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Herzl@Home: Chanukah

December 19, 2014 by , under General Posts, Holidays, Letters from Staff.

Menorah

By: Jamie Diamond (Director of Jewish Education)

Editor’s Note: This blog is a part of the Herzl@Home series

Hanukkah has many amazing themes which are still relevant in our lives today:  Overcoming adversity, Jewish spirit, and strength through community.  These themes also exemplify some of the wonderful things about Herzl.  Camp is place where many campers overcome challenges and push themselves for the first time both as individuals and together with the camp community.  Coming together as a strong Jewish community full of ruach (spirit) is something Herzl Camp prides itself on.

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights.  The Hebrew word “Hanukkah” means “dedication” and is fitting for the holiday since it commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrain-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.

Hanukkah begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev and is traditionally celebrated by lighting a hanukkiah, or menorah, for eight days, eating latkes and sufganiot (jelly doughnuts), playing dreidel, and giving gifts of gelt.

Blessings

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Candles are added to the Hanukiah (Menorah) from right to left but are kindled from left to right. The newest candle is lit first. (On the Shabbat of Hanukkah, kindle the Hanukkah lights first and then the Shabbat candles. Light the Shamash – the helper candle – first using it to kindle the rest of the Hanukkah lights; say or sing the following two blessings:

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonderous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.

For first night only add:

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.

Family Activities

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Make your own Hanukkiah (Menorah)

Supplies:

  • A wooden board
  • 10 metal locknuts (available at hardware stores; bring a Hanukkah candle with you to test which size would best hold the candle)
  • Craft glue
  • Tin foil
  • Clear packing tape
  • Beads, glitter, other decorative materials
  • Hanukkah candles

Instructions:

  1. Cover the wood with tin foil and tape the foil closed on the underside.
  2. Let your child glue 8 locknuts to the board in any pattern.
  3. The last 2 locknuts can be glued anywhere on the board, but they need to be glued in a stack. This will be your “shamash”, or helper, and will hold the candle that will light the actual Hanukkah candles.
  4. Together with your child, decorate the rest of the area with your beads, glitter, etc.
  5. Insert candles as needed for the Hanukkah ceremony, using the shamash candle and one other candle the first night.

Sing Along with the Maccabeats

Make Latkes

  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.
  • Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.
  • Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.

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A Great Miracle Happened….HERE

December 12, 2014 by , under Friendship, General Posts, Holidays.

Dana (left) and Gail Brodkey in 1989

Dana (left) and Gail Brodkey in 1989

By: Dana Prottas (Camper, 1989 Ozo)

It was a hot summer day, and I remember it just like it was yesterday.  My friends and I walked along the dirt path sneaking glances over our shoulders to make sure we weren’t being followed.  We thought we were being sneaky – being in seventh grade and all.  The next day was going to be the last day of summer time together.  We thought if we found a place to hide, we would not have to go home and we could stay in camp…..forever.

Dana and the 1989 Ozrim

Dana and the 1989 Ozrim

Throughout my life and career in Jewish education, I have thought about this moment many times.  Something magical was created within the space of Herzl Camp that we wanted to bottle up that summer.  We wanted this feeling to last forever!  We wanted to take it home with us and to pull it out during the year.  I know many of you reading this blog have probably felt the same way about Herzl Camp or other camping experiences.  For me, I wanted to feel this strong community entwined with Judaism and lifelong friendships every day.  This feeling I wanted to take with me felt warm and comforting and literally felt like happiness radiating from my core.  If I could bottle up this feeling and name it, I would call it “Bakbook Or” – translated from Hebrew as “Bottle of Light”.

For the past two summers I have visited Herzl Camp to meet with Jewish teens to hear and learn about their moments of light and joy at camp.  I am always surprised about the details at camp that have stayed the same and what has changed.  Each summer I learn about what’s important to teens and what skills and knowledge they feel they need to go off to college.  What surprises me the most is how teens who are looking at colleges are looking for campuses with Bakbook Or.  They want to continue to feel this radiating light as they branch out on their own.

Visiting with Herzl Campers

Visiting with Herzl Teens

In my present work as the Director of Yachad, I have been working behind the scenes to bring Bakbook Or to life for our teens on a daily basis.  Yachad is a new, Jewish collaborative community-wide educational program for teens.  Our goal is to inspire and educate Jewish teens to make Judaism come alive for them through innovative and experiential opportunities.  In other words, we are trying to bottle up these feelings of community, Jewish learning, and friendship to share all year long.

