Cantor’s Column – May 2021

Commitment to Camp Continues

Cantor Ilan Davidson

Temple Beth El has had a historic commitment to Jewish Camping for our young people that spans nearly 5 decades, and the future is bright and encouraging, for our young people, as a result. Statistics overwhelmingly show that in our world of challenged religious institutions, seeking to remain vital in the lives of future generations, more young professionals relate their continued dedication to their Judaism to the immersive Jewish life experiences they had at a Jewish Summer Camp. It is therefore not surprising at all that our Temple Beth El involved Young Adults have often had life shaping experiences at any of our amazing URJ Summer Camps, and our Temple has always supported that.

Whether it is the thousands of dollars in camperships, provided by our Sisterhood, the Gren Campership Fund, and the professional discretionary funds, or the weeks of committed time at camp by Rabbi Lieb, at Camp Saratoga, then Swig, and then Newman, or Rabbi Briskin, Debi Rowe, and myself, at Camp Swig, Newman, and SixPoints, or the commitment of members like Gale and Eliot Swartz, to the boards of URJ West Coast Camps, Temple Beth El has always been known as the synagogue partner who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk of Jewish Camping. Even with the fires that ravaged our own beloved URJ Camp Newman and the complete shut down of URJ Camps throughout the country, last summer, as a result of Covid19, forcing a virtual camp experience, our Temple leadership, Rabbi Kail and I have remained committed to our camps, as we have awaited the exciting news I can share with all of you, today.

URJ CAMPS ARE OFFICIALLY RE-OPENING FOR BUSINESS THIS SUMMER! In fact, our fire ravaged Camp Newman is returning home, to Santa Rosa, this Summer, with some creative living arrangements as we continue to rebuild. The NEW dining hall is complete, several cabins are ready, and the Welcome Center/ Programming Space is OPEN, and Temple Beth El is going back to Camp, with 14 campers, 1 staff member, and, of course, yours truly, returning to re-open our commitment. Our Sisterhood and Gren Campership funds have combined forces to provide 18% Scholarships to every camper from TBE, and our leadership is fully supporting our return to camp. As Covid has created new guidelines for re- opening, including a completely closed campus, where faculty and staff must commit to remaining for the entire span of their sessions. As a result, I will be spending 4 weeks from the middle of June to the middle of July, to help re-open URJ Camp Newman. I have already been working for the past 2 months, with the programming team to re-imagine how we program at Camp, moving forward. While it will be difficult to be away from our TBE family for so long, I will still be able to conduct some of my weekly programming from Camp, to bring some of Camp Newman into your living rooms. Whether it is our weekly story time with our youngest members (future campers), or Cantor’s Corner, featuring song leaders from Camp Newman and other faculty and staff, I know that this summer will expand our access and familiarity to our URJ Camps. As our camps continue to rebuild, Temple Beth El will continue our commitment into the next decade and beyond.