April 15, 2024
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Jewish Philanthropists Endow Summer Camp Program

Today’s Jewish camper is tomorrow’s Jew­ish leader, which is why Jewish philanthropists Michael and Anita Siegal are investing in the next generation and endowing a Jewish sum­mer camp program: “It’s important to the fu­ture of the Jewish community.” Working with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, their $1.25 million dollar endowment establishes the Mi­chael and Anita Siegal One Happy Camper Pro­gram, with the goal to recruit Jewish children to overnight camp who might not otherwise attend.

“Anita and I are both committed to sustain­ing and growing a vibrant Jewish community in North America,” said Michael Siegal. “Data has proven that overnight camping can make a sub­stantive difference toward a child’s journey to­ward this goal. We are delighted in partnering with the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland to make it pos­sible for more young people to consider partici­pating in the joy and fun of Jewish camping.”

Research shows that when children return home from Jewish summer camp they have a deepened connection to Jewish life and cul­ture and they have developed new friendships that will last their lifetime. These connections, to people and community, are transformation­al. For example, seven out of 10 young Jewish leaders who are active in the Jewish commu­nity went to Jewish summer camp while one out of three Jewish professionals such as rab­bis, cantors, and teachers were counselors at Jewish summer camp.

“The Siegals’ gift advances two communi­ty priorities: the creative development of Jew­ish identity in young people and [reducing] the cost of living Jewishly,” said Steve Hoffman, president of the Jewish Federation of Cleve­land. “It’s an example not just for Cleveland but for the national Jewish community as well.”

Mr. Siegal, who is current board chair of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and former board chair of the Jewish Federa­tion of Cleveland, is committed to perpetuat­ing Jewish life in his hometown of Cleveland and throughout the world. Cleveland was one of the first North American communities to de­velop a local incentive program for camp in or­der to reduce the cost of living Jewishly. In re­cent years, the Federation has partnered with the Foundation for Jewish Camp to expand the scope of its local effort and to increase the number of Jewish youth who attend Jewish summer camp.

“Through our partnership, we have dou­bled the number of children attending Jew­ish camp from the Cleveland area,” said Jere­my J. Fingerman, CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp. “The leadership gift from the Siegal Family will ensure that many more children will be able to experience joyous Judaism at Jewish camp for years to come.”

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