Presenting the New Unit of AVODAH

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Kunkletown, PA (March 1, 2023) – Camp Harlam is thrilled to announce that Avodah, a new Vocational Education Program for participants in the disability community aged 17 to 28, will kick off this summer. Avodah, which means work, will run during the first session of Camp Harlam, June 21, 2023 to July 16, 2023. The participants or Avodahniks, as they will be known as, will live together with Avodah staff and will receive hands-on experience supporting many facets of camp including running the staff coffee cart, the 4th of July Carnival, Color War, athletics and arts programming, mail delivery and other special projects.  They will also enjoy aspects of camp life including swimming, trips out of camp and the Ruach, or spirit, of song sessions and the sweetness of Shabbat.

When asked why this was important, Lisa David, Executive Director of Camp Harlam, said, “Harlam remains committed to creating an open and safe community, where all are welcomed and valued. Establishing Avodah as a program for young adults with disabilities in our community is another way in which we can expand our inclusive practices.” She went on to say, “We have many campers with disabilities who age out of our program when it comes time to advance to being camp staff. Avodah will provide them with an opportunity to remain in and give back to our camp community, while gaining skills and having fun with their peers. We know that our community is diminished without the presence of those with varying abilities and are so excited to welcome them home to Kunkletown this year.”

The opportunities that come with the Avodah program will help promote the goals of increasing skills around independence, confidence, socialization, time management and taking initiative for the Advodahniks. Inclusion and integration are values that are paramount to the Harlam community. “We believe that our collective experience is enhanced by the participation of all individuals, so we appreciate what gifts everyone has to share,” said Lori Zlotoff, LCSW, and Camp Harlam’s REDI and Camper Care Manager. “As campers become Advodahniks, they will continue to feel valued and experience a sense of belonging and appreciation within the Harlam community.”

In Summer 2022, Camp Harlam piloted this Avodah program. Amy Kales’ son Jack suffered a birth injury and is intellectually challenged as a result. Amy tells us, “In spite of his challenges and differences, he is embraced by the whole of the Harlam community—from the campers to the counselors to the senior staff. At Harlam, he feels loved, accepted, safe, and most importantly, included.” Jack has been a member of the Harlam community since 2016, first as a camper and last summer, for the first time, as part of the Avodah program. She explained one of the reasons this program is so important to her, to Jack and to their whole family, “Every year, starting around February, as the pitchers and catchers report (the universal signal of the beginning of a new season), Jack begins asking about returning to Camp Harlam in the summer.  ‘When do I go?’ ‘How long can I stay?’  and my personal favorite: ‘Am I going to be famous at Harlam again?’ The reason Jack is so excited to return to Harlam every year is because of something we refer to at our house as Harlam Magic. Every year, as his mom, I worry.  And every year, when I pick Jack up, I leave crying happy tears because my son is so obviously loved and so obviously valued.  It’s truly magical.  It’s Harlam Magic.”


The Avodah program can include jobs around camp such as:

  • Support staff for program areas
  • Assisting in Camp K’ton (with children ages 2-7)
  • Office work (mail sorting and delivery, copying, shredding)
  • Operations (canteen, milk squad, snack distribution, water coolers)
  • Staff Coffee Cart
  • Supporting all camp activities
The benefits the Avodahniks receive include:

  • Sharing in the creation of a kehilla kedosha (sacred community)
  • Fostering opportunities for social inclusion with the campers
  • Hands on training opportunities with our Gesher (Counselor In Training) program
  • Continued relationship with camp and the benefits of being in the Harlam community.

For more information about participating in Avodah, please reach out to Lori Zlotoff at

For more information on working as a staff member to support Avodah, please reach out to Aaron Soloman at