Who We Are

shalom sign outdoors.

ABOUT US

Shalom Institute enriches Jewish life, ensures the Jewish future and makes the world a better place. We are a camp, conference and retreat center in Southern California, focused on instilling Jewish values, promoting sustainability principles and practices, and being welcoming and inclusive to people of all ages and abilities.

As a premier Jewish Community Center for experiential education, community engagement, inclusion and accessibility, and Jewish overnight camping, we serve thousands year-round in transformational experiences and immersive adventures. We are nationally known for our programmatic excellence, community partnerships, and for being a “green” leader through our sustainability education and practices. 

Shalom Institute began as Camp JCA in 1951 in Barton Flats in the San Bernardino Mountain as the overnight camping program of the Jewish Centers Association (JCA), which later became Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles. Camp JCA opened a second site in Malibu in 1972 and ran two sites until the mid-1980s, eventually selling the Barton Flats site in 1993. Camp JCA Shalom experienced a period of tremendous growth in the late 1980s and early 1990s and eventually evolved into Shalom Institute Camp and Conference Center in 1998. In 2005, with the dissolution of the JCCs of Greater Los Angeles, Shalom Institute became an independent non-profit organization. From its roots to the present day, Shalom Institute remains an organization focused on nature-based Judaism and 4 key Jewish values: Community, Sustainability, Inclusion/Accessibility and Resilience.

israeli flags strung across a ceiling.
group of teens and kids smiling.

Our deep resilience was tested on November 9, 2018 when the Woolsey Fire swept through our Malibu campus and destroyed more than 95% of the buildings and programming space. Our commitment to serving our loyal community drove us to have 90% of our programs running at other locations within 100 days of the fire. Proudly, we are currently rebuilding the Alan D. Leve Campus on our majestic land in Malibu. During Summer 2024, our campers and staff, among others, will experience our brand new, state-of the-art ropes course featuring solo and group course elements, inclusive and accessible spaces, a double zipline and more. The community will also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in learning about the magic of bees and pollination at our newly opened Bee & Pollinator center and bee apiary. We look forward to our immersive signature and year-round experiences happening in Malibu beginning in 2026. Our Transformative Experiences include:

Camp JCA Shalom overnight camp serves thousands of campers every year with both our summer camp and off-season camp weekends. Camp JCA Shalom has a cabin-centered camping approach where the cabin stays together throughout the day, helping to form strong cabin bonds and friendships throughout the session. JCA is a welcoming, inclusive community. We celebrate Shabbat and seamlessly incorporate Jewish values into the daily camp fun. Every year we earn high scores for camper satisfaction and likelihood to recommend (Foundation for Jewish Camp survey).

Camp Gesher and our RSJ programming engages campers and families from Russian-speaking Jewish families. In addition to summer camp, Gesher spearheads year-round camps and weekend experiences. Since the war in Ukraine started, Camp Gesher has  been supporting Ukrainian refugees to give them a safe, fun and loving summer camp experience. Our enrollment numbers for summer 2024 have dramatically increased, further proving the importance of Camp Gesher within the Southern California (and beyond) Russian-speaking Jewish community.

Shemesh Farms, our social enterprise that employs 100 young adults with diverse disabilities, is currently blooming at Malibu United Methodist Church, our 2nd post-fire home for the farm. Shemesh Farms grows a wide variety of organic herbs in hydroponic towers and raised garden beds. The Farm Fellows and their coaches, along with other volunteers, are part of the entire process of crafting our delicious herb blends used for cooking and seasoning. Shemesh Farms provides meaningful work and community for our Farm Fellows and Shemesh continues to expand their reach and impact through intentional partnerships within the local Malibu community and among Jewish LA.

Shalom Institute’s Year-Round Experiences include family fun days, weekend family camps, retreats and other custom experiences, which will continue to expand as we return to Malibu. The experiences provide an opportunity to disconnect and be in nature, and learn about the environment, sustainability and Jewish values. We create immersive, engaging and educational experiences.

Providing transformational experiences year-round creates life-long connections and strengthens Jewish identity and community that ultimately leads to Tikkun Olam, creating a better world. Our transformative work has been proven to impact our community’s connection to Jewish life and values, helping to ensure the Jewish future.

Kids holding long paper.

a positive Jewish living experience

Build lifelong meaningful relationships