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May 22, 2014, New York, NY -- The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) announced this week that Anna Blumenfeld Herman will be the new director of the URJ's Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Mississippi. Ms. Herman will begin her new role in late June, following in the footsteps of Jonathan "J.C." Cohen, who has served as the camp's director for the past 14 years. This summer will be Mr. Cohen's last as director.
"I grew up in Dothan, Alabama, and began attending Jacobs when I was 11 years old," said Ms. Herman. "As soon as I walked through the entrance, I fell in love with the people and the place. I came back year after year as a camper, counselor, unit head and then as assistant director. I am so grateful now to have the chance to give back and help ensure that generations of future campers experience that Jacobs 'magic' every summer!"
Following graduation from the University of Alabama, Ms. Herman was assistant director at Camp Jacobs for three years, after which she served as a congregational youth director and then as assistant director of the URJ Meetings and Conventions Department. Ms. Herman then transitioned to her current position as the assistant director of Business Operations for the URJ camping system, helping to manage the URJ's 14 Jewish summer camps across North America.
Even while working in New York City, Ms. Herman remained connected to Jacobs Camp as a Camp Development Committee Chair.
Ms. Herman met her husband Nadav at Jacobs Camp, while he was working as the camp's adventure director. Last fall, surrounded by family and friends, they were married at the camp's chapel on Lake Gary.
"Anna is uniquely qualified for this position," said URJ Director of Camp and Israel Programs Paul Reichenbach. "Having grown up as a camper at Jacobs and later returning to work there and for the Reform Movement, Anna understands the needs of campers, parents and congregations better than anyone."
Jacobs Camp, which has served more than 10,000 Jewish children since its inception in 1970, is regarded as a center of Jewish life in the Deep South, helping to build Jewish identity and confidence for kids from diverse geographic and socio-economic backgrounds.
"I plan to continue and build upon Jacobs' reputation as the place for Jewish youth in the South," said Ms. Herman. "And I would like to expand upon initiatives such as the Camper Incentive Program for Jewish Military Families on Active Duty, which makes Jacobs accessible to a wider group of potential campers."
Jacobs Camp has had only three directors in its 45-year history, the camp's Founding Director, Rabbi Solomon "Sol" Kaplan, z"l; Macy B. Hart; and Jonathan "J.C." Cohen, who is retiring from the position to move to Worcester, MA, where his wife Valerie will become the rabbi of Temple Emanuel Sinai.
"We are deeply grateful for J.C.'s vision and leadership and wish the Cohen family well on their journey," said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. "In the months ahead, we look forward to honoring and celebrating JC and his accomplishments as the director of Jacobs Camp."
"Anna will spend this summer learning from J.C. and our Senior Assistant Director Gary Brandt, who are both outstanding resources, examples, and role models for Jacobs' future," said Jacobs Camp Committee Chair Danny Mansberg. "This will ensure a smooth transition for Anna, who is sure to bring her own energy and ideas to the camp community. We look forward to welcoming her home with open arms."
"I want to acknowledge the active engagement of members of the Jacobs Camp committee in their thoughtful partnership with the URJ during the search process," said Rabbi Jacobs. "Their dedication will help ensure a bright future for Jacobs Camp, which is so meaningful to the Southern Jewish community and to Reform Judaism."