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Camp Mifgash Israel

Canadian Friends of Mifgash Israel (CFMI) is a national not-for-profit organization that develops and promotes awareness of and financial support for the Mifgash Mitzvah Program at Camp Mifgash, Israel.
Camp Mifgash is an international overnight summer camp located at Kedma Youth Village in Israel. The mission of Camp Mifgash is to strengthen our camper’s Jewish and Israel affiliation at a critical junction in their lives, and cultivate future leaders in the local and international Jewish community. This will be accomplished through our uniquely designed flagship program, Mifgash Mitzvah. The Mifgash Mitzvah Program is a fun, educational, and exciting Jewish summer ‘happening’ in Israel based around a significant milestone event in Judaism – the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. There is substantial evidence that Jewish summer camps are instrumental in building Jewish identity, Jewish community, and Jewish leadership (CAMP WORKS: The Long-term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp - Steven M. Cohen, Ron Miller, Ira M. Sheskin and Berna Torr). There is also evidence that cost is a barrier for Israeli and non-affluent North Americans to sending their children to summer camp. For these reasons we would like to present this opportunity to the most deserving Jewish children regardless of their family’s finances. Our unique program is designed to unite and bond young Jews from around the world and encourage them to learn from one another, connect with Israel and work together to create a more positive future for our communities. Campers will be given a deep understanding of the significance of being a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and celebrate this milestone with their international Jewish peers. Highlights will include group Parasha study, Aliyah at the Kotel and Masada, commemorative display (TBD) and group Bar/Bar Mitzvah party. The program will also focus on the principals and actions of ‘tikkun olam’ (‘repair the world’).
The premise of our programs is that there will be an even mix of Diaspora and Israeli children – hence the name ‘Mifgash’. The idea is that Diaspora campers will be paired with Israeli campers (Amit) to take part in specific activities.

Need: 

Our target population is the North American Jewish community, with Toronto being the epicentre of our efforts. There are currently approximately 13.5 million Jews in the world. Nearly half live in North America. Of those approximately 180,000 reside in Toronto, which while far from being the largest Jewish community, is the most active per capita. We will also look to other large Jewish communities such as the Tri-State Area, Southern California, South Florida, and Illinois as opportunities for expansion.
Our goal is to reach as many Jews as possible that wish to reconnect or strengthen their affiliation to Judaism and Israel. We also strive to identify and provide an opportunity for children that are seeking a more meaningful Jewish experience. This will be accomplished though Jewish day schools, synagogues, Jewish youth groups, social networking, events, online and print media.
There has been a widening rift between North American Jewry and Israel which we strive to narrow through our transformative youth leadership program. Furthermore, the North American Jewish population is aging and we require an engaged, vibrant, inspiration program to foster strong future community leaders. By designing our program around Bar/Bat Mitzvah age campers, the impact will be more effective, deeply entrenched and longer lasting than other Israel programs designed to promote Jewish identity, heritage and a connection to Israel. The strongest elements in connecting children to Judaism are camp, Israel experiences, and education. Our program combines these three elements in a fun, cohesive, calculated initiative.
A number of studies sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) have clearly indicated the positive impact of Jewish summer camp on cultivating strong ties to Jewish identity, and creating strong leaders within the Jewish Community.

Most notable is CAMP WORKS: The Long-term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp:

“CAMP WORKS provides systematic and quantitative evidence that summers at Jewish camp create adults who are committed to the Jewish community and engaged in Jewish practice. Utilizing the most recent National Jewish Population Survey and 25 local community studies completed between 2000–2008, this report offers the fullest picture to date of the impact of Jewish summer camp.

The influence of summer camp on the ways in which adult Jews choose to engage with the community and the degree to which they associate with other Jews can be felt long after the last sunset of the summer. The impact is striking, especially when compared to their peers who did not spend their summer months at Jewish camp.”

The study concludes that Jewish camp builds Jewish identity, Jewish community, and Jewish Leadership:

As adults, campers are:

• 30% more likely to donate to a Jewish charity;
• 37% more likely to light Shabbat candles;
• 45% more likely to attend synagogue monthly or more
• 55% more likely to be very emotionally attached to Israel.
• 25% more likely to donate to a Jewish charity
• 26% more likely to be members of a synagogue
• 30% more likely to donate to a Jewish federation
• 45% more likely to attend synagogue at least once a month

Jewish Camp Builds Jewish Leadership:

• 1 of 3 Jewish professionals (Rabbis, Cantors, Teachers) started out as counsellors at Jewish camp.
• 1 of 5 Jewish educators cited Jewish camp as a key experience that caused them to enter the field.
• 7 of 10 young Jewish leaders in their 20’s and 30’s attended Jewish summer camp.