What I’m learning from the teens both at camp and in the Twin Cities is that what makes Jewish camping so special are the people.  It is the face to face interactions and experiences that make the place itself so incredible.  As a seventh grader I attributed the magic of camp to the place.  I wasn’t old enough yet to realize that the place was the vehicle for the magic.  The light came from the relationships.

I know my experiences at Herzl Camp have been magical, and I know that the magic continues to happen summer after summer.  By bottling and preserving our Bakbook Or, we are able to recall again these strong feelings and bring light into our days.  Yachad’s goal is to continually renew and replenish these kinds of flames so that they burn not just for eight nights or a summer, but for a lifetime.

Wishing you a holiday filled with light and renewal, and of course, Bakbook Or.

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L’Dor V’Dor…From Generation to Generation

December 5, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni.

By: Loretta (Corn) Fingert (Camper, 1960 Ozo and 1960-64 Staff Reunion attendee)

Loretta (front row, far right) & fellow campers (1959)

The summer of 1960, I spent six weeks at Herzl as an Ozo.  In the summer of 2012, 52 years later, I returned to Herzl for the 1960-64 Staff Reunion.  The treasured memories of past summers at Herzl became a reality again.  I experienced the ruach in the Chadar, singing “Here’s to Dear Old Herzl” and dancing with my friends.  Most special, was walking in our whites to the flag circle, singing Shabbat songs and enjoying the Shabbat service on Devils Lake with lifelong friends.  The smiles on the faces of my fellow alumni campers expressed the joy that we all felt, being welcomed back to dear old Herzl and experiencing again the camaraderie, spirit, peace and love.

Loretta & Gary at the 1960-64 Staff Reunion (2012)

My husband, Gary, came to the staff reunion with me and experienced Herzl Camp for the first time.  Now, Gary finally understood why Herzl was so important to me.  We both wished that our grandson, Ben, who lives in Kansas City, could experience the Herzl magic too.  Neither of us believed that Ben would choose to come to Herzl because he did not know friends who were Herzl campers and Webster, Wisconsin is a long way from Kansas City, Missouri.  Ben listened to our enthusiastic tales of the beautiful camp on the lake: the amazing cabins, the waterfront, the sports, the rock-climbing wall; But Ben was not interested in going to camp for three weeks, when he didn’t have a friend to share Habonim with him.

Ben & Jane (Visitors Day 2013)

After Ben’s Bar Mitzvah, when he was feeling inspired by the Jewish experience, we suggested Herzl Camp again.  When Ben said, “okay,” we signed him up immediately.  Gary, Ben’s mother, Jane, and I drove Ben to the camp buses that summer.  Ben saw the excitement of the campers, many of whom were friends from past summers together, but he did not know any of them.  We wondered if Ben would get on the bus.  Ben did!  And, by the time Ben’s mother, Jane, arrived for Visitors Day, Ben told her that the three week camp session was not long enough.  Ben loved camp as much as I did!

In a letter of thanks, Ben wrote: “I had a lot of fun at Herzl Camp.  It was a very good experience.  The best part of camp was the people.  The campers and the counselors had a lot of fun.  The counselors and my cabin friends taught me how to play my favorite game, Ultimate Frisbee.  I also liked canoeing, games, Bikkurim and just hanging out with my friends.  Every Friday night we had services.  We all dressed up in white clothes.  I liked the feeling of walking with my friends, singing Shabbat songs on the way to the flag circle.  When you stay in a cabin with your friends, you are friends for life.  I can hardly wait to see my friends again next summer!”

Ben’s letter of thanks expresses an appreciation of good friends made at camp, fun times and the Shabbat experience.  L’dor V’dor…from generation to generation, Herzl Camp has brought friendship, fun and spirituality to Jewish youth.

Gary, Ben & Loretta (Visitors Day 2014)

Ben’s experience at Herzl Camp is a priceless gift for me, knowing that his experience will bring him lifelong gifts of friendship and treasured memories.  I also know that Herzl Camp fosters Jewish tradition, compassion, responsibility and leadership.  I am grateful to Herzl Camp for stengthening these life skills for Ben.

Ben was asked by his Rabbi at Congregation Beth Torah in Kansas City to speak about Herzl Camp at a service last month.  He enthusiastically shared how much Herzl Camp means to him.   We were all so proud of him!  Thank you, Herzl Camp, for providing the best experience for campers for generations!

Shabbat Shalom.

 

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There’s No Place I’d Rather Be

November 26, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff, Why We Love Camp.

