It’s camp season, which means at least one thing: horny Jewish teenagers are probably hooking up right now, as you’re reading this. Not only is this inevitable in the Jewish sleepaway camp world—it’s implicitly encouraged. Jewish community leaders began promoting summer camp in the postwar era as a way of reaffirming Jewish identity, encouraging authentic Jewish culture and ensuring a Jewish future through budding romances. This is a very old phenomenon.
It’s also one of the main takeaways from Sandra Fox’s book, The Jews of Summer: Summer Camp and Jewish Culture in Postwar America, released in February 2023. She explores how Jewish summer camp has evolved over the years, especially after the sexual revolution brought hookup culture to mainstream attention.
Plus, producer Zac Kauffman reports from Jerusalem, where he’s studying at the Conservative Yeshiva—and getting caught in protests over Israel’s recent operation in Jenin. And Phoebe discusses a Canadian Jewish professor who applied to a job posting at UCLA, and who was denied, because he spoke critically of “diversity statements” on a podcast in 2018.
Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast or donating to The CJN.