gpg -in-North-America 2

Grants in North America

Camp Gesher at Camp Max Straus

Camp Gesher at Camp Max Straus

In 2014, Genesis Philanthropy Group supported the development and implementation of Camp Gesher, a specialized program for Russian-speaking Jews within Kibbutz Max Straus that is based on various aspects of the participants' Russian-Jewish heritage.

Established in 1938 by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, Camp Max Straus has been providing memorable experiences to youth-in-need for the past 75 years, and began a new Jewish Camp, Kibbutz Max Straus, in 2012. Camp Max Straus is a non-sectarian, summer residential camp located on 112 acres in the spectacular Verdugo Mountains of Glendale, California.

The initial 12-day session of Camp Gesher served 72 teenagers from Russian-speaking Jewish families, with campers coming from Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. In order to fortify the Russian-Speaking Jewish campers’ ties to their own community, as well as to the greater Jewish community, this camp utilized a camp within a camp model, featuring all of Kibbutz Max Straus’s traditional recreational activities as well as programming specific to the Russian-speaking Jewish campers.

Prior to camp, all staff participated in a week-long training trip to Israel in order to gain the skills necessary to run an exciting and educational camp session. Additionally, West Coast madrichim participated in two shabbatons at Kibbutz Max Straus, which provided them with an opportunity for team bonding and familiarization with the camp site.

In 2015, with continued Genesis Philanthropy Group support, the camp program was expanded to 92 campers from Russian-speaking families across the West Coast.

Financial support for this program was provided by Genesis Philanthropy Group along with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sister of Los Angeles, Jewish Agency for Israel, and local Federations.

Goals and Objectives

  • Create opportunities for teens from Russian-speaking families in North America to explore their unique heritage and their connection to the global Jewish community in the immersive setting of an overnight summer camp.
  • Enhance campers' personal identity and feeling of belonging to the Russian-speaking Jewish and wider Jewish communities.
  • Increase Jewish community involvement and connection to Israel among members of the Russian-speaking Jewish community.
  • Enable madrichim and other camp staff to develop in a Jewish professional capacity.

Current Grants

Past Grants