Battleship: 1948

Campers use boats to re-enact the "illegal" immigration of Jews to pre-State Israel in the 1930s and 1940s. As they try to evade "British officers" (staff) and reach the Promised Land, they will gain understanding of the obstacles faced by early pioneers who wanted nothing more than to settle Palestine and help create the Jewish state.

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People were willing to take great risks to get to Israel
Before the State of Israel was established, Jews had no safe haven in times of need


If the activity begins at the Low Ropes Course, the Ropes staff, along with the GE, engages the group in team-building activities, while explaining the importance of collaboration in tough situations. Concepts of leaving no one behind and working for the greater good are stressed. These activities can last 15-30 minutes.

After the Ropes activity (or as the start of the activity, if you are not using a Ropes Course), campers hear a very brief introduction to Aliyah Bet, or "illegal" Jewish immigration to Palestine, in which would-be pioneers tried to evade the British blockade of Palestine. The GE provides a brief introduction to prepare the campers for the video clip they are about to watch.

Staff then screen a brief excerpt from Exodus, in which the Jews have escaped from detention and boarded boats, but they are stopped by the British under the command of Captain Sutherland. A brief discussion ensues, with opportunities for campers to gain understanding of why the British banned immigration, and why the Jews were determined to circumvent the ban.

Questions can include:

  • What other choices did Holocaust survivors have? 
  • How do you think the games you played at the Ropes Course relate to the challenge that faced Holocaust survivors who wanted to get to Palestine?
  • Do you think the survivors acted heroically, rashly, or...?

Campers then head to the lakefront, where each individual is given a small bag of snacks and a printed instruction sheet. In addition to mapping out the route they are to take, the instruction sheet tells them that when they reach the shore, they will be greeted by Jews who already live in Palestine. 

Campers are told they are Holocaust survivors and they are about to try to break the British blockade. Staff divides campers into groups and assigns them to rowboats and kayaks. Their instruction sheet gives them a route and a mission that they must complete before returning to shore. Along the route, staff in boats can taunt the campers but not capture or detain them. When campers approach the shore on their return, they are ambushed by staff members who direct them to a "detention center." They may attack the Zionists with water balloons, use a bullhorn, or other props.

On shore, campers are divided into small groups, each led by one British officer/staff member. The British officers then "interrogate" each camper individually, asking them to state why they should be allowed to enter Israel. The GE may offer a prize for the best/most creative/most compelling responses. After all campers have been interrogated, the British officers announce who will be allowed into Israel. Then everyone moves to a shady spot for a debriefing of the activity.


Beginning at the Low Ropes course makes this activity take 90 minutes. It can be closer to 60 minutes if it begins with a brief introduction to the video clip.

The video clip from Exodus can be replaced with other video resources, including from Toldot Yisrael, or with a dramatic presentation by staff members who role play characters trying to get to Palestine and British soldiers trying to block them.

While the activity will be similar whether the campers are 13 or 16, the discussions can go deeper with older campers.

  • Younger campers will focus more on the emotional impact of the activity
  • Older campers can be encouraged to delve into the then-and-now comparisons between 1947 and today.

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