Cantor’s Column – July-August 2019

Camp for Everyone!!

Cantor Ilan Davidson

When you read this article, I will again be working at our URJ Camp Newman by the Bay, in Vallejo, CA, where I will be joined by many children from TBE. At the same time, we will also have campers at URJ Six Points SciTech Camp, where Gale and Eliot Swartz will be faculty for programs in Culinary Science and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), as well as URJ Kutz Camp, URJ Six Points Sports Camp, Camp Alonim, Camp Hess Kramer, and Camp JCA Shalom, to name a few. All together, we have a record number of 16 students going to residential Jewish summer camps, this year.

Many of our students are able to attend Jewish residential camps thanks to the generosity of funds from Temple Beth El, the Edith Leventhal Campership Fund, through Sisterhood, the Bill Gren Memorial Camp Fund, and the professional discretionary funds. But, there are still some students for whom the idea of attending a Jewish residential camp is only a dream. At a typical cost of around $1000+ per week, Jewish camping has sadly become a luxury item which is not affordable for all families.

First, let me be clear that Jewish Camp is NOT a luxury… it truly molds our children into Jewish leaders and more importantly, adults for whom an attachment to the Jewish community is a norm, not an option. The values of informal Jewish educational experiences like NFTY (Youth Group) and Camp have proven to have a stronger impact on our children’s Jewish futures than the formal education we provide through our Torah/Religious Schools, not that the combination isn’t equally important. One without the other is like having the wine without the cheese, both are great by themselves, but together, magic happens.

So how do we make camp a reality for ALL of our children? We make this a reality by supporting our funds that send students to camp with your donations. It is my sincerest hope, that with your support and donations, I will be able to receive the commitment from Sisterhood, along with the support of the Gren fund, to announce Temple Beth El’s commitment to Camp For Everyone, when we announce that ALL students who apply to a Jewish residential camp will automatically be awarded an 18% scholarship, up to $1200, from Temple Beth El. The commitment to our children’s future is our communal responsibility, so please reach out to me to see how you can help make it a reality.