From L-R: Adam Tarshish, Dylan & Joe Goldberg

By: Dylan Krebs (2014 Staff)

I still remember every moment of what I consider to be the most emotional day of my life.  The day I became a Nozo.  Now I’m not trying to start a pity party, but I felt like it was truly that crazy.  I was crying, my best friends were crying, my parents were crying, everyone seemed to be crying.  All I could think was “How could a place that’s accepted me for so long reject me.”  For the first time, I’d be faced with rejection that saddens me to this day.  Although this entire Nozo experience appeared to be detrimental, I’ve gained a lot of appreciation for what Herzl Camp has given me.

I spent my Nozo summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota and worked at Camp Teko.  Amy Sandler, the current director and friend, encouraged me to make the most out of my summer.  When I first arrived in Minneapolis, (Editor’s Note: Dylan moved from Florida to Minnesota to take a job at Camp Teko) I thought my summer would be in shambles, but I was proven completely wrong.  I met amazing people like Andy Halper, made friends with other staff members and made an impact on a new group of campers.  I attended concerts, sporting events, and even played in my first nationals tournament for Ultimate Frisbee.  My Nozo experience made me a more adventurous person.

Dylan at Camp Teko (Photo posted with permission of camper's family and Camp Teko)

The next contact I would have with Herzl Camp would be a year later when I received a staff application from Drea Lear.  At the time, the words “I wanted to let you know that the Herzl staff applications are now available and I’d love to see you apply” made me feel a bit wary.  I wasn’t quite sure how my relationship would be with the group of guys that I considered my brothers. Would I be welcomed back with open arms?  It was at that time though that I realized that there’s no place I’d rather be than Herzl Camp.

Again, it may sound weird, but because of my Nozo experience, I gained a ton of appreciation for what I had at camp.  Not a day goes by where I’m not thinking of dancing at breakfast or all of my Herzl Camp friends.  I even talk to my closest friends on a daily basis purely because I don’t think I know where I’d be without them.  Herzl Camp is just apart of who I am. I love it so much more because of what the Nozo experience brought me.

There's No Place He'd Rather Be

To the future Nozrim of Herzl Camp, it may not seem like a great time in your life, in fact, it’s gonna suck for a bit.  However, while it may seem cliche, all you have to do is work through it.  Ozo summer will soon become a thing of the past.  You may think that only the Ozrim will have a great summer but I’m here to tell you that you will too.  Instead of being at camp, go grab an internship, work at another camp, travel, play Ultimate…make your life interesting!  Some words of wisdom that I’d like to close with is this: The last thing that was ever said to me at camp as a camper was “Herzl Camp will always be here for you.”

Shabbat Shalom.

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1,729.2 Miles From Home

November 21, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff.

L to R: Hannah, Molly Apple & Talia Fetner

By: Hannah Zweig (2014 Staff)

Editor’s Note:  Hannah wrote and delivered this D’var Shabbat during the summer of 2014.  This was Hannah’s first summer at Herzl.

I am currently 1729.2 miles away from my home in Scottsdale, Arizona.  That is 1,729.2 miles away from my family, friends, and my own beautiful shower in which I don’t have to wear shower shoes.  Yet despite this distance from the place where I live during the year, I have never felt a greater sense of belonging than I do at this ruach filled haven tucked away in the woods of Webster, Wisconsin.

This is my first summer at Herzl, but I truly feel like I am part of the community.  We are a diverse group of athletes, artists, singers, actors, and musicians.  We are composed of people who are still in elementary school, to high schoolers, to college graduates.  Yet, even with all of these differences we are still able to come together as one camp because we all have one common factor: we’re all Jewish.

Although this means many different things to different people, Judaism helps create a sense of belonging here at camp that is extremely unique.  There is no other place in the world where ice cream sandwiches can cause an uproar or where being weird is considered a million times better than being popular or cool.

I am so thankful that being Jewish allowed me to stumble upon this amazing place and I cannot wait to spend the rest of the summer 1729.2 miles away from Arizona in my new home away from home.

Shabbat Shalom.

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One in a Million

November 14, 2014 by , under Friendship, General Posts, Letters from Campers.

By: Jordyn & Becca (2014 B’yachad Campers)

Editor’s Note: Jordyn and Becca wrote and delivered this D’var Shabbat during B’yachad Shabbat 2014.  It is reprinted here with permission from their parents. 

What are the odds that a girl who goes to a private Christian school in Minneapolis, Minnesota meets a girl who goes to a public school in St. Louis Missouri?  Many people would say the chances are…

One in a million.

But the communities that those girls are a part of make that number decrease.

The dictionary definition of community is: a social, religious, occupational, or other group that shares common characteristics or interests.  To these girls community means so much more.  Let us spell it out for you, C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y or a different spelling, C-A-M-P-M-U-N-I-T-Y.  Campmunity, out of all of the possible kehillot or communities, Herzl Camp is the only one that brought them together.

