Discovering Faith with Your Children

We believe that discovery, learning, and self-realization are not experiences reserved for children. Wondering how to facilitate these opportunities for spiritual and personal growth? Here are some suggestions:

        Ask and Answer Questions: Questions are a vital tool that little ones use to unpack, and make sense of, the world around them. Encourage this curiosity in your children by welcoming questions about life, God, and morality. If and when you find your child asking question such as, “Who made the world?” or, “What happens when people die?” don’t try to change the subject, but walk with them through the question. Ask them why they want to ask such a question and what they think the answer might be. Tell them what you think is true, and maybe take some time to look at the Bible with your kids to see if you both could discover new answers there. It is amazing what truths we can find in places such as the Bible that we think we know all about, but might actually have many misconceptions. Taking time to find answers is not only a great bonding experience, but a chance for you to grow and solidify your own beliefs.

Voyage in Faith: If you don’t feel you have found the ultimate spiritual truth, don’t give up! Set sail with your youngster across the sea of different churches and synagogues, all the while looking for that truth of life that will satisfy the hearts of you and your child. Your children will enjoy attending services and holiday events that shed light on those “big questions” floating in their minds (and let’s be honest, yours too). And, always remember, Jews for Jesus provides many opportunities for you to discover and learn along with us throughout the year.

Don’t Go it Alone: Ever hear that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, that saying couldn’t be truer!  We believe we were made to live in community and rely on others for help, support, and guidance. More likely than not, your kiddos are constantly seeking community, through making friends at the park or talking way too long to the clerk at the bodega. Join your children in their desire to seek community and find others who are on a similar journey of spiritual discovery. Find a friend to bounce ideas off of or visit a church with. Maybe even talk to someone who feels assured in their beliefs and have them lead you through their expedition of faith. Coming along side you is what we do best at Jews for Jesus. Our staff would love the opportunity to join you and your child as you look for and discover the truth about life, faith, and God. Just ask!

Happy Holidays!


Books for the holidays with Jalapeno!

Jalapeno has a kindergartener (Gato) and a new walker (Spitzy Pluto) at home and she wanted to share some of their favorite books for this time of year. We think they’re great whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas for the 1st or 50th time!

Here are some fun and educational books we suggest you read with your little one:

 For Hanukkah We Suggest:

“The Story of Hanukkah” by David A Adler

No celebration of Hanukkah would be complete without recountng the events of more than two thousand years ago that the holiday commemorates. In a simple yet dramatic text and vibrant paintings, the story of the courageous Maccabees and the miracle that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem is retold. For readers who want to continue the festivities, a recipe for latkes and directions for playing dreidel are included. (From:

 “Hanukkah!” by Roni Schotter 

Say “Happy Hanukkah!” with this joyful story of one family’s holiday celebration, from spinning dreidels to cooking yummy latkes to lighting the menorah together. With sweet, lyrical text and warm illustrations, this is the perfect way to celebrate the festival of lights. Includes a sticker sheet in the back! (

“Where Is Baby’s Dreidel?” by Karen Katz

 It’s Chanukah, and Baby wants to spin the dreidel–but where is it? Children can lift the flaps to find Chanukah symbols while they join Baby  in this fun-filled, hide-and-seek adventure. A wonderful Chanukah treat for babies! (From:


For Christmas We Suggest:

“Christmas in the Manger” Board book by Nola Buck

The gentle beauty of the story of the first Christmas is now available as a board book. With a simple, lyrical text and radiant artwork, this book is perfect for the youngest child to be a part of the wonder of the Nativity. (From

  “God gave us Christmas” by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that…
Jesus is the best present of all. (From

When Jesus Was Born”  Jesus is born! Join Mary, Joseph, Gabriel, the shepherds, and the wise men as they rejoice in the birth of Christ. Flaps that open on each page encourage children to interact with the story as they learn more about the part each person played in the celebration of the Savior’s birth.

Books that Cover Both Holidays:

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming” by Lemony Snicket

Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights


Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas” by Margaret Moorman

Every December, Emma and her family celebrate two special holidays. First comes Hanukkah, with dreidel games and lighting the menorah. Then comes Christmas, with carols, bright lights on the tree, and presents for everyone! (From:

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama” by Selina Alko  

Holiday time at Sadie’s house means golden gelt sparkling under the Christmas tree, candy canes hanging on eight menorah branches, voices uniting to sing carols about Macabees and the manger, and latkes on the mantel awaiting Santa’s arrival. Selina Alko’s joyous celebration of blended families will make the perfect holiday gift for the many Americans who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. (From

We hope this season is one of celebration and learning for your whole family!


RedSox and Jalapeno

Inaugural Alumni Excursion: Report from Sitruce

Hey Camp Gilgal, Sitruce here! 

