Guide to the Records of Camp Massad, undated, 1944-2003 [bulk 1949-1990]

Processed by Rebecca Weintraub

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161



© 2015, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Rebecca Weintraub as MS Word document, 2013. Finding aid was encoded by Christine McEvilly on Febuary 3, 2014. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Camp Massad
Title: Camp Massad Records
Dates:undated, 1944-2003 [bulk 1949-1990]
Abstract: 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. Opened in 1941 as a day camp in Far Rockaway, New York, Camp Massad grew to a total of three sleep away camps in Pennsylvania, the last of which closed its doors in 1981.
Languages: The collection is in English and Hebrew.
Quantity: 3 linear feet (seven manuscript boxes, 1 MAP oversized folder)
Identification: I-550
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located in AJHS New York, NY
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Historical Note

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 sleepaway 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 sleepaway 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.

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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.

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The collection is arranged into two series as follows:

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Access and Use

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.

This collection contains audiovisual or electronic media that requires special equipment to access. Please notify reference staff at 24 hours in advance of needing access.

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

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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)

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Camp Massad Records; I-550; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY, and Boston, MA.

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Acquisition Information

This collection contains donations from former counselors, campers, and staff of Camp Massad; donations coordinated by Lawrence Kobrin.

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Access Points

This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Series I: Administrative, 1944-1990

English and Hebrew.
Box 1-2.

This series is arranged alphabetically and then chronologically (within document types). Some material, including counselor and camper lists, has been arranged further according to one of the three camps

Scope and Content:

The material in this series contains only a portion of Camp Massad’s administrative records. Among the materials included in this series are counselor, staff, and camper lists from the three Massad camps; administrative correspondence, including the sale of Massad Aleph and Bet; the Massad Gimel closing papers; educational materials for counselors; financial documents; and clippings and camp memos. The topics covered in this series range from the purely administrative, such as Internal Revenue Service correspondence, to proper camp opening and closing procedures.

1 1 Alumni Association Meeting 1973
1 2 Administrative Committee 1973
1 3 Board of Directors 1977
1 4 Camp arrival and departure procedures 1973
1 5 Camper lists – Massad Aleph undated, 1954, 1964, 1978
1 6 Camper lists – Massad Gimel 1973
1 7 Clippings undated, 1955
1 8 Closing papers – Massad Gimel 1974-1975, 1983
1 9 Constitution and by laws undated
1 10 Correspondence 1944, 1951-1957, 1966-1975
1 11 Correspondence 1976-1985
1 12 Correspondence 1986, 1988
1 13 Correspondence 1989-1990, 1997
1 14 Correspondence – Federated Brokerage 1982
1 15 Correspondence – Gloria Levin lawsuit (Restricted Material) 1983-1984
1 16 Correspondence – Internal Revenue Service 1986
1 17 Correspondence – Internal Revenue Service 1987
1 18 Correspondence – Internal Revenue Service 1988-1989
2 1 Correspondence – Massad Gimel 1973
2 2 Correspondence – Proposed opening of new Camp Massad 1996
2 3 Correspondence – Sale of Massad Aleph 1981
2 4 Correspondence – Sale of Massad Bet 1982-1984
2 5 Counselor contracts 1951-1955
2 6 Counselor lists undated, 1951-1953
2 7 Instruction guides for counselors undated
2 8 Israeli delegation to Massad Gimel undated
2 9 Memos 1954, 1974, 1983, 1994
2 10 Population list – Massad Aleph 1973
2 11 Promotional materials undated
2 12 Proposed oral history project 1994, 1998
2 13 Resolutions 1981
2 14 Staff lists – Massad Aleph 1952, 1960, 1978-1979
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Series II: Camp Life, 1947-1996

English and Hebrew.
Box 3-7.

This series is arranged alphabetically and then chronologically (within document types). The newsletters, song sheets, and Color War (Maccabia) materials are also arranged, where possible, according to the camp from which they originated. The audio cassette, photographs, slides, and negatives are arranged in their own box.