Our program tackles the issues of Jewish communal fragmentation and divisions between Israel and Jewish communities from around the world. By attending our program campers will develop a sense of unity, social tools, knowledge, independence, self-esteem, pride and leadership skills. The Mifgash Mitzvah Programs lays the framework and give the opportunity to enrich our camper’s lives by exploring Jewish and Zionistic values, heritage, identity, history and culture.

According to Jewish Overnight Camps: A Study of the Greater Toronto Area Market (Spring 2009), “…participating in Jewish camping peaks at ages 10-11 and then begins to decline at ages 12-14. Jewish adolescents past the age of 13 increasingly disengage from Jewish life.”

This reinforces our belief that we are focussing on the most effective age to engage children in a Jewish/Israel summer program. Currently there is no one prominent international Bat/Bat Mitzvah program in Israel that targets the North American community. We strive to be THE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Israel experience for Diaspora and Israeli Jewry. Toronto Jewry can greatly benefit from being recognized as the centre of this fantastic global Jewish initiative, and be recognized as the niche leader in Jewish educational programming for Bar/Bat Mitzvah aged children.
David Shapero, Co-Founder of Camp Mifgash is the middle child in his family and was the only one who went to Israel for his Bar Mitzvah and made an Aliyah at the Kotel and Masada. He subsequently went on to attend Hebrew University’s OYP, make Aliyah, and marry an Israeli woman. Neither his older brother nor younger sister – who had the same upbringing and schooling – have any affiliation or connection to Israel whatsoever. David credits his Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel as the catalyst for his deep spiritual connection to Israel and Zionism.

Goals, Objectives & Measurement: 

Goals:

1. To establish the Mifgash Mitzvah program as the most prominent Bar/Bat Mitzvah Israel experience in the world and sustain this position.
2. For Diaspora campers to develop a rich and deep affiliation with Israel and the Jewish world by fostering personal connections through their “Amit” pairing.
3. To give Israeli campers the opportunity to experience summer camp, develop a rich and deep affiliation with the Diaspora Jewish community, and to foster new friendships and ideas.
4. To cultivate the next generation of responsible and respectable citizens in our Jewish communities.
5. To align ourselves with like-minded organizations such as MASA, Top Bunk, UJA, CIE, Union for Reform Judaism, Foundation for Jewish Camp, North American Federation of Temple Youth, etc.
6. To offer Jewish families an inexpensive summer program for their children.
7. Provide each and every camper with an educational, fun and exciting summer experience.
8. To fortify Toronto as a world leader in Jewish educational initiatives.
9. To eventually add facilities for campers’ use, as well as the use of Kedma youth such as swimming pool, climbing wall, ropes course, etc.
10. To instil the principles of “Tikkun Olam” in all campers.
11. To narrow the widening rift between North American Jewry and Israel.
12. To continue the Mifgash Mitzvah experience through periodic events held in Toronto.

Objectives:

1. To bring a minimum of 100 children per session in our inaugural year in July 2012 – There will be two sessions of 13 nights each, each session will have approximately 50 Israeli and 50 Diaspora campers.
2. For all campers to be fully subsidized by organizations and donors in year one. Estimated funds required to be raised - $400,000
3. For all campers to have an Aliyah at the Kotel and Masada.
4. To bring 250 children to camp in years 2 and 3.
5. To bring 300 children to camp in years 4 and 5.
6. To bring at least one prominent guest speaker to camp per session – Guest speaker will be determined based on input from Jewish organizations that have an interest in our program.
7. To facilitate one Tikkun Olam project (charity volunteer or charity work) in Israel per session – Project will be based on need, as well as input from Jewish organizations affiliated with our program.
8. To create a lasting commemorative display for each session – this will be largely determined by the campers.

By generously helping families afford tuition we in essence provide children with the opportunity of a lifetime. Jewish children will get to celebrate their milestone Bat or Bar Mitzvah in Israel with peers from around the world and feel the true spirit of Jewish unity. Children will forever be connected to Israel and to their Jewish identity. They will also have built meaningful friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.
To measure our impact on our participants, we will periodically organize local events and survey our alumni families. Survey questions will center on community involvement, leadership, and religious observance. We will consult with Jewish organizations that have expertise in this area or outsource it to an expert. We will also send important community event links to our alumni families.