I hope everyone is doing well and getting excited as the holidays are approaching quickly! About a week ago we had our first ever Camp Gilgal East Alumni event! It was the first weekend in Nov, and a little last minute but a HUGE success. There were 11 people in all that came. We met up in East Stroudsburg PA, which is very close to where adventure camp was this summer. We rented two really cute and cozy cabins for the night. Twister made some delicious butternut squash with tahini and pine nuts and we also had chicken and quinoa, so we feasted deliciously. By the time everyone arrived it was already pretty late so we spent some time together outside by a campfire just talking and catching up. 

When it got too cold we went inside and played The Game of Things, which is probably my favorite game ever. Its great because no matter who you play with it always ends up being hilarious and it’s a really funny way to get to know people better. For those of you who don’t know, the way the game of things works, it’s pretty simple. One person picks a card from a deck which has a random question on it. Everyone has to then write something answering that question. Then we go around in the circle trying to figure out who said what. It’s great!

 In the morning we had a delicious pancake breakfast and went off to go hiking. It was a beautiful, sunny, autumn day perfect for hiking. The walk up was pretty steep and took lots of energy but when we got to the top it was worth it. The view was of the Delaware Water Gap which is where we got off the water in adventure camp. It was awesome to see how different it looked in the summer and in the autumn when everything was so many colors. The hike down was a bit easier, but overall it was really fun!

 It was so great to see all these people I haven’t seen in so long and to catch up with everyone. And, great news! The event was such a success that we want to make it an annual thing. So if you missed this one there will probably be one next year that you can come too! If you want to be involved with planning our next one email!!!
Thanks guys, can’t wait to do it again!

Delayed Parsha Post: Noach (last week)

*this post is from Sneezy, it is delayed due to a #SoxError…sorry Sneezy! Everyone else, enjoy!

Hey Camp Gilgal! Sneezy here! This year, I’m in the student program with Jews for Jesus in Canada which has been a great experience so far! I’m excited to be writing to you today about this week’s parsha, which is Parshat Noach (Genesis 6:9 – 11:32). Let’s dig in because this passage covers a lot of ground.

I think we all know the story of Noah well, but, something I have learned over the past few years is to not skim over passages that are familiar. God’s word is living and active and the same passage can teach us new things each time we read them.

Moses, the writer of Genesis, begins with a description of Noah’s character and his surroundings. Noah is a righteous man, but the world around him is corrupt and they are not following God. God sees this and is very troubled. He decides that he needs to destroy the earth and start all over again, but wants to preserve Noah and his family. He tells Noah to make a big ark and to fill it with his family and two of all living creatures because he is going to flood the earth. Noah obeyed God. I don’t know about you, but if God asked me to build a big ark I would have a lot to say about that and A LOT of questions. But Noah doesn’t question God, he simply obeys. What a great example for us. God’s plans may seem obscure and we may not see the point, but when we obey we get to participate in God’s great master plan for the entire universe. So cool!

Now, Noah’s on the ark for a long time (40 days and 40 nights to be exact) with a bunch of smelly animals and his family (I can imagine they wouldn’t be too pleasant smelling either). It’s raining and pouring, and Noah keeps on trusting God. Something I always find shocking is how old Noah was at this time. He was 600 and yet he was still obeying and trusting God through this difficult task!

God hasn’t forgotten about Noah in the ark. The waters start to go down slowly, and Noah eventually sends out a dove to see if the water had dried up from the ground. After a few tries, one of the doves comes back with a leaf in its mouth! Yay! Now it’s time for Noah to unpack everything from the ark and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. Noah offers a sacrifice to God, and God makes a covenant with him that he will never destroy the earth again. He signifies this through a rainbow. Now every time you see a rainbow you can remember that God keeps his promises!

Now in our story, Noah’s family keeps multiplying and Noah blesses Shem and Japheth but curses Ham. Chapter 10 is a genealogy, which means the story goes through the family lines chronologically.

Alright, friends, we’re almost there! Thanks for tracking along with me!

Chapter 11 is one of my favourite passages in Genesis because it’s so applicable to us today. These people are trying to make it on their own and God pretty much says: “You think you can make it on your own? That’s funny. Nope.” Isn’t it great when God does that? It’s like he knows what’s best for us!! Since these people are speaking one language, God decides to confuse their languages and scatter the people amongst the earth.

The final section of Chapter 11 covers the genealogy from Shem to Abram. The names get confusing, but genealogies help us understand the history and what was going on with the people during this time.

Fun fact – Parshat Noach was my Bat mitzvah portion many moons ago. This passage has a special place in my heart and God’s promise to keep him promises has been so important in my life. Happy Thanksgiving, Camp Gilgal! Hope you enjoyed this action-packed parsha!

