Father Treacy and Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde at Camp Brotherhood on Sunday during the Kids4Peace event. - Photo by Mel Damski
A priest and a rabbi walked onto a dairy farm… No, seriously. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it is actually the genesis of an amazing journey that continues on almost 50 years later. Father William Treacy and Rabbi Raphael Levine bought the 200-acre dairy farm with contributions and founded Camp Brotherhood at Lake McMurray near Conway. Their mission was to promote understanding and common ground between different religions and cultures. Rabbi Levine, born in Lithuania, and Father Treacy, born in Ireland, co-hosted a television series on KOMO-TV in Seattle for years entitled “Challenge,” where they discussed both the differences and similarities of their faiths, never proselytizing. Tragically, Rabbi Levine died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1985. Father Treacy sat at his deathbed and vowed that he would keep the flame burning. On Sunday, a memorial garden was dedicated at what is now called The Treacy Levine Center. Father Treacy, alert and articulate at age 96, hosted the event, which was witnessed by, among others, 28 teenagers from Palestine and Israel and the U.S. as part of a Kids4Peace event that takes place on the site every summer. Father Treacy shared the podium with the great-niece of Rabbi Levine, Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde, who led a rousing song version of Hallelujah, which is a word in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Rabbi Jacobs-Velde’s husband is also a Rabbi, and they have a congregation in Sebastopol, California. In a more somber moment, Father Treacy told the story of a delegation from Pakistan that came to the site in June of 2009. On his return to Pakistan, one of the delegates was killed, allegedly by the Taliban. His name was Khial Akbar Afredi, and a plaque in his name was unveiled on Sunday as part of the memorial garden. The Treacy Levine Center has been successful in reaching out to Muslim leaders lately, and Father Treacy stood in front of a Christian bible, a Jewish bible and a copy of the Quran. The center hosts camps throughout the year celebrating mind, body and spirit. There are music and art camps, karate and soccer camps, a quilting symposium, a sound healing event and Reiki programs to name a few. Next August, the center will host a four-day music festival, with performers from around the world joining local musicians to celebrate peace and understanding through their universal language. Tickets will start selling in the spring, and out-of-towners will be able to stay on the premises. The center has beautiful hotel rooms and cabins and an excellent cafeteria as well as campsites. A month later, in September, 2016, the center will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of a spiritual journey that is the enduring legacy of two very remarkable founders. Thomas Howell is the center’s executive director and can be reached at 360 445-5061 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, for any groups wanting to hold an event in this idyllic setting.