Hundreds of current and former campers, staffers, board members, donors, clergy and representatives from the Jewish community turned out July 27 for the dedication of the first “village” in a new retreat center at URJ Camp Newman.
The hanukkat habayit (dedication of the home) included a tree-planting ceremony and guided tours of the newly completed parts of the 65-year-old camp — notably the first six of a projected 16 new cabins.
The modern cabins, a conference center and a multipurpose arts/dining/library facility are part of a multiyear, $30.2 million plan for the Campus Retreat Center. The aim is not only to secure Camp Newman for years to come, but also to create a first-class facility for use by the entire Bay Area Jewish community. It is intended to attract groups and upwards of 10,000 participants year-round.
Camp Newman and Union for Reform Judaism officials are excited about the project, which was reflected at the dedication ceremony. Ari Vared, Camp Newman’s advancement director, called it a “truly spectacular event filled with tears of inspiration and smiles of jubilation.”
Approximately 1,100 people attended, including 700 kids and adults from the Camp Newman community and 400 parents, alumni and community leaders. Attendees included lead donors Daryl Messinger and Jim Heeger; former board chair Raquel Newman, for whom the camp is named; and a long list of community and synagogue leaders.
“These cabins are just the beginning,” Messinger, Camp Newman’s board chair, said at the ceremony. “They are a beginning that creates a new perspective.”
Over the past two years, the camp has completed $5 million worth of infrastructure work, built the six cabins and raised $12.7 million, including a $1 million grant from the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.