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February 10, 2021

At CSS, we aim to be the premier outdoor adventure and educational program on the west coast, and we know just the guy to help us get there! We are thrilled to announce that Josh Lake of Outdoor Jewish Adventures will be our 2021 Teva Director! We can’t wait for our campers to explore the great outdoors with him this summer!

Upon completing his Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1997, Josh headed to the Northwest for the first time to work as the Teva specialist at Camp Solomon Schechter. It proved very fruitful, as the Teva/nature program at camp had been dormant for years. At Schechter, Josh revived the Mt. Rainier Oded trip, took the 10th graders camping, and created fun, meaningful and interesting Teva chuggim (nature programs) for the Aleph, Bet, and Gimmel campers. From meditation to meeting trees, campers learned about nature and how we, as Jews, relate to the natural world. Schechter was Josh’s first opportunity to create his vision of making nature a Jewish classroom.

After leaving Schechter, Josh helped to create the Shalom Nature Center at Camp JCA Shalom in Southern California. There he infused programs with the skills and pedagogy he learned and refined at Schechter while continuing to learn from campers, staff, and the natural world. After five years at the Shalom Nature Center, Josh started his own company, Outdoor Jewish Adventures, a company whose mission remains making nature a Jewish classroom.

Josh continues to evolve and to lead Jewish groups outdoors around the country. From canoeing Bar/Bat Mitzvah adventures, staff trainings, Jewish hiking and backpacking excursions, developing and writing curricula, and unique Bnai Mitzvah training, Josh continues to push his mission into new environments. In the summer of 2019 Josh developed a Teva curriculum uniquely for Schechter and trained the Teva staff to implement the curriculum.

Josh currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Tamar and their two daughters, Ayelet (a camper at Schechter and student at PJA) and Dov (a future camper at Schechter, as well as a current student at PJA), along with their dog, Stanley. In Portland, Josh is the chair of the Climate Action Committee of the JCRC, a part of the Jewish Federation of Portland. Josh has hiked, backpacked and biked around the Pacific Northwest and has summited numerous peaks in Washington and Oregon. Josh is excited to be part of the Schechter family again and is looking forward to a phenomenal future of dreaming about nature and Judaism together!


November 30, 2020
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Dear CSS Community,

In a normal year, I write our annual appeal to tout our recent successes and let you know how much your gift will make a difference in the lives of Jewish children all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. And, while this year has been an extraordinary time of great successes and impactful giving from our community, I thought I’d take a different approach to our annual appeal. Following our summer program’s cancelation – the first time in Schechter’s sixty-eight year history! – our staff called every camp family to check in on our campers. The outpouring of support that our Camp team received throughout that period, both financial and emotional, quite literally, moved us to tears. So, this year, rather than telling you directly how much your gift will impact our community, I’d like to share a letter I received from a camp grandmother. (Names have been changed to ensure anonymity.) 

DONATE NOW

Dear Zach, 

Thank you for calling and checking in on Abby last week. She is still coming to terms with the fact that she will not be spending this summer in her favorite place on Earth, Camp Solomon Schechter. You told us that our family means the world to CSS, and I wanted to reach back out and let you know how much CSS means to our family. When I asked Abby what she’d like to share with you, she said, “Schechter is totally FUN!” And, while I do not doubt that Camp is “totally fun,” I know that it is a whole lot more than that as well.

CSS means a whole lot more to me because I was not raised in a Jewish home. I discovered Jewish values and culture later in life, and I am doing my best to provide a Jewish upbringing for my children and grandchildren. Camp has a way of making learning “cool.” Abby returns home each summer excited to sing songs, lead prayers, do activities, and just about anything else, Schechter-style! The lessons she learns at CSS make a lasting impression on her and support what I do at home.

CSS means a whole lot more to me because I am raising Abby as a single grandparent, and she needs to spend time with a younger crowd, filled with ruach (spirit) and energy! At Camp, she gets to be with kids, doing fun kids things, from morning until night. She gets to hear music that is not from the 60s. ~lol~ And I also get to have a bit of quiet, “me” time, which is something I don’t often get, having been raising kids now for nearly forty years.

CSS means a whole lot more to me because Camp has been there to support us financially. For decades I was a stay at home mom and did not work. Now, I am starting over with a young grandchild and still finding my financial footing. What’s more, I had to step back from my job to be with Abby, who is now home during the day for school. Money for Camp is simply not in the budget. I know I am not the only single grandparent or parent who is struggling in our community. We struggle quietly so as not to draw attention — but we are here, and we’d never be able to give our kids/grandchildren these experiences without Camp’s financial assistance.

