Who The Folk?! Hannah Gilfix

This week we sit down with newly inducted Jewish professional Hannah Gilfix, who’s upgrading her longtime Jewish community involvement at Adath, USY and Herzl Camp with a new job at the Foundation for Jewish Camps. Hannah talks with us about being the leadership development fellow at the FJC, her ongoing work at Herzl Camp, and what it means to be a young Jewish professional, on this week’s Who The Folk?! Podcast.

You can read an excerpt below, but for the whole interview, please listen or subscribe to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher, with more to come later soon. Please subscribe, rate, and review. And of course, if you have suggestions of others who would be great subjects, let us know!

Who are you and what’s your background?

I’m Hannah. I grew up in Minneapolis and this it works this is my fifth summer working at Herzl Camp, mostly in the education world at camp but also doing fun stuff. I recently got hired at the Foundation For Jewish Camps I’ll be starting there this summer and moving to New York after.

Are you saving the Jewish world using camp?

More or less, yes. My job title is leadership development fellow, and they started the fellowship this year with the idea that they want younger people working at the Foundation for Jewish Camps who are in the camp world, so we can go to camp in the summers and see what the counselor and camp experience is now. I’m doing leadership development which looks more at training year-round staff and creating resources for them as well as bettering the camp counselor experience.

Being a young Jewish professional, how are you feeling jumping right out of university to what a lot of people consider a really difficult job?

Obviously, it’s something I think of. Being at camp the past two summers something I have experience in a way, but not as much on a professional level. I didn’t go to school actually for anything Jewish related but I’ve known for a while that I want to go into the Jewish field, and I think to be successful it’s something you have to be passionate about it. There are new articles all the time about how hard it is to work in that field, and I feel like with the experience I’ve had in the past and knowing myself and knowing how I work, hopefully, I’ll be able to balance that. I have kind of a weird background in that I didn’t go to camp until I was in 10th grade, and so I think that’s kind of where it started. At that age I was able to see like the actual difference that Jewish camp made in my life and when I was in high school.

What are you saying the successes of certain kinds of programming and the challenges overall?

I think it’s tricky in different parts of the field. So camp in particular obviously kids are coming a Jewish camp for a reason but frequently they aren’t coming for the actual Jewish programming and that’s where it gets tricky. The past two years at Herzl we started using Middot, Jewish soul traits to teach Judaism at camp and we found out a better way for campers to connect because it’s more relatable in their regular lives. So we’re following that over the next few summers in how we can connect Jewish programming to the rest of camp, not just during one hour a day. We still have our programming each day and we try to make them more interactive and more relatable conversations.

What’s the paranoia about the Jewish community when it comes to Jewish education at camp?

It’s definitely hard and it’s a fair thing that people are talking about. And I think because of that at camp we find it even more important to have these programs whatever that looks like at the time to be keeping up with our Jewish education because a lot of people aren’t getting it anywhere else, and Jewish summer camp is the only place where a lot of kids are getting Jewish education whether it’s formal or informal it still can be the only thing they’re receiving.

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