Education ‘visionary’ Linda Jum dies at 61
Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News
Linda C. Jum, Jewish educator, Reconstructionist movement leader, and advocate for Jews from multiracial backgrounds, died March 9. She was 61.
A founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist summer camp, Camp JRF, which opened in 2001 in the Pocono Mountains, Jum also served as managing director, from 2004 until 2012, of the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, and served on the staff of its predecessor organization, The Jewish Education Association of MetroWest.
As an advocate for social change, Jum developed and facilitated workshops addressing the needs of underserved Jewish communities.
“Linda was truly a visionary, a pioneer, and a mentor to so many of our campers and staff,” wrote Rabbi Isaac Saposnik, executive director of Camp JRF.
Jum’s involvement with the Reconstructionist movement began when she moved to Montclair in the late 1990s and joined Bnai Keshet, a Reconstructionist congregation. She went on to become involved in the national Reconstructionist movement, serving for many years on the board of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. She served on the Camp JRF board for more than 13 years and volunteered many summers there.
In 2010 she was given the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation’s Yehudit Award in recognition of her work with the camp as well as with the Reconstructionist youth movement, Noar Hadash. The award seeded money for The Linda C. Jum Fund for Innovative Youth Initiatives, which serves as an incubator for programs in leadership development.
Jum, who was proud of her Chinese heritage, helped found the Jewish Multiracial Network in 1999 and nursed it from its grassroots volunteer beginnings to a professionally staffed national organization with weekend retreats, national conferences, and local events.
“Jews have always been a multi-racial people,” she said in a 2004 interview with New Jersey Jewish News. “I always ask people who think Jews should be Caucasian, ‘What part of Poland did Abraham come from?’”
Jum grew up in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway, Queens. She graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a degree in biochemistry and earned an MBA from New York University. She was accepted to Harvard Law School but breast cancer derailed her plans to attend. By the late 1990s, she had moved from Long Island to Montclair, where she joined Bnai Keshet.
Jum, a biking and skiing enthusiast, organized a bike-athon for multiple sclerosis, which afflicted her younger sister, Tami. She was also an avid needle-pointer and cook.
Jum, who fought a long battle with breast cancer and metastatic brain cancer, was predeceased by her sister, Tami, and her mother, Lily. She is survived by her father, Tommy; her sister, Lori (Shel); her niece, Kasey (Adam Christopher); and a grandniece, Lily.
Writing on June 30, 2014, to well-wishers following her last birthday, she posted on her Facebook page, “Appreciated the warm wishes and birthday greetings from all over the world…dare I dream for yet another year?”
Jum’s funeral was held March 11 at Bnai Keshet.