In the News: Camp Owner Endures Racial Vandalism

Camp Owner Endures Racial Vandalism

By CHARLIE BUTERBAUGH

Last week at Machne Menachem summer camp, Meir Hershkop’s assistant, Michal, prepares for the arrival of 350 children. Hershkop found numerous swastikas spray-painted at the camp when he returned on June 27.

Last week at Machne Menachem summer camp, Meir Hershkop’s assistant, Michal, prepares for the arrival of 350 children. Hershkop found numerous swastikas spray-painted at the camp when he returned on June 27.

LACKAWAXEN, PA – Meir Hershkop reached out his hand and
agreed to talk about the swastikas he found after returning to his
summer camp for children on June 27.

The 48-year-old walked by the cabin where he’s staying with his
assistant, Michal. The emblem of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party had been
sprayed in white on the cabin’s red siding. Beside the swastika the
vandal(s) had sprayed an anarchy sign.

Hershkop pointed out a swastika on a doormat, one on the window of
a storm door and one on a nearby picnic table. The word “Nazi” had
been sprayed on the table’s bench.

“Heil Hitler” had been sprayed in the grass, and the culprits had
broken into a building, stolen Hebrew Bibles, ripped out pages and
strewn them by the entrance gate to the not-for-profit camp, Machne
Menachem, which sits in a secluded 87-acre valley along the Upper
Delaware River.

Meir and Michal were busily preparing for the 350 children who would
arrive on July 7 for eight weeks of summer camp. Hershkop took a
break, stepped out of the rain under the roof of a porch and began
talking about the history of the camp.

He and his partners purchased the property in 1997. This incident,
which Hershkop described as an “accident,” is the first of its kind to
occur here, though once before some thieves broke in and stole a
charity box that contained $13.00.

“But this, I think this is a shame. It’s very sad,” he said. “I hope it’s
not going to happen again.”

Hershkop belongs to a liberal community of Hasidic Jews. Before he
moved to the United States from Israel, he worked as a counselor for
boys.

“Me and my partners decided that it was most important that every
child has a chance to go to summer camp,” he said. Machne Menachem provides opportunities for kids to go to camp, even if their parents can’t afford the $1,500 tuition. Families are asked to pay as much as they can, Hershkop said.

“I knew what it was like for kids to not be able to go to camp,” he
said. “I decided to do something.”

What would he say to the people responsible for the vandalism?

“I would invite them here and I would talk to them. They don’t know
what this means,” he said, referring to the swastikas. “They don’t
know what it means to be a Jew, or who Hitler was.”

Indeed the signs seem to indicate different, even contradictory
messages. Beside the anarchy sign, the vandal(s) spray-painted the
words, “Nazis suck.”

He said there have been no complaints about the camp from the
community. “I’m trying to be nice. I think the people in the area are
very nice. There have been no complaints,” he said.

One neighbor donated a Chevy Blazer for use at the camp.
Walking on the grounds of Machne Menachem, Hershkop said he
would continue happily with his work at the camp.

“If you wake up in the morning and you can smile, then you should
be happy,” he said.

About the vandals, he said, “I would invite them here, and I would
forgive them.”

3 Responses to In the News: Camp Owner Endures Racial Vandalism

  1. Meir R. says:

    I worked with Rabbi Meir Hershkop before the camp session when I was a Bocher,
    All I will say is this, Rabbi Hershkop did things that we young people would never think of doing. He really worked hard and really cared for the camp.
    it was very hard for us to keep up with him.

    It was a great experience working with him, I could say that B”H I learned a lot about life, meir is a very wise man, as you see from the article above.

    i wish him the best of luck!

  2. peace says:

    “I would invite them here and I would talk to them. They don’t know what this means,” he said, referring to the swastikas. “They don’t know what it means to be a Jew, or who Hitler was.”

    Nice!

    To many people form an opinion with out taking the time to investigate the facts, thats why we have to many people who believe in the must ridicules things.
    It is very important(sometimes)to simply try to educate.
    This does not apply to the trouble makers who know the truth and are just full of hate,and no matter what you tell them, they will continue spurring hate.

  3. Justice! says:

    one of the lessons that I was thought when growing up was, “Cheaters never prosper”,
    Spritzer may get away with what hes doing for 10,20,30 even 50 years, in the end it all catches up.
    This world is not a free for all!

    Who is he trying to fool when he says that he brought and paid for the camp?

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