By Ruben Arquilevich, Executive Director, URJ Camp Newman

October 9th, 2018, GRIEF consumed the URJ Camp Newman community as our beloved home was ravaged by the Tubbs fire. I’ll never forget one of the messages I received that day -“the Camp Newman community, world wide, is immersed in tears.”

Following the grief and trauma, our camp community epitomized GRIT – strength, courage and faith to find a temporary home and to deliver on our promise – for children, staff, faculty to be inspired to love Judaism and in doing so, to discover and celebrate their best selves and create a better world.

August 9th, 2018, ten months later, the tears were flowing again – but this time in GRATITUDE and sadness over leaving each other at summer’s end & in celebration that camp not only continued, but thrived beyond measure. The Phoenix did not just rise from the ashes and flames – it rocketed into the universe, defining life, chai.

I am eternally grateful and inspired by the Nachson qualities that every camper, staff member, faculty, parent, leader, board member, camp friend exhibited this summer at #Newmanbythebay. It was nothing less than extraordinary. The courage, faith, love that everyone person displayed to trust, step forward and lead created breathtaking inspirations for a lifetime.

October 9th was an opening chapter, perhaps a new book of Torah, defined by fear and loss and August 9th provided closure on that chapter as it was all transformed into love and beauty. As we say when we compete the reading of a book of Torah, chazak chazak… I look forward to the future chapters we’ll write together and to continuing to build our camps and NFTY communities year-round. May you take the life lessons learned from this past year and pay them forward. Wishing you a sweet start to the school year and the high holidays around the bend.

I stand in Awe.