Morris J. Escoll Rohr Chabad House at Vanderbilt Fellow 2016

Sarah Mimouni  



Information about Morris J. & Bertha Escoll:

Morris and Bertha Escoll were each born into impoverished Jewish Immigrant families in the 1890’s.
Morris worked his way through Cornell University and graduated in 1916 at a time when Jewish students were harshly discriminated against.
Despite the challenges, he won multiple awards for oratory and scholarship while there and published articles nationally on Jewish Student life. He then served our country in the Army in WW1 as a Chaplain and Jewish Welfare Officer on troop ships crossing to Europe throughout the war.
Bertha ( Kotinsky) was a similar groundbreaker at the University  of Pennsylvania, working her way through college and graduating in 1920 at a time when neither women nor Jews were well received.
They met at a Zionist dance and were married shortly after. They were both pioneers and leaders and believed strongly that a superior  education in Judaism, peace, nature and co existence could be taught and nurtured in the warm environment of Jewish summer camping.
Together, they founded the Blue Mountain Camps in Pennsylvania and literally built the camp with their own hands. They planted 100,000 trees, built a sawmill, used oxen and plows to dig a lake , built bunks and a kosher kitchen in the woods when nothing of the kind existed. Both Morris and Bertha had equal roles in the operation of the camp, when women rarely had a role in business.
They owned and operated the camps for 50 years, instilling core values in thousands of young boys and girls. Their camp inspired such loyalty that when they retired, there were over 100 campers whose parents and grandparents had attended the camp.
In order to inspire others, Morris published a book “War Camps or Peace Camps” upon his retirement.
Morris and Bertha raised 5 children, and had 9 grandchildren.
Their leadership and pioneering Jewish spirit has left a legacy of culture, service, charity, education, environmentalism, zionism, and peaceful coexistence in all they touched.


Sarah grew up in the coastal city of Ashdod, before moving to Ashkelon to enroll in Israeli tourism and Israeli historical studies at the Ashkelon Academic College. While she was in college, she volunteered with "Aunt Miriam," which is a used clothing resale center and distributes food for local needy families for Shabbat and High Holiday meals.  

Upon completing her undergraduate education, Sarah was prompted to participate in the Morris J. Escol Fellowship because of the unique educational and spiritual opportunities it provides. Spiritually, Sarah was excited to participate in shlichus – the word used for the work done by a Chabad House to help fellow Jews develop their connection to their heritage as inspired by the RebbeIn addition Sarah was thrilled to educate and inspire Vanderbilt students about Israel from her unique first-hand perspective.

Sarah has found that by opening dialogues with students about Israel from the perspective of someone who was born and raised there, she has been able to dispel many fallacies about what life is like in Israel and help nurture a more positive and truthful image.

Sarah feels that she is learning a lot about herself and Jewish American culture from working at the Rohr Chabad House at Vanderbilt. Sarah enjoys designing, organizing, and leading programming for the Chabad House. Some of her favorite events include: hosting Israel-themed Shabbat dinners, the Sunday night Matzo Ball soup table in the Freshmen Commons, the Candles and Kiddush event for first-year women and of course spending time with students at 1-on-1 meetings. At all of these events, Sarah loves sharing her love for mitzvoth and Israel and showing how they can be easily incorporated into daily life.

In her own words, Sarah has described this fellowship as follows: "If you are passionate about Judaism and Israel the Morris J. Escoll Fellowship at the Rohr Chabad House at Vanderbilt is an amazing opportunity to have a safe and supportive Jewish environment while simultaneously being able to educate people about and act as an ambassador for Israel and Judaism."

If you are interested in contacting Sarah with any questions or comments that you may have, you can reach her at: