Flowers

Through December 2021, the William Davidson Foundation has agreed to match scholarship endowment dollars raised and received by Tamarack Camps.

Tamarack Camps is tirelessly working to reopen for the summer of 2021, and, at the same time, planting seeds for the future.

As my ancestors planted for me, so too will I plant for my children. Talmud Ta’anit 23a

As represented in the following parable: One day, Honi the Circle Maker was walking on the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man, “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?”

The man replied, “Seventy years.” Honi then asked the man, “And do you think you will live another 70 years and eat the fruit of this tree?” The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.”

Like the old man in the above story planted seeds for the next generation, so must Tamarack Camps. “We didn’t need a pandemic to show just how important a robust endowment can help, but these difficult days (with a halt of camper revenue and fundraising events), most certainly magnified its importance,” says Lee Trepeck, Tamarack’s chief executive officer.

Prior to the spread of COVID-19, Tamarack was in early discussions to launch a comprehensive campaign with a significant focus on endowment. While that initiative is on hold, efforts to raise its scholarship endowment have been jump-started by the William Davidson Foundation. Each year, Tamarack provides almost $900,000 in scholarships, but in these challenging times, the need for 2021 is expected to exceed $1 million. Its scholarship endowment (which annually spins off roughly 5%) currently covers less than 15% of that amount.

In 2019, with an effort to catapult Tamarack’s endowment fundraising initiatives, the William Davidson Foundation provided a grant of $1 million toward scholarship endowment. Further, through December 2021, the William Davidson Foundation has agreed to match, $1 to $1, scholarship endowment dollars raised and received by Tamarack Camps. Once this match is fully realized, Tamarack Camps will have increased its scholarship endowment by an additional $1.6 million.

Thanks to many generous contributors, Tamarack Camps is over halfway to its matching goal. (The William Davidson Foundation will match up to $800,000, of which Tamarack has raised $450,000 to date.)

Three of several new endowment supporters who have made a significant impact toward reaching the matching challenge are the Blumenstein Family, “TSS ’91” and Ruth Hurvitz.

The Blumenstein Family
The Blumenstein Family (and penguins)!
The Blumenstein Family (and penguins)! Courtesy of Tamarack Camps

Penny and Harold Blumenstein, their son and daughter-in-law, Ricky and Carol, and family, are well-recognized leaders in the Detroit Jewish community; however, they are not traditionally, per se, “Tamarack people” (none of them were campers, served on the board, or participated in its programs). Nonetheless, they recognize that Jewish summer camp and Tamarack Camps, in particular, are a powerful indicator for living Jewishly. As a family, the Blumensteins are motivated to ensure that a Jewish soul grows and prospers within our community. In addition to a generous 2020 gift to support the scholarship match, the family wishes to encourage others to join by further matching gifts made in 2021 up to $100,000. Speaking for the family, Penny explained: “Camping creates a sense of community and strengthens Jewish identity more than any other Jewish experience. It’s not just a summer, it’s a lifetime!”

TSS ’91
Jason Zaks at Tamarack with sisters Lisa (Zaks) Klein and Alana (Zaks) Chakrabarti.
Jason Zaks at Tamarack with sisters Lisa (Zaks) Klein and Alana (Zaks) Chakrabarti. Courtesy of Tamarack Camps

A group of Tamarack alumni that shared special years at the “Greatest Place on Earth” created a memorial scholarship endowment in memory of their campmate and friend, Jason Zaks. The fund was established by Jason’s TSS (Teen Service Staff) 1991 “family,” the Zaks family, and friends to honor and joyfully remember Jason — and celebrate the profound impact Tamarack has had on their lives.

The group reconnected during a Tamarack Alumni Havdalah and a subsequent reunion this summer; from that point, they quickly agreed to remain connected, honor Jason and actively participate in a meaningful gift to support camp. In less than two months, thegroup created the “Jason Zaks Memorial Scholarship Fund” and has already raised more than $35,000. The TSS ’91 group is excited to continue to grow the endowment and help send more kids to camp — and, along that path, hopes to inspire other Tamarack alumni groups to create endowments of their own.

For more information, visit https://tamarackcamps.com/alumni/jason-zaks-memorial-fund.

Ruth Hurvitz
2014 photo of the Hurvitz family in Zion National Park, recreating Tamarack’s Western Trip itinerary.
2014 photo of the Hurvitz family in Zion National Park, recreating Tamarack’s Western Trip itinerary. Courtesy of Tamarack Camps

Another Tamarack alumna and longtime friend to Tamarack, Ruth Hurvitz, started a scholarship endowment in memory of her late husband, Alan, a longtime executive board member of Tamarack Camps.

After witnessing the impact of Tamarack’s Teen Travel programs on his own children and wanting the same for others, Alan repeatedly challenged his fellow board members to make scholarships available for these iconic programs. Teen Travel scholarships were eventually approved in 2017. The Alan Hurvitz Alaska and Western Teen Travel Scholarship Fund now supports teens who may not otherwise afford the experience of a Tamarack Camps’ impactful and life-changing travel trip.

Each of the above endowment funds (and all contributions to existing or newly created scholarship endowment funds throughout 2021) will have double the impact as they are fully matched by the William Davidson Foundation Match.

We’re sowing the seeds to ensure Tamarack’s mission to build a vibrant community by providing enriching Jewish camping experiences for children and families, respectful of financial ability, for tomorrow and beyond.

To join in supporting Tamarack Camps’ endowment efforts, visit tamarackcamps.com/giving/endowment or, to set up a new endowment, contact Robin Kaufman Trepeck at rtrepeck@tamarackcamps.com. This story first appeared in myjewishdetroit.org.