What's the Jewish experience like at CYJ?

As a pluralist camp, CYJ-Texas is invested in making camp available to the whole Jewish family. To that end, we make efforts to accommodate campers with more traditional customs. We are home to the largest kosher kitchen in the southwest, with two separate kitchens (milk and meat) and all kosher products. We say Hamotzi and Birkat Hamazon at each meal and require all male campers and staff to wear head coverings during meals and services. On Shabbat, we don't use electricity, write letters, or do artwork. 

All campers will be expected to participate in our daily morning prayers, Shabbat practices, and activities with Jewish educational components. In classic CYJ fashion, these programs will all remain fun, interactive, and accessible to all. Each group has its own Jewish theme and educational activities, which are so fun, the campers don't even know they're learning!

The Shabbat schedule is different from the rest of the week and is a time everyone looks forward to. Friday night, the whole camp dresses up in their nicest "camp clothes" (sun dresses or skirts and tops for girls and a nicer shirt and shorts or pants/jeans for the boys), and we have a wonderful Shabbat service together as a camp community followed by dinner complete with chicken soup, potatoes, and chicken. On Shabbat, all campers can sit wherever they'd like at meals so that they can enjoy their weekend with a friend from another group, a sibling, or a cousin.

Saturday, we offer a variety of different services for our campers to enjoy, including more experiential services like yoga or a nature walk, egalitarian services (traditional YJ service), and an Orthodox minyan.

Our  programs  can be linked to our four core Jewish principles. Though our campers represent the whole spectrum of Jewish upbringings, we believe our core principles can appeal to any denomination of our tribe:

  • Unity: All Jews are part of one family
  • Education: We only gain by learning more—about each other, about the world, and our people
  • Righteousness: We should all continue growing as ethical and moral people, in whatever way we define that
  • Service and Leadership: Every single person who comes through CYJ has the power to make a real difference in the world

We've made deliberate choices in our programming to make everyone feel comfortable and supported. Despite this, everyone will end up doing something they're not used to because no one's Jewish life is identical at home and at camp.

We think that's great! We love when our campers try new things, and we support putting the unity of our family above our differences. It's one of the many things that makes CYJ an awesome place to grow and connect!

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