Children like Joseph Lasky are exactly why Henry S. Jacobs Camp was built.
Joseph was from Aberdeen, Mississippi, a town of six thousand people where his family had deep ties. And while Joseph was certainly at home in Aberdeen, the fact that he was Jewish made him and his family different from the rest of the community.
Jacobs Camp was a place where Joseph could be himself while learning about his culture and heritage. He looked forward to spending his summers in Utica, first as a camper, and then as a very valuable member of the Jacobs staff.
As a camper, Joseph’s friends remember basketball games in the Berman Center with Joseph sporting one of the most unique looking jump shots Jacobs has ever seen, he had a left handed softball swing that would power the ball onto the tennis courts, and nobody who ever spoke with Joseph could forget his deep Southern accent that could make any words seem friendly - and with Joseph they were.
As a member of the Jacobs staff, Joseph made a truly one of a kind contribution to camp. He was a jack-of-all-trades; someone who could find a way to fix anything that was broken. Joseph was the person you dispatched for jobs like getting rid of a snake; he helped Lou make sure the canteen was fully stocked and manned the snowball shack daily; and on Saturday’s he would be at the grill alongside Herbie in the hundred degree heat.
In addition to all of that, Joseph served as the camp’s audiovisual person in the days when that still meant lugging around a twenty pound camera. Campers loved seeing him, and it seemed he was everywhere. Joseph’s presence on camp was so profound that the camp’s songleader penned a song called “Joseph Is An AV Kinda Guy” which campers sang loudly as Joseph sat quietly in the back of the dining hall.
In 1997, the Jacobs Camp family lost one of its own far before his time. Because of the profound effect that Joseph had upon his friends’ lives, they have now come together to establish the Joseph Lasky Memorial Scholarship in his memory. Money raised into the scholarship will be set aside to help boys and girls from smaller communities afford the cost of camp.
Additionally, Peter Weidhorn, Chairman of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Board of Trustees, has generously offered to match all donations into the Joseph Lasky Scholarship fund at a ratio of 1:4 (.25 on the $1), there is no minimum amount to receive this match. We are extremely appreciative of Mr. Weidhorn’s generous contribution.
It is wonderful to think that someday there will be another child from Aberdeen, or a town just like it, spending the summer with other Jewish children at camp as a result of Joseph. Thank you for your contribution to help make this tribute possible.