Dispatch from Camp
Each year I have the opportunity to spend a week plus at our own Union for Reform Judaism's Camp Kalsman. I come as faculty, which means I work a little and play a lot. I tutor B'nai Mitzvah students, lead services, and programs and help out pastorally when needed. But mostly what I do is enjoy being around Jewish children who are thriving and who are celebrating their heritage.
At Camp Kalsman each day begins with a short prayer, just a shout out really, to the Source for bringing us to this new day. Each meal begins with a prayer for gratitude and ends with the lengthy blessing after the meal. We pray evening prayers, Ma'ariv, daily. And we close the day, right before bed, with the prayers Hashkivenu and Shema, arm around an arm, these sweet children pray together before bed.
In addition to the spiritual aspects of Camp, there is also the presence of much Israeli staff. The children are cared for and taught by Israeli young adults, many of whom have just finished their military service. This cultural exchange is one of the most beautiful aspects of Reform camping. I always appreciate the opportunity to learn from these young adults and hear what their lives are like in Israel.
Spirit, culture, and nature are my three favorite things about URJ Camp Kalsman. The beauty of the campus, the location and the cultivation of the property all contribute to the experience of Camp. The camp has a garden that has been cultivated for over 30 years with grape arbors and rose bushes. It looks like what I imagine the Garden of Eden might look like. Except for this garden of Eden is full of Jewish children. Full of life. With limitless possibility.
Without the children the prayers would still be meaningful, the Israelis would still be interesting and the campus would still be stunning. With the campers, with all the dirty faces and loud voices and energetic flaking bodies, this place is magic.
Many blessings! This Friday is my last in July. I will be on vacation July 8-August 1. Hope to see your face soon.