At Camp Newman, we believe every human is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.  With that, we are excited to expand our recognition and celebration of the many forms of diversity within the Jewish community and our camp community. Just as we celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community during our PRIDE Shabbat, we’re excited this week to dedicate Shabbat to our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) campers and staff. Campers and staff have been invited to share readings or help lead our Friday night service, and we are proud to lift up their voices.

Our camp family continues to work toward understanding what it means to be diverse community, operating on land taken from the Onasatis People, and taking steps to ensure we are actively disrupting discrimination in all forms while simultaneously creating a space of true belonging for everyone and anyone who enters our gates.

Over the past few years, we have focused more acutely on addressing and countering systemic racism that exists within our camp family. We want to share the work we are doing in the realms of Professional Leadership Development, Staff Hiring and Recruitment, and Building a Culture of Belonging. In the same breath, we know there will always be more work to be done. We own and hold ourselves accountable and invite your participation, feedback, and partnership in continually learning so that our camp community is known to all as the warm, inclusive, magical place that campers and staff feel is their authentic home away from home.

Professional Leadership
– Learning, reflection, and action planning

    • Project Shamash – learning and connecting with broader bay area Jewish community.
      We were honored to be selected as a member of the pilot Project Shamash, an Organizational Change Cohort for executive leaders at white-led Jewish organizations in the Bay Area, brought together to successfully move forward eco-systemic race equity transformation in the region. Both Ari Vared and Rabbi Allie Fischman actively participated in the 18-month cohort to learn, grow and reflect on our current organizational systems, structures, and needed priorities. Check out the Project Shamash Program Learnings report.

Our professional leadership team also actively participated in the following trainings:

    • REDI Learning Cohorts for Managers – provided through URJ’s Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team
    • Dismantling Racism from the Inside Out, focusing on anti-black racism, lead by Yehuda Webster and Rabbi David Jaffe
    • REDI and Microaggression training for all professional team members
    • Year-round Consulting & CoachingYolanda Savage-Narva, Assistant VP of REDI for the URJ, Lindsey Newman, Director of Community Engagement at Bechol Lashon

Staff Hiring and Recruitment

    • Professional training on equitable hiring process: Year-round job postings now include salaries, statements surrounding belonging. Also shared in ways to explicitly recruit a broader and more diverse applicant pool.
    • Hiring Staff from Around the World: This summer, for the first time in several years, we were able to hire staff from all over the world, enabling us to celebrate global racial diversity within our community and making the camper and staff experience so much richer and more beautiful.

Building a Culture of Belonging

    • Cultivating Curiosity & Respect
      Every camper participated in an age-appropriate program on the first day of camp about respecting the whole person while also making space for curiosity about lived experiences that are different than their own.
    • Staff Training
      This summer during staff week, we held three separate workshops about what it means to be a multi-cultural, multi-racial community. Lindsay Newman of Bechol Lashon and Lev White both led trainings on disrupting racism and dismantling microaggressions if and when it happens at camp, giving our staff the tools and confidence to stand up and step in. Staff also participated in Keshet’s Camping Out training for the second year, providing the language and tools to continue cultivating a gender expansive community. In addition, staff received training on creating inclusive spaces, supporting campers with cognitive and physical disabilities and starting with the idea of “everyone is welcome” instead of “we built this with you in mind”.
    • BIPOC Circles and support structures
      Lev White and Rabbi Mates-Muchin of Temple Sinai Oakland have each facilitated BIPOC spaces for staff members during staff week and throughout the summer so far. We look forward to continuing those intentional spaces throughout the summer where BIPOC folks can gather as well as providing resources both virtually and in person.
    •  Practicing Restorative Justice
      We know that all the training in the world, and even the most meaningful program, is not a panacea for human moments. With gratitude for the guidance from our REDI Consultant, Lindsay Newman of Bechol Lashon, we whole-heartedly embrace the idea that “how we have conflict and repair [within our camp community] is key to any proactive and productive multi-racial space.” To this end, both staff and campers engaged in conversations grounded in the practices of restorative justice, conflict and repair. Together we created a clear process for addressing harm done at camp that is centered on t’shuvah, taking responsibility, making amends and also believing in the essential goodness of each person.

Looking Ahead: Year-Round, Summer 2024 and Beyond

    • Community Education & Engagement
      This year, we are eager to work with our synagogues and camp families to think about what it means to create a community that is anti-racist, open, and welcoming to everyone who belongs here. A variety of activities, including a book club and listening circles, are being prepared for the fall and winter
    • Healing
      We realize that there have been instances of racism, microaggressions, and pain experienced at camp. We want to create space for community members to share those feelings with our professional team, members of the URJ REDI team, and outside consultants, if appropriate.
    • Pre-Summer Learning for Families
      We are eager to help families facilitate conversations together before their children arrive to camp. This may look like Zoom meetings, resources for parents for facilitating these conversations such as book groups and guided learning moments, and more.
    • Full Summer Support and Representation in 2024 and Beyond
      Our team is recruiting a full-summer senior staff member to serve as our BIPOC Specialist and Support Staff Member beginning in Summer 2024. We are excited to find the right person to serve on our leadership team who has experience in the field of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion who can offer various modes of support for our BIPOC campers and staff. We know that representation is important, and we will continue to strive to hire a diverse group of dedicated staff or our summer and year-round professional team.
    • Expanding our Celebrations of Diversity
      This summer, we will hold our first BIPOC Shabbat as a partner to our PRIDE Shabbat.  We will continue planning opportunities, small and large, through which we can recognize and celebrate a range of identifiers.

We are proud of the work we are doing, and we know that there is so much more to do in the pursuit of creating the kind of camp and world we wish to live in. This work is at the heart of our CARE philosophy where we believe that each and every person is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and celebrated for exactly who they are and want to be.

We are prioritizing our commitment to continue growing, learning, and serving our entire community and creating a space together that people of all backgrounds feel comfortable, safe, and at home. As always, we encourage you to reach out to us via email at to continue the conversation.