by Julia Weinstein, WRJ VP of Advocacy and Marketing & Communications, University Synagogue Sisterhood
What do URJ 6 Points Sports Academy CA campers and WRJ (Women of Reform Judaism) Pacific District women have in common? A love of social justice! And how do I know that? Because Saturday a week ago, we joined together, women and campers, in a tikkun olam project to make Bags of Hope for the homeless people in our communities.
Thirty-five women and seventy-five campers worked in assembly lines to fill gallon plastic bags with food, socks and other items. These bags will be sent home with the campers with instructions on how to share this project with others in their communities. Each camper wrote a note for the person who will receive their bag – notes such as “Don’t give up!”, “Have a great day!”, “I believe in you!”, “We’re here for you!”. Together, we had dinner, celebrated Havdalah and watch the weekly highlights video.
We had traveled to Los Angeles from dozens of sisterhoods across Southern California and the Southwest to attend an Area Day on Sunday organized annually by the Pacific District of Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ). This Saturday at Camp was the kick off to our Area Day the following day where the 130 women attending were planning to do the same Bags of Hope tikkun olam project. Each session of campers will participate in this project throughout the summer!
A few of us had attended a Jewish camp as a child; several more had sent our children to Jewish camp; and for some of us this was our first day at a Jewish camp. But for all of us, love of Jewish camps is close to our hearts and supporting Reform Jewish camps is our mission.
Each year, WRJ raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the YES (Youth, Education & Special Services) Fund to help ensure the future of the Reform Movement. In 2017-2018 alone, WRJ donated $55,000 to Reform Jewish camp programs, scholarships and capital improvements.
All in all, 6 Points campers made over 75 bags with us. The following day, WRJ women made another 130 bags. Because of one weekend, hundreds of bags will be handed out to homeless individuals around the country. And hopefully, many more bags will be made and distributed in our communities. These bags will allow us to personally connect in a meaningful way with the homeless people in our communities. It was the best day at camp!