The Jewish Star on the Hill: Prayers, Reflections, and Resources in the Wake of Wildfires

Inside Leadership

The Jewish Star on the Hill: Prayers, Reflections, and Resources in the Wake of Wildfires

Charred remains of the physical location of URJ Camp Newman beneath hazy skies with mountains in the background and a painted Star of David still visible on them

Read about the camp's plans to rebuild, then learn how you can donate to help URJ Camp Newman.

The Torah teaches us that the world is a fragile place. The destruction of buildings at our beloved URJ Camp Newman by California wildfires demonstrates this stark reality.

A press photographer was given special access onto Camp Newman before a team from URJ could get on site. While the devastation is startling, we immediately noticed one thing when we zoomed in on this photo.

The Jewish star on the hill that overlooks Camp Newman has survived.

What a fitting symbol for this moment. Countless times in our Jewish history, we have lost our homes, been displaced, and wandered the diaspora. Yet in these times, our faith, community, and traditions have helped us transcend any hardship. Time after time, our spirits and resolve have been lifted by our Judaism and our people.

Even now, across every corner of the world, campers, staff, alumni, congregations and supporters are planning impromptu gatherings to share their sadness, but also their love for camp and each other.

Our community has always found a way to rebuild and endure. We are survivors.

Already, the Camp Newman team is thoughtfully planning a rich and meaningful summer 2018 experience. We continue to pray for all those who are still being affected by the wildfires, and we mourn the many lives lost.

Together, we will go from strength to strength. Together, we are #newmanstrong.

Support the #NewmanStrong campaign in response to the destruction caused by the California wildfires.

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Alaina Yoakum is the director of marketing & communications at URJ Camp Newman, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Santa Rosa, CA. The mom of two longtime Newman campers, Alaina taught sculpture and mosaics to teens at Camp Newman’s teen Hagigah program before accepting this position. She was formerly the festival and program manager for the Center for Jewish Peoplehood at the Osher Marin JCC. She has extensive experience in event production, marketing, and communications; she managed the social media campaign for Goodwill’s boutique store launch, planned events for Genentech and Hilton Hotels, and served as Marketing Director for Bay Area and New York firms. Alaina received her B.A. in English from San Francisco State and her master’s in journalism and communications from the University of Oregon.


Alaina Yoakum
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