Every summer, 1,300 young Jews from 20 countries travel to rural Hungary to attend Camp Szarvas. Funded in part by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a Federation partner agency, Szarvas merges the fun of sleepaway camp with the celebration of Jewish peoplehood.
For many campers, Szarvas serves as their first encounter with Judaism. Founded in 1990 to help Jews in Europe seeking a return to their roots after the fall of Communism, Szarvas continues to help the many Jews still exploring their Jewish identities. Through swimming and Israeli dancing, campfire sing-alongs and soccer games, campers learn about their Jewish heritage and form lifelong friendships that span the globe.
Maya Cimenes, Jewish Educator, Croatia:
“Because of Camp Szarvas, I knew at age 12 that I wanted to work with the Jewish community…This background helped me become a part of the team that worked on opening the first Jewish elementary school in Croatia (and the former Yugoslavia) since WWII.”
Martin Levi, JDC Program Coordinator, Bulgaria:
“[At Szarvas], I discovered that Jews were living not only in Israel and Bulgaria, but in dozens of countries around the world. The Jewish summer camp experience helped me clarify my identity and made me strive for more knowledge about our history and traditions. I will never forget that at Szarvas I had my Bar Mitzvah – an important Jewish milestone that I probably wouldn’t have had back at home.”
Mina Pasajlic, Haver NGO Co-Founder, Serbia:
“I come from a mixed marriage; my mother is Jewish and my father is not….Growing up, I wasn’t really aware that I was Jewish, because it wasn’t something mentioned in our home. Szarvas helped develop my Jewish identity and it affected a lot in shaping me into the person I am today.”