2018 Woolsey Fire Update
89.3 KPCC - Alumni Mourn Malibu Jewish Summer Camps Destroyed By Woolsey Fire
The Woolsey Fire has claimed the sites of many childhood memories, destroying a pair of beloved Jewish summer camps in Malibu. Thousands of camp alumni are mourning their childhood home away from home...
Although the full extent of the damage to Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp won't be determined for some time, we know that it is severe. Among the buildings and areas lost to the fire at Hess Kramer are Baruh Hall, Gildred Hall, the climbing wall, Leadership Library, the dance platform, and the ark, along with several staff residences and all but two of the cabins. At Hilltop, all structures were lost with the exception of two cinder block staff housing units. As we feel the sadness of these losses we also remember with gratitude that everyone was evacuated safely from both camps before the fire arrived, as were our Torah scrolls.
Saturday night's Havdallah gathering poignantly reminded us that camp is really about the people and what we do together. The location will be a different and temporary one, but we will be together this summer. There will be camp. Hess Kramer and Hilltop will endure.
Fire has played an important role in Jewish history. As Rabbi Eshel said in his Havdallah remarks, "We remember God spoke to Moses through the burning bush to inspire our people to freedom. God led us through the wilderness with a pillar of fire. This flame will not destroy…rather this flame will light our way to a bright, bright future."
As much as we know our camps will endure, the reality of the damage saddens us all. If your children are struggling with the news of the fires, you may find this publication helpful in speaking to them about loss and natural disasters. If you have been personally impacted by the fires and need assistance, please reach out to us so that we can help.
The Wilshire Boulevard Temple Disaster Response Team is also mobilizing to assist the greater Malibu community that we've shared a home with for over 65 years. Just as camp has been a light unto the children, so too are we a light unto our community, especially in times of need.
This is a time to support one another and move forward into the future with hope.
Alberto Valner, President
Steve Leder, Senior Rabbi
Donna Nadel, Executive Director
David Eshel, Camp Rabbi
Doug Lynn, Executive Director of Camps
Seth Toybes, Director of Camps
Jake Glucksman, Camp Committee Chair