A Jewish summer stay burns

October 14, 2017 - summer camp

Enough already.

Hurricanes in Texas, a Atlantic, a Gulf of Mexico, a Caribbean.

An trembler in Mexico.

A mass sharpened in Las Vegas.

And now, a array of harmful fires in northern California.

As one of my (normally rational) colleagues texted me: “I consider that we are vital in a End of Days.” We can positively forgive him — or anyone — for devising that.

The detriment of skill and life in northern California has been terrible. The fires have had an impact on a kosher winery.

But, here is a quite touching casualty: Camp Newman, one of a summer camps operated by a Union for Reform Judaism.

Camp Newman has enriched a lives of so many Jewish immature people, their parents, and staff members.

In that sense, it is an American Jewish holy place. Like other holy places, it exists not usually in a earthy sense, though with a possess romantic and devout footprint as well.

This is frequency a acknowledgment for that camp. we am assured that a buildings will be restored, and come subsequent summer, Camp Newman will continue to renovate lives.

No — rather than a eulogy, let me take this event to sing a praises of Jewish summer camps.

Because, if it were not for a Jewish summer camp, we would not be a rabbi, a Jew, and a chairman that we am today.

On a Sunday morning in January, 1969, my father gathering my hermit and me adult to Great Barrington, Massachusetts to revisit a Eisner Camp (one of a Reform movement’s camps) to see if we wanted to go there.

It had snowed a night before. We could not find a camp. We were about to embankment a whole goal and conduct behind to Long Island.

Finally, my father stopped during a gas hire to ask for directions. A gas hire attendant forked down a road. We followed his directions, and found a road. We had upheld that highway several times. It incited out that a freshly-fallen sleet had vaporous a pointer that forked towards a camp.

I have always believed that a unknown gas hire attendant was Elijah a soothsayer — sent by God to perform that one mitzvah on that snowy Jan morning.

The rest is story — my story and my family’s history. we attended Eisner, fell in adore with Judaism, became active in a Reform girl movement, and went on to turn a rabbi. My sons would eventually go there and would work there. Many of my closest friends emerged from a Eisner experience.

Had it not been for Eisner, my Jewish life would have been really opposite — if it had existed during all.  And we know that we pronounce for large thousands of American Jews.

Please note: Jewish summer camps are not summer camps where a majority of campers is Jewish. (That would be loyal of many summer camps).

Jewish summer camps are camps with a mission to emanate and indication Judaism. There is a smashing substructure that supports a holy work that happens underneath a trees – Foundation for Jewish Camp. 

What can Jewish summer camps do that roughly zero else in a American Jewish universe can achieve?

  1. Jewish summer camps emanate Jewish community. We speak a lot about dedicated village in a Jewish universe today. It is rare. Abraham Joshua Heschel famously pronounced that a contemporary synagogue suffers from a serious cold. The Jewish summer stay is a remedy to a cold. It becomes a kehillah, a village of a dreams.
  2. Jewish summer camps yield a Jewish community. Ask Jewish kids, generally in a low South, who grow adult with roughly no other Jewish kids. They flower on Jewish summer camps. It provides them with what they so desperately skip a other 10 months of a year.
  3. Jewish summer camps yield a 24/7 Jewish experience. Sadly, this happens nowhere else in American non-Orthodoxy. That’s since complicated Jews have bifurcated their “Jewish” selves and their “secular” selves. You would have to transport to Israel (which is, of course, indispensable) to get that kind of 24/7 Jewish experience.
  4. Worship comes alive. Kids are intent in stay services. Usually, they write them themselves. Those services have their possess cultured clarity (mostly musical, though a clarity of informality) that has shabby American synagogue life.
  5. Jewish camps let kids to see rabbis, educators and cantors as genuine tellurian beings. My life was profoundly shabby by (then) immature rabbis, etc. who spent time during camp. They were my purpose models.
  6. Jewish summer camps emanate leadership. Kids learn how to dream, plan, and create. When they grow adult to work during camp, they learn teamwork, time management, and how to work with people. Ask Sheryl Sandberg; she’s an alumna of URJ Camp Coleman in Georgia.
  7. Jewish summer camps emanate durability friendships. Jewish summer stay friendships emanate webs of relations that in some cases have helped renovate a Jewish world.
  8. American Jewish kids accommodate Jews from other countries. Jewish summer camps customarily partisan unfamiliar staff members. (And please: might that continue). Many are Jewish. Many more, of course, are Israeli. we am still tighten to my associate Israeli staff members from Eisner. That knowledge shapes Jewish peoplehood.

Jewish summer camps not usually remade American Judaism; they indeed helped emanate American Judaism. They emanate American Jews — in some ways, distant some-more effectively than any other American Jewish institution.

One final thing about what has been going on these final few weeks.

In a Bible, a soothsayer Elijah, fled to a forest of Horeb. He came to Mount Sinai, a site of God’s explanation to Moses and a Jewish people (I Kings 19: 11ff.)

And lo, a LORD upheld by. There was a good and strong wind, bursting plateau and ruinous rocks by a energy of a LORD; though a LORD was not in a wind. After a wind—an earthquake; though a LORD was not in a earthquake. After a earthquake—fire; though a LORD was not in a fire. And after a fire—a soothing murmuring sound.

  • We have lived by “great and strong winds” — hurricanes.
  • We have lived by an trembler in Mexico.
  • Our friends in California have been vital by a fire.

God was not to be found in any of those experiences.

No. God was to be found in kol d’mamah dakah — translated here as “a soothing murmuring sound,” though infrequently “a still, tiny voice.” An middle voice.

Jewish summer camps learn kids how to hear that voice.

That is a good thing.





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