Alumni Newsletter Winter 2023

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 02 A letter from Paul & Family 03 A letter from Gabby Spear & Family 04 Behind the Plaque 06 Save the Date: Eisner Alumni Day 01 08 I Found My Love at Eisner 11 Alumni Day Photos 15 Connect with Camp 07 Save the Date: Eisner Alumni Happy Hours

Dear Eisner Community,

What an incredible experience it was being back home at Eisner as the Director! The summer was filled with so many memorable moments and I could not be prouder of the work that our staff did this summer

As you know, Eisner is a special place for me and my family It is hard to believe that it was 25 years in between my time on staff, from my last summer as a Unit Head in 1997 to returning in 2022 as the Director What I found incredible was the connection that the Eisner community continues to have on this generation of campers, families and staff

From being able to witness the magic firsthand, I want to share with you some of the highlights from this summer:

Shabbat: There is something so special about being at Eisner for Shabbat Friday evening flows so nicely from Kabbalat Shabbat on the hill to dinner, then services and then into Song Session and Israeli Dance on the Quad Of course, I can’t forget the Shabbat Sha-Brownies in between One of the amazing experiences is watching our Olim campers line the walkway from Universal Lawn to the Quad, as they cheer and welcome camp to Song Session The spirit and ruach is contagious and helps set the tone for a loud and boisterous song session Maccabiah: The final week of camp is filled with the sounds of cheering, laughter and competition as the camp divides into four teams and compete in Maccabiah This year ’ s theme, Avatar: The Last Airbender, brought a new level of excitement to our campers and staff The four-day event had it’s share of memorable moments, from the Song and Cheer Competitions, Dances, Banners, Plaque and of course games on the sports fields Closing Ceremonies: The closing ceremonies around the lake were filled with laughter, tears, smiles and lots of joy I loved hearing the speeches from our unit heads as they said lihitraot to their campers and staff You felt the love in the air and that camp provided a special experience for the whole community Also, watching the outdoor education team light up the fire sign across the lake was a perfect culmination to the summer that we just had

I could go on and on about the summer of 2022 and want you to know that the camp that you love and cherish is still making an impact on this generation of Jewish campers and staff Thank you all for helping lay the groundwork for what Eisner is today and I can’t wait to see what the summer of 2023 brings!

I know that many of you would love to come back and visit camp during the summer. We are hoping to be able to invite alumni visits again for the summer of 2023 and will send out information as it gets closer.

Wishing you and your family a Happy and Healthy New Year!!

Paul, Shari and Michael Isserles


Wow. What else can I say. Generations of campers, counselors and friends gathered on a rainy day in early November to step foot on the hallowed grounds of Eisner Having not been open to visitors since COVID, it was the first time many of us were back in the bubble Greeted by enthusiastic volunteers and some really good swag (love that water bottle), the day got off to a great, all be it rainy, start. I got to share the day with my daughter who proceeded to give ME the tour of camp, and regale me with her summer camp stories It’s not like I didn’t spend 6 of my formative young adult years there! Along the way we met so many people of all generations doing the same. Some with family, others with friends. The common denominator, the joy on all their faces as they got to walk the grounds, attempt a quick round of gaga or tether ball, or see which building was open on OLIM Hill The generations were certainly represented in the presence of friends Many an Eisner tale could be heard in the stories being told – some about the grounds, most about their time spent here, whether it was in the 70s, 80s, 90s or more recently. My favorite was about Gertrude – fact or fiction? You’ll just have to keep on reading to hear more of those stories and decide for yourself

Whatever your connection, thank you for being a part of the Eisner family. Thank you Eisner for giving me a great mother / daughter day that filled the soul and gave us a little taste of Eisner to hold us until next summer I hope you enjoy this installment of our Alumni newsletter and look out for events coming this Spring for more ways to get involved and get together!

