By AVI SHAPIRA
Last August, with only a few weeks left of summer, I was fortunate
to participate in JUF’s Camp TOV, specifically for teens. I learned about the
program through friends who had participated in prior years. Traveling around
the Chicago area with a group of Jewish teens (and with fun counselors!) while
learning about and the wide variety of social service organizations our
JUF/Federation supports seemed like a fun opportunity.
Since I was very little, Jewish values of repairing the world (tikun
olam) and acting with kindness (gemilut chasadim) have been woven
throughout my studies at Chicago Jewish Day School and at home with my family.
Camp TOV gave me an up-close, hands-on opportunity to put those
values to work by volunteering at a variety of non-profit organizations. Together we were able to make a meaningful difference for those in need, and I
was surprised to learn that these organizations are there to help anyone in
need, not just people in the Jewish community.
I also enjoyed Camp TOV because it was a unique opportunity for me
to meet new teens from across Chicago and the suburbs, who I wouldn't have
otherwise had the opportunity to meet. Together with a new group of friends, we
stickered bags at The ARK, sorted books at Bernie's Book Bank, visited with the
elderly at CJE SeniorLife, and prepared food packages at Feed My Starving Children.
My favorite parts were learning about philanthropy and making
phone calls for a fundraising phonathon as well as visiting the Pushing the
Envelope Farm where we learned about caring for our environment through a
Camp TOV gave me a taste for what lies ahead as I consider which
JUF programs I want to be involved in next as a high school student!
Registration for JUF’s Camp TOV and JUF’s Mini Camp TOV is open to
entering 7th-12th graders from metropolitan Chicago. For more information and
to register, visit www.juf.org/camptov.
Avi Shapira is an eighth grader at Chicago Jewish Day School and a
participant in JUF’s Camp TOV program.