URJ Camp Newman's sukkah, Oct. 6, 2017. By Oct. 9, wildfires had destroyed most of the camp. (Photo/Facebook)
URJ Camp Newman's sukkah, Oct. 6, 2017. By Oct. 9, wildfires had destroyed most of the camp. (Photo/Facebook)

Most of URJ Camp Newman ‘destroyed’ by wildfires

Much of URJ Camp Newman’s summer campsite in Santa Rosa has been destroyed by the catastrophic wildfires that have been whipping through Sonoma and Napa counties since late last night.

At 4:45 p.m. today, it was announced on the camp’s Facebook page that, “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.”

All of the people living at the camp’s site on Porter Creek Road evacuated late Sunday, and the Torah scrolls were also rescued. Reports are that the fire is still burning actively in the area, and the camp’s staff has not yet been able to visit the site to assess the damage.

“Most importantly, we take great comfort in knowing that all of our staff are safe,” the Facebook post read. “We are so grateful to the first responders and firefighters who attempted to save our camp buildings. We are keeping these heroic and hardworking people in our thoughts and prayers.”

They ask that people refrain from calling the office, and check in at the URJ Camp Newman Facebook page for the latest updates.

Camp Newman bought its site in 1997, and dedicated a new $4-million conference center in November 2016. The camp serves some 1,400 children every summer.

In light of the destruction, including the seven deaths already attributed to the massive wildfires, the Jewish Film Festival of Sonoma County has cancelled its opening night, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10.

In an email to the community, festival program director Doron Hovav said, “Understanding this is the right thing to do, we decided with a heavy heart to postpone the opening day of the festival to next week, Oct. 17.”

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County, the festival was slated to begin Oct. 10 and last through Nov. 28, with six films slated for screening at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastapol, a town that has so far been unscathed by the fires.

“We are all horrified by this,” added JCC president Jerome Cobert.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.

Sue Fishkoff

Sue Fishkoff is the editor emerita of J. She can be reached at [email protected].