Gift That Keeps Giving
If you haven't yet signed your child up for Jewish overnight camp, now's the time to act. If all the hype about the importance of this Jewish experience hasn't convinced you, there's fresh evidence confirming what we've known anecdotally for decades: there's a clear link between Jewish camping and lifelong Jewish engagement. A new study sponsored by the Jewish Foundation for Camp shows that camp not only enhances individual Jewish identity, but also one's connection to the larger Jewish community (See story on Page 16.)
Alumni engage Jewishly and communally at a much higher rate than those who never experienced the spiritual high of Shabbat prayer by the lake or Israeli dancing on the basketball court.
The cost, of course, continues to be a major obstacle for many Jewish families. Area camp directors say that while enrollments are up, so, too, are requests for financial aid. Incentive grants for first-time campers and scholarship funds are still available, according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which administers both programs.
But we also know that area families who can afford overnight camp simply opt to send their children elsewhere. With so many quality camps within driving distance from Philadelphia — Ramah, B'nai B'rith Perlman, Pinemere, Camp Harlam and Galil, just to name a few — and many more beyond, there's no excuse not to at least explore the Jewish camp route. You could be bestowing a gift upon your children that could change their lives.
Time to Free Pollard
Enough is enough. It's time to let Jonathan Pollard go. The former naval analyst sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel has done his time. His continued incarceration serves no purpose.
Once rightly reviled in the Jewish community for a crime that many worried would unleash unwarranted suspicion of dual loyalty, Pollard has since garnered widespread sympathy for what can certainly be seen as an overly harsh punishment.
The campaign to grant him clemency has intensified recently, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu writing to President Barack Obama to seek official clemency. Even former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has added his voice to the chorus of former U.S. officials and members of Congress pleading Pollard's case.
For humanitarian reasons, not to mention reasons of fairness — he was duped into pleading guilty with the promise of a lenient sentence — Obama should heed these requests. At a time of general nervousness over the administration's positions on a host of political and diplomatic issues, it would be a well-received gesture. Not to mention the right thing to do.