Schechter has always supported us when I asked for assistance and, now, we are here for you. Please convert my deposit into a donation for Camp, so I can return the goodness. Tzedakah (charity) is an important Jewish value in our home and one that I hope to instill in Abby, no matter how much we may be struggling.

I wish you the best through these difficult times. I have faith that you and your team will navigate the road ahead, and I will be able to send Abby back next summer. In the meantime, we will be singing, dancing, praying, and doing activities — Schechter-style! — all summer long.

B’Shalom,

Sharon

Thanks to community members like Sharon, we will be ready to welcome back our campers in 2021! But we need your help. The loss of an entire year’s income has meant deep cuts to our staffing and programming budgets. And, most notably to families like Abby’s, it means less money available for financial assistance. Many families in our community are hurting right now, and the need for financial aid is greater than ever. After a year with no Camp, we don’t want a single camper to miss another summer due to affordability. We know that Jewish summers lead to Jewish futures and, as such, Camp should be a right, not a privilege, for every Jewish child. With your help, we can ensure that no one “suffers quietly,” and every camper can spend their summer in a “totally-fun,” fully-immersive Jewish environment and experience a whole lot more for themselves!

Your donations will go directly to:

  • Providing financial assistance to families who can’t afford Camp (and can’t afford to miss Camp);
  • Offsetting COVID related impact (PPE, testing, cleaning supplies, additional medical support); and
  • Creating sacred moments, where Judaism and joy are one!

You can easily donate today with our new CSS Venmo account (@Camp-Schechter). Every gift counts, whether it’s $36, $180, or $360 today; $18 a month; or more.

DONATE NOW

Happy Channukah,

Zach Duitch

Executive Director


December 27, 2019
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We are saddened by the news that Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, z”l, passed away yesterday evening. Rabbi Stampfer was the driving force in founding Camp Solomon Schechter, but his legacy goes much further. His tireless efforts over the past 65 years to strengthen Jewish institutions, make Conservative Judaism more accessible and inclusive, advocate for peace, and share his extraordinary scholarship through teaching have left us all a great legacy.

On a personal note, I will miss his wisdom, guidance, conversation and, most importantly, friendship. At an initial meeting with Rabbi after returning to CSS, we took this photo, and I have it framed in my office to remind me of Rabbi’s intention for camp . . . that we continue to inspire, teach, and empower our campers and staff to be proud of being Jewish. We will honor his commitment to building Jewish identity, community, and continuity by infusing Jewish tradition and culture at the foundation of everything we do. Rabbi Stampfer’s impact on our community will last forever.

Our thoughts are with Rabbi’s children, Elana (Matt, z”l), Meir (Claire), Nehama (Rod), Shaul (Sylviane), and daughter-in-law Carol (Noam, z”l), as well as 20 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. May you have strength and great memories of your loving parents and family.

Following a private (family only) interment, the funeral service will be Sunday, December 29th at 4:00pm at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland, 97239)The service will be followed by a meal of consolation, also at the synagogue.

The family will sit shiva and receive visitors at the Stampfer home (2800 Peaceful Lane, Portland 97239) from 12:00-5:00pm on Monday through Thursday and 12:00-3:00pm on Friday next week.

Shiva Minyanim are also scheduled for Monday through Thursday evenings (December 30, 31, January 1, and 2) at 7:00pm in Stampfer Chapel at Congregation Neveh Shalom (2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland, 97239).

Please do not bring food – the family has plenty.

The Jewish community has lost a truly great man. May Rabbi Joshua Stampfer’s memory be for a blessing and let all of us reflect on the many ways that he touched our lives.

B’Shalom,

 

Zach Duitch

CSS Executive Director


May 17, 2019
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After an exhaustive search spanning multiple continents and dozens of Rabbinical schools and Jewish institutions of higher learning, CSS has finally found it’s dream Jewish Life and Learning Professional, Ilana Lipman! But wait, there is more! Ilana’s husband, Matthew, is also an inspiring Jewish educator, and he will be joining our staff as well! And as if that weren’t enough, they will be joined by their four wonderful children. We cannot wait to welcome the entire Lipman family to camp this summer! Check out their introduction letter below.

