Shalom Camp Wise!
This week the villages of Chalutzim and Solel are hosting Shabbat. They decided on a theme of “I’ll be there for you.” This comes from a creative interpretation of the messages in Parashat haShavua, Va’etchanan, “I pleaded.” The portion starts with Moses pleading for God to let him into the Promised Land. God holds fast in the decision that Moses will never enter the Promised Land. Instead God reiterates love for Bnei Yisrael by restating the commandments. In return the People of Israel show their love for God by reciting the V’ahavta. From this perspective, along with a camp-wide obsession with a certain ‘90s hit sitcom the villages decided that the theme of “I’ll be there for you,” spoke to the Bnei Yisrael’s undying love for God as stated in the V’ahavta.
Each village is responsible for preparing different parts of Shabbat. Chalutzim has begun work on creative writings to add to the Friday night and Saturday morning services. In addition they have kicked off a series of lunchtime Shabbat Countdown skits, and continued work on the Camp Wise challah covers. Solel and Chalutzim are preparing an interpretive dance based off of the theme, and will be performing it together on Friday night prior to the festive meal. In addition sections of both services will be led by Solel and Chalutzim campers together in their “Buddy” pairs.
Solel is producing a hilarious Pageant, our weekly skit-based D’var Torah. Solel has also chosen a song to perform prior to Friday night services, and is carefully selecting songs that will complement the last Havdallah service of the summer. We are also very excited to welcome some Solel campers to read from the Torah this Saturday morning.
As the last Shabbat of the summer rolls in, I wonder where all the time went. As a career Jewish Educator, it is always nice to take a break from my day-to-day routine and recharge. I have found that in my time here at Camp Wise I have been able to do just that. I came here as a stranger in a foreign land. I did not know anyone and knew very little about Camp Wise. This Sunday, when the last bus rolls out of the driveway I will close the summer as a part of Camp Wise Kehilla— with so many new friends and campers to keep in touch with. Just like Moses and the People of Israel wandering through the desert, it was not always easy to start as a stranger in a strange land. I had to work hard to acclimate to Camp Wise, and to learn its long history and particular traditions. Just like the People of Israel the hard work has paid off with the most beautiful reward imaginable.
This has been one of the most meaningful and vibrant summers I have ever experienced! Every tradition here is shaped by a small piece of history, a group of campers, or a counselor that “everyone” remembers. You don’t have to look far to see the pride each camper and staff takes in maintaining these traditions. I felt this most on Shabbat when campers recited The Early Bird on the bema, swayed to and fro during the Mi Chamoacha, or stood on their benches during Get Together. Each tradition gave me the opportunity to experience the Camp Wise magic front and center.
Here I have witnessed and lived all six Core Jewish Values including Kehilla (community), B’tzelem Elohim (In the Image of God), Clal Yisrael (The Unity of the Jewish People), Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), Kavanah (Spirituality), and of course Hachnasat Orchim (Welcoming Guests). It means a lot to be welcomed to a community as strong and this. Each explanation by a Staff member, shared moment of learning with a camper, or feeling of true Kavanah during a service has helped transform me from a stranger to a part of the community. I cannot be grateful enough for my experiences here at Camp Wise, and now know why so many call this place home.