Camp Massad (Poconos)

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Camp Massad
מחנה מסד
Massad Logo, 1963
Formation 1941
Founder Shlomo Shulsinger
Extinction 1981
Type Jewish summer camp
Official language

Camp Massad (Hebrew: מחנה מסד‎; Machaneh Massad) was a Zionist Jewish summer camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, which closed in 1981. Massad was founded as a day camp in 1941 by the HaNoar Ha'Ivri with thirty campers, and eventually grew to three sleep-away camps, Massad Alef, Bet, and Gimmel, with over 1,100 campers. Massad's founder, Shlomo Shulsinger, emphasized Hebrew language as a key value in a multi-denominational Jewish Zionist environment.

It appears that no remains of the Tannersville grounds still exist, having been replaced by the Camelback water and sports park.


The HaNoar Ha’Ivri movement was established in 1937 to build a Jewish life in the U.S. that promoted Zionism and the revival of the Hebrew language. In September 1940, the HaNoar Ha'Ivri conference reached a unanimous decision to establish a Hebrew-speaking camp, an idea initiated by Shlomo Shulsinger, who was appointed camp director. The camp began in 1941.[1]

In its first season, Massad operated as a day camp at Far Rockaway, Queens, and in its second season shared the facilities of Camp Machanaim, an Orthodox Jewish camp in the Catskill Mountains. In the summer of 1943, Massad was finally relocated to its own site in Tannersville, in the Pocono Mountains. In 1948, Massad opened a second camp, Massad Bet, in Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania. Massad Gimmel opened in nearby Effort, Pennsylvania in 1966.[2]

In 1951, Massad launched its Machon Ma’ale program for the preparation of Hebrew-speaking counselors, with Professor Hillel Bavli serving as its first director. In 1960, Massad opened up a new division called Prozdor (a preparatory program for the Machon) for 15-year-old campers.

The Massad camps had their largest camper enrolment in the 1966-68 summers: in 1966, 914 campers; in 1967, 937; and in 1968, 925.[3] From this point on there was a downward trend. In 1971, for the first time, campers were accepted for only a one-month session. In 1972, facing rapidly declining registration, Massad Gimmel was sold. After the Shulsingers retired in 1977, their successors attempted to orient the camp toward stricter religious observance in effort to address the changing realities of Jewish life in the United States and attract more Orthodox campers. However, Massad’s enrollment continued to decline. Massad Bet closed after the 1979 season, and Massad Alef closed in 1981.

The related Canadian Massad movement created three camps in Canada: Massad Alef at Lac Quenouille, Quebec, Massad Bet in Torrance, Ontario, and Massad Gimmel in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba. The Quebec and Manitoba camps still exist.


The Massad movement sought to create a rich and authentic Hebrew Jewish life in the United States, and promote national renewal in Israel. Massad generally had a large Israeli contingent (15 to 30 each season) who participated in all areas of camping.

Given the camp's goal of an immersive Hebrew-language environment, Massad became the locus for a large amount of new Hebrew vocabulary, to describe American sports for instance. Massad's focus on spoken and written Hebrew extended to publishing a literary periodical and a hardback Hebrew-English dictionary.


Massad's influence on other major Jewish camps was significant. The founder of Ramah attended, and Camp Morasha and Moshava both modeled themselves after it.[4]

The three volumes of "Kovetz Massad" document Camp Massad's culture and history. The first volume, published in New York in 1978, focused on Massad summer camps in the United States. The second volume, published in Jerusalem in 1978, was dedicated to Hebrew camping in North America, including a historical survey of several Hebrew camps and sociological data on the integration of Massad alumni into Israeli society. The third volume, published in Jerusalem in 1991, is a pictorial history of Camp Massad's 40 years.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Chanes, Jerome A. (28 June 2011). "Recalling the Golden Age of Hebrew Culture in America". The Jewish Week. New York. 
  2. ^ Shulsinger, Shlomo, ed. (1989). Kovetz Massad: Hebrew Camping in North America. Jerusalem: Alumni of Massad Camps. 
  3. ^ Frost, Shimon (September 1994). "Camps Massad". Avar ve'Atid: A Journal of Jewish Education, Culture and Discourse. Jewish Agency for Israel. pp. 41–50. 
  4. ^ Sarna, Jonathan D. (2006). "The Crucial Decade in Jewish Camping". In Lorge, Michael M.; Zola, Gary Phillip. A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. pp. 28–51. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°13′05″N 74°52′12″W / 41.218°N 74.870°W / 41.218; -74.870