Sam Perlin, a sports guy by his own admission, has leapt into a new position as director of Camp Solomon Schechter while wrapping up his job as athletic director at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, a position he’s held for 10 years.
Perlin clearly has the religious and professional qualifications for the job, having attended Jewish day school in Rockville, Md., plus three different Jewish summer camps during his school years. He holds a B.A. in Phys. Ed. from the University of Maryland, and a Master’s in Administration.
In 1998, he and his wife Sharon moved out here so Sam could take the SAAS job. Actually, Sam says, the move was his wife’s idea.
“Sharon said, ‘We’ve camped everywhere there is to camp in [Maryland], and we need to expand our horizons.’”
Excited about his career change, Sam says, “It’s really exciting for me because I have 20 years in the field of education and this feels really different,” (although there are plenty of similarities, he notes). He’s eager to put “all my skills together with my passion for Judaism, especially Conservative Judaism.
“I really believe in the mission and the Jewish community here… It’s a small community, a tight community, and the needs of going to camp and having an active synagogue…seem to be way more important” here than in larger, East Coast cities.
Right now, Sam is putting about 30 hours a week into each of his jobs. On June 15 (Father’s Day!), he will move to the camp for the summer.
Schechter is the only shomer Shabbat, kosher camp in the area. It draws primarily from Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Wash., and Vancouver, BC. It’s an independent camp, so programming can fit the needs of Northwest Jewish families.
“Our camp is unique in the way it does sessions,” explains Sam. Sessions are 10 days to three weeks long and are age specific, which he says is better for kids. The shorter sessions allow families time for summer vacation.
Although it’s a summer camp, Sam will be busy all year round. The camp is rented out almost every weekend to various groups, plus marketing of the camp is a four-season activity.
He won’t be making any big changes this year. “My goal this summer is to observe,” he says. “There are great people there and I’m new.”
He hopes someday to build a gym on the property. He helped SAAS do the same, so he’s confident it can be done. He also envisions a ropes course, and more training in outdoor skills.
His older daughter Liat, 13, and son Amit, 11, are veteran CSS campers, and Sam plans to see a lot of Sharon (who just finished law school) and his youngest daughter, Maital, age 3, at the camp, where he will be in residence.
Outside of work, Sam keeps pretty busy coaching his kids’ sports teams. He is active at Congregation Beth Shalom in north Seattle, where he has led the morning minyan service for 10 years, and he likes to work out with his friends.
“I love the fact that my friends here…are so outdoorsy,” he says. “Another reason I could never leave Seattle.”
Even though she’s now president of the local Jewish National Fund board, Marti Reinfeld describes her initial involvement as “kind of random.” It began with the JNF dinner in Seattle in January of 2007.
Having lived in Israel and having studied at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies, she was “totally enthusiastic” to hear its founder, environmentalist and philanthropist Alon Tal, who was speaking at an engagement here.
“Though I’d been living in Seattle a while…I missed living in Israel,” she explains. At the dinner, she realized she could still be involved in Israel and give back to the land. Exchanging business cards with then-president Scott Porad, she was soon invited to serve on the board, becoming president in February.
Marti works in the office of King County Executive Ron Sims, helping county departments use performance data to improve their results.
“I’m interested in management and planning, one of the reasons I took on the JNF role,” she says.
Following her stint living in Israel after high school, Marti returned to the U.S. to attend Binghamton University in upstate New York, studying environmental policy “and going out of my mind to go back to Israel.” When she learned of Arava (www.arava.org/new), she knew it was a perfect fit. “I thought it would be amazing to get college credit in my major and go back.”
The Institute is situated on Kibbutz Ketura in Israel’s Southern Arava Valley, and teaches Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and North American students.
“Until I went [to Arava] I hadn’t really thought about the land,” she says. “[I knew Israel] was my spiritual residence, my home. I hadn’t thought about the land and how much we need to protect it…[It] transcends ethnicity and culture…. We all breathe the same air.”
Recently, Marti spoke about JNF at Evergreen State College, where students are reputed to be adamantly anti-Israel. But Marti said she had no trouble. (She also pointed out that her talk was in the middle of a Monday.) “The crowd was great,” she said, and included students who were planning to travel to Israel as well as some middle school students from one of Olympia’s congregations.
Marti isn’t sure how long her term as president will last. “Until I write the by-laws,” she said. The Seattle-Tacoma JNF organization is “having a rebirth and revitalization,” with seven current board members “and growing.”