A day after Vivian Lehrer and Yoni Stadlin got married, they received the best wedding gift of all: a $1.1 million grant to pursue their fantasy project, a Jewish sleep-away camp focused on environmental sustainability.
One of five new camps established through the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Specialty Camp Incubator Project, Eden Village Camp also is receiving significant financial support from UJA-Federation of New York, which provided the land and is doing a $3 million (green, of course) renovation of the facilities.
Opening this summer on 248 acres 50 miles north of Manhattan, Eden Village expects 130 campers (double the initial registration goal). In addition to the typical Jewish camp activities, participants will learn organic farming and wilderness skills and have a variety of outdoor adventures.
The mostly vegetarian meals will feature fresh produce from the camp’s own farm, run in partnership with the Jewish Farm School. Shabbat will include stew prepared with vegetables from the camp’s “cholent garden,” and the challah, made with eggs laid by the camp’s own chickens, will be baked in outdoor cob ovens.
When not at camp, where they manage a staff of 35, Lehrer and Stadlin live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The two met on a Birthright Israel trip in 2005: he was a leader (along with his identical twin brother, Pesach) and she was a participant.
That trip “marked the beginning of my adult Jewish journey,” says Lehrer, who attended Jewish summer camps as a child in suburban Chicago, but after her Reform bat mitzvah had mostly dropped out of Jewish life. Stadlin, who grew up in Philadelphia, Cleveland and Princeton, N.J., is an alum of the Conservative movement’s Solomon Schechter day schools and the stepson of a rabbi.
Their combined credentials are impressive. Lehrer’s includes a Columbia Law degree, a certificate in health counseling from Columbia Teachers College’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition, two years working at the Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Project and experience leading a Jewish Funds for Justice trip to New Orleans and a Birthright Israel tour.
Stadlin, who has a master’s in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, has not only led Birthright trips but also worked in numerous Jewish summer camps. He is an enthusiastic amateur musician, whose instruments include guitar and sitar. As the bottom line of his resumé attests, Stadlin also “lived aloft in endangered redwood trees for two months,” as part of an environmental protection initiative.
Surprising facts: Lehrer was a Junior Olympic fencer as a teen. Stadlin, according to his wife, “can master any sport after watching it just one time.”
15 minutes: Stadlin and his twin brother (who will be working at Eden Village this summer) appeared in a “twin makeover” program five years ago on TLC.
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