Our program is very cost effective as the majority of costs are variable. We have an agreement in place with Kedma Youth Village that charges us by the head – even in the unlikely scenario that we were to fall short of our target number of participants, we are not locked into large fixed costs.

We are confident that we will achieve our objectives for the following reasons:

1. There is currently no program that offers an international two-week Bar/Bat Mitzvah Israel experience. This increases its attractiveness in the eyes of potential campers and donors.
2. Our determined, committed, qualified management team is well versed in North America, Israel, and camp programming. We are also well-connected in the Jewish world to potential donors that would be interested in our initiative.
3. Quality of programming and facilities - Our facilities are modern, fully equipped, with a wide range of equipment and program stations that would satisfy an eclectic range of interests. Accommodations are spacious, comfortable and air conditioned.
4. Staff will consist of specialized, stringently selected, highly trained bilingual individuals.
5. Our camp is an inexpensive option for parents to send their children to Israel.
6. Our camp is an inexpensive option for parents to send their children to Jewish summer camp.
7. Our camp is an inexpensive option for parents to give their children a priceless Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience.
8. We have a very specific, close-knit target market.

Opportunity for Involvement: 

Currently, we have secured the rights to a top-notch facility to run our camp. Both our co-founders have extensive experience and passion for camp, Jewish children’s programming and Israel. We have a clear vision of how we want to run the program and the expertise to deliver it successfully.
Where we are somewhat currently lacking is in knowledge of the not-for-profit and charity sectors. Neither one of us has previously run a not-for-profit organization, nor have we led a large fundraising campaign.
We welcome as much guidance and assistance from JVPF Fund members as possible. We believe that fund member expertise will greatly help us in the following areas:

• Providing knowledge and guidance on incorporating and structuring a charity supporting an overseas initiative
• Community outreach and fundraising tactics
• Identifying organizations that are best suited for screening youth within their own programs and selecting who will participate in Mifgash Mitzvah
• Connect us with organizations and potential donors who would be interested in supporting/affiliating with our program
• Web site & technology services
• Business development, analysis & marketing
• Legal counselling
• Teaching & education
• Human resources
• Crisis management
• Accounting
• Financial modeling
• Social media expertise
• PR & media networking

Time Frame: 

We are seeking immediate funding in order to brand a polished package to market to Jewish youth organizations and potentially interested philanthropists.

By end of January 2012 we hope to have agreements in place with organizations that will participate in the selection process for Mifgash Mitzvah campers.

By end of March 2012 we hope to have all funding secured for our inaugural year. Once this target is met, we will continue fundraising efforts to make improvements to Kedma Youth Village including climbing wall and ropes course.

We will run two sessions in July 2012.

Alumni Events will take place in Toronto in December.

Exit strategy for SixPoints JVPF is really at your own discretion. We are looking for initial funding for marketing and expertise as mentioned in the last section. We have no long-term financial obligations, as all costs are variable. We would certainly like to have an ongoing affiliation with SixPoints and UJA Federation, but this will does require continued financial support.

Sponsor/Staff: 

We currently do not have any sponsors. Kedma Youth Village is an affiliate that has committed to hosting Camp Mifgash at their fully equipped location for the next five summers. Established in 1979, the Kedma Youth Village is on the Kastina-Be’er Sheva Highway at the site of the deserted Kibbutz Kedma. The Israeli Ministry of Education runs the Kedma youth village program today. The village was especially established to care for troubled youth who have dropped out of all educational and occupational frameworks in their communities and in some cases were on the fringes of society. There are approximately 140 youths (of both sexes) at the village during the school year, either of their own free will with no external coercion or because of punitive action taken by treatment factors. The village provides responses to all their adolescents’ needs, whether physical, educational or emotional. Kedma strives to assist them to realize their learning, educational and familial goals and impart them with the values of loving their fellow humans, the environment and nature, and as a result fully integrate them into society. Achieving all this will truly turn the lives of these young underprivileged youth around, providing them with a real opportunity to thrive and succeed. (http://kedmavillage.co.il/?CategoryID=324&ArticleID=199&sng=1)
The premise is fully equipped with all the proper amenities, facilities and institutions that a community requires, including:

• Tennis court
• Basketball court
• Volleyball court
• Football/Soccer field
• 30 bicycles
• Pure bread Arabian horses
• Woodshop/ Metalshop
• Computer lab/ editing studio
• Photo lab
• Music and dance studios
• Outdoor amphitheatre

The village employs a diverse range of professional staff that will be made available to Camp Mifgash:

• social workers
• psychologists
• art therapists
• horse whisperers
• dedicated teachers and counsellors
• matrons and branch coordinators

Additionally, Kedma Youth Village will provide us with:
• security personnel
• medic and nurse
• maintenance workers
• cooks
• gardeners
• horseback riding instructors
• art teachers
• music teachers
• digital and technical media instructors
• wood and metal shop instructor

All of these staff members live off site in neighbouring kibbutzim and small towns and are experts in their respective fields.

