by Rabbi Fred Greene of Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, GA
It was 1985 and my father was losing his battle with cancer. My mother was a religious school principal, and my father hadn’t worked as a store manager for months. At the same time, they had their heart set on giving me a great experience at a Jewish summer camp because I was so involved in our synagogue youth programs. My mother wanted me to go to URJ Kutz Camp, which they picked because it was the Reform Movement’s leadership development camp for high school students. The problem was, there was absolutely no way I could have made it to camp if we needed to rely only on the financial resources of my family. My folks wanted to give me a gift, but they couldn’t have done it themselves.
It was Temple Emanu-El of East Meadow’s Director of Education, Ira Schweitzer, who made it happen. He had the insight and commitment to find the money to cover the majority of my tuition. He sent me to Kutz to learn how to be a songleader and youth group leader. After that summer, I became the music teacher at my synagogue, sharing what I had learned and giving back to my own community.