Video Center - Sustainable Living

Stephan Rechtschaffen: The History of Camp Boiberik

May 07, 2012

The property Omega purchased for its home had been abandoned after its previous incarnation, Camp Boiberik, had closed in 1979. Boiberik was a Yiddish cultural camp founded by the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute, an organization devoted to Jewish education in New York City and the metropolitan region. (Sholom Aleichem is one Yiddish literature's most beloved authors. Born in Russia in 1859 as Solomon Rabinovitz, he died in New York in 1916. He created many memorable characters, including Tevye, a character who appeared in the adaptation of his work in Fiddler on the Roof.)

Boiberik was established to imbue Jewish children with "the educational values of wholesome fun, recreation and cooperative living" and to give campers a "consciousness of Jewish belonging and have the feelings arising there from translated into meaningful activities," according to its founding director Leibush Lehrer, who died in 1964 (although one of the campers remembers singing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and "Roll Me Over in the Clover"). The camp was named Boiberik after a mythical summer place referred to in one of Sholem Aleichem's stories. The folk institute bought the Rhinebeck property, which had also been a camp, in 1923.

Today, several of the buildings from that first camp remain—the main hall, the dining hall, many of the cabins, most of the dorms at the northeast corner of the campus, and many of the smaller classrooms—although all of them have been renovated and updated. In 1998, Omega hosted a reunion of some 200 former Boiberik campers, and some of them occasionally come to Omega to take workshops.

Video Center - Sustainable Living