Kedma Youth Village is also home to ‘Chinchinim’, a select group of 18-19 year old Israelis who live year round at the premise. The ‘Chinchinim’ at Kedma Youth Village are part of a relatively new army program that promotes goodwill civil service that targets underprivileged children in Israel. Camp Mifgash is fortunate enough to have 8-10 ‘Chinchinim’ who will contribute their services to our campers.

Our staffing plan also entails partnering with Jewish organizations (both in Toronto and in Israel) to recruit qualified volunteers in their twenties. These roles will include:

• Judaic Studies teacher
• swim instructors
• general sports instructors
• counsellors
• nature program director
• office staff

We are committed to having 1 counsellor per 6-8 campers to ensure all our campers get the attention they deserve. In addition to extensive screening, each staff member will be thoroughly trained in the Camp Mifgash curriculum, methodology, philosophy, protocols and safety/security measures. We wish to have a healthy mix of Diaspora and Israeli staff, and all Camp Mifgash counselors will be bilingual.

Organizational Structure and Expertise: 

Camp Mifgash co-founders Daniel Kron and David Shapero will both be taking an active role in the day-to-day operation of the camp as co-directors. Both have significant experience with Jewish summer camps, Jewish programming, youth programs, and Israel.

Daniel Kron was born in Israel and moved to Canada as a young child. He is bilingual in English and Hebrew at a mother-tongue level. Daniel’s connection to the Land of Israel is one of passion and respect. He has deep roots in Israel, especially as the majority of his family still resides there. Daniel split his University education between York University in Toronto and Tel Aviv University. He has a strong desire to serve Israel by helping develop its youth through transformative programs. He visits Israel at least once a year and has played for the National Israel Ice Hockey Team, and participated in many volunteer initiatives there.
Daniel has worked with children since he was 14 years old. He was a Swim School Manager at age 18 at Felix’s Swimming School and water front director at Camp Tanuga in Kalkaska, Michigan. He also ran a roller hockey school at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv, Israel at the age of 22. Recently, Daniel is the founder of Funfit Kids After School Programs. This is a sports program that helps children learn the fundamentals of movement, coordination, teamwork and confidence. Daniel first got the idea of opening a summer program in Israel when he visited his girlfriend who was volunteering at Kedma Youth Village in the summer of 2008. Daniel has since built a personal relationship with the managerial staff at Kedma and in the summer of 2011 got their commitment for at least five summers.
Daniel’s experience and expertise in dealing with children and parents, his work ethic, enthusiasm and can’t fail attitude, combined with a strong passion for Israel make him the ideal leader for the successful undertaking of this project.

David Shapero was raised in Toronto and attended Hebrew day school until the end of Grade 6. He was fortunate enough to have had a family Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel, and credits this as an experience which would profoundly change the course of his life.
“I remember just being in awe when I first visited the Holy Land. It was overwhelming to experience first-hand the places I had heard about and studied the majority of my life. What still stands out in my mind was the Aliyah I made at the Kotel and at Masada. I can still vividly remember being hoisted on the shoulders of the Rabbi and bounced and danced around. Masada was equally amazing to me, with its significant history and beautiful vistas. It was not difficult to picture things the way they were in biblical times. There was this intangible mystique in the air everywhere that sort of felt like being in synagogue, but the sun was always shining and it was a lot more fun! I couldn’t wait to go back.”
David attended Jewish summer camp from the age of 5, and Jewish overnight camp from the age of 9. He went to Camp Walden and Camp Kennebec as a camper, and Camp Manitou-Wabing as a counsellor and sports instructor. He also spent three summers as a roller hockey instructor at Cedar Lake Camp in Pennsylvania, which is run by the New Jersey Jewish Y. In addition, he competed in the Maccabbi Games in Baltimore, MD in 1992 and led a Birthright trip in 2003.
David has a Bachelor Degree in Economics and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. Like Daniel, he was able to study in Israel as well, attending the Rothberg Overseas School’s One Year Program at Hebrew University and The Recanati School of Management at Tel Aviv University for an MBA exchange.
David moved to Israel in 1999, made Aliyah in 2000 and lived in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv until moving back to Toronto with his Israeli wife Noa in 2009.
David is a strong project manager who instils confidence in those around him. Having made Aliyah during the last intifada and subsequent economic downturn, he had a wide range of working and life experiences in Israel. Arriving in Israel in need of money, he started off bartending and managing pubs, and then went on to manage a call centre, run his own immigration consulting office, and work in anti-fraud and compliance for a market-leading high-tech company. Like Daniel, he has drive, enthusiasm, a strong work ethic, and the belief that anything is possible.

