By: Lee Trepeck, Chief Executive Officer
Following the terrorist attacks of October 7, we remain in the midst of extraordinarily challenging times. We stand with Israel – and, while so far away, hope that raising our collective voices is heard and our actions are felt.
On October 15, for Fall Fest (an annual gathering to connect the Tamarack Camps community), we made a decision that the event should continue… and, even in scarier times and unfavorable weather, we connected nearly 400 people to Camp Maas in Ortonville. At the event, along with stations managed by a wide variety of community partners, we added stations around the program that provided participants an opportunity to reach our brothers and sisters in Israel. Upon the culmination of our event, as a unified group, we formed a circle around an Israeli flag, mourned for those lost, expressed hope for the hostages, and prayed for peace, safety, and health. Then, during the ceremony, we heard from our current Shinshinim (Israeli teens doing an ambassadorship gap year prior to their IDF service), Erela, Itamar, Itay, Ofri, and Shahaf. Our Shinshinim are leaders that work around metro Detroit — and, during the summer, live at camp. We are so fortunate that Israeli life permeates locally, and we’re thrilled that this community embraces such leadership. Toward the end of our ceremony, in voices of solidarity, we sang Hatikvah.
This week, board and staff members attended the JCamp 180 conference in Springfield, MA — where I was thrilled to join Stefanie Aronow (Chief Medical Officer), Andy Belsky (Chief Financial Officer), Joel Kirsch (Treasurer), Danny Klein (1st Vice President), Lori Davidson Mertz (Director of Annual Giving), Gabe Neistein (Chief Advancement Officer), Jim Sugarman (Board member), Stefan Teodosic (Board member), Robin Kaufman Trepeck (Philanthropic Advisor), and Carly Weinstock (Camp Director). Here, it was an honor that, with eleven leaders from our agency, we joined other camps and enhanced conversation to further educate, grieve, honor, and support Israel. The conference stressed the importance of Jewish summer camp’s deep (and person to person) connection to Israel. There’s comfort in community.
As we all find ways to manage hardship, please know that we are here for you, too.
Sending strength to all — and love to our circle of campers, staff, families, alumni, and supporters.