Affirming Tawonga’s Mission in This Moment

Tawonga’s mission up and down the mountain is to foster positive self-esteem in children, create a cooperative community, inspire a partnership with nature through tikkun olam (repairing the world) and strengthen Jewish identity. Tawonga is a community and place where love, support, community and inclusion are the pre-eminent values.  

The Israel-Hamas war has sparked very strong emotions. In this profoundly painful moment, many of us are hurting, angry and sad. We are heartbroken over the ongoing loss of both Israeli and Palestinian lives and are praying for peace and for the swift return of the remaining hostages in Gaza. As a Jewish community, we hold and recognize the suffering of all innocent people. 

Recent tensions within our community are compelling us to clarify that as a Jewish camp, Tawonga has a long and cherished relationship with Israel – with Israelis, with its culture and its language, and with the rich diversity of Israel’s people – and this will continue.

Part of the camper experience is understanding Tawonga as part of a “global Jewish family,” which includes Israel. We build connections to the culture and people of Israel in several ways, including through bringing Israeli staff (“shlichim”) to work at Camp and running Israeli-inspired programming, such as teaching Israeli dance.

Tawonga also has a history of participating in peacemaking efforts between Israelis and Palestinians – bringing an ethnically and religiously diverse group of Israeli campers to Camp; leading Teen Service Learning trips to Israel; and hosting a dialogue-based Palestinian-Jewish Peacemakers Camp. 

Tawonga is a big tent, and our community has a wide range of perspectives at this moment. We want to be clear that any views expressed by individuals in our community are solely those of the individual and do not represent Camp Tawonga. 

We have always valued the diversity of opinion in our community, and we also recognize that thoughtful debate and questioning the status quo is part of Jewish tradition. We encourage Tawongans to seek appropriate forums for this important dialogue, in a respectful manner that honors different viewpoints. We are not a political advocacy organization, and we will continue to focus on planning and running our transformative, mission-centered programs. 

The year-round staff and Board are striving to hold all community members close. We may not always get it right, but we are working to navigate the diverse views within our community with deep listening, kindness and care. 

The Camp Tawonga Team

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