Remarks from the Art Center Dedication

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This past weekend, Camp Kalsman opened the doors to the Rita R. Rosen Arts Center for our campers to use as a space for Jewish learning and creativity. Please find the remarks from the Dedication below.

“Thank you all for coming to camp in this lovely Juneary weather! This dedication marks an exciting shift in what we are able to offer our participants in terms of activity choices and for our year-round programming.

I would be remiss to go any further without some “thank yous.”

First to Stan and Michelle and Judy and Krijn. I do not know where we would be without the support of your families, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as amazing! Your leadership and actions in our community are so very powerful. Thank you. I hope we can appropriately honor Rita through this facility.

To the Kalsman Commission, your guidance, support, and shared vision have been key to our ongoing success. In particular to Janice Brumer- for your endless dedication, friendship, and willingness to partner with me for so many years may be the most remarkable! Thank you!

To the Samis Foundation; your support and commitment to Jewish education of our youth serves as a doogma a role model to us all.

To all of you- your support and commitment to the camp and Jewish youth of the PNW is so very powerful. On behalf of myself, the staff here, and most importantly our campers – Thank you.

This week we read Sh’lach L’cha… Moses sends scouts to the Promised land and all but two came back saying conquering the land was an insurmountable task. That while the land did flow with milk and honey it was inhabited by giants in fortified cities… There have been times these last twelve years where I felt like each of those scouts. Some days it seemed the tasks of creating a new camp were insurmountable, other days, I was Caleb “We will surely overcome them.”

In Judaism there are few holy things. We are not a religion known for creating shrines and canonizing people. Time, Shabbat, is holy. The teaching and teachings-of the Torah is holy. People, and their relationships are holy. I think that is what makes camp such a sacred space and time. It is the perfect trifecta of the three.  Not only is there celebration of Shabbat at camp for our participants, camp IS the Shabbat of their year. Here they live and breathe being Jewish. Here the HEAR the Torah and experience it. And maybe, most powerful of all, here, in this space, lifelong relationships formed. We have already had 4 marriages of staff! I cannot even begin to guess to the number of lifelong friendships formed.

Our history is rich in stories of creation- it is in fact the first story we hear- B’reyshit… In a few weeks we will read about the creation of the Tabernacle. As Rabbi Schorsch teaches us, “The lasting lesson of the Tabernacle is the supreme importance of voluntarism in the conduct of the Jewish polity. The twin values of tzedakah and gemilut hasidim–of charity and deeds of lovingkindness–combined to make of voluntarism the communal ethos.”

Your efforts and hard work are lasting examples of this lesson.

This summer our campers and staff will explore their Judaism, their relationships with G-d, the world around them, and one another through art in this spectacular holy place.

Thank you.”

-David Berkman
URJ Camp Kalsman, Director


“Good afternoon everyone, it is a real honor to be part of this celebration to dedicate the Rita R. Rosen Arts Center. As you may know, URJ camping has been around for almost ¾ of a century.  Yet, it has only been the last 25 years that we have aggressively expanded the number of camps.  The Movement, like all of you, understand that Reform Jewish camping uniquely inspires young people to live Jewishly and empowers and nurtures them to build for a better tomorrow.

Now Kalsman is an extra special place to me.  I have been with you on the journey from the very beginning and have witnessed how a group of dedicated people with a powerful vision made a dream come true.  I thank you all for having the tenacity and the love to get us to this day.  And a special thank you to David Berkman for his remarkable leadership. For it was he who gave shape and substance to that dream and made it a reality for us all – from the early days of Atid, to the building of phase 1, through the addition of a camper village and now the long-awaited Arts Center.  Because of each of you, thousands of young people have found a Reform Jewish home in the Pacific Northwest and tens of thousands more will in the years to come.

The addition of this beautiful Arts Center will now elevate that experience by offering a wider array and higher quality creative arts programs that will spark the curiosity, creativity and expression of campers and staff.

This building has special resonance with me.  I remember an art project from my time at camp when I made a door plaque with the word Shalom.  It was made of a roughhewn plank of wood with glued on letters of the word Shalom.  Now my parents were not the type to save our creations, especially since they had five kids and that would be a great number of things to have to hold on to.  But for some reason this plaque was saved, and it was hung on a bedroom door at the family beach house.  And it remained there for years, even through my own children growing up and sleeping it that room.  To this day, I distinctly remember sitting at the art room table sketching the design for my project. I also remember feeling ready to get started and not wanting to have to go through the design process.  I just wanted to create.  I remember the screeching sound of the saw and the smell of the burning wood as the letters were being cut.  I remember having to carefully sand the legs, or are they arms, of the shin, so they wouldn’t break and gluing each letter on the board, so they were straight and evenly spaced.  I remember I had to work diligently to get the wood smooth and just right for the shellac.  I remember I had to be patient as the shellac took a long time to set in the hot sticky summer.  And I remember the wonderful feeling of being able to offer a gift to my parents that was created by my own hands.  It is so exhilarating to imagine how this building is going to allow generations to experiment with artistic expressions as they explore their love of Judaism, community and nature.  What a gift.

Yesterday we celebrated Shabbat, a time dedicated to holiness, a rest from the work of creation.  Today we celebrate the opening of the Rita R. Rosen Arts Center, a space dedicated to the holiness found in the exploration of creative expression.  May God bless the work of the hands and hearts of our campers and staff who enter this holy space, to work in partnership with God to continue the cycle of creation each and every day.”

-Miriam Chilton
VP Youth, URJ