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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776

URJ Greene Family Camp Dedicates New Eco-Village and Revitalized Lakefront

Contact: Annette Powers
Office: 212-650-4154 / Cell: 917-225-4857

June 25, 2012, Bruceville, TX -- On Sat. July 7, 2012, The Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) Greene Family Camp (GFC) will dedicate the newly established Isaac Mayer Wise Academy Eco-Village. There will also be a renaming of the newly revitalized waterfront of the lake. Formerly known as Soil Conservation Site Reservoir #4, the lake will now be renamed “Lake Jake” in memory of the friendship between David Toomim (a URJ board member, president of the URJ Southwest Council, and a very active camp and regional lay leader) and Rabbi Lawrence “Jake” Jackofsky, who was the first director of the camp. Both events will take place simultaneously at 10 am at GFC in Bruceville, Texas.

About the Isaac Mayer Wise Academy Eco-Village

The Wise Academy Eco-Village encompasses the best of what camp offers - communal Jewish living and learning.  Jewish values and Jewish practice are at the forefront of every aspect of the program.  From teaching the Jewish concepts of caring for the land and its inhabitants to discussions about the agricultural heritage of the Jewish people, the Eco-Village will be a meaningful addition to GFC's educational programs. 

At the Eco-Village, campers will produce their own food, build their own communities, and explore the natural world in a more in-depth way. For many city-dwelling campers, this will be a transformative experience. It will be a place where older campers can learn about and experience the natural world while teaching younger campers to appreciate it.

Plans for the Eco-Village include a new horseback riding program and campers of all ages will also have the opportunity to learn about archeology, geology, and navigation while riding through the camp's extensive grounds.  New tree houses in the Eco-Village for camp overnights will soon be built. Instead of sleeping on the ground, campers will sleep in shelters built into the tree canopies.

One of the main benefits of the Wise Academy Eco-Village program is that it will educate and inspire the entire camp to become a macro eco village. Many areas of the camp rely on energy and water consumption that can be reduced through more efficient use of resources. The staff of the camp's sustainability program, which is connected directly to the Wise Academy Eco-Village, will look for every opportunity to teach and utilize sustainability techniques.

Resources to initiate the project were donated by the Board of the Isaac Mayer Wise Academy of Dallas, Texas. The Board chose the URJ Greene Family Camp to carry on its legacy and continue to reflect the Jewish values that guided the Academy from its founding in 1996 to its closure in 2006.

The GFC Kibbutz will be the "marquee" occupant of the Eco-Village.  The Kibbutz program, now in its 33rd year, currently houses approximately 50 rising 10th grade high school students and 10 staff members per session. Kibbutz housing will be patterned after those in "Bustan Village" at the Reform Movement's Kibbutz Lotan in Israel. These unique structures are currently in use wherever simple, energy-efficient housing is needed. The Kibbutz Campers will be the primary summer stewards of the GFC zoo, garden, and orchard. They will learn about and maintain the plants, trees, and animals. They will also learn to act as role models and pass that knowledge on to younger campers.

Campers on the Kibbutz are responsible for preparing meals for themselves. Members of the clergy and faculty guide a revolving work-group of Kibbutz campers through the process of creating meals and using products from the garden and orchard. Camp-grown fruits and vegetables are also used in cooking classes for younger campers.
Get a tour of the new Eco-Village!

About Lake Jake

The Naming of “Lake Jake” culminates a two-year revitalization of the lake, including beautification of the waterfront, a new boathouse, new dock system, jet ski and tow-ables, inflatable slide, trampoline, blob, and new paddle and fishing boats.  During the summer, campers enjoy using the lake to improve their swimming, fishing and boating skills in the lake.  While at the lake, campers must have a buddy and work with their bunkmates, deepening their sense of connection and community with their peers.

The project began with support from the Mankoff Family Foundation, who provided much of the initial equipment. The Toomim Family Foundation shifted the project into high gear through their desire to memorialize the friendship between David Toomim (a URJ board member, president of the URJ Southwest Council, and a very active camp and regional lay leader) and Rabbi Lawrence “Jake” Jackofsky, who was the first director of the camp. More recreational space was added, a beach was constructed, and an underwater aeration system was installed to further enhance water quality. Future plans include digging a well to keep the lake at a constant level and the installation of new waterfront activities.

About the URJ Greene Family Camp

The URJ Greene Family Camp has served all of the Reform Congregations in Texas and Oklahoma since 1976. It provides both young and young at heart an opportunity to grow and learn at the same time. It is an unforgettable religious, cultural, recreational and emotional experience. Greene Family Camp's natural setting provides each camper the fullness of unsurpassed beauty and charm. Greene Family Camp is located 90 miles north of Austin, Texas on over 280 beautiful, spacious acres in Central Texas.

About the Union for Reform Judaism

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is a dynamic network of congregations, institutions, lay leaders, clergy and professionals across North America that impacts the lives of millions of individuals every day. Our progressive, inclusive approach unites thousands of years of Jewish tradition and values with modern Jewish experience to strengthen Judaism today and for future generations. Through programs, information  and networking opportunities provided by the URJ, our nearly 900 member congregations enhance their capacity to build and expand community, deepen Jewish learning, energize worship, pursue social justice and develop inspired leadership.

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