Teen leadership program spawned music, religious practices, leaders.
Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor
In a statement Wednesday, Rabbi Rick Jacob, president of the Union for Reform Judaism announced that the movement’s Kutz Camp, a summer camp for teen leadership development, will close after the 2019 summer session.
“URJ Kutz Camp has long been at the leading edge of creativity, innovation and leadership in the Reform movement,” Jacob said. “For 54 years, Kutz has been the laboratory of Reform Judaism. Generations of teen leaders came to Warwick, N.Y., to experiment with religious practice, write the music that inspires us today, and learn to act justly and to lead our communities. Today, we find that many of our teens are looking for these remarkable programs closer to home and at different times of the year.”
According to the camp’s website, the origins of modern Jewish music can be traced to Kutz. The late singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman was the Kutz song leader in 1969 and, in 1972, she spent time at camp teaching new songs she had written for what would become her first album (“Sing Unto God”).
“Throughout the next year, URJ camps across North America and NFTY will join us in determining how to best bring the movement’s renowned leadership programming directly to the teens in our network of camps and congregations. I know many of you will want to know what will happen to the facility in Warwick, and the honest answer is that we don’t know yet. We are exploring the possibilities.
I recognize that many, like me, will be saddened by this decision,” Jacob said, “but my hope is you will take comfort in knowing that legacy and its place in Reform Jewish history can never be diminished. Our commitment to the mission of Kutz endures as we look to take it directly to the people it has always been intended to serve.”
Do you or a family member attend Kutz Camp? What are your memories of the experience? How did it impact your life? How do you feel about the camp closing after next summer?