Campmunity.  This play on words is perfectly described through the little traditions at machaneh.  Dancing until they are sweating at breakfast, their counselors singing to them every night before bed, and all of the schticky moments in between, create a unique bond that is indescribable.

What are the odds a first session camper and a second session camper are put in the same cabin Kadimah sumer?

One out of 50 girls in Kadimah.

What are the odds that those girls spent every waking moment together and made Kadimah summer one to remember?

One out of 12 cabin mates.

These girls, along with a few other friends, were determined to not let these new friendships slip away during the school year.  These friends needed a way to still spend every waking moment together after camp.  Obviously, what every girl would do would be to create a group iMessage.

From 2 days after Kadimah summer to 2 hours before we got on the busses for the last time as campers, there was not a day that passed where they felt as if they were 550 miles apart.

Sending funny Vine videos, counting down the days until they were all reunited, listening to everyone vent about their problems, or just checking in to say hi, these girls made it apparent that the bond between them was unbreakable.

Also to bring home a little of the Herzl magic, these girls carried on a weekly tradition of high/low hero every Sunday night at 9.

For the past year, these close friends made an effort to make it feel as though they were never apart.  They know this friendship formed by the kehilah at Herzl Camp will truly last a lifetime.

Odds are the girls standing on the mercaz right now became best friends.

One in a million.

1,2,3…1 Hand in Hand we will hold on.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Building a Sense of Community

November 7, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff.

2014 Ozrim

By: Eli (Ozo 2014)

Editor’s Note:  Below is an excerpt from one of Eli’s college application essays that highlights the sense of community at Herzl Camp.  It is re-printed with permission from his mother.

When I think of the word “community,” my mind automatically goes to the summer camp I have attended since I was seven.  Herzl Camp focuses on building a sense of community between all people within the camp, whether it is a young camper away from home for the first time, or an experienced counselor living in a utopia hidden from the imperfect world outside.

As a camper, I was taught by college kids who were my counselors on how to be a better person.  No matter how bad of a mood I was in, I would always have my staff to confide in and know that we both had a mutual goal of happiness.  Even after the summer, when I was home, the lessons learned from the community formed helped me throughout the year.  I was taught how to ask people for help, and how to be happy with the circumstances that fall on you.  There is nowhere else on the planet that has such a mutual understanding of community.  Campers are all supporting each other, with staff there support them, and staff are there to be together and learn the true values of how to be a better person.

"Mama" Ozo Sara Gottlieb, Eli & "Papa" Ozo Jon Savitt

This past summer, I got to be on the other side of camp for the first time, as an ozo, and I learned that within the Herzl Camp community, everyone is out to make each other a better person.  I always expected that being a staff member was boring and unfulfilling because of the constant work necessary.  However, I realized I was wrong. The hard work pays off when the kids you are taking care of smile, or tell you how much fun they are having.  Just knowing that the lessons and experiences you had as a camper are being passed down to the next generation of campers is enough to make me truly happy.  There are countless staff members that I can remember gave me wonderful memories, and my only hope is to give that to my campers and complete the circle of love and community.  The sense of responsibility a staff member has is a feeling like no other, and very few people outside of camp know what it is like to have thirteen little boys adore and revere you.

Within the borders of Herzl Camp exists an understanding.  This understanding is the knowledge that everyone is there for each other and that you can always learn how to be a better person from anyone within these hallowed camp borders.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Connections

October 31, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Campers.

Lily with her dad at Visitors Day 2014

By: Lily (2014 B’yachad Camper)

Hello!  My name is Lily Gray and this past summer I was in B’yachad.  It was by far the best summer of my life (something I could have told you before I was in B’yachad).  We did AMAZING things like a mud car wash, log stacking for Interfaith Caregivers, “overtaking” the Ozo’s mosh pit, and many other absolutely perfect things.  Editor’s Note: Interfaith Caregivers is a volunteer organization serving the people of Burnett County.

However, this summer, as my camper experience came to a close (tears), I realized that my favorite thing about camp is the level underneath all of the crazy shtick, traditions and ruach: the connectedness or kehilah (community) that being a Herzl Camper creates.  The connectedness comes from everything a camper experiences at Herzl Camp.  We all witness the same insane dancing at breakfast, the calm feeling of a Shabbat caravan, the delicious bite into a gooey cinnamon roll on Saturday morning and the “young and fun” cabinmates that become your best friends.  Everybody shares those same experiences but in a slightly different way.

The connections go even deeper, too!  My dad has many stories of being dumped into the lake for saying the word  ‘announcements’ over the microphone…something I witnessed (only witnessed, thank goodness!) many times this summer.  He also wrote his name in many weird places like the girls south haks bathroom (yes, the girls)…which I saw this summer.

