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S’mores, Swimming and Shabbat

The Maine Jewish Summer Camp Experience

Thursday, March 16, 2023
7:00pm – 9:00pm

Do you find yourself humming to the tune of “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” at random moments of the day? Were your summers defined by Cat’s Cradle and color war and mandatory swim? Then you’ll want to be sure to join us in person or online for this educational and entertaining discussion about Maine Jewish Summer Camps, featuring voices from Camps Lown, Naomi, Micah, Center Day, and Kennebec!

Brandeis professor and author Jonathan Krasner will open the event with a panoramic historical perspective. Our very own veteran ABC, CBS, and CNN producer, writer, director, and media consultant Jo Dondis will then moderate a panel of cross-generational campers who will share their multi-faceted camp experiences. A camp-themed reception, complete with historical photos, elevated “campy” comfort foods (adult Rice Krispie Treats and Bug Juice Cocktail, anyone?), and mingling will conclude a fun-filled and nostalgic evening. Camp attire encouraged!

Co-sponsored by Documenting Maine Jewry, the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.

View a recording of this program


Lori Israel Chastanet: Lori is a Woman’s Apparel representative from Northborough, MA. She and her husband Paul have one daughter who is a sophomore at University of Tampa. Lori’s Maine Jewish Summer camp experience spans three generations: her parents met at Camp Lown, Lori went to Camp Naomi and her daughter was a camper at Camp Micah.

Nicole Jacobson: Nicole is an educator and fundraiser committed to advancing opportunity and expanding access with experience in public schools, nonprofits, and in higher education. Her 20+ summers spent on the shores of Little Sebago at Center Day Camp in Windham, ME formed the foundation of her Jewish life and created lifelong friendships, mentorships, and memories. Nicole is a member of the Board of Directors of the Maine Jewish Museum.

Tom Wilson Weinberg: From 1955 to 1973, Tom Wilson was a camper, counselor and director at Kennebec Camps in North Belgrade, Maine. In 1982 he took back his great grandfather’s name. Ever since, as Tom Wilson Weinberg, he has been a songwriter and activist focusing on LGBTQ issues.


Jo Dondis returned “home” to Maine 12 years ago after spending 24 years in Los Angeles working as a television news producer at CNN, ABC, CBS and KCET, a PBS station where she won a Peabody Award for her work on the show A Place of Our Own. Jo began her television news career at WCSH-TV in Portland where she was a reporter and anchored the noon and evening news shows. As Founding Chair of The Friends of the Strand Theatre in Rockland, she spearheaded the transition of the Strand from a for-profit business to a non-profit arts organization. Currently Jo is a member of the Maine Arts Commission and of the Board of Advisors of the Maine Jewish Museum; she has also served on the boards of Emerge Maine, the Maine Monitor and Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland. Jo holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.S. from Boston University.


Jonathan Krasner Jonathan Krasner is the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Chair of Jewish Education Research at Brandeis University. Jonathan is a historian of Jewish education with a keen interest in Jewish summer camping. His previous books include Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps (2020), which won a National Jewish Book Award. Jonathan also wrote the award-winning book The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education (2011), which focuses on the development of supplementary Jewish education. He is currently writing a book on the history of the Jewish day school movement. Jonathan spent many memorable summers at Jewish summer camps in the Poconos and the Catskill Mountains. His two children are also camp kids and have attended Jewish camps in Western Massachusetts and the Hudson Valley.