Dovi’s Camp Gan Israel in Central Florida. {Chabad of Parkland}

By Martin Lenkowsky

Chabad of Parkland founder and Executive Vice President Rabbi Yosef Y. Biston describes their recent purchase of a 100-acre facility in Central Florida as something Florida needs.

The new site will serve as the permanent home for Dovi’s Camp Gan Israel.

The camp, which can accommodate up to 600 children, has been named in memory of Dovi Fellig, who was 17 years old and the son of Rabbi Schneur Zalman and Mimi Fellig, who were donors to the camp. It will be utilized for two summer and two winter camping sessions.

The campsite is located in Fruitland Park, just north of Orlando, on the shores of Lake Geneva. The campsite offers a range of amenities, including a 200-foot beachfront, a spring-fed lake, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a fully-equipped indoor gymnasium (spanning over 5,000 square feet with three full-length basketball courts), and a large auditorium (spread over 10,000 square feet).

According to Biston, Chabad has been organizing overnight camps in Central Florida since 1978 by renting facilities. Although they have acquired their own establishment in Lake Worth, it is not big enough to cater to the growing demand. Biston also mentioned that the camps have been successful in attracting kids from other states, including California.

The newly purchased property was the site of an existing camp called Camp Geneva, which was used as a rental facility. “I bought the place to have it for myself,” the rabbi said. “It’s our own place. We can call it our own.”

The 100-acre site boasts 26 buildings, a nature trail, zip-lining, a ropes course, and three illuminated fields, including beach volleyball.

There are two separate summer sessions: four-week July and three-week August sessions. The first session begins on July 2 this year. There are two 10-day sessions during the winter. A girls’ session is held in December; a boys’ session is held in January.

With its new, spacious campsite, Biston says they could double camp enrollment. “With the growth in Florida,” there’s a tremendous need,” he said.

Biston feels the Jewish education they receive in camp is even better than the one they get in school. “Here they’re living Judaism 24-7 in a fun way,” he says, adding that during camp, they can study Torah, learn Jewish songs, and enjoy all the camp amenities. Whereas, in regular school, they have other courses they have to take.

Chabad of Parkland purchased the property for $5 million with the help of donations. Additional donations are welcome for those interested in having a building or campus named after them.

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Author Profile

Martin Lenkowsky
Martin Lenkowsky
Martin Lenkowsky moved to Coral Springs from NYC in 1982. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College. He has been both writer and editor for a number of South Florida publications since 1983. He considers features writing his specialty.
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