Camp Newman north of Santa Rosa lost in Tubbs fire

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Camp Newman, a treasured retreat in the hills north of Santa Rosa that served as a summer camp for thousands of Jewish kids over the past two decades, has been leveled by the wildfires besieging the region.

“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 announced in a blog post Tuesday.

Everyone who lived on the property was able to evacuate safely, and all the Torah scrolls were removed.

The camp was operated by the Union for Reform Judaism, which has maintained a summer camp presence on the West Coast since 1947. First located on the shores of Lake Tahoe, it moved to Santa Clara County before settling in Sonoma County in 1997, converting the 485-acre property off Porter Creek Road that had previously served as a cooking school for merchant mariners.

Since its founding, more than 100,000 campers spent summers there. In posts to Camp Newman’s Facebook page, former campers and parents mourned the loss.

“Appropriate words don’t come easily,” Paul Farrington posted to the camp’s Facebook page. “Camp Newman has been such a blessing to our family, sheltering and nurturing our kids and many of their closest friends. Our hearts are very heavy with this loss.”

Still others offered help, like Illana Zauderer.

“We will rebuild,” she commented. “When Camp Newman is ready, put out the word and we will all be there with hammer, nails, and hearts open.”

The camp was the largest Reform Jewish camp on the West Coast, serving more than 1,400 campers every summer from more than 80 congregations across California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii and Texas, according to its website.

In 2015, it announced a $4 million grant from the Koret Foundation to help it expand, adding four more lodge buildings and a welcome center. The project was part of a long-range plan to more than triple usage of the retreat, to about 12,000 people a year.

For those interested in donating, go to campnewman.org/support-newman/donate

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.

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