting photos on social media using the hashtag #CincyIsrael. Participants were entered in a sweepstakes to win one of four iPad Minis. Over 130 photos from Israel were received, along with many letters from kids who attended overnight Jewish camps throughout the country.

“We are thrilled to have the beginnings of a great collection of stories and photos to share that show our own Cincinnati youth enjoying fabulous experiences,” said Pam Geller, marketing director at the Jewish Federation. 

Jessica Whayne, who went on the Mayerson JCC's March of the Living trip, took first place with her photo of women praying in front of the Western Wall. Jessica is currently a freshman at the University of Cincinnati, where she is studying art. 

Runner-up Claire Ruben, who participated in a BBYO Passport trip, submitted a funny photo of a smiling camel. “We took lots of photos of camels,” said Claire, currently an 11th grader at Loveland High school.  When asked about the best part of her trip, Claire replied that she now feels she has a deeper, more personal connection to Israel after having experienced it firsthand.

Both young women are looking forward to returning to Israel with their post-high school Israel travel grants.

The winners of the overnight Jewish camping contest were Jordan Newman and Nosson Freed, who both submitted letters they wrote while at camp over the summer. Jordan, who went to Camp B'nai B'rith Beber, is in eighth grade at Sycamore Junior High School. At camp, Jordan took lessons from a soccer coach from Belgium, a ski coach from Germany, and many Israeli counselors who are former campers. 

“This summer—before his bar mitzvah—was the perfect time for Jordan to have gone to camp,” said his mother. “In addition to learning all the prayers, he matured and gained a new-found confidence. He’s looking forward to returning next year.”

Nosson Freed, a fifth-grade student at Cincinnati Hebrew Day School, was the runner-up. At Camp Stone, Nosson was a prolific letter-writer during his first time at overnight Jewish camp, eager to share with his family all his new adventures, especially his favorite, the water activities. He, too, is eager to return to camp next summer.

His mother recalls that getting his letters almost every day was great. “Nosson is our eldest child and seeing that he was having a good time and thriving at camp made me very happy and also put my mind at ease.”

On Wednesday, September 24, the winners were presented with their prizes by Eric Dauer, the Jewish Foundation’s director of operations, and, from the Jewish Federation, CEO Shep Englander and Karyn Zimerman, overnight Jewish camping and Israel travel grants administrator.

“The Cincinnati Jewish community is fortunate to have the most generous overnight Jewish camping and Israel travel grants program in the world. It is our goal to ensure that every Jewish Cincinnati child and young adult makes full use of these wonderful grants funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati,” said Karyn Zimerman.

“The Jewish Foundation sees these grants as an investment in our youth and in our community,” said Executive Director Brian Jaffee. “Israel travel and overnight Jewish camp experiences are proven builders of Jewish identity and strengthen our Jewish community.” 

For more information about the grants program or to apply for a 2015 grant, contact Karyn Zimerman at or 513-985-1534.


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