The new California state budget includes funding to rebuild Camp Newman's conference center, which was destroyed by wildfires last year.
The new California state budget includes funding to rebuild Camp Newman's conference center, which was destroyed by wildfires last year.

State approves millions for Camp Newman, Holocaust survivors, fighting hate speech

The California state budget for 2018-19 includes $3.6 million for social service agencies to care for Holocaust survivors, $1.2 million for a training program on hate speech at public universities, and other items supported by leaders of the Jewish community.

Approved late last week by both houses of the state Legislature, the budget also includes $10 million to maintain and restore the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and $5 million to assist in rebuilding the Community Center at URJ Camp Newman that was destroyed last October in the Sonoma County wildfires. The budget still needs to be signed by the governor.

“The Legislature demonstrated a commitment to understanding the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confronting all forms of prejudice and discrimination that exist today,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine, a Democrat who represents parts of Marin and Sonoma counties and is chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “This budget recognizes the need to address the troubling anti-Semitic climate pervasive for too many communities and colleges.”

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The anti-bias program funding approved by legislators will be provided to administrators, faculty, law enforcement and students on California’s college campuses. The money for Holocaust survivors provides “the dignity they deserve in their final days,” said Cece Feiler, board chair of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California that lobbied for those funds and others approved by the state Legislature.

Anita Friedman, executive director of S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, praised the allocation for Holocaust survivors as an “exemplary public-private partnership to care for aged survivors of the Holocaust.” The JFCS counts many elderly survivors among its clients.

“We look forward to working together to meet the unique needs of vulnerable survivors so that they can live out the last chapter of their lives with maximum independence and community,” Friedman added.

Leaders at Camp Newman also praised the budget for allocating them much needed funding.

“This significant grant could not have come at a better time,” said Michelle Tandowsky, chair of the camp’s advisory board. “Like most home and business owners whose properties were destroyed by the fire, Camp Newman has substantial insurance proceeds that provide a foundation for a rebuilding but do not cover the entire cost of rebuilding. This grant gives us needed additional support to recreate and, we hope, expand these vital community services and programs.”

Before the fire, in addition to summer camp, Camp Newman’s year-round community center operations attracted Jewish and non-Jewish community groups and provided more than 8,000 people with a place for immersive experiences.

Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster z"l was J.'s senior writer from 2016-2019.