Gilgal Gazette 2016 #5

Name: Daniel C.

Age: 11

Tribe: Judah

Capture the Degel

Capture the Degel is a fun game we play at camp. I ran really fast past the other team a lot. When Ephraim and I were distracting the other team Isaac’s sister told Isaac where the flag was. He got the flag by distracting them. I think my team was the best because we had the fastest players and the best strategy. We would get half the other team in jail then charged and looked for the degel. Every year my team always wins. We never give up and risk it. Plus degal means flag in Hebrew. The main point of the game was to find the flags and take it to your side and you win. It’s more fun at Camp Gilgal because we have a good map and fun people. I like Capture the Degel because you use a lot of your energy and you have to use a lot of strategy. It was better this year because we got pennies and a good team. It was extra awesome when I dodged someone from another team by doing rolls. Capture the Degel is my favorite activity. I wish we could do it every day.

Name: Rebekah C.

Age: 15

Tribe: Simeon


There are many fun games at camp. One of the fun games at camp was Scream-O. Scream-O is a game based off of luck with a partner and dice and little pieces of paper from numbers 2 to 12. Both partners have to roll all the possible numbers from 2 to 12 on their separate sets. The fun part of the game is how frantic it gets when playing with other teams while laughing and screaming. Everyone is always in a rush to beat the other team, therefore moving up closer to winning is the whole game. It can also be a great bonding game because you are working with your partner to complete a challenge. You also get to have a good laugh with your teammate and opponent. My partner and I could barely win a game as the rounds ran out. Then they called two more rounds and we were at the second place zone. The pressure started to rise and clumsiness came with it. We were at the first zone then heard Scream-O and we had won the game which was surprising after losing for a while. I will miss Scream-O as this is my last year of teen camp but I will also remember the fun I had and the friends I made.

Bar Mitzvah recap

This last weekend the Camp Gilgal community in New York celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of Josiah with his family. Beardo has been working with him for a little over a year and it was great to be able to rejoice and memorialize this wonderful event with his family.

His parsha was Bereshit (the first one in the cycle: Genesis 1:1-6:8; Isaiah 42:5-43:10) and Josiah read from the Torah and the Haftarah and shared with all of us about his understanding of his parsha. An excerpt of his speech is below:

My haftorah talks about God telling Israel through Isaiah of his plan to save them from their slavery to sin and general bad situation.  Isaiah 42 finds Israel in a bad place.Their sin has exiled them from the Promised Land and God sends Isaiah with a message of correction, comfort, and hope for their future. From Isaiah 42:24-25 we learn that Israel is rightly being punished for their disobedience, but they don’t totally understand it yet. This is like a kid throwing a temper tantrum and pouting in the timeout chair. A kid throwing a tantrum makes sense, a grown up doing it is just plain weird. The timeout chair teaches us to regret the behavior and disobedience that made us sit out. Discipline helps us see that wrong things have negative results. Israel is in the timeout chair and they think God has forgotten them. 

The Lord tells them through Isaiah that he is with them now and will bring them out. In Isaiah 43:1 God says through Isaiah, “Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” He tells them that he would do anything for them, he hasn’t forgotten them, and he loves them. Starting in Isaiah 42:1 and throughout my portion, Isaiah speaks of a servant God has chosen and would send. When I first read it, I didn’t exactly think that the servant was anyone special–I mean, he’s just a servant. But, then as I spent more time reading it and thinking about it, I saw the important things the servant was going to do. God has chosen him, God’s spirit is on him, and he is going to bring justice to the world. I then realized the servant was Jesus. In Isaiah 42:7 it says that the servant will, “open eyes that are blind,free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

I see a connection with this to Matthew 11:2-5 where John the Baptist’s disciples ask Jesus if he is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for, or if they should keep looking. Jesus tells John’s disciples that the blind see–and adds that the lame walk, the people with diseases are healed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised.

In The Return of the King (the last of The Lord of the Rings books) Samwise Gamgee discovers that Gandalf isn’t dead and he himself isn’t dead as he’d assumed, and he asks Gandalf if this means that “everything sad is going to come untrue.”

So just like Samwise sees the hope of all of the sad things becoming undone, all the wickedness and sin become untrue through the Servant, Jesus. We want the sad things to not be true, but we can’t fix them ourselves.

In Star Wars  Princess Leiah says in a recording recorded in R2D2, “Save us Obi wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.”

This happens in many stories, because we recognize that we need someone to come to our rescue. In movies there’s a hero who saves the day, Jesus is the one who saves us and makes our sin come untrue.

Mazel Tov Josiah!


Gilgal Gazette 2016 Week #4

Name: Isaac G.

