Jewish camp in Northern California ravaged by forest fire


(JTA) — Much of a Reform Jewish summer camp has been wiped out by forest fires sweeping across northern California.

At least 10 people have died so far in the forest fires, which blazed across the area Monday. At least 15 fires are burning in eight counties, 20,000 people have evacuated their homes and 1,500 buildings have been destroyed.

The Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Newman, an hour north of the San Francisco Bay, has been “mostly destroyed” by the fires burning in the Sonoma and Napa Counties, the camp posted on Facebook Tuesday evening. Camp staff have yet to be able to visit the area.

“As many of you may have heard, since 10pm last night, forest fires have been burning in Sonoma and Napa counties,” the camp’s post read. It is with tremendous shock and sadness that we share that the majority of the buildings at our beloved Camp Newman home have been destroyed.”

The camp moved to its current site in 1997 and dedicated a $4 million building last year, according to J., the Jewish News of Northern California. It serves 1,400 kids.

Camp is not in session,  and everyone living at the campsite — along with its Torah scrolls — were rescued before the fires reached the camp. The camp advised on Facebook that area residents in need of water or power visit a nearby Reform synagogue, Congregation Shomrei Torah.

“Most importantly, we take great comfort in knowing that all of our staff are safe,” the post said. “We are so grateful to the first responders and firefighters who attempted to save our camp buildings. We are keeping these heroic and hardworking people in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to work to protect the people and the places in our Camp Newman neighborhood, for whom we will continue to pray.”

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