It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s dlevy! The Summer of 1989

Originally published on It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s dlevy!

The summer of 1989 was not an easy one for me. It was my first summer spending four weeks away at summer camp instead of the usual two. My friendship with Jeff, my best friend from home who shared the camp experience with me, was deteriorating. And for whatever reason, that summer was the year when all the bullies at camp noticed the target painted between my eyes, and it became open season on David.

The one thing that kept me going during the first two weeks of camp was being cast as one of the leads in the camp play. After three years of (happily) toiling in the chorus in roles such as “Man #2” (never Man #1, alas), I had my moment in the spotlight. More importantly, I had my place in the company. My only complaint was that for the first time in my camp career, we weren’t doing a musical.

That was the summer the original cast recording of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway came out in a deluxe package of two glorious cassettes with a cardboard slipcase. For the cost of a stamp, you could write to the record company and request a copy of the booklet with pictures and lyrics that came with the CD. I didn’t yet own the album. I think it might have come out after camp started, or perhaps at the tender age of 11 I hadn’t yet developed the need to own every album on its day of release. But one of the girls in the show had it, so naturally we became best friends.

Okay, to be honest, we weren’t best friends. In fact, there were two blonde girls in the cast, both a couple years older than me, and I had no idea which one owned the album. Pretty straight girls all looked (er, look) the same to me. But I convinced the girl who owned the album (and, I suppose, the rest of the cast?) that we should listen to it during the cast party. I remember peppering the pretty blonde girl with questions as I poured over the track listing. “Is the overture medley sung?” I asked the wrong pretty blonde girl, totally confused as to why I was talking to her about this album.

That album was the first time I heard Debbie Shapiro sing. In a summer that I’ve mostly repressed as one long terrible memory, the warmth I felt from that cast album, and the cast in which I got to hear it, remains one of my only bright spots.

The Jewish Advocate: Jewish arts thrive at summer camps

Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.

NORTHWOOD, N.H. – Nearly 150 campers from seven area camps gathered at Camp Yavneh last week for the annual Jewish Arts Festival. The event, which rotates among participating camps each year, brought together performers from Yavneh, JCC Camp Kingswood in Bridgton, Maine, Camp Young Judaea in Amherst, N.H., Camp Tevya in Brook-line, N.H., Camp Pembroke in Pembroke, Mass., Camp Tel Noar in Hampstead, N.H., and Camp Ramah in Palmer, Mass.

The festival was founded in 1980, the brainchild of George Marcus, then the executive director of the Cohen Camps, and Charles Rotman and Paul Abrahamson of Camp Young Judaea. “We were talking in the off-season about how to motivate the Jewish part of our program,” remembered Marcus, “and this is what we came up with.”  Continue reading

The Jewish Advocate: Camps to review hiring process following arrest

Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.

Jewish camps in New England are examining their hiring procedures following a recent incident at Camp Young Judaea. Although most camps operate background checks on all employees, at least one director stressed the importance of tightening up their hiring processes.

Last week, an employee of Camp Young Judaea in Amherst, N.H., appeared in district court on charges concerning pictures that he allegedly created by digitally altering nude photographs. The employee will appear before a grand jury in superior court later this month.  Continue reading

The Jewish Advocate: Jewish camps crafting new strategies

Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.

BOSTON – Jewish camping has always been an element of the Jewish experience in New England in summer, but recently it has moved front and center on the field of the organized Jewish community.

The Foundation for Jewish Camping last year appointed a new president, Newton resident Jerry Silverman, a former executive at the Stride Rite shoe company, and is aiming to create an agenda around Jewish camping for all of North America. And this year, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies launched the Jewish Camping Initiative, a pilot program with the goal of making Jewish educational overnight camping a part of the synagogue culture by providing incentive grants for first-time campers. In Waltham, the Hornstein Program for Jewish Communal Service at Brandeis University has added a class on the Jewish camping experience, combining a study of the history of Jewish camping in America with in-depth research into practical issues on the topic. Continue reading