Shalom CSS Family,

We are all super excited to be joining you all at CSS this summer. We have heard so much about the ruach, the fun, and the wonderful people at CSS. We are looking forward to being part of this special place. We live in Modi’in, Israel which is half way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Our family loves hiking, going to the beach, and having family workouts together!!

Ilana is joining the senior staff at CSS as Jewish Life and Learning Professional. Ilana hails from NJ (Exit 4!!), grew up in Young Judaea camps, currently is the principal of an online Jewish day school, and after camp ends will be going back to school to train as an English teacher. Ilana’s favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, and her favorite TV show is Shtisel.\

Matthew is originally from London, England. He loves practicing his American accent, but most Americans tell him it isn’t very good!! Matthew is an Israel Educator and works in several gap year programs teaching students about Zionism, Israeli history, politics, and culture. He is an avid soccer (but he calls it football) fan and enjoys listening to 90’s pop music while running through the streets of Modi’in.

Both Ilana and Matthew earned their Masters degree in Jewish education from Hebrew University as well as certificates of advanced Jewish text study from the Pardes Institute of Jewish studies. Before immigrating to Israel, they taught Jewish Text, Study, and Practice at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD.

We can’t wait to introduce our four children to the American sleep-away camp experience. Noa is 11, learning for her Bat Mitzvah and is an active member of our local tzofim (scouts) chapter. Matan is 9, a dedicated tree climber and an expert stick collector. Adiel is 6 and will be joining Katan and some of the 2nd grade activities too. Don’t tell anyone but his alter ego is really Iron Man!! Neomi will have just turned three when they arrive to camp. She will be bring a selection of her baby dolls to camp with her.

Wishing everyone a great end of the school year and see you in a short few weeks at CSS.


February 8, 2019
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Michaela joins the CSS team full time after having spent the last five years as a member of the summer staff.  She has held multiple roles including cabin counselor, T’fillah (Prayer) Specialist, and most recently, Judaics Lead. Over her years at camp, as a camper and staff member, Michaela has developed a true love for CSS.

Prior to joining the CSS team as Engagement Coordinator, Michaela studied at the University of Washington, where she graduated with a degree in International Studies: Jewish Studies in June 2018.  During her four years at UW, Michaela worked as a chapter advisor for United Synagogue Youth (USY) and, in her senior year, took on the role of Field Engagement Associate for USY’s Pacific Northwest region. Following her graduation, she continued to work for USY, and served as Youth Director at Herzl-Ner Tamid. Through these roles, she gained a deeper understanding of the Jewish youth experience in the Pacific Northwest as well as a passion for enriching the Jewish life and education of these youth through social experiences. Outside of work, you can find Michaela volunteering as a special needs cheer team coach, tutoring B’nai Mitzvah students, and playing with her dog Charlie.

Michaela is excited to bring her experience and knowledge to CSS where she hopes to continue to help create lasting memories for campers of all ages. When asked to share one of her own favorite memories, Michaela said, “During my first year on staff at Camp Solomon Schechter, I had a cabin of 5th grade girls. Many of them were new to camp and there was one camper who was particularly shy and hesitant to join the group. On the first Friday night, during Shabbat shira (singing), she started to come out of her shell because of the warm and welcoming community that was created in which everyone was welcome to freely celebrate their Judaism and be themselves. This was the moment I truly fell in love with Camp Solomon Schechter.”


February 5, 2019
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You may be wondering, “What’s Jewish about Superheroes?” Where to begin?! Forstarters, many of the DC and Marvel Superheroes were created by Jews (Superman, Batman, Captain America, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Jean-Grey, Iron Man… just to name a few). Many of the characters have expressly Jewish backgrounds and model Jewish values and practices (Fantastic Four’s The Thing even had a Bar Mitzvah in one comic). And, of course, we can’t forget Gal Gadot, a real life Wonder Woman!

But heroes aren’t simply confined to fictional books and movies. Jewish history is filled with courageous individuals and epic adventures. It’s hard to read about the wisdom of Solomon, the might of Deborah, the determination of Moses, or the courage of Hannah Senesh, and not think there was something “super” about them.

And there are the amazing and heroic acts that happen every day at Camp Solomon Schechter. Every time a camper pushes themselves to try something new, they display courage. Every time a camper learns a new skill or navigates a social situation independently they grow.

With so many avenues to explore within the theme of heroes, this summer is sure to be filled with inspiring lessons, fun educational projects, Jewish values, and young Jewish heroes-in-training! We will be releasing a series of posts on this summer theme over the next few weeks.

