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.
Reflections and Prayers
- To read from the bimah:
- For reflection: "Upon Waking from the Fires: The Sacred Power of ‘And’” by Rabbi Paul Kipnes
- To watch: A URJ Camp Newman Siyum [Gathering] after the Fires
Resources for Congregational Leaders
- "How to Explain Bad Things to Children" by Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal
- “How Do We Help Children Cope with Natural Disasters?” by Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher
- “A Guide to Discussing Loss of Physical Space at Camp Newman,” Part One and Part Two, assembled by friends and faculty of URJ Camp Newman
- For additional resources, see “How Do We Help Children Cope with Tragedies in the News Headlines?”