We’re beyond sad to say that we won’t be gathering in-person this summer for any of our Havaya Summer Programs (Camp Havaya, Havaya Arts, or Havaya Israel).

Even if this doesn’t come as a complete surprise, we know many of you will be as devastated to read this as we are to write it.

A lot played into this gut-wrenching decision. When we first sat down to write a note to families, we thought about outlining all the values we considered and all the reasons why we know this is the right path forward for us. But, ultimately, we realized it all boils down to Hippocrates’ famous phrase: “first, do no harm.” Running camp this summer could put our campers, staff, families, and communities in harm’s way – both physically and emotionally – and that’s simply not in keeping with our values. While there are lots of compromises we’re willing to make, our kids’ safety isn’t one of them.

There are those who will ask why we couldn’t have waited longer, to see if anything would change. The answer is simple: It’s not fair to our kids. Stringing them and their families along just isn’t “how we be.”

So … what’s next?

We’ve pulled together some resources to support parents as they talk this all through with their kids.

In mid-July, we ran more than 100 camp-style programs! There were chances to sing and dance, hear stories, play games, cook food, get moving, be creative, and more. We started most days with an aseyfah (gathering), celebrated Shabbat together each week, and had opportunities to learn and play with some of our favorite staff members. Stay tuned for our plans for the fall and beyond!

One more thought:

There’s a Jewish tradition that teaches about yeridah letzorekh aliyah – going down for the sake of coming back up. This is definitely one of those moments. In the midst of our grief, we know that it won’t always be this way. Our loss now will only make future summers sweeter. This is the yeridah, the low moment – and we can’t wait for the aliyah, for the countless ways we will rise together in the days, weeks, and years to come.

Camp JRF is now Camp Havaya.

Worry not! We have a new name but, deep down, we’re still the same incredibly diverse and welcoming community where kids explore Judaism in their own ways and become the best versions of themselves.

Learn more about why we chose this name or click through to visit our website. Either way, we can’t wait to welcome you to Camp Havaya this summer!