Ensuring a Jewish Future
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Jewish Philanthropists Endow Summer Camp Program
Today's Jewish camper is tomorrow's Jewish leader, which is why 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, the Siegal’s $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 attend without incentive.
“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, 7 out of 10 young Jewish leaders who are active in the Jewish community went to Jewish summer camp while 1 out of 3 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 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 Jewish Federation of Cleveland, is committed to perpetuating Jewish life in his hometown of Cleveland and throughout the United States. Cleveland was one of the first communities to develop a campership incentive program to reduce the cost of living Jewishly. In recent years, the Federation has partnered with the Foundation for Jewish Camp 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.”
To date, nearly 50% of Cleveland families who participated in an incentive program may not have attended Jewish summer camp otherwise; but, believed their participation “very positively” affected their families overall connection to the Jewish community. One mother reported, “This is the best chance for my kids to feel connected to the Jewish community of Cleveland.”
The Michael and Anita Siegal One Happy Camper Program is a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and operates in partnership with the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and Foundation for Jewish Camp.