Celebrating Sonia Raizes

posted by on Aug 23, 2017



Please consider honoring Sonia by contributing to the Sonia Raizes Grove

On August 20th, past and present Camp leadership gathered together at the home of Mark Estes to say l’hitraot to Sonia Raizes.  She is relocating from Houston to Washington D.C. to be closer to family.  Our Board President, Cheryl Drazin, was unable to attend but wrote this tribute to Sonia, which echoed the sentiments of all of her friends and admirers that attended the dinner in her honor.

As I worked this weekend at my parents’ home cleaning out my childhood room, I was again reminded of the tremendous influence Sonia has had on individuals. I re-read a camp scholarship letter from her that explained how important it was that all Jewish children be able to have the CYJ experience and that she was committed to making sure that finances were never a reason that a member of our community could not participate in our programs. I also found a scrapbook (and film negatives – so retro) from that summer where I had written: “I never knew how awesome it could be to have Jewish friends my own age.” Less eloquently than Sonia, I, too, had made the connection that community matters.

As we celebrate Sonia’s commitment to CYJ this evening, we recognize not only her personal commitment but her example that so many of us have strived to follow. Her personal example – dugma isheet – is inspirational to generations of Judeans – many of whom have now entered the ranks of being grandparents of campers! In the decades that Sonia has supported camp as its most dedicated cheerleader and successful fundraiser, she has made an even greater impact on the lives of individuals who have had the honor to learn from her tireless and persistent efforts. Sonia epitomizes the ideal volunteer –  committed, persistent and stays in the game long after her official term of service is complete.

The board is thrilled to be able to honor Sonia by naming the Grove in her honor. Outside the chadar ochel/beit ha’am, the Grove is an area where campers and staff gather. It has energy and is an area where community forms organically. What better way to recognize Sonia, the heart of CYJ, than by being able to call a central meeting area by her name?

While I regret not being able to be with you all this evening, please know that I am here in spirit. On behalf of the board, we wish Sonia an easy transition to her new home and will continue to call upon her wisdom and insight as an advisory board member. Thanks to technology our definitions of community have expanded dramatically and even across the country, we will be able to stay in touch and continue to learn from our friend, our mentor and CYJ legend, Sonia Raizes.