Letters to the Editor.
We read the article "How Lucky We Were" by David Lyon Hurwitz on camping for Jewish children and were astonished to find that he omitted any mention of the camps run by the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York in the Palisade Interstate Park during the 1920s and 1930s. They closed in 1941.
During those decades the home ran a boys camp and a girls camp, each on a different lake. The HOA's two camps made it the biggest camp operation in the Park. Each boy and girl got to spend about three weeks in camp. For us it was the happiest time of the year.
The director, Murray Sprung, who was the HOA's lawyer during the rest of the year, did not allow corporal punishment while we were at camp. Our counselors were mainly college students who needed work during the summer. Sprung was very innovative. One of his ideas was to hold a canoe trip on the Hudson River for the older boys which took about four days. He always accompanied the boys himself.
Hyman Bogen, President The H.O.A. Association
To: The Editor:
We are indebted to Hyman Bogen for his recollections of camps run by the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum in the 1920s and 30s. They clearly gave vital, unforgettable experiences to children attending. (Incidentally, we did not have corporal punishment at Camp Winslow either, but then we were all perfect angels.)
I could not in my article mention more than a few camps other than those run by Chester Jacob Teller--Arcadia, Arden and Winslow. I praised (40-42, 56) the fine 1993 exhibition brochure A Worthy Use of Summer (with bibliographies) published by the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, and again recommended it to anyone wanting a more comprehensive survey than was appropriate for "How Lucky We Were." My main objective was to develop the point expressed by that title and my first sentence, and tragically underscored by the picture and text on the final page.
In my research I did not happen to come across the H.O.A. camps in the Palisades, and am glad to know they have an alumni association to keep memories green. On 32-33 I told of Chester Teller's early career, in the first two decades of the century, with the Jewish Widows and Orphans Home in New Orleans, and then Stuyvesant Neighborhood Association and Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society in New York. For a time he was with the Hebrew Orphan Asylum here; organizational archives might conceivably reveal that he had something to do with camps of which Mr. Bogen speaks.
I cited camps whose guiding principles were similar to those I knew first hand, and several more whose philosophies differed, emphasizing Jewish tradition, observance and education. I also mentioned summer places run for the benefit of less privileged children, or those of recent immigrant families, such as Surprise Lake Camp, of which my mother's distinguished cousin Joseph C. Hyman was a director. It was tempting to list others (including several in the historic June 1921 issue of The Menorah Journal), but that would have exceeded my space and digressed from my theme. The line had to be drawn.
David Lyon Hurwitz