(JTA) — Whether it’s first love or night swimming, many American Jews have nostalgic memories from Jewish summer camp. For the first class of campers to attend the Union for Reform Judaism’s flagship camp in Warwick, New York, those memories just turned 50 years old.
The URJ’s Kutz Camp, known for being the birthplace of modern spiritual Jewish folk music, celebrated its 50th anniversary this Fourth of July weekend. Hundreds of Kutz alumni joined Union for Reform Judaism leaders — including its president, Rabbi Rick Jacobs — at the camp on Friday night and all of Saturday to mark the occasion. While night swimming wasn’t on the agenda, outdoor activities, workshops and other adult summer camp activities were planned.
In 1965, Kutz Camp became the summer headquarters for NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, the youth arm of the Union for Reform Judaism.
In 1969, a singer named Debbie Friedman became the camp’s song leader. Friedman’s songs – some of which she wrote at Kutz Camp in the early ’70s – would go on to revolutionize Jewish music and prayer. Many of her melodies, like “L’chi Lach” and “Mi Shebeirach,” are still sung in congregations across the country.
Friedman, who died from pneumonia in 2011 at the age of 59, and her music no doubt were remembered at the Kutz Camp anniversary.
With the upcoming release of a television series based on the film “Wet Hot American Summer,” Jewish summer camp is getting another moment in the spotlight. But as Kutz Camp reminds us, Jewish camp has been a fixture of American Jewish culture for a long time.
Benjamin Ivry investigates the literary chameleon, Romain Gary.
Rachel Barenblat writes a tree poem for “Birch Magazine.”
Raphael Mostel goes to see the story of Ruth at the New York Chinese Opera Society.
Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree
I’ve been meaning for quite some time now to write about the Judaica Sound Archives, an online treasure trove of American Jewry’s musicological patrimony, but I couldn’t quite find the right note to strike. In the wake of the sudden and untimely passing of Debbie Friedman, whose musical contributions to the shaping of contemporary Jewish life are virtually without parallel, the appropriate occasion presents itself.
I don’t know whether the Judaica Sound Archives, which is maintained by the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, actually contains any of Debbie Friedman’s songs — I’m sure it will in due course — but the collection houses just about everything else that once made for American Jewry’s varied and lively acoustic culture.
A forthcoming biography of J.D. Salinger and Henry Kissinger’s “On China” are among The Daily Beast’s most anticipated books of 2011.
Is Frank Gehry’s design for the University of Technology, Sydney, a colossal mistake?
Jerome A. Chanes goes to see The Living Theatre’s production of “Korach.”
Curt Schleier tells the story of three Broadway producers.
Jay Michaelson questions whether mysticism is real.
Philologos is possessed.
Laurence Zuckerman looks back at the life of Judah L. Magnes, one of 20th-century Jewry’s most important — and most overlooked — leaders.
This article has been sent!Close