In addition to actively leading Camp Mifgash, Daniel and David will be leading all business development and fundraising for Canadian Friends of Mifgash Israel (CFMI).

Criteria that Enhance Competitiveness: 

Sustainability – Sustainability is a high priority. Currently we have a 5 year commitment from Kedma Youth Village. Daniel also has a personal relationship with the Program Director who has decision-making autonomy. We strongly believe that this program will be the most effective initiative to date in bridging North American Jewry and Israel, and fostering a deep and lasting affiliation. Consequently, we are quite confident that within 5 years we will either be able to extend our agreement with Kedma, or find a suitable alternative. The Birthright program which was an overwhelming success has sustained itself for more than a decade. Simply put, we believe that the opportunity we are presenting will be as effective per capita as the Birthright program, which has a very similar mission to ours.
Our biggest challenge is getting this initiative off the ground. Reputation and word-of-mouth are paramount to the long-term success of this program. After a successful inaugural year, we believe that the Mifgash Mitzvah and Camp Mifgash name will attract organizations, campers, and donors from all over the world.
One benefit of sustaining this program is that we will continue to raise funds for the development of Camp Mifgash and subsequently Kedma Youth Village. The Israeli children there will benefit from continuous improvements and additions to the camp thereby creating a substantial positive externality and win-win situation in the eyes of potential donors.

Scalability – Our objective is 100-200 campers in year 1, 250 in years 2 and 3, and 300 in years 4 and 5. We believe that this is a very conservative estimate. It is our goal that the Mifgash Mitzvah program will expand to include Jewish youth from all over the world as demand for this (literally) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity spreads and grows. We plan to grow and nurture this program in the hope that children and parents alike see Mifgash Mitzvah as the ultimate rite of passage for Bar/Bat Mitzvah aged Jewish children. It is our dream that hundreds of children every summer will experience the Mifgash program, and have a lifelong “Amit” (partner) in Israel.
As the program grows, we may have to source additional locations as the development of Kedma Youth Village may not be sufficient to sustain the substantial numbers we are hoping for.
Currently, Kedma Youth Village has comfortable sleeping capacity for approximately 125 campers and 25 counsellors. In addition, there is a dorm being used by “Chinchinim” (Volunteers from the army mechina program) who will be an important part of our program. By year 2 we plan to maximize this capacity. To reach our target numbers in years 4 and 5, empty dormitories/cabins will have to be upgraded for use.

Financial Leverage – The grant money we are seeking from SixPoints is to be used for branding and marketing our program. Money will be spent on the following:

• lead generation
• online advertising
• online marketing
• website development
• camp/program brochure and flyers
• fundraising events, campaigns and travel expenses
• legal costs
• administrative costs

Our goal is to use the initial grant in order to raise an additional $400,000 – $500,000 and enrol 175 -200 campers.

Replicable – Our program is most definitely replicable. Kedma Youth Village is a perfect flagship location as it is secure and currently has nearly all camp facilities already in place. We will be inviting existing youth organizations to observe our programs in order to provide us with constructive feedback and learn from what we are doing. It is our hope that with enough positive feedback starting from year 1, other organizations will wish to adopt our program for Bar/Bat Mitzvah aged children.

Unique, Innovative and Addresses a Need – The North American Jewish population is getting older and more assimilated. There is a strong need for future leaders as well as on overall increased sense of culture and Jewish identity. Unity between Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews is essential.
Our program is unique and innovative in that it addresses and adheres to the aforementioned needs by celebrating campers’ Judaism and rite of passage into adulthood in a manner that is meaningful and unforgettable. There is no other non-denominational Jewish group program for this age demographic that combines hands-on exposure to Israel, Israelis (and conversely North Americans) and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah milestone. Children at this age are more receptive and are more likely to have a deeply meaningful, deeply entrenched experience. This will foster the creation of strong, proactive leaders within the Jewish community who will stand up for their beliefs, culture, and Jewish homeland.