Gabby & Molly

B e h i n d t h e

l a q u e B y L i s a H o d e s R o s e n

There were 3 absolute truths about the end of each of my Eisner summers in the 1990’s. First, knowing that I would return to my home in South Florida, which was light years away from my friends in the Northeast, was tortuous. Tears flooded my eyes during those last few days because it would be almost a year before I saw or heard my friends’ voices again After all, I wasn’t allowed to make long distance calls - too expensive - and the internet didn’t exist for us My only contact with them would be the exchange of letters and mix tapes.

The second absolute truth was that I would graffiti my name everywhere “Lisa Hodes wuz here in 1993 ” No camp facility went untouched I don’t know why I did this other than everybody else seemed to do it before me (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Lurie, who is now, coincidentally, my cousin through marriage )

Finally, I needed to make plaques Lots and lots of plaques It could be challenging to find the wood and paint, settle on a design, try not to screw up the design on the first try, and then get Maintenance to put it in a desirable location in the Tzofim Beit Am But it was thrilling to see my plaque occupy prime real estate on the wall The idea was to show it off, but also be able to find it again in subsequent years.

In the summer of 1993, there was a fourth absolute truth: Brian Stone and I would make a plaque together And it was obvious what it would say:

“We smile because we have no idea what’s going on ”

We’ve been repeating that quote for so many years it’s hard to remember the origin. My recollection is that my best friend at the time had a pin with that quote She brought it to camp that summer because it reminded her of me

“Isn’t that insulting?” Stacy, my younger sister, asked “Not at all,” I responded It was perfect

As you know, Eisner is full of smiling campers But Brian and I were ALWAYS smiling, even when things went awry Get caught raiding and receive early morning toranut? We’d arrive smiling and happy to be there Limud a little extra dry that day? We were still happy to participate. We carried an inexplicable joy to every encounter and activity I shared the quote with Brian, and it quickly became our punchline and brand. It rightly deserved a plaque


We agreed to keep the plaque basic mostly because neither of us is artistic Our names, the year, a smiley face - some simplicity, and some silliness. Exactly as the quote suggests

(It is also important to note that we invented the smiley face emoji. I will die on this hill.)

It’s now many decades later (thirty years to be exact), and it’s not surprising that our plaque, like our friendship, has endured In early December I attended Talya Stone’s bat mitzvah (Talya, daughter of Brian and Leah Stone, née Mendelsohn). Brian and I greeted each other with our trademark toothy grins and laughter We watched as his daughter and her friends took the dance floor, acting out synchronized dances they know from Tik Tok.

And we stood there watching and smiling … because we had no idea what was going on.

LisaandBrian, 2022

EISNER EISNER ALUMNI ALUMNI DAY DAY pn Sunday, October 8, 2023 Be on the lookout for more information in the Spring! 06
07 New York City New York City New York City Thursday, March 30, 2023 Thursday, March 30, 2023 Thursday, March 30, 2023 6:30pm-8:30pm Boston Boston Boston Thursday, April 27, 2023 Thursday, April 27, 2023 Thursday, April 27, 2023 6:30pm-8:30pm Save The Dates! Eisner Camp Eisner Camp Eisner Camp Alumni Happy Alumni Happy Alumni Happy Hour Hour Hour *Alumni Ages 21+ More information coming soon!

I Found My Love at Eisner

As a teen growing up on Long Island, I knew of two places to be Jewish, my synagogue and my kitchen. Okay, maybe I knew of a third place, Israel. So I saved up my babysitting wages, and over my parents' objections, I signed up for a teen tour summer to the holy land

In the airport, waiting to board our EL AL flight, my groupmates spoke a foreign language; it wasn’t Hebrew The strange words ended in FTY, and I had no idea what they meant.

