Loving the Journey: Cincy Journeys molds Jewish leaders

By Karyn Zimerman, Cincy Journeys Grants Manager

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Cincy Journeys helps every Cincinnati Jewish child attend overnight Jewish camp and every Cincinnati Jewish young adult travel and learn in Israel. Cincy Journeys, which is managed by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and funded by the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, is designed to give children and young adults the skills, experience and desire to become tomorrow’s community leaders.   

After their summer 2016 trips, Cincy Journeys participants had the opportunity to tell about their experiences through a video and essay contest. The winners are Max Frankel, Kayla Geller, and Sam Steed, all of whom attended the Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) overnight camping program, and Daniel Valenti, who spent a summer in Israel through the Cincinnati Onward Israel Internship program. Here’s what they had to say:


Attending GUCI helps me understand who I am more and more every summer. I knew then and I know now that attending GUCI would be one of the most significant pieces in forming me into a mature Jewish man.

Even seeing pictures of my camp friends can bring a smile to my face or give me encouragement to keep working. Knowing that these friends are out there and will be there for me makes me really glad I went to a Jewish camp.


I love GUCI because it gives me a chance to meet new friends, meet or see old friends and have lots of fun. We don’t only do Jewish stuff, we get to do other stuff including swimming, (other) sports, and it’s just a fun experience. 

Another reason it’s fun is I get to learn about my culture as a Jew, see who and what I am, and what is my past.


When I thought of what to say about my amazing experience at Jewish overnight camp, I decided to focus on the one thing I felt mattered most: the sense of community. No matter where you went, you always felt included.

You are placed in a whole new environment with no heads-up of anything that could happen but you make it work; you learn to come together as a Jewish community and make it work. That is what I feel is the meaning of camp. 


The summer I spent with Onward Israel in Tel Aviv is definitely one of the best summers of my life.
I worked as a software engineering intern with Kitchenbug and gained tons of valuable experience. 
To this day it is a focal point on my resume. 

Every time I meet someone who is considering Onward Israel, I can’t find enough good things to say about it. It was two months that changed my life and I will never forget it.

Cincy Journeys helps every child attend overnight Jewish camp and every young adult travel and learn in Israel. Cincy Journeys is managed by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. Find out more at cincyjourneys.org


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