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Camp Massad Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-550

Scope and Content Note

This collection, comprised of material donated by former staff, counselors, and campers, is a reflection of both the administrative operations and day-to-day life at Camp Massad. However, as the materials were not amassed by the Camp itself, the collection is not a comprehensive representation of Camp Massad’s activities.

Ranging in date from the 1940s to the 2000s, the collection includes both administrative records of Camp Massad, including camp closing papers, correspondence, and camper and staff lists, as well as materials produced as a result of camp activities and events, such as singing, Color War (Maccabia), Parents Day, and the Sabbath. The collection also contains oral histories primarily recorded in the 1990s. The oral histories were digitized in 2016 with a generous donation from the Camp Massad Alumni Association.

Dates

  • undated, 1944-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1949 - 1990

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility. Folder 15 in Box 1 is also restricted due to sensitive information.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

email: reference@ajhs.org

Historical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Group at Camp" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=3572279" show="embed" title="Small Group Snapshot"/>

Founded by Shlomo and Rivka (Wolman) Shulsinger, Camp Massad was the pre-eminent Hebrew camp in the United States. Massad’s aim was to help campers learn the Hebrew language and to develop a deep appreciation for their Jewish heritage and culture, accomplished primarily through a totally immersive Hebrew language experience. The idea for Camp Massad was conceived during the Winter of 1941 by the Shulsingers, Hayyim Kieval, David Alster, and other members of the Histadrut Hanoar Haiviri, an organization whose mission it was to promote Hebrew culture in addition to the Hebrew language and its use. That year, on July 7, 1941, Camp Massad officially opened its doors as a day camp in Far Rockaway, New York, with 25 campers.

In 1942, Massad opened a sleep-away camp within Camp Machanaim in Monticello, New York. The following year, Camp Massad opened what would be the first of their three sleep-away camps in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Massad Aleph, “the mother camp,” opened in Tannersville, Pennsylvania in 1943 with new cabins that could accommodate up to 250 boys and girls for the summer. Over the next few years, Massad Aleph’s success grew and their space could not meet accommodate all the children who wanted this immersive camp experience. In response, a second site – Massad Bet – located in Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania was opened in 1945 to accommodate more campers. Massad Gimel, the third and final of the Massad sleep-away camps, opened in Effort, Pennsylvania in 1966.

Massad provided its campers with a living and breathing Hebrew language and cultural environment outside the traditional school framework. While there were no formal classes, there was a carefully crafted educational program at the center of every aspect of the camp. Campers learned about Jewish traditions, the Hebrew language, culture, Zionism, and current events through their everyday activities. Each summer Camp Massad had a theme which would permeate these activities, including the plays, literary activities, discussions, and even the arts and crafts projects. One of the biggest activities of the summer, the Color War (Maccabia), divided the camp into two teams with opposing themes. The campers competed in various activities including songs, skits, sports, pageants, etc., and were awarded points. Essentially, campers participated in sports and activities one would find at any other camp in America -- they just did them in Hebrew, with their own Hebrew terminology (compiled in The Massad Hebrew-English Dictionary) which allowed them to learn the language naturally and outside an artificial classroom setting.

In addition to the traditional and religious aspects of the camp, which included morning prayers and Sabbath observance, Camp Massad also aimed to inspire the love of living as a Halutz, or pioneer, in Israel through agricultural projects. Campers broke ground and planted seeds in gardens, each of which bore the name of one of the waves of immigration to Israel (Biluyim, Youth Aliyah). Not only did the campers have the opportunity to learn agricultural terminology, but they also learned of the importance of farming as it pertained to Israel at the time.

The work of Camp Massad went on for forty years and came to an end when the Massad Aleph, the first of the Massad sleep-away camps to open, became the last of the Massad camps to close when it shut its doors in November of 1981. The Massad movement, however, lives on in two Massad camps operating in Manitoba and Montreal, Canada, respectively, to this day. In creating this archive, the hope is to make available to educators and researchers the kind of educational materials which were successfully used in the language immersion program at Camp Massad.

Bibliography

  1. --Kobrin, Lawrence. "Camp Massad and Its’ Role in the Jewish Community", 1978.
  2. --Shulsinger-Shear Yashuv, Shlomo and Rivka Shulsinger-Shear Yashuv.Kovetz Massad: A Pictorial History Third Volume. Jerusalem: Irgun Machnot Massad B’Israel and Alumni of Massad Camps in the U.S.A., 1991.
  3. --Shulsinger, Shlomo. Hebrew Camping in the United States: Ten Years of Massad Camps (1941-1950). New York, 1950.
  4. --Shulsinger-Shear Yashuv, Shlomo and Rivka Shulsinger-Shear Yashuv. Kovetz Massad: A Pictorial History Second Volume.

Extent

4.75 Linear Feet (7 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box (museum), 1 audiocassette box, 1 videocassette box, 1 MAP oversized folder)

Abstract

Founded by Shlomo and Rivka (Wolman) Shulsinger, Camp Massad was the pre-eminent Hebrew camp in the United States. The collection, comprised of material donated by former staff, counselors, and campers contains administrative records, correspondence, newsletters, play scripts, photographs, oral histories and movies.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series as follows:

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Information

The collection contains donations from former counselors, campers, and staff of Camp Massad. The donations coordinated by Lawrence Kobrin. The oral histories on audiotape and videotape were donated in 2015.

Digitization Note

The sound recordings in Box 8, found in Series II: Camp Life, were digitized in their entirety.

Related Material

P-851 Erica Abel, Summer Camp Papers 1973-1983

P-687 Herbert Kaplan Camp Equinunk Memorabilia 1944-1950

AJHS Library Book: The Massad English-Hebrew Dictionary (PJ4833 .S37)

AJHS Library Book: Kovets Masad (BM135 .K68 1989)

AJHS Library Book: Kovets Masad. Kerekh 2, Mahanaʾut ʻIvrit (SK601 .S38)

Separated Material

One camp flag, two yarmulkes, two buttons, and twenty-five felt patches were removed and placed in the museum collection.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Records of Camp Massad, undated, 1944-2015   I-550
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Rebecca Weintraub in 2013.
Date
© 2014
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English

Revision Statements

  • March 3, 2016 and February 24, 2017:: Accretion materials were added and the finding aid was revised by Boni Joi Koelliker. The oral histories were digitized by a generous donation from the Camp Massad Reunion Fund.
  • May 2016:: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
  • March 2017:: Added additional Series II: Ephemera, undated by Tanya Elder.
  • March 2017:: Updated genre terms by cataloger Emily Anna Smith and Tanya Elder.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States