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The Jewish Outdoors Club traces its roots to the early summer of 1996 when I

 

The History of the JOC

 

The Jewish Outdoor Club traces its roots to the early summer of 1996 when I, along with a group of four friends celebrated our graduation from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia by doing what every college grad does -- embark on a three day trek through the Delaware Water Gap. This outing was to portend JOC trips for years to come, as we were woefully unprepared, and got hopelessly lost late into the night. Fortunately, a forest ranger, Dan, saved our butts. Despite our harrowing adventure, we knew that we had discovered something wonderful and vowed to continue our pursuit of outdoor adventures, only with extra batteries for our flashlights the next time.

Several people heard about this adventure and said that they'd be interested in these kinds of outings.  So, in the Fall of 1996, a small telephone tree and word of mouth at the OZ Friday night scene led to a group outing to play paintball, or painball, as it should be called (especially for the lawyers in the group) followed by a hike that Fall. On that hike, 12 Upper West Siders went on a grueling, 10 hour long hike at Breakneck Ridge near Cold Springs, NY. It was on that adventure that this hike leader learned that 5 inches on the trail map is different from five inches of trail.

As word spread, more and more people asked to be able to join the fun and adventure, and the Jewish Outdoors Club, as we now called ourselves, became affiliated with the synagogue, Kehilat Orach Eliezer (KOE), in Manhattan.  Thus, JOC went from being a "Modern Orthodox" group to a "Post-denominational group", which means the same thing. In the summer of 1997, 43 KOEers trekked to Lambs Hill; the first mass publicized JOC adventure. Because of the large group size, the crew split up into two groups, which was a good thing because this way, only half the hikers encountered the deadly rattlesnake. This is now standard on all large hikes. (Splitting up, not rattlesnakes).

In 1998, the JOC put together its first email list, which was later transferred over to yahoogroups. Through word of mouth, the JOC grew from its small beginnings with a few dozen members to a major organization with over 1500 people on the email list, though this does include Aqu Nyikuben who keeps trying to post about his Nigerian Gold Mine. Anyway, last year, the Boston Jewish Outdoors Club (BJOC) was formed by two ex-JOCers, which was our first step toward franchising ourselves all over America en route to taking over the world (shhh, don't tell). To manage our growth here in the tri-state area, the JOC recently became a non-profit corporation run by a board of directors that sets the vision for the club, and organizes events.

We look forward to continued success in bringing Jews to explore, experience, and appreciate the great outdoors.

-Alon Krausz

June, 2005

 



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