Age: 10

Tribe: Judah

Camp Meals

I love the different types of meals we have at Camp Gilgal. On Friday morning we have, in my opinion, the best breakfast ever: Waffles! They are not just ordinary waffles, they are waffle sundaes! With the waffle sundaes we are able to put whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate shavings, and maple syrup. They were so good, I had two of them.  On the same day, for lunch, I had crispy chicken tenders with ketchup and BBQ sauce. For lunch and dinner, we get to have vegetables and if we eat them, we can have whatever delicious dessert chef has prepared for us. That day, we had broccoli which is my favorite vegetable. For Shabbat dinner, we had lasagna and rosemary bread. The vegetable was cooked asparagus. In the lasagna, there was different kinds of cheeses and sauce, but there was no meat, so our vegetarian friends were able to enjoy it too. For dessert we had delicious snickerdoodles that chef made for the whole camp. The meals on Friday made that day especially awesome. The food at Camp Gilgal is so tasty. I could die for their food and can’t wait to eat it again.

Name: Elliot A

Age: 14

Tribe: Benjamin

The Epic Tales of Judah
Judah is a beast. Judah’s a gymnast and can do splits. During our decathlon, which is ten competitive challenges between two teams, we had to drink a box of flavored seltzers (which was disgusting) and make a tower out of the empty cans. Few people could finish even one, Judah chugged six, one after the other without changing his facial expression. He wrote our team anthem and ate several pieces of dry lasagna pasta. He also has a great sense of humor and puts up with my disease jokes. Judah’s the real estcamper to ever camp. Judah’s from Syracuse and has been an amazing gymnast for 7 years. He’s a 13 year old but because of all the muscle stimulation of gymnastics he’s huge. Asher and I thought he was a counselor when we first saw him. While he is calm and quiet he does everything with joy and enthusiasm. Loves brownies and hates bullies. He’s smart and nice and he’s good at all sports and all in all I thoroughly enjoyed having in the tribe of Benjamin with me.  
Name: Ellie W

Age: 12ish

Tribe: Asher

First off, Anonymous is a human and female. She has longish brown hair and wears Converse that were once white. Her favorite movie genre is comedy and does not know her favorite movie. This is her fourth year as staff and eleventh year at camp. She loves napping and road trips as her hobbies that she enjoys.Anonymous is passionate about working with children and teenagers because she wants to let them know that God loves them and has a lot in store for them. Anonymous’s role model is C.S Lewis because of the way he wrote about Yeshua in such a real way. Her favorite sport is football and she loves the Carolina Panthers. Her favorite season is fall because she loves fall fashion and doesn’t sweat as much.Anonymous is an awesome counselor and is a great person.



Gilgal Gazette 2016 Week 3

Name: Ephraim L.  Age: 11     Tribe: Judah
Hebrew Quizzing
Hebrew quizzing is quizzing that’s also a game show. It is new to Camp Gilgal East but has been done before at mid-west camp. It is different from Hebrew because in Hebrew we learn more about thelanguage and that helps for our Hebrew quizzing. It is a really fun thing to do. My favorite word is Mayim because the song is funny and comes with a dance. During Hebrew quizzing we have Hebrew questions.Every correct answer is worth 10 points so my team the Chicken Toots finished with a total of 350 points. We answered 26 questions right. On the first day the scores were really close. The Shark Molars had 20 points, the Hebrew Heroes had 30 points, and my team the Chicken Toots had a total of 40 points. The next day we had a Hebrew tournament with 5 categories- aleph bet, numbers, words, fill in the blank, and Pictionary. For calling the answers we used buzzers and a can with a stick. We were at a disadvantage because our buzzer was slower than everyone else so we got a drum. After that we caught up pretty fast. Then, at the end we had one last questions and it was worth 100 points. The last question was, you have to sing “am yisrael chai” so we barely made it with the drum, and sang the song to victory. We are going to get a prize but it is still a mystery.
Name: David K Age: 15
Tribe: Issachar
The many hidden talents of Elliot
Life in camp always revolves around several things. One of the most important things is friendship. An example can be my amigo Elliot. He is a wisecracker kid that has many talents. The first talent he has is kvetching. For those who don’t understand what that means, it is actually Yiddish for complaining. This doesn’t mean that he dislikes camp but it is part of his joking personality. It was hysterical when his 
remarks got so out of hand that he actually had to have a limit for it. Another great example of his talents is singing and music taste. Whenever he and I got bored, we would start singing mostly five musical geniuses which were Frank Ocean, Drake. Outkast, and Kanye West. He insisted that Views by Drake and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West are more than albums but musical masterpieces. All in all Elliot’s a good kid. Sure, he might be a crazy guy but name one that is normal. I’m grateful to have a friend like that. We’ve been campers and friends for a long time and grown together a lot. I’m glad God brought us to camp.