Thanks to a $1.16 million grant, Camp Zeke will open its doors in the summer of 2014. Camp Zeke is a new pluralistic Jewish overnight camp that provides a rejuvenating summer experience focused on pure foods, energizing fitness activities, and culinary arts. Zeke is founded on the time-honored Jewish principle of shmirat haguf, or taking care of the body. The camp’s name is short for the Hebrew name Yechezkel, which connotes immense strength. “We believe that immense strength of body and spirit flow naturally from a joyful, healthy, and active lifestyle,” explains founder and director Isaac Mamaysky.
Although Jewish families are increasingly prioritizing the ideals on which Zeke was founded, it will be the first Jewish camp of its kind. Recognizing this, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the AVI CHAI Foundation, accepted Camp Zeke into their specialty camps incubator following a competitive application process. In addition to generous funding, Camp Zeke will receive five years of support from experts in Jewish camping. Camp Zeke’s partners include the Jewish Community Health Initiative, the City University of New York’s Nutrition Program, and some of the nation’s leading experts in children’s health.
Isaac explains, “We’ll be like the health club of camps. Some campers will focus on running, dance, or strength training, while others will come to enjoy organic food, create original recipes, or just kick-start a more active lifestyle.” He goes on, “The time is ripe for this type of program. Nutrition and fitness have become really cool, and for good reason. An increasing number of studies show that eating well and being active improve every marker of children’s success, from confidence to academic performance.”
Isaac is an attorney with a longstanding connection to education, fitness, and Jewish camping. He is joined by his fiancée, Lisa Kravitz. Lisa is passionate about exercise and nutrition and has a professional background in financial marketing. “Our community strongly values healthy living, but very few Jewish programs teach kids how to lead a healthy lifestyle,” says Lisa. “At Camp Zeke, campers will discover the fitness and cooking activities that best fit their personalities. By learning how activities like cycling and Pilates connect to Jewish teachings, campers will begin to see that physical and spiritual well-being go hand-in-hand.”
Camp Zeke plans to open its doors in the summer of 2014 in the New York Tri-state area. Camp Zeke will hold kickoff events focused on fitness and nutrition in communities across the country. To join their mailing list or learn more about the camp, visit campzeke.org. You can also follow Camp Zeke on Facebook (facebook.com/campzeke) and Twitter (twitter.com/campzeke).