February 17, 2020

State Funds to Benefit Jewish Camps and L.A. Holocaust Museum

In April, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Real Estate and Construction Division members, Jewish summer camp leaders and Jewish Public Affairs Committee representatives visited Sacramento. They lobbied for state funds to rebuild Jewish camps destroyed in the 2018 Woolsey fire and the 2017 Tubbs fire. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus has secured approximately $60 million in funding for Jewish camps and other priorities in California Governor Gavin Newsom’s new state budget.

On Thursday, Newsom signed a 2019-2010 fiscal year state budget that allocates $23.5 million in state funds to rebuild California Jewish summer camps destroyed by the Woolsey and Tubbs wildfires in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

$23.5 million of a $214.8-billion budget—“the largest in state history,” according to the Los Angeles Times—will help fund the eventual rebuilding of Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) Camps Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp and the Shalom Institute’s Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu and URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa. For now, the camps are operating at temporary sites that are hosting their summer programs.

According to a statement released by Jewish Caucus chair and State Senator Ben Allen, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus successfully lobbied for five of its budget priorities in the state budget.

Along with state money for the camps, the budget allocates $15 million for the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which assists religious centers, community centers, schools and other similar locations that are at risk of hate-motivated crimes; $14.8 million for California Department of Aging’s Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), which serves frail older adults, including Holocaust survivors; $6 million for the expansion of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) at Pan Pacific Park and $5 million for a restorative justice pilot program that the Jewish Caucus described as one of its “Tikkun Olam-Repairing the World priority bills.”

For his part, Allen said he was proud of the work the caucus did to obtain the state funds.

“This has been a successful year for the Jewish Caucus and its work improving quality of life in the Jewish community and for all Californians,” he said. “In the wake of increases in acts of anti-Semitism and bigotry of all forms, destruction caused by the state’s wildfires, and the ever-pressing need for health care in our aging Holocaust survivor population and others who have experienced trauma, we asked more of our state leaders than ever before, and they stood with us.”

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus is comprised of 16 state lawmakers that advocate in the state legislature for Jewish interests. The group has both Jewish and non-Jewish state senators and assembly members.

As previously reported, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California worked with the Jewish Caucus on pressing for the funds for the camps.

In a statement, Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said, “The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles could not be more grateful for the work and support of the State Legislative Jewish Caucus…and Governor Newsom for their tireless efforts to secure this funding.”

Similarly, LAMOTH Executive Director Ben Kean said, “We are extremely grateful to Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Jessie Gabriel and the entire Legislative Jewish Caucus for supporting the Museum’s expansion project.”