Achdus is Born

The year was 1999. At that time, the Orthodox Jewish community of Philadelphia was faced with a blatant void. It did not have a summer program for its children. The excellence in growth that was achieved by the students of Politz Hebrew Academy and Torah Academy during the school year was undeniably remarkable. Would all of that be lost during the ten long weeks of summer that lay ahead?As the summer drew nearer, parents of young children could be found scrambling; a camp, a playgroup, indeed, a babysitter would suffice. Rabbis Gedalia and Tuvia Goldstein, then in their high school years were motivated by the mission to fill this void and opened Camp Achdus to several young boys. In its infancy, the camp was operated out of the home of Mr. Mark and Judy Goldstein and utilized nearby ball fields for outdoor recreation.

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Rapid Growth

The camp grew rapidly. By 2001, Achdus’ success had increased its camper enrollment to thirty-five. In the winter of 2002, following Achdus’ third year of operation, the Goldstein brothers were approached by Mr. Jeff Fuchs who proposed that a partnership between Achdus and the JCC’s Klein Branch be formed. This merger would enable Achdus to collect much needed scholarship funding for those families who were unable to shoulder the expense of the camp’s modest tuition fees.

Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein with campers in 2008

Camp Achdus operated under the auspices of the JCC’s Klein Branch for six successful summers at the off-site locations of Adath Zion Congregation in Northeast Philadelphia and Young Israel of Elkins Park as its camper enrollment grew to sixty-five.

In 2008, Camp Achdus was incorporated as an organization with its own bylaws and board of directors. Its mission, however, remained the same: to make sure every child in the Philadelphia region could utilize the summer to be productive, learn Torah values, be exposed to great role models, and build magical memories.

Today

Camp Achdus is, today, a 501c3 organization whose program is home to nearly 200 boys and girls on its two campuses during the summer months. Campers range in age from four to fourteen and hail from Philadelphia, Lower Merion, Elkins Park, Bucks County, and Cherry Hill.

Camp Achdus boys division in 2016 with over 100 campers and staff

Preparing for the Future

For the past 19 years, Camp Achdus has provided a safe, warm, kosher summer camp experience for boys from the Greater Philadelphia area – from Rhawnhurst, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Cherry Hill, and beyond.

Camp Achdus meshes the best in learning with a full program of sports and other activities designed to make summer an experience that will benefit boys now and in the future.

But the fact remains that over 85% of the families whose sons attend camp must have financial aid or they cannot enroll their children.

This is a problem recognized by our beloved Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Shmuel Kamenetzky שליט”א. He understands how vital it is to help Jewish children attend summer camp and has underscored the importance of this many times

So, we do everything possible within our reach, often at our own expense, to never, ever turn away a child, and to let just one more boy experience the joy and wonder of camp.

The Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Shmuel Kamenetzky Shlita, has emphasized the importance of helping Jewish children to attend summer camp. Sadly, there are many children in our community who do not have this opportunity. They sit within the lonely confines of their homes throughout the long summer vacation because their parents are unable to afford camp. Camps provide a structure that is vital for children’s social, emotional, and spiritual well-being and they offer numerous opportunities for growth unavailable during the school year.

It is heartbreaking whenever we need to tell a family that there are simply not enough scholarship funds to allow their son to attend.

Proposed solution

In response to this challenge, we are launching an aggressive campaign to replenish the camp scholarship fund. Our goal is to raise $18,000 by Shavuos.

If we come together as a community, and each of us makes a gift of whatever size we can afford, can look forward to a summer in which every Jewish boy in Philadelphia who wishes to can swim, play sports, learn, and have a great time just being a boy in a safe, warm, kosher environment.

Become a partner

Help us continue to offer happy, productive summers for every Jewish child!