Alan Lazerow, 32, grew up in Frederick, Md., but his parents were accustomed to the energetic Jewish community of Baltimore. Still, when they found out about Camp Shoresh, located in Adamstown, Md., just minutes from Frederick, they sent Lazerow to the Jewish summer camp from a young age. Thirty years later, Lazerow, a Baltimore attorney, is still engaged with the camp that he fell in love with as a child. But more so than the camp itself, Lazerow fell in love with the people he met — so much so that he always makes time once a year to drive to Frederick and get reacquainted with the camp and its campers.
When did you start attending Camp Shoresh?
I started going there when I was 2. Both of my parents grew up in the Baltimore Jewish community, and even though they weren’t Orthodox, they were always surrounded by Judaism. Then they moved to Frederick, where it’s not as bustling from a Jewish perspective. In school, I was likely the only one in each of my classes who was Jewish, and in high school, there were only a handful of Jews. [When my parents] found out about this Jewish camp, [it was] an opportunity for us to be exposed to Judaism, when the rest of the year we weren’t really around it all that much.
What about Shoresh kept you coming back?
I think that more than anything that kept me involved was that it was the same people [every year], so you really got to develop deep relationships. Although Shoresh started out just as a summer camp, it became a year-round organization, where you would form these relationships and blossom these relationships over the summer. But there would be events from which relationships would continue to grow — winter trips to Florida, to California, to Israel. I went Israel three times with Shoresh.
Any final thoughts about Camp Shoresh?
It used to be that Jews were Jews, and you were or you weren’t Jewish, and that’s fine. But now everything is so divided. There’s Orthodox, Conservative, modern Orthodox; everybody wants to pigeonhole themselves into one thing. That’s the beauty of Shoresh; it’s going to the old-school model. We don’t care where you are on the Jewish path, we just want to continue you on that path wherever you may be. If that means you know nothing about Judaism and we teach you to read the [Hebrew] alphabet, then that’s great. It’s about continuing on the Jewish path; it’s about continuing the Jewish tradition and [that tradition] being passed down.