80 years of Moshava magic

Jay Wenig, left, and Victor Weiner reminisce on their summers at Camp Moshava. Jay Wenig
Jay Wenig, left, and Victor Weiner reminisce on their summers at Camp Moshava.
Jay Wenig

Generations of “Moshniks” gathered in Street, Maryland last Sunday to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Camp Moshava.

More than 400 Moshava alumni, campers and counselors came together for “Moshstock,” a celebration of eight decades of Jewish camping.

As the musical entertainment provided by past and present Moshniks kicked off, two longtime friends, standing in front of the dining hall and behind the main stage, Jay Wenig and Victor Weiner, who attended camp from 1964 to 1972 and 1971 to 1974, respectively, reminisced on the camp’s transformative powers.

“I was a shy 18-year-old boy and by the end of the summer I was getting up and singing, wearing costumes in front of everyone,” said Weiner, referring to the Saturday nights spent performing skits and songs by the campfire, a camp
tradition that lives on.


Wenig recalled a memorable moment from the summer of 1964, when as a 10-year-old-boy, he hiked seven miles to a stream and then rowed into camp as part of the “invading force” to kick off color war.

On another theme day — Yom Capitalism — a daring Israeli counselor, who served in the IDF as a pilot, rented a plane and circled the main square as another counselor leaned outside the cockpit, raining candy down on the campers below. Both Wenig and Weiner agreed such a stunt probably would not be staged today.

The two attended camp at its original home in Annapolis. As developments sprung up in Maryland’s capital, a decision was made to sell the property. The camp relocated to West Virginia for five years in the 1980s before returning to Maryland, where the land for Moshava’s current home in Street was purchased.

Founded in 1935, Camp Moshava is one of seven Habonim Dror camps in North America. Habonim Dror camps are affiliated with the Labor Zionist youth movement that began in Europe and exists today in 19 countries. In accordance
with the movement’s values, the camp teaches cooperation, shared labor, pioneering, social justice, Zionism and Judaism. Hebrew is infused in everyday camp life; performing Israeli folk songs and dances are a cherished part of Shabbat.

“Mosh was always a Jewish Zionist camp,” explained Weiner. “Whatever your politics, we’re all Zionists, we love Israel — that was the compelling idea in 1935.”

Steve Rappaport, Camp Moshava board president, and his wife, Sandy Laden, met at camp during the summer of 1976. Their children, like so many other children of camp alumni, are Moshniks, too.

The couple are part of a network of alumni working to strengthen the camp’s financial standing and build new facilities. With matching funds from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Camp Moshava will break ground in the spring on the new mirpa’ah (infirmary) referred to in kibbutz slang as the “marp.”

Seated close to the front, surrounded by their fellow camp counselors, Mira Kruger and Deborah Kopp cheered on their friends who took the stage.

Kruger, who just completed her third summer as a counselor, spoke of the “Mosh magic” that happens each summer and the thrill of getting to facilitate those magical moments for campers.

“There’s not one defining moment that stands out for me from this summer because even the most normal days here are special,” said Kruger.

For Kopp, “Mosh magic” is in the deep friendships created. “The community is more loving and accepting than anything I’ve ever felt in my life,” she said.

Camp executive director Jen Silber, beaming after her performance with the female singing group Thealella, said she is very excited for Moshava’s future.

“It’s humbling to see how many people have contributed to the camp. We have a lot to look forward to and a strong history to build upon.”

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