Rabbi’s Review – November 2017

Going Home & Camp Newman

Rabbi Charles K. Briskin 


Later this month I am going home for Thanksgiving. While I am going “home,” I’m not going to my own home. My parents sold my childhood home more than 20 years ago. I have many wonderful childhood memories of growing up in that one- hundred-year-old Victorian which was my home for the first twenty-five years of my life.

When they downsized into a three-level townhouse in the neighboring town, our visits home were spent there. It wasn’t mine; however, it also provided wonderful memories of visits with our expanding family network of sisters-in-law, a niece and nephews. My last Thanksgiving in Boston, many years ago, was in that home Four years ago, my parents downsized again, moving to a smaller single-level condominium. I’ve been there a few times; however, this visit will be the first time Karen and Ezra have seen my parents’ “new” home in which we will begin to make new memories.

Going “home” for me is more a state of mind, than a specific place. Those homes I mentioned provided wonderful memories for me, filling me with nostalgia and joy. Our family created memories in my parents townhouse including when my boys played in the snow for the one and only time in their lives. These homes are repositories of memory, not of material.

I wax nostalgic because on October 9, my “second home,” Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, was destroyed in the recent Northern California fires. All who were touched, including myself, by their years at Camp Newman remain devastated by the loss of our “home.” We didn’t live there and we didn’t lose any of our worldly possessions like the several thousand families in Santa Rosa. But we lost a space that was vital to our family, and to thousands of others.

The fire destroyed a place but not our memories. I will always remember and am thankful the extraordinary years I’ve been privileged to help nurture the lives of young and emerging Jews from the various physical places around Camp, spaces that reside now only in the storage room of memory. I will always carry my treasure trove of precious memories.

Despite the devastation, I know that Camp Newman will rise again. I hope to help build the new Camp Newman so that my family and I can return “home” again and soon, ready to make new memories, in a new home, as I’ve done throughout my life.

Please help Camp Newman provide a summer experience for our campers who desperately need Camp this summer and beyond. Go to www.campnewman.org/newmanstrong to make a donation.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving wherever home may be.