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New camp buildings memorialize young activist
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New camp buildings memorialize young activist

Habonim Dror Camp Galil in Ottsville, Pa., dedicated a pair of multipurpose buildings in memory of a former camper who committed her too-short life to battling for social justice and human rights in the United States and Israel.

The Amy Adina Schulman Center, dedicated Aug. 5, is named for the 20-year-old Rutgers University student who died from a burst aneurysm in 1986.

About 70 people gathered to honor Adina, including donors and close friends and relatives, and to recall her relationship with the camp.

The dedication “felt good and it felt right,” said Ruth Schulman of Princeton, Adina’s mother. “That camp helped forge her into who she was, and so it’s very comforting to know those buildings will be there…. It will ensure that the camp and its Zionist values continue on.”

“The program was a very lovely, low-key, and camp-centric way to dedicate a building — not a traditional, stuffy ceremony,” said Camp Galil associate director Ilana Goldfus. “We wanted it to have the same enthusiasm and ruach that we have every day at Galil.”

In a touching moment, Suzy Perelman, an alumna who had Adina as a counselor 30 years ago, played a piece by Bach on violin that she said reminded her of Adina. Counselors-in-training sang “Home Again” by James Taylor.

Dan Schulman, Adina’s brother, and Ruth Schulman were given the honor of hanging a mezuza on the new building’s doorpost. The center comprises Beit Adina, which includes an administrative office, a computer room, and a counselors’ lounge, and Mo Adina (a play on “mo’adon,” Hebrew for “club”), a social hall featuring a wraparound porch, fireplace, stage, and a mini-kitchen.

In a keynote talk, Julian Resnick, the Central shaliah, or Israeli emissary, to Habonim Dror North America, addressed the importance of working together to send Galil’s message “of social solidarity, of social justice, of a love for Israel and of Jewish community across to as many young Jewish kids as possible.”

The ceremony concluded with a cookout lunch, which transitioned into Camp Galil’s third annual Alumni Day.

‘Keeps her legacy going’

Construction of the new center came after a seven-year capital campaign kicked off by Camp Galil and the Schulman family at a fund-raising dinner at the Jewish Center in Princeton, where Adina became a bat mitzva.

Galil surpassed its initial goal of $800,000 through incentives from foundations, matching grants, and individual donations. A ground breaking for the center was held in summer 2010, said Camp Galil executive director Sharon Waimberg, and it opened last summer. Camp Galil postponed the dedication until this summer to ensure that the construction and fund-raising were 100 percent complete.

Before the building of the Schulman Center, Camp Galil, which is at maximum capacity this summer with 180 campers, had not added a new structure to its property in more than 40 years. Waimberg said the center was “sorely needed.”

Many of Adina’s camp friends traveled long distances to return for the dedication. Said Ruth Schulman: “Adina said that she had good friends in Princeton, but at camp she had ‘sisters.’”

Adina, who preferred her Hebrew middle name, was an activist for 10 years in Habonim Dror, the progressive Labor Zionist youth movement. She attended Galil for nine years, beginning as a 10-year-old camper, and eventually became a junior counselor, counselor, and head of the arts and crafts specialty.

Waimberg said it is important for the Galil campers to understand why Adina’s name is displayed on the new center.

She referred to the “really beautiful plaque” hanging in the Mo Adina that tells about its namesake and how “she wasn’t able to fulfill her dream of making the world a better place, and how future campers will have to finish her work,” said Waimberg.

Schulman said, “Current campers can see these buildings and know that they can learn how to act in today’s world as a committed and caring individual. And that just keeps her legacy going.”

The Amy Adina Schulman Memorial Fund (www.amyadinaschulmanfund.org) was established in 1987. The fund has distributed $475,000 in grants to more than 500 young adults who volunteer or intern in progressive social action projects. It also provides scholarships for returning Galil campers.

Waimberg said the dedication ceremony was “a wonderful opportunity to reach out to some of our nearest and dearest.”

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