The Woolsey Fire has claimed the sites of many childhood memories, destroying a pair of beloved Jewish summer camps in Malibu. Thousands of camp alumni are mourning their childhood home away from home.
Most of the structures at Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp were destroyed in fire. Camp Hess Kramer was the first Jewish summer camp west of the Mississippi when it was built in 1952. Hilltop was added in the 1960s. Tens of thousands of young people have visited for the summer programs, many connected to the Reform movement, an inclusive, liberal strand of Judaism.
The fire destroyed nearly all of the buildings at on Camp JCA Shalom's 220 acres in the Malibu Mountains. The camp, affiliated with the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, opened the site in the 1970s, and has welcomed about 800 campers each summer since then, plus thousands of visitors year-round.
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Aaron Schrank covers religion, international affairs and the Southern California diaspora under a grant from the Luce Foundation.