Why your kids (and you) will love Kadimah

Judi Herman
1 July 2018
LJ Today

For Ed and Jess Herman (pictured), LJY-Netzer’s Machaneh Kadimah summer camp was more than just the highlight of the school holidays. Judi Herman asks them to explain why – then she and husband Steve add some parental memories:

Ed says… The thing about Kadimah is that it subtly teaches you about Liberal Judaism and keeps you invested in it. There are a lot of young people now who would not get a Jewish experience without LJY-Netzer in their lives.

My first Kadimah was in 1989, when I was just nine years old. As I got older, Israel Tour, Kayitz Europe Tour and the Shnat Netzer gap year programme followed. And I am still deeply involved in Liberal Judaism today, including serving on its Board of National Officers.

So what did I get out of Kadimah over the course of my life? Firstly, a strong group of friends including a best man. I also learned a lot about leadership. These are all skills I’ve taken into my current working life at a leadership development organisation, via a year as the LJY-Netzer camps organiser of course!

And now when my two-year-old Dylan comes home from Nippers in Northwood singing ‘Bimbam… Shabbat Shalom’ it’s sweet to hear because those were the songs I learned when I was young. I can imagine him going to Kadimah with his sister and I can’t wait for them to have all the wonderful experiences that I did.

Jess says… I couldn’t wait to follow Ed to Kadimah. For an eight-year-old, the journey was quite profound.

It was amazing to be introduced to LJY-Netzer and to what a summer camp is; to being away from my home and my parents; to singing Jewish songs and having Shabbat in that atmosphere; to learning more about my history and identity. It was also important for me to make Jewish friends – and as a pupil at a girls’ school, to meet and talk with boys.

Learning songs was really important, as I later became a song leader. But I also loved all the seriously ridiculous fun, like running around the woods playing games – I remember dressing up as rabbis and all sorts. I also met new people who then became friends for life. I’m now 34 and we’re all still so close.

I went to other events and camps throughout the year and got involved in the wider LJY-Netzer movement. When I became a leader, it gave me a whole new set of totally transferable skills and a whole new level of fulfilment

– and exhaustion!

I learnt a lot about being a youth worker, which I still am today, including about responsibility and boundaries, which will probably also be very useful when I have children of my own.

And then there were the opportunities I had to discover Israel and Europe, as a participant and leader on LJY tours and then on the Shnat gap year in Israel.

Kadimah really is a gateway event to a much bigger part of your Jewish life.

Steve says… Kadimah gave our children a chance to be free and independent at a very young age; to learn how to be part of a community; to understand more about Judaism, particularly Liberal Judaism, in a way that was organic; to think about what they were hearing rather than just taking it on board as dogma.

The whole experience gives children a really good understanding of how to cooperate in a reasonably controlled environment and then to learn how to pass on that level of cooperation and guidance to others as leaders.

Finally, it’s a fantastic opportunity to have some independence at a young age in an entirely safe environment, which is almost impossible nowadays.

Judi says… So what did we get out of Kadimah, apart from a glorious annual fortnight to ourselves with the dog?

The answer is that we got to see our children grow in so many incredible ways that they describe here themselves.

Living close to Junction 5 of the M1, we got to be the hub where Kadimites from all over the country crashed overnight, so we got used to tripping over bodies in sleeping bags at weekends!

We kvelled when our kids confidently led Birchat Hamazon (Grace after Meals) when they were barmitzvah and batmitzvah; and, then, over time, listening to Jess leading singing and both leading services. We waved them off on Israel Tour, Kayitz and then (more tearfully) for the year of Shnat – when we got to visit and share insights into life in Israel.

We are if anything a little jealous because we never had the same Kadimah experience. So don’t hesitate to book your kids in this year. We can assure you that Kadimah brings joy to the whole family.

To find out more about Machaneh Kadimah summer camp, please visit www.ljy-netzer.org/machaneh-kadimah/

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