So stay tuned to find out which comic book heroes are Jewish, which Jewish heroes had extraordinary gifts, and how your camper will discover their inner Jewish hero at Camp Solomon Schechter this summer!


January 24, 2019
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One of the most crucial roles at camp is the Director of Camper Care. This Head Staff position oversees the social and emotional well-being of our campers. We are so fortunate to be welcoming back a longtime Schechter staff member and alumna, Michelle Danzig-Crandall to lead our Camper Care team and make sure our campers feel safe and happy while at camp! Check out Michelle’s message below.

Hello Schechter family! I’m looking forward to spending another summer at Camp SolomonSchechter. Every summer of my youth was spent at CSS. I have very fond memories of and adoration for camp. I would have to say my top 3 best memories are Ga Ga, Rafting, and Shabbat…evening programs are up there too! I’ve been on the CSS Camper Care Team in previous years and I’m excited to be coming back!
My professional life represents a mosaic of interests. I earned my Masters in Education from Gonzaga University (the one with the stellar basketball team) and my undergrad in psychology with an emphasis on adolescence. I went on to explore my love for Jewish Education, always adding a bissel of environmental experiential education to the mix. I did a tour as co-education director at the synagogue I grew up in, as well as having the opportunity to lead youth as a Kadima and USY advisor. More recent adventures include teaching a variety of subjects in Spokane Public Schools, as well as working for the Hawaii Department of Education. Currently, I reside on the beautiful island of Maui.
My professional interests include innovating organizational systems; effectively measuring performance, problems of practices and solutions through the lens of a humanistic perspective as well as facilitating meaningful youth leadership.
My personal interests include contemporary food issues (anything food related really), agricultural and environmental sustainability, natural health, and paddling. I also have an interest in the impact of mind, body, and spirit on overall health.
I am looking forward to the opportunity to reunite with the Schechter community, new and old, and help facilitate an amazing 2019 season!
See you this summer!
Michelle Danzig-Crandall

November 29, 2018
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Few people have dedicated as much of their time, energy, heart, blood, sweat, and tears, to Camp Solomon Schechter as Mike Schiller. Mike first arrived on the Schechter scene back in 1973 and he continues to be an integral part of the CSS community. Mike has dabbled in just about every aspect of camp life, first as a camper and Oded, and later as a kitchen staff, board member, Open House Chair, 60th Gala Chair, and camp parent. Mike’s two children, Karli and Marcus, worked at CSS last summer, and his family sponsored a cabin in honor of Mike’s mother, Babette Schiller, a longtime supporter of CSS (look for Bubbe’s Bunk on the boys side!). As if all that wasn’t enough, Mike just donated a new electric boat to camp last week, so we can get around our new aqua park more quickly. We sat down with Mike to find out why he has dedicated so much of his energy to supporting CSS.

CSS: How did your Schechter journey begin?

Mike: I started out as an Aleph camper back in 1973. Back then, there were certain age crossovers that made it possible to go for two sessions in one summer. I always went to two sessions when I could, as I had friends from multiple age groups. In fact, I was an Oded in 1980 and oddly stayed on after the Oded program ended and attended Gimmel session as a camper. That was a bit weird as I was friends with all the staff. But I didn’t want to miss out on time at camp!

In 1982, I worked as the camp cook (I didn’t plan meals, I just cooked them).  It was a hard summer as I was up at 5:00 AM everyday, and didn’t leave the kitchen until after evening dishes were done.

CSS: Wow! That sounds like a long day. I’m surprised you still wanted to give more time to CSS after that! When did you join the board?

Mike: I joined the board in 1991, and served for fifteen consecutive years. I left the board in 2016, and today I am just happy to be a camp parent, as both of my kids now work at camp. Karli was the Mental Health Professional at camp last summer, and Marcus was the Sports Director.

CSS: Tell us about a favorite memory or two from your years as a camper.

Mike: I loved just sitting on the hill and hanging out with friends. I also loved that moment when the bus first arrived at camp, and you would run down to the office to see what cabin you were in.

CSS: How has CSS impacted your life?

Mike: I found my Jewish identity at camp. It wasn’t about learning about Judaism, it was about immersing myself into Judaism. I didn’t love services, or some of the “classes”, but I did love being surrounded by Jewish youth from all over the region. Shabbat was special and the evening ruach sessions made me love and appreciate my culture. I am still extremely close with campers I met in 1973. Camp is and will always remain an important part of my life. (And I hope, some day, my grandkids’ lives!) Today, one of the Boy’s Side cabins is dedicated to my Mom. It will forever be Bubbe’s Bunk.

