Camp Alonim History
Camp Alonim is a program of the American Jewish University, an organization founded in 2007 when the Brandeis-Bardin Institute merged with the University of Judaism. Originally, Camp Alonim was a program of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, which had a long and rich history. Dr. Shlomo Bardin was an educator who believed that American young people were assimilating at alarming rates and sought to create programming to stem this tide. He started with the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (B.C.I.), which is a summer residential program for college students to explore the place Judaism will hold in their adult lives by engaging in art, music, drama, Israeli folk dance, and learning with dynamic scholars. In 1947, 2,200 acres in Simi Valley were purchased and B.C.I. settled into its permanent home where it has been inspiring college students for over 60 years.
Dr. Bardin established Camp Alonim in 1953 with the same educational philosophy as the original program: to truly touch young people, they would have to experience Judaism through their senses–through art, music, Israeli folk dance and drama. In the nearly 60 years since, we have added sports, nature, and interactive learning to the repertoire of experiences we offer our campers. Both Camp Alonim and B.C.I. are still thriving today and run simultaneously during the summer months in separate areas of the Brandeis-Bardin property.
In 1972, the neighboring land owner, James Arness, star of TV’s “Gunsmoke,” donated his 950 acres, making the Brandeis-Bardin property 3,200 acres. Since then, 200 acres by our front gate have been sold, bringing our property currently to approximately 3,000 acres. This is the second-largest piece of land held for Jewish communal purpose, second only to the State of Israel.