[by Stew Bromberg, Vice President and CDO, Jewish Community of Louisville]
The weather forecast for this weekend is calling for wind chills in the 20’s by Sunday and I am writing about summer camp. This is a time when families are making their plans and deciding what options will work best for their specific circumstances and figuring out the best use of their resources. The Jewish Community of Louisville is doing the same thing. We are looking at the resources we have available to help families make these important decisions.
Few programs have the incredible impact on someone’s future involvement in the Jewish community as their Jewish camp experience. Many children begin this journey at a Jewish day camp such as the JCC Summer camp program. Others go right to overnight camps, which provide a whole different experience and therefore a different perspective.
Many of us continued our Jewish camp experience as counselors, some met their spouses, and many of our children have attended the same camps. Some of us end up serving on the Board of Directors or chairing a milestone reunion fundraising event. The impact is strong, the connection is great, and the future of our Jewish community is enhanced by these experiences.
The Jewish Federation of Louisville, through the generosity of our donors who have established restricted and directed endowment funds for this purpose, was able to provide financial subsidies to over 35 Jewish children in Louisville to attend Jewish overnight camp last year. We also received a grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence specifically to enhance the availability of these subsidies for the Louisville Jewish community.
There are many different scholarships and subsidies available for the different Jewish camps, including one designed specifically for first-time campers provided through the “One Happy Camper” program each year. To find more information and applications for these programs, please go to www.jewishlouisville.org.
Over the past several years, The Jewish Federation of Louisville has received one or two requests each year to help subsidize Jewish teen summer programs in Israel. I am happy to report that we received 10 requests from teens for 2013 summer programs. Very exciting!
What is even more exciting is knowing that with the generosity of our donors, funders and local foundations, we were able to provide assistance for all 10 of these requests. Ten Louisville teens had a sincere interest in experiencing a program in Israel with other teens from across North America and from other countries around the world. Their interest and curiosity moved them to research and explore these programs. These teens want to learn and experience Israel now as they decide how Judaism will be relevant to their lives as they become part of the global Jewish community.
So it may be cold outside, but we are working on how to spark enthusiasm and light the fires for Jewish generations to come. Together we do extraordinary things.