Scope and Content:

The materials in this series reflect a selection of the activities and events at all three Camp Massad sites and offer a glimpse into everyday camp life. From the newsletters and song sheets to the discussion topics on the Torah portion of the week and the Maccabia songs and programs, many of the items in this series show how both the Hebrew language and Jewish culture permeated every aspect of the Camp Massad experience. The series also contains post-camp remembrances, including select yearbooks, histories, and reunion materials, which also reflect camp culture. The photographs and slides depicting camp scenes, counselors, and campers, complement the print materials in the collection and bring them to life, providing a fuller picture of camp activities, events, and individuals.

3 1 Camp Massad dictionary undated
3 2 Campaign to improve Hebrew at Camp Massad 1957
3 3 Camper superlatives undated
3 4 Certificates of excellence undated, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1973
3 5 Closing dinner programs 1957, 1961, 1973
3 6 Color War (Maccabia) undated, 1953
3 7 Color War (Maccabia) – Massad Aleph 1947, 1950, 1952, 1954
3 8 Color War (Maccabia) – Massad Aleph 1957, 1965
3 9 Color War (Maccabia) – Massad Aleph 1970, 1973, 1976
3 10 Color War (Maccabia) – Massad Bet 1955-1956, 1965, 1973
3 11 Color War (Maccabia) – Massad Gimel 1973
3 12 Correspondence – Camper undated
3 13 Counselor notes undated, 1955
3 14 Educational materials undated
3 15 Educational materials 1955, 1962, 1973
3 16 Forms to choose camp activities 1973
(MAP1) 17 Maps undated, 1955, 1965, 1982
4 1 Newsletters undated, 1963-1966
4 2 Newsletters – Massad Aleph undated, 1955
4 3 Newsletters – Massad Aleph 1957-1958
4 4 Newsletters – Massad Bet 1956, 1960, 1963, 1965
4 5 Newsletters – Massad Gimel 1973
4 6 Parents’ Day – Massad Gimel 1973
4 7 Play programs undated, 1952, 1954, 1957
4 8 Play scripts undated
4 9 Play scripts undated
4 10 Play scripts undated, 1973
4 11 Play scripts – Massad Aleph 1951-1952, 1973
4 12 Play scripts – Massad Bet 1956, 1979
4 13 Play scripts – Massad Gimel 1973
5 1 Postcards undated
5 2 Prayer materials undated, 1971
5 3 Remembrances undated, 1950, 1965, 1977-1978, 1996
5 4 Reunions 1957, 2002
5 5 Sabbath Menus 1973
5 6 Song sheets undated
5 7 Song sheets undated
5 8 Song sheets 1956, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1978, 1981
5 9 Song sheets – Massad Aleph undated, 1955, 1968-1970, 1972-1976, 1979-1980
5 10 Song sheets – Massad Bet undated, 1964, 1967-1969, 1971-1974
5 11 Song sheets – Massad Gimel 1970-1971, 1974
6 1 Swim records 1965-1966
6 2 Swim records 1967-1968
6 3 Task and inventory charts undated, 1955
6 4 Textiles undated
6 5 Textiles undated
6 6 Weekly Torah portion topics 1973
6 7 Yearbooks 1971-1972
6 8 Yearbooks 1973, 1976
6 9 Miscellaneous Remembrances undated
6 10 Miscellaneous Remembrances undated
7 1 Audio tape 1963
7 2 Bunk photographs – Massad Aleph 1949, 1950-1952, 1956-1958, 1964, 1967-1968
7 3 Bunk photographs – Massad Bet 1950, 1956, 1959-1965
7 4 Film 1953
7 5 Film 1955-1956
7 6 Negatives undated
7 7 Photographs undated
7 8 Photographs undated
7 9 Photographs undated, 1950, 1953-1954, 1956, 1998, 2003
7 10 Photographs – Massad Aleph 1949-1950, 1952-1953
7 11 Photographs – Massad Bet undated, 1950-1951, 1953
7 12 Photographs – Photocopies undated, 1949-1950, 1953-1958, 1960-1962
7 13 Slides 1962-1965
7 14 Slides 1965-1967
7 15 Slides 1967-1973
7 16 Slides 1973
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