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The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future

Centennial Fund Reaches to Israel – and Back

July 5, 2011

Ah, memories of Jewish camp. The bonfires, cookouts, and dining room cheers will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Camp as we know it is also one of the most formative tools in helping to raise Jewish children. And what would camp be without responsible counselors who served as true role models for our children?

That's why the Philip Chosky Foundation became a Founder of the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, establishing an endowment to send a mission of local teens to Israel every summer to become better camp counselors at Emma Kaufmann Camp. This year, 48 teens boarded a plane and spent three weeks in Israel, undergoing intensive leadership training, equipping them with the skills they need to return to EKC energized, motivated, and able as exemplary camp counselors.

The program, now in its sixth year, has sent more than 215 young Pittsburghers to Israel, the vast majority of whom have continued to return to EKC staff in subsequent years. Pittsburgh, in fact, was one of the first communities to adopt this model of counselor-training and continues to send the largest contingent of CITs to Israel every year.

Providing these teens with such a transformative trip, the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future Chosky Fund and the Pittsburgh Jewish community are creating a framework within which these youth can form their Jewish identity. By experiencing these formative years bonding with friends and gaining invaluable leadership skills specifically in Israel, Pittsburgh's teens are building secure ties to their roots and are experiencing the very things that make Israel special.

Developed with the JCC Association, the Israel trip includes a week-long stay at Pittsburgh's Partnership 2000 city and region, Karmiel and Misgav, where the CITs receive home hospitality, receive a picture of the "real" Israel, and connect with Israeli kids their own age.

Other highlights include staying on kibbuitzim; workshops about Jewish identity, Israel, and the environment; hikes through the desert and the hills at Safat; visiting the Red Sea; and hands-on archeological experiences.

They've returned to EKC this summer as a tighter, more cohesive group, enhanced as CITs. During the second month of camp this summer, they'll move into bunks with campers and truly immerse themselves in the EKC experience.

For more information about the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, please contact Sharon Perelman at 412-992-5224 or sperelman@jfedpgh.org.