Gene and Gerry Huppin have always been big believers in uniting Judaism and Joy as One, and providing positive Jewish experiences for Jewish youth. They first became involved with Camp Solomon Schechter in 1965, when their eldest daughter, Beth, was eight years old and attended her first summer at Camp, back when it was located on Whidbey Island. Spending a summer at Schechter provided an opportunity for their children to receive an immersive Jewish education, 24 hours a day, and to meet other Jewish kids from around the Pacific Northwest — all very important things to Gene and Gerry.
Gene was born and raised in Spokane, Washington. Gerry was born in Salem, Oregon, and was raised in Seattle, Washington. Growing up, neither of them received the strongest of Jewish educations, and because of this, it was very important to them to create a Jewish home. They dated in Seattle while attending the University of Washington. They were married in 1956 and began building a life together in Spokane, where there were many opportunities to grow in their Judaism. Together they raised five children, all of whom spent several summers at Camp Solomon Schechter. Gene served as the President of Camp Solomon Schechter’s Board of Directors two separate times – for two years in the late 1970s and for one year in the early 1980s. Gene and Gerry were also very active in their synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane, WA, where Gene also served as Board President in 1970-71 and Gerry was active in the Sisterhood. Gene and his family led demonstrations for six months on behalf of Soviet Jewry during EXPO 74, an international exposition in Spokane, WA, which included a Soviet pavilion. Additionally, Gene and Gerry were involved with AIPAC, the Anti Defamation League, the Jewish National Fund, Hillel at the University of Washington, and Jewish Family Services. Gene was particularly engaged with fundraising and education for the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), specifically as part of the Young Leadership Cabinet, and together they went on several trips to Israel with UJA and on their own. Gene was also appointed by then President George HW Bush as a US commissioner on the US Commission for Preservation of American Heritage Abroad.
Gene practiced law for fifty years, primarily in Eastern Washington. It was his professional background as an attorney that allowed him to speak and meet with the people of Spokane, working to raise money to create a scholarship fund for the Jewish youth of Spokane to attend Camp Solomon Schechter. This fund was created after all of Gene and Gerry’s children had aged out of Camp. The two saw what was happening with the Jewish youth that had returned from their summers at Camp and brought back with them a new, fresh Jewish energy to the community, and knew that these experiences would be good for the entire community.
Gene and Gerry inspired a deep love of Judaism in their family and community. They are proud that so many of their children and grandchildren have spent so many summers at Camp Solomon Schechter as campers and staff, and have gotten involved in other Jewish organizations. Their three daughters, as well as two of their grandchildren, served as Regional President of Pinwheel USY, and all of their children spent a summer in Israel on USY Pilgrimage during high school. All of their children and grandchildren are very connected to their Judaism, bringing Jewish values into their homes through their careers and the ways they act in the world, and so much of that is due to Camp Solomon Schechter!
Gene and Gerry currently reside in Palm Desert, CA, and spend their summers in Kirkland, WA. They have been quarantining in Palm Desert since the pandemic began in March, and are very much enjoying the sunshine.
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