Israel History program benefactor visits JCC Camp Chi

Benefactor Larry Goodman, of Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Chicago’s Camp Chi overnight camp in Lake Delton, Wisconsin, recently visited the camp to witness firsthand the progress of young emerging leadership benefiting from the innovative Goodman Modern Israel History Program. The program, now in its fourth year thanks to generous multi-year grants from the Goodman Supporting Foundation, incorporates experiential learning about modern Israel (1900-present) into camp life, strengthening campers’ connection to the Jewish state and their identification to the people of Israel.

The visitors included Larry and Lillian Goodman, their daughter, Nancy Goodman, and grandson, Nathan Goodman, Karen Goodman Minter, Director of Communications of the Goodman Philanthropic Foundations, Jennifer Jobrack, Executive Director of the Goodman Philanthropic Foundations, Mike Elkins, Executive Director of the Cebrin Goodman Center, Caryn Rosen Adelman, former Director of the Goodman Family Foundation, Jay Tcath, JUF’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, and Marty Levine, JCC of Chicago’s General Director.

The beneficiaries of the program and JCC Camp Chi’s motivated leaders, engaged the visitors throughout the day with activities inspired by the Goodman Modern Israel History Program, hosting them in the camp’s Israeli Village and Israeli café. The Village is the physical and spiritual heart of the program, providing the feel of a real Israeli experience at JCC Camp Chi.

The visiting group interacted with the campers while they demonstrated team-building exercises developed around the Jewish values of leadership, teamwork, community, kindness, and courage. A group of older campers and shlichim, Israeli counselors, engaged in a bridge-building dialogue about the similarities and differences of being a teenager in Israel and the United States, in order to demonstrate how the outlook and presence of these counselors from Israel enhances the depth of the Goodman Modern Israel History Program.

During his visit, Goodman particularly enjoyed interacting with the campers throughout the day in the Israeli Village and being able to learn about how the program has directly impacted their interest in and connection to Israel. Meeting the shlichim who are directly involved with the Goodman Modern Israel History Program served to reinforce how much their outlook and presence enhances the program.

The success of the Goodman Modern Israel History program at JCC Camp Chi has inspired the development of a national effort through the Goodman Family Institute, Yisrael Sheli (My Israel) Teen Program of Israel Education and Experience, a three-year JCC resident camp curriculum aimed at enhancing teens’ knowledge of, familiarity with, and emotional attachment to the State of Israel. The pilot program was implemented for 9th grade campers in three JCC camps during the summer of 2008. This summer, the program expanded to nine other JCC camps.

“The Goodman Family Foundation has been the backbone of this unique, creative, and vital program throughout the country that impacts thousands of teenagers,” said Ron Levin, Director of JCC Camp Chi.

The new grant awarded to JCC Camp Chi this year includes provisions for the expansion of the curriculum to include 7th and 8th graders, as well as the continuation of the initial 9th—11th curriculum. The initial grant, awarded in 2006, stimulated the construction of the Israeli Village, which includes a Western Wall replica, Bedouin tent, native Israeli vegetation, and a giant map of Israel. “The program has been an outstanding opportunity to connect teens to Israel through informal and experiential education,” said Levin. “The cool thing is to see how positive the reactions of the campers have been to the program and the enthusiasm it has generated for hundreds of teens each summer.”

The Goodman Modern Israel History Program is an outgrowth of Jewish United Fund’s (JUF) Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)/Hillel Israel Initiative, which works in Illinois to educate high school and college students to become lifelong supporters of Israel. Carl Schrag, former editor of the Jerusalem Post and an Israel educator, developed the curriculum in collaboration with JCRC and JCC. A dedicated professional educator-in-residence works with the camp staff, including a dozen Israeli Shlichim to integrate Israel education into the daily schedule.

“The innovative Goodman program is an essential part of our community’s ever-widening platform of integrated Israel education and advocacy efforts,” said Jay Tcath, JUF’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs. “From summer camps to high school Israel Clubs, and from working on campuses with students to working with faculty and university presidents, JUF has created the nation’s most robust menu of Israel advocacy programs designed to prepare students for a life of education and action for Israel Only in its fourth year, already many ‘alums’ of the Goodman JCC Camp Chi program have gone on to become Israel advocacy ‘stars’ on campuses throughout Illinois and the country.”

During this visit to JCC Camp Chi, the Goodmans were able to observe the Program in action and see firsthand the success of the program and the teenagers benefiting from their generosity. The two multi-year grants from the Goodman Supporting Foundation have ensured that hundreds of campers receive the opportunity to learn about and form deep connections to the Jewish state, its history and its people, thus creating a generation of informed supporters who can counter unfair portrayals of Israel in the classroom, campus, the media and beyond.

About Larry and Lillian Goodman
The Goodmans have always been dedicated to the State of Israel and the Jewish community. As founders of the American Friends of the Be'er Sheva Foundation, Larry and Lillian work to enhance the quality of life of Be'er Sheva's residents, funding several projects in Be'er Sheva.

Larry, who was born and raised in Chicago, serves as National Chairman of the American Friends of the Be'er Sheva Foundation, chairman of the Midwest Region of Israel Bonds, chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Goodman Research Institute for Children and Adolescents and past chairman and executive board member of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Larry also serves on the board of governors of Ben Gurion University, and as a board member of the joint Distribution Committee, the Chicago Federation and the Development Corporation for the State of Israel.

Lillian, born in Michigan and raised in Chicago, has been involved in the Israel Bond Campaign for the last forty years, chairing the Golden Harvest Dinner Dance and the Ambassador's Ball.

About Jewish Community Center of Chicago
JCC Chicago has served Chicago and its suburbs for 105 years, bringing Jewish values to life by offering a wide array of contemporary life-enriching programs and services. JCC ensures that all programs, early childhood, year-round children’s programs, summer camps, sports, and adult programs, embody the Agency’s commitment to preserve and enrich Jewish life and strengthen the community through dynamic life-enriching experiences. JCC offers cultural, educational, social, and recreational programs in full-service community centers, early childhood sites, and day camp sites throughout the Chicagoland area and at JCC Camp Chi overnight camp and Perlstein Resort and Conference Center, both in Wisconsin.

JCC is a partner in serving our community and receives support from the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Connect with us

Sign up for our weekly newsletter featuring issues and events in the Jewish world.