“Wefty, come over here,” cheered a gang of big-haired shoulder-padded girls

“I’m from Lifty,” My seatmate bragged

These kids schooled me. Judaism lived and thrived in youth groups such as Westchester Federation of Temple Youth (WEFTY) and Long Island Temple Youth (LIFTY) On day one of our tour, I knew no one, but they had bonded at the ‘best summer camp ever, ” Camp Eisner. My post-Israel mission was to get myself to that camp. Little did I know those summers working at Eisner would lead to me finding the love of my life

In 1983, I was awed by the magnificent manor house located next to the brand-new Kivie Kaplan Center. My fellow machons and I lived in Kivie, I had the best summer of my life. I returned the next summer as a Junior Counselor living in Yellow Gate House and working at the lake teaching swim lessons By the end of that summer, the new pool was open, and to everyone ’ s joy, lessons shifted from murky water to chlorinated water.

Miner (age 17), 1976

Another shift happened for me; Marla and Roo, the famous red-headed counselor duo, needed a new Junior counselor. I was voluntold to leave swim staff housing and join a Bonim bunk. Despite a lice infestation and coming in as an outsider to an alreadyestablished bunk culture, I loved being with the 9-year-old girls Another memorable event of that summer was attending an off-camp party for the staff at a beautiful log cabin owned by a camp family


After the banquet ended and candles floated on the lake, it was time to return to the real world; college applications, getting a driver’s license, and graduating from High School all awaited me I had a camp boyfriend, but certainly, he was not the love of my life

In January 1985, I bravely took the Long Island Railroad into the city to attend a camp reunion. I’d spent a lot of time in the city but never alone. The event was held in the basement of U A H C I hoped to catch up with my fellow counselors, especially my waterfront buddies

It was after the slide show that one of the Bonim girls came over to me. Nine-year-old Abby Holland had been in the bunk I spent two weeks in. Abby beckoned me to lean down so she could look me in the eye “Want to meet my big brother?” she asked “Sure,” I replied, just to be polite

Big brother said that he was the host of the log cabin party. “Do you remember me?” He asked Nope! But I was happy to talk to him at the reunion Jesse said that he had been an Eisner Camper back in 1975 & 76. We were the same age, but our Eisner years did not match. It seemed like Jesse was way ahead of me at everything: he was already accepted into Cornell and already had a driver’s license Little Abby pulled me down to her level again This time she whispered in my ear, “Do you like him?”

“Sure,” I answered, still not quite understanding.

As the reunion ended, Jesse Holland asked, “Can I have your phone number?” And I, STILL not quite getting it, asked, “What do you want it for?”

The poor guy had to spell it out for me, “I’d like to ask you out ”

We did go out, despite the thirty-minute drive from Syosset to Eastchester and then the three-hour haul from his Cornell to my SUNY Albany. We married in 1989 and had two kids. One of our boys, Adam, went to Eisner from Bonim to Olim, and he went on NFTY in Israel Adam already knew the language of NFTY He knew it because, thanks to the kids on my Israel trip, I found Eisner, leading me to the wider Jewish community I became president of SUNY Albany Hillel, then Youth Director at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center, then President of Congregation Gates of Heaven, the congregation of Rabbi Matt Cutler, who was Bonim Assistant Unit Head when I was a machon. This last summer, our older son David and his wife Kirstie Wilson attended a tribal weekend at Eisner staying in Kivie



Many of you know my sister-in-law Abby Holland Belasco Of course, I owe her a debt of gratitude, but in my heart, I believe it was my mother-in-law, Muriel Holland, who assigned Abby the task of picking a Jewish girl at the reunion for Jesse. Thanks, Muriel. Thanks, Abby. Thanks, NFTY in Israel, and THANK YOU, Camp Eisner.

Despite only working at Eisner for two summers, Eisner has stuck with me all these years So much so that during the COVID shutdown, when I couldn’t go to work as a school librarian, I decided to write a Middle-Grade novel The setting is a certain camp with a manor house, one of the characters is a ghost named Gertrude If the submission process goes well, your children could be reading about Camp Walker and thinking, gee, that place sounds familiar!

Jesse Holland (age 9) with his mother Muriel Holland, 1984 Adam Holland, Gabe Seltzer, and Elijah Young, 2009
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