Contributed by, Lorraine Lepler (Parent of two teens who will attend Tel Yehudah in 2015)
There is an expression that “clothes make the man.” Stu Stein is convinced that in the summer of 2000, in Barryville, his tuxedo made his match to his wife, Lisa. I sat with the Steins recently and heard their story.
At age 30, Stu was well along a path to Young Judaea “lifer.” He was a proud and engaged alum of both Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake (Sprout Lake) and Tel Yehudah (TY) and had worked at both camps through his twenties, longer than most staff, as well as weekends year-round when Sprout Lake hosted conventions during the year. Before the summer of 2000 began, he casually inquired whether any women “his age” would be at TY. Lisa Wolk’s name surfaced but a fellow staffer told Stu that he and Lisa were probably not well-suited (pun intended) because Lisa was “quiet.” Stu insists that this merely laid down a challenge for him. Lisa also explained that “Judaeans typically don’t mingle with non-Judeans”.
Lisa was active in United Synagogue Youth (USY) as a teenager. After she earned her degree in Social Work, she was newly-employed with the Seaboard region of Young Judaea. To fulfill a service requirement of her position, she requested a month at TY because she liked working with teens. She said that as a relative outsider, she was relegated to clerical duties but was also appointed Staff Advisor to Stu’s teenage employees of the kitchen. At the time, Lisa did not imagine that she would meet her future husband at TY.
Stu clearly remembers the day he met Lisa. It was Sunday, June 21, the opening day of TY’s 2000 Staff Orientation. Stu had attended a wedding reception in Baltimore the night before. Still wearing his tuxedo, he drove in the wee hours of the morning, stopping for a two-hour catnap in his car at Woodbury Common before driving the final two hours to Barryville. Stu described his walk across camp to the kitchen that morning as “surreal” because he was exhausted as well as a bit overdressed (albeit “way cool”) in his tuxedo, which quickly became coated in TY dust along the way.
Soon after his arrival, a beautiful young woman approached him and asked, “Are you Stu Stein?” Lisa immediately introduced herself and said she needed to speak with him. He knew the moment was auspicious: He “saw stars” (the decorations from the prior year’s banquet) and “heard bells” (the phone rang). Thus, although he was anxious to speak with Lisa (upon hearing her name, he recalled “the challenge”), he was quite anxious to connect with his staff to ensure that breakfast had been prepared and properly served in his absence. He told Lisa she would have to wait to meet with him until after breakfast. Lisa was tired – ironically, she had also been in Baltimore the night before, at a different wedding reception – but she went to speak with Stu later that morning (he was confident that she was already smitten; was it the tuxedo?). That day, their friendship began.
On their first date, July 4, 2000, there were fireworks! They were chaperoned by 14 teenagers on an excursion to the Wayne County Fair in Port Jervis. Three weeks later, at the end of the TY session, Lisa returned to her office job. She came back to TY as its first official Social Worker for the entire summer of 2001. On July 4, 2002, Lisa and Stu visited to County Fair (sans teenage chaperones) and this time, got engaged.
On August 24, 2003, three years after they met in the TY dining room, Stu again donned his special tuxedo, pressed and cleaned of the TY dust, for their wedding. The TY magic is indelible and enduring. During this past summer (2014), the Steins worked at TY with their young children in residence, perhaps a little dusty, representing next generation of TY/Judaeans.
Did you meet your partner at camp? We'd love to hear your story, too! If you're up for sharing your story (or even just some light reminiscing), feel free to be in touch and reconnect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-595-1900.