Friday, December 12, 2008

Fire at Nageela, donations needed

Last Thursday, the Suri Schwartz Experience Center located in Fallsburg, NY, suffered a devastating fire. The Center is owned by JEP of Long Island and houses Camp Nageela during the summer. During the winter months, it is either rented out to other Orthodox groups for weekend retreats or is used for JEP's own kiruv Shabbatons. An electrical fire in the building destroyed the dining room and part of the kitchen. Thank God, no guests were on the site at the time of the fire and all the workers made it out unharmed. The damage, however, is extraordinary, and the cost to repair it is well beyond the means of JEP's tiny budget.

JEP is a non-profit organization which provides educational and recreational activities for irreligious Jewish children and families. Their programs include Shabbatons, family weekend retreats, Yom Tov (holiday) programs and Hebrew schools throughout Long Island, NYC, and New Jersey. Camp Nageela boasts more than 100 campers during both girls half and boys half of the summer who come from as far away as Florida, Texas, and even Alaska . I have personally volunteered for JEP for over 6 years and have witnessed the countless people affected by their warmth and enthusiasm toward Judaism. Children who never heard of a Sukkah are now making posters at their weekly Hebrew school parties. Families who have never experienced Shabbos now enjoy inspirational lectures over weekend retreats while their children listen to stories of the Parsha and play games with the counselors they all love. I have former campers who are now learning in Orthodox high schools and even in seminaries in Israel, and I can name many families who have become observant through the influence of JEP. The success stories abound.

Anyone who is able to send a donation will surely be appreciated. The Gemara says that anyone who helps save a Jewish soul is likened to saving an entire world. May Hashem help JEP to get through this challenge and continue to touch Jewish lives around the world.

JEP's website:

More pictures of the fire:


  1. "Irreligious"? I think you mean "non-religious." The connotation is less . . . annoying.

  2. FWIW, irreligious is in the dictionary as "not religious", while non-religious isn't there. Perhaps people sometimes mean irreligious in an offensive or negative way, but certainly that's not how it is meant here and that's not how most people mean it.

  3. Actually, the word "irreligious" has both a secondary denotation and a primary connotation as "hostile to religion." The correct word here is "non-observant", or in the Kiruv context, "not yet observant." Having said that, I must add that JEP of Long Island does great work on a shoestring budget. Fire insurance is never sufficient to fully repair the structure, and donations to JEP are certainly a good idea.