It’s as if someone designed my dream job. URJ 6 Points Creative Arts Academy has been on my radar since before its founding, as it lives at the intersection of my passions for Jewish camping and the creative arts. As a lifelong musician with over two decades spent in Jewish educational leadership, including a decade as a Jewish Camp Director, I am overjoyed to take this next step in my career at the artistic center of North American Judaism. I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of Jewish creative arts camping in building the character and confidence of young people while making our world a more beautiful place to be. I see CAA as a place to discover your people, your soul and yourself.
My whole professional life has built towards this role, with years spent in Jewish camping and experiential education, and a personal commitment to building community through Jewish music. Four of my seven years serving on the Segel (faculty) of URJ Camp OSRUI were spent with Tiferet, their creative arts program for middle school chanichim (campers), before developing the month-long “Gesher: Making A Musical” program in summer 2021 and becoming OSRUI’s first Yetzirah (Creative Arts) Segel supporting all eidot (units) in summer 2022. I spent seventeen summers as a C.I.T., songleader and eventually director at Camp Rodef Shalom in my hometown of Falls Church, Virginia, where I built relationships through music and creative pursuits before helming the camp. Ever since college, I’ve been singing on the bimah during t’filah (prayer) with my Religious School students – and my favorite part is seeing them get up and lead their community in joyful spiritual moments.
As a Jewish musician and composer, I’ve released three original albums of “Ruach (spirit) Rock,” serving on the faculty of Hava Nashira, Shabbat Shira, NFTY Nashir, and Song Leader Boot Camp, and performing at the last five URJ Biennials. Throughout my career, I have used photography, creative writing, videography, sketch comedy, song parody, acting and multiple instruments (piano, guitar, harmonica, tambourine) to enhance my Jewish educational programs. I have led numerous immersive experiences for teens including Israel trips, social justice missions, and weekend camp retreats at URJ Camp Harlam, Eisner and OSRUI, and as an artist-in-residence, I have built an expanding portfolio of creative programs while performing on the national Jewish scene. I bring a lens of inclusion and embrace of diversity to everything I do, as these were important values in my childhood home, informed by my mother’s work on the national level in special education policy and advocacy.
I want to thank the leadership of the URJ and CAA for entrusting me with this important role, and I look forward to building on the vision of founding CAA director Jo-Ellen Unger, and everyone else who has put their heart and soul into creating this special place for young Jewish artists to thrive. On behalf of my wife, Rachel, and our children, Ruthie and Emet, we are beyond thrilled about this opportunity.
To the CAA community, families, campers, staff and alumni – I cannot wait to connect with you, hear your stories, and dream with you about the bright future of this special community! Looking forward to moving from strength to strength in partnership with all of you.
Jay Rapoport, RJE