By Rabbi Choni Marozov
We moved to Valencia on Shlichus about 18 years ago. Valencia is a small city about 40 miles north of Los Angeles with a small Jewish community. Being a young and unestablished community, there were hardly any Jewish programs and activities for Jewish children.
That all changed with one phone call from a kind-hearted man, Mr. Ned Miller. He and his wife Lori lived in the Valley but had grandchildren in Valencia, and Ned wanted to know what we were willing to do for the Jewish Youth. I explained that we needed money and other assistance in order to open a Jewish camp but that it was on “our radar.” Ned’s response was “We are willing to help in any way you need.”
That was the beginning of Camp Gan Israel of Valencia.
That first year, we had 16 campers. True to their word, the Millers showed up almost every day and acted as counselors, drivers, chaperons, and anything else that was needed.
Over the next few years, even as the camp swelled to over 100 campers, Ned would come to the camp trips on the camp bus in his camp t-shirt and added so much to the camp spirit. Campers would jump with joy when they found out that Ned was their leader at the amusement park. (Did I mention? Ned was 70 years old).
He truly cared for every child as they were his own. It didn’t take long before Ned became known as “Zayde” to all the campers. Every year before camp, Ned and Lori would sit with us and ask about the enrollment and the financial situation. They personally covered most of the scholarship requests that came in.
They became so inspired by the counselors and the effect that Camp Gan Israel had on the campers, that they created a fund to help other Chabad Houses start summer camps.
Over 10 Camp Gan Israels received seed money from this fund. Many campers over the years have continued with Hebrew School and have become more involved in Yidishkeit. This year, one of the first campers of CGI Valencia is returning to be head counselor!
Unfortunately, Ned became ill, and 6 years ago returned his holy soul to its maker. It was a devastating blow to the Gan Israel family.
With the help of Lori, we have established the Ned Miller Scholarship Fund, which will ensure that every Jewish child in Valencia has the opportunity to benefit from the Gan Israel experience.
Sunday, May 15, the Ned Miller Scholarship fund will be holding its fifth Chinese auction. This is a small auction with big prized and huge odds. Prizes include a Cancun Getaway, Disney vacation, Drone, Cameras, iPads, gift cards, and more.
To help this fund and an opportunity to win big, visit MyCampAuction.com.