A message about summer 2020 and COVID-19

posted by on May 18, 2020

Every summer since 1948, anxious and excited Jewish teens, along with passionate and dedicated staff from around the world, have arrived at Tel Yehudah to create our unique Jewish community steeped:

  • in tradition and in newness
  • in seriousness and in silly, ridiculous fun
  • in old friendships and new ones, that will last a lifetime
  • in the Beit Ahm covered in names and along the quiet Delaware River
  • in a love for Israel and in deep abiding faith that we can change the world

I know that in homes like yours across the United States and around the world, there are teens who have been counting the months, weeks and days till they return to TY or arrive for the first time at their new summer home.  And through these uncertain and very hard times, I know that they, and you, have held onto hope that we could find a path to being together this summer at camp.  That was abundantly clear in the feedback we heard in the surveys we sent out last week.

But it has become clear that we cannot safely bring our community together under the current conditions, uncertainty, and local guidelines.  Unfortunately, all of our programs at Tel Yehudah have been canceled for this summer. Along with all of you, the Tel Yehudah staff and board, I had hoped for a different situation and to not be writing this very difficult letter.  While you may have been expecting this news, I know it is also devastating and comes at a time when we are all so ready for some relief and change.

Below is a video that I ask you to share with your teen once you have read this letter.  It may be best to watch this together and to share in the tears and the loss.


While we will not be physically together this summer at TY, our mission has not changed:

Camp Tel Yehudah inspires Jewish and Zionist youth from around the world to experience and embrace the diversity of the Jewish people in a joyful and diverse community while training them to become leaders who effect positive change for the Jewish people, Israel and the world.

Over the next couple of days, we will share with you our plans to keep our community connected to camp, to each other, and to our shared mission this summer, virtually. It certainly won’t be camp, but we will find ways to be physically apart, but not socially and spiritually distant.  We are also holding out hope that there might be some ways to gather together in person, even if only in small groups, later in the summer.

On Wednesday, we will also send a follow up email with financial details. We know that not opening camp has serious financial implications.  In these difficult times, we will make sure to do right by our families. We are also humbly asking for your support, if you are able, in ensuring Tel Yehudah’s future for generations to come.

On a very personal note, I have spoken to many of you over these last few weeks.  We have shared the challenges we are all going through as parents and as human beings.  I am grateful for those calls and the many messages of support.  You have lifted me up and reminded me how fortunate my family is to be part of this Young Judaea community. As our conversations have strengthened me, I look past this extremely hard moment and think about being back at TY in the summers to come.

We will return to Tel Yehudah next summer, and we will look forward to seeing each teen back at TY as a camper, on the way to a summer in Israel or as a staff member.

Thank you for your ongoing support, patience and care.

With love,