Four Generations of Living in Jewish Community and Living in Jewish Time

by, David Weinstein, Director of Tel Yehudah

As we prepare to celebrate Hanukkah this evening, I feel so grateful for all of those who have brought light into my family’s life over four generations. Since my grandfather arrived in this country at the beginning of the twentieth century, Jewish summer camping has been and remains central to my family. Each summer we have experienced the power of living in authentic Jewish community and living in Jewish time. But none of our summers would have been possible without the help of those in the Jewish community who understood the collective responsibility to ensure that all Jewish youth have the opportunity to live in camp.

When my grandfather, Abe Punitzer z”l, was a young boy he was sent to Surprise Lake Camp which was founded in 1901 by the Educational Alliance as a camp for Jewish boys from the tenements of Manhattan's Lower East Side.  Surprise Lake was his escape from the poverty of the city and his opportunity to become an American and remain a Jew.   With the support of the Jewish community, my mother, too, was given a break from life in the city and sent off to Camp Kinder Ring, the Workmen’s Circle’s socialist summer camp. (My father was a counselor at Camp Wel-Met in Barryville, New York.)

1982 - David Weinstein on slide David at TY in 1982

So there was no question that I would go to Jewish summer camp as well.  At the age of just 6 ½ I went off to the New Jersey Y Camp at Long Lake.  After five years at NJ Y, I moved to Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake for its inaugural season in 1976. (I first met Amy Itkin, now my wife, that summer at Sprout Lake.)  My summers at Sprout Lake and later, Tel Yehudah, would also not have been possible without the support of the Jewish community. In this case it was the tremendous generosity of the New Jersey Hadassah Zionist Youth Commission that made camp, and later Year Course, possible for me.

Mika Kira Sprout Mikaela & Kira Itkin-Weinstein with friends at Sprout Lake in 2009

When it was time to send our oldest daughter to Sprout Lake, once again the community helped. And so a fourth generation began spending summers living in Jewish community and living in Jewish time.  Seven years ago, the power of Jewish summer camp pulled my whole family in full time when I became Director of Tel Yehudah. We are grateful for the opportunity to spend our summers living in the vibrant and diverse community of Tel Yehudah.

This Hanukkah, I remember that these wonderful summers would not have been possible for my family without the generosity of so many over these past four generations.  This summer there will be many more families that will need the help of the community to make a summer at Tel Yehudah a reality. Alongside the continued generous support of the Hadassah, we will need to raise over $100,000 to ensure that all of our teens can spend this summer living in Jewish community and living in Jewish time.

Please consider adding some light this Hanukkah by making a contribution to our Give Thanks campaign.


Double your impact!  If you are a new donor, or if you increase your giving level from last year, the Feldman family will match your donation dollar-for-dollar!
Triple your impact!  Thanks to Diane Lipson Schilit and Howard Schilit, gifts made by those 35-years or younger will be matched dollar-for-dollar again!

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