Throughout Camp Tavor’s history, counselors and executive directors have come and gone, campsites have changed, enrollment at camp has dropped and risen with the changing tides of Judaism in the Midwest, but Camp Tavor (and its parent camps) have stood the test of time. Tavor’s unique structure and values system, paired with the dedication of its counselors and campers, have created a camp and culture that is endlessly new, relevant, and appealing. It is so interwoven with the fabric of Jewish life and culture in the Midwest that Tavor recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Tavor hosted a 60th reunion extravaganza, during which over 350 members of Tavor’s community came together to celebrate camp and the undeniable influence camp has had on their lives. Campers, counselors, directors, and community members from every Tavor ‘generation’ were in attendance and traveled to Tavor from all over North America and the world to share in the living history of Tavor.
The video “This Land”, created by Tavor alumni, premiered at the 60th reunion. Check out the video to learn about Tavor’s rich and fascinating history and hear alumni reflect on the incredible impact that Tavor has had on their lives. Make sure to read the historical narrative below the video as well to learn about the wider history of Tavor and the camps that came before it.
Check out this extraordinary documentary about the history of Camp Tavor, created by alum, Marc Morgan!
“This land is my land. This land is your land."
Founded in 1935, Habonim Dror (the Builders of Freedom) is a Progressive Labor Zionist Youth movement whose mission is to build a personal bond and commitment between North American Jewish youth and the State of Israel, and to create Jewish leaders who will actualize the principles of social justice, equality, peace and coexistence in Israel and North America. There are branches of Habonim Dror in 20 countries worldwide. Habonim Dror North America (or HDNA) is headquartered in New York City, runs seven summer camps in the US and Canada, provides year-round programming, and plans and runs several different Israel programs.
One of the things that make Habonim Dror and the camps it runs unique is its focus is on youth empowerment. Each summer camp is run almost entirely by a team of four Mazkirut (leadership team) who are usually between the ages of 20 and 22 who have been a part of camp for years and who bring their own unique perspectives and passions to camp each summer. Habonim Dror empowers young adults to take ownership over their summer and to challenge themselves to build each summer from the ground up. Tavor and Habonim camp alumni often cite this focus on self-sufficiency and empowerment as one of the most valuable things they’ve taken away from camp.
“I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without Habonim. Going to camp gave me a place where I felt like I belonged completely – a place that I loved fiercely. When I felt like I didn’t belong in middle school and high school, I always knew that there was this other place where I belonged, where I had friends that loved me. Habonim has also been a huge influence in terms of values and ideology.”
For more reflections about the positive impact of Habonim camps on creating young Jewish leaders, check out this study titled “Building Progressive Zionist Activists: Exploring the Impact of Habonim Dror”.