Andrea Zlotowitz (1997-2009)
It’s weird to write about camp as a member of the alumni; I never really thought I would make it to this side. I always expected to be at Eisner forever, just like what we used to sing in our camp songs and say to each at the end of every summer. I always thought I would grow old in Great Barrington and continue to do Israeli dance with my friends and family until the wee hours of Saturday morning on the Quad. I never thought I would grow old of going on sneaky adventures to visit my friends across the hill; yet, here I am. I am not a camper or a counselor at my favorite place in world. My thirteen years of fantasy summers with endless stories have brought me to the “grown up” world as a college graduate and a professional working the art world.
My studies brought me to Buffalo, NY where I studied Print Media and Art History at SUNY Buffalo. While working hard to complete my degrees there, I worked at Temple Beth Zion teaching Hebrew and helping with other activities for the Jewish community in Buffalo. Upon graduating, I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to work at the Degas House and Foundation where I am an art historian and development assistant.
Although Judaism is not part my work, it’s part of my life. I am Jewish and my growth at Eisner has helped bring me to where I am today. I teach my peers about Judaism daily and I laugh about the fun songs I sang at Eisner Camp. I am still in touch with most of my best friends from camp and to see us all grow into the adults we are (becoming) today is the most rewarding experience I could have ever asked for. I miss Eisner everyday and I know that I will be back there in the future, whether it’s working there or bringing my children some day – Eisner will always be part of who I am and I am so thankful for that.
Jodi Kantor (’85-’88, bunks 9-20)
I may be a tough reporter covering the presidential campaign, but the mere mention of marble dock, “Haksheivu Haksheivu Nah,” “Over the Rafters,” or even the right chord strummed on an acoustic guitar, can send me into a reverie. I was a camper at Eisner from 1985 to 1988, and before I went to Columbia or worked at the New York Times, it was the first community or institution I loved, my first of many beloved homes away from home. I arrived the summer I was ten, and I had never been among people who seemed at once so cool and so kind. I had never spent time in environment that was so spiritual or so beautiful. Counselors like Jonah Pesner and Jason Ensler saw things in me I didn’t yet see in myself; my bunkmates knew so many things I didn’t. My sister Stefanie arrived a year or two later, and after that, my brother Jonathan and my sister Alex. We’re all very different, but Eisner is part of what unites us, and every August when we came back from our filthy bunks to our parents’ big, clean, air-conditioned suburban home, we pined for camp.
Embarrassing camp memory: a certain cute Tzofim boy once raided me, but I was so nervous that I chatted about the latest news from Israel. Twenty-five years later, I’m a reporter at the New York Times, where for nearly six years I’ve been covering the fascinating, dramatic, complicated story of Barack and Michelle Obama’s rise and time in the White House. I broke the news of the initial tension between Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, have written many biographical stories and profiles of the Obamas, traced Michelle Obama’s roots to slavery with a colleague, and recently published The Obamas, a bestselling behind-the-scenes chronicle of their time in the White House. (Much more about that, plus upcoming speaking engagements and recent Times stories, are here.)
Before this, I was the culture editor at Slate.com and the Arts & Leisure editor at the Times. My husband is a Times writer as well: his name is Ron Lieber, he writes the “Your Money” personal finance advice column, and he’s working on a book about kids and money called “The Opposite of Spoiled.” (Click here or here to share your experiences with him and read about his findings in real time.)
Eisner is still very much a part of my life, through Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, where Debbie Brukman (nee Perman) and Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein have taught our daughter Talia, who is threatening to leave us for Ktanim next summer. See some of you there next summer, I hope. No one tell her what we really did at Eisner, okay?