Posts Tagged 'Newman'

Memory Ark

What does it mean to lose your home?

Unfortunately millions of people face this reality after an earthquake rocked Mexico, and hurricanes ravaged Houston, Puerto Rico, Caribbean Islands, and southern Florida this past month. This week, the wild fires in North California have ravaged 5,700 houses and more than 213,000 acres. My heart goes out to the URJ Camp Newman family in Sonoma County, California, whose camp was destroyed in the fires. Millions have been left homeless in the wake of these natural disasters.

In this week’s Torah portion we learn of the devastation of the Flood and of the rainbow of rebuilding thereafter. God sends a flood to cover earth, taking with it families, homes, animals and habitats. After Noah does all that is asked of him, the animals are on the ark and the world is under water, we read:

And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged; the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.  (Genesis 8:1-2)

“God remembered” implies that God forgot Noah and all of creation while destroying the world. I think this part of the story plays on the human fear of being forgotten, the human need to be remembered, to know that we matter. Flood and fires have taken houses and buildings, but what about the memories of those homes? Where do they live?

It was with pride that we saw this human spirit thrive during the hurricane in Texas, when URJ Greene Family Camp and Camp Young Judaea Texas stepped up, opening their space to homeless, displaced families in need, even opening a day camp in Houston. Like Noah, they found a way to use their camp as an ark to help people that they needed shelter.

With the most recent news of the horrific fire that took URJ Camp Newman, we immediately saw the outpouring of support from the camp community. Alumni reminisced on Facebook, and shared photos. California campers from different movements started crowd-funding campaigns for their URJ friends. URJ Camp Newman’s year-round programming has been rescheduled to be hosted at local synagogues. For so many, Jewish camp is a second home, a sanctuary that helps us find shelter, comfort and spirit. The spirit of camp, the feeling of family and home reach far beyond the physical buildings they gather in.  The difference is that a home is a house with memories. God remembered Noah, and Noah had to remember the world. What is the ark for their memories?

The primary urgency is to find a place for Newman to run their program until they can rebuild their camp.   Like Noah they will need to rebuild society post destruction. In all of this I do not want to forget memory. In addition to the existing social media I think there is a great opportunity to create a website for Newman to store their collective memories in a more organized way. What would it look like to click on a map of camp and reconnect to the layers and generations of memories there? As a community, we cannot undo the damage of natural disasters but we can help keep the memories of these homes alive. Our support goes out to Newman community. If you want to support this project building them a memory ark please be in touch.

 

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