Thanks Mike and we can’t wait to see you at camp next summer!

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October 25, 2018
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This week we take a look at a truly beloved member of the community and champion of CSS, Karen Twain! Karen began her CSS journey at the age of eight, and never missed a year as a camper thereafter. Karen went on to be a counselor, sports director, board member, board president and camp parent! Karen is now in her eleventh year as a CSS board member. We are so grateful for her continued support, advice and ruach (spirit). We asked Karen to share some of her favorite memories of her time at CSS.

CSS: How did your CSS journey begin?

KT: My mom and dad decided to send me to Schechter when I was eight, which was the best parenting decision ever made! I won the Bible Quiz at Neveh Shalom (I think I answered one or two questions right) and received a small scholarship to go to camp. I never looked back. I went every year I could as a camper and then I was a counselor and the sports director.

CSS: What are some of your favorite memories from your camper years?

KT:  I loved the ruach sessions. I loved hearing the bell ring and running to the canteen for ice cream. And, of course, dominating on basketball courts and in the gaga pits!

CSS: Did you have a favorite staff member?

KT: I am eternally grateful to my mentor Rabbi Stampfer for having the vision for CSS – where Judaism and joy are one!

CSS: Now, as an alumni, board member and camp parent, what do you appreciate about your CSS journey?

KT: I had many life-changing events at CSS – my first kiss, learning to read Hebrew, having an impromptu Bat Mitzvah, becoming a leader, and establishing a lifelong community. My closest friends are from camp and we have remained tight-knit for over 40 years. We attend each others life events – births, b’nai mitzvot, weddings, funerals – and even an occasional road trip together. In fact, two of my best friends from camp were the witnesses at my wedding. After they signed the ketubah (before the actual ceremony), we broke into a ruach session that sounded like Shabbat at camp! My kids, Marian and Oliver, have gone to camp since they were eight years old and have recently been on staff. They have established the same kind of community that I had, and I love their friends and treat them as family. If you ask any of us “where’s your happy place?” We all say the same thing – CAMP SOLOMON SCHECHTER!

Thank you Karen, for your ruach and dedication to CSS. With people like you guiding our community, we know that Judaism and joy will be one for many years to come!  

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October 18, 2018
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Introducing Schechter Spotlight, a new series that takes a look at individuals who have been impacted by Camp Solomon Schechter, and who, in return, have left their mark on our community.

This week we are spotlighting Dan Brown of Vancouver, BC. While this Dan is not the famous author of the Da Vinci Code, he has his own rich storied history with CSS. Dan started his Schechter journey as an Aleph camper in 1989 and was a part of the Oded class of ‘95. He went on to work as a counselor for two summers, Waterfront Supervisor, Head Staff, and, as of 2018, joined the CSS Board of Directors. We asked Dan to share some of his favorite memories of his time at CSS.

CSS: What’s your favorite memory as a camper?

DB: I have fond memories of Chef Al “The Kook” Bragga announcing that we’d be having lasagna for dinner. He would serve it on big metal trays right on the floor and the counselors would dish it up to campers from there. Right before he’d bring out the lasagna he’d shout, “It’s hot! Don’t step in it!”

CSS: We know lots of people have great memories of Al, and the famous lasagna dinners. We’d also like to add that we never serve anything off of the floor anymore! 

What’s your favorite memory as a staff member?

DB: One summer (around 1999), I painted my entire body red and rode a bike down the hill and off the end of the dock to kick off the water sports portion of Yom Sport. It’s probably still down there. Also we pulled off one of the most epic pranks one summer, where we moved Ben Sadeh’s car into the dining hall and set it up as a cabin’s table for breakfast.

CSS: Any other fun facts you’d like to share?

DB: Executive Director Zach Duitch and I were in the same cabin together in my very first year at camp, Aleph 1989. To this day, almost thirty years later, I’m still good friends with five of the ten members of that cabin. Also, I played the role of the Chehalis Rebbe for the first time this past summer. After being away from CSS for years, I found I could jump right back in!

Well Dan, we’re sure glad you jumped back in! And thanks for being the guinea pig in our new Schechter Spotlight series.

Check out the photo slideshow below! 

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Questions About Camp Solomon Schechter? Get in touch!