Jewish summer camps are often a staple for Jewish children. As someone who went to a Jewish camp for four years, I can tell you that it was an extremely important part of not only growing up, but of finding my Jewish identity. In fact, some of my fondest memories of camp are the beautiful outdoor Havdallah services every week (the service to end the Sabbath). Interestingly, many of my fellow campers came from intermarried families, and some were not Jewish at all. The camp welcomed campers of all backgrounds, and when I think back on my experience, I don’t think “oh, how integrated!” I just think “wow, those were some great summers.”
Welcoming in campers who either may not have been raised Jewish, or only have a distant Jewish relative, can be a struggle for some Jewish camps. How far back in the generational tree do we go? Can we exclude campers who don’t have at least one Jewish relative? The answer is probably no. Judaism is a culture of warmth and family, not of turning people away. So how can we truly extend a hand to children and even grandchildren of intermarried families?