NY philanthropists donate $20 million to improve Jewish day camp infrastructure


(JTA) — New York philanthropists Jack and Shirley Silver have donated $20 million to the UJA-Federation of New York to improve Jewish day camp facilities.

The legacy commitment gift announced on Monday is the largest given to the UJA during the donor’s lifetime, the agency said in a statement.

The gift is directed to the UJA’s new Jewish Day Camp Centennial Signature Initiative, established to renovate the infrastructure of the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, the largest Jewish day camp system in North America, according to UJA.

The campgrounds house 12 separate day camps on 505 acres of land on three separate sites in Long Island, Rockland County and Staten Island, each accommodating a diverse camper population including Jews, non-Jews, children with special needs and life-threatening illnesses, and seniors. Each summer, more than 6,000 children and 1,200 counselors spend their days on the campgrounds. The camps are run by 15 JCCS and YM-YWHAs in the Greater New York City Area and the Sunrise Association, which provides free camp for children with cancer and for their siblings.


Jack Silver is the founder of New York-based SIAR Capital, and his wife Shirley is a former social studies teacher. They are co-founders of the Jack S. and Shirley M. Silver Foundation, and namesakes of the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs at the Manhattan JCC.

“Our gift to help revitalize the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds represents both our passion for Jewish values and our deep belief in the importance of camping to accomplish the purpose of sustaining Jewish values and identity,” said Jack Silver in a statement. “The HKC campgrounds, and the wonderful camps run there, are a key component to meaningful, lifelong Jewish engagement for thousands of Jewish children, and we hope our gift will inspire others to give to this critical project as well.”

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