These connections that occur on multiple levels creates a community between not only present Herzl campers, but also past and future campers.  This proved to me that camp is a cycle.  For example, my staff are five years older than me.  When they were in B’yachad, they stacked logs at Interfaith like we did!  So did my staff’s staff (my grandstaff) and my staff’s staff’s staff’s (my great grandstaff).  This makes me connected to people that I have never even met because we have shared the same amazing experiences.

I believe there is a reason why we call the last summer B’yachad (together): it is to tell future campers that once you finish your B’yachad summer, you will be together with the hundreds of other people who have had the same amazing experiences that being a Herzl Camper creates.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

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The In-Betweener

October 24, 2014 by , under General Posts, Giving Back, Letters from Alumni.

The author (far right, in red) and the 2005 Ozrim

By: Mike Neiman

It’s a tough stage to be in, when you love Herzl Camp.  You have far surpassed your days on staff, but don’t have any children (existing or old enough) to send for the summer.  Sometimes this is called “young professionals”, other times just “20s and 30s” … but when it relates to camp, you are now a member of In-Betweeners Club.

How do you cope?  How do you relate?  How do you go on?!  Although it may be tough to see all the fun happenings from your youngest campers (who are now senior staff), or your oldest staff’s children, we in-betweeners still have a few ways to stay engaged and feel a part of the Herzl Camp community we desperately need so badly in our life.  So instead of sulking about another Thursday night without a cookout, instead try the following tips to stay engaged through this tough time.  And don’t worry, in your own time, you’ll have children of your own to send to camp and then you’ll be right back in the camp spotlight again!

1.       Join the Herzl Camp Facebook group.  The Alumni Wednesday photos are a great way to spark memories, and the community is always posting pictures, updates, and comments from current campers and staff to whet your palette.  Even more, post your own Throwback Thursday picture to your social networks of you and your friends and tag Herzl Camp!

2.       Attend events.  We have had some great events in the past, ranging from Triva Bar Nights, to Shabbat Dinners, to Benefit Concerts at the Mercaz.  There are great options throughout the year to still connect with your inner-camp and camp friends, even if you won’t be there during the summer.

3.       Join a committee on the Herzl Camp Board.  Get your feet wet on the lay-leader side of camping and help contribute to the summer planning for the current generation.  There are tons of committees that range from programming to finance and more.  If you try it and like it, maybe a seat on the board could be a great next step as well!  (nominations occur in the spring).

4.       Volunteer at the Herzl Camp office!  Camp will happily find a way to help you feel connected.  Join the Herzl Chaverim (corps of volunteers) and help out in the office on a monthly basis by mailing registration forms, stuffing envelopes or even helping at the buses.

5.       Plan and/or attend a reunion!  If you are lucky enough to be at a milestone year (e.g. 5 years, 10 years), then help coordinate the group for a reunion.  This can be at camp, just a day in Siren, or gathering at someone’s home.  Reunions have become very popular lately and camp will help you get yours planned.  P.S. Shout out to the 2005 X-Treme Ozrim, I can’t wait for our 10-year reunion this summer!

Embrace the In-Betweener.  Enjoy this commitment-free stage in life, but don’t remove yourself from the things you love most.  Herzl Camp is happy to welcome you back!

Shabbat Shalom.

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A Baba’s Top Ten

October 15, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Parents, Why We Love Camp.

Baba and family at Family Camp 2014

By: Bonnie Vickar (Bonnie, aka “Baba”, attended Family Camp with her children and grandchildren this past summer.)

#10 – Seeing my son get giddy with excitement as we got closer to camp.  Each mile had its own special marker with an accompanying story such as the laundromat where they washed the campers clothes.  Yes, I paid money to send my son to camp so he could wash other people’s clothes.

#9 – My son showing off his graffiti on the walls of the Beit Tarbut.  Okay, it was his name on the wall and each year he added the current year.  He should have added 2014.

#8 – Walking around the camp.  Remembering the old Herzl while appreciating the new, especially the air conditioned rooms we stayed in.  Aaron was quick to remind his son, Nelson, that when he was at camp they had to improvise their own gaga pit by placing benches on their sides.

#7 – Challah making on Friday morning to be followed by Challah eating at dinner.  Grandchildren have a way of adding that special something to everything they touch.

#6 – Time set aside for Shabbat preparations.  I have never been a camper at Herzl but 23 years ago, with all three of our kids at camp, my husband and I were invited for a regular Shabbat weekend.  I remember laying in our cabin listening to the voices of the campers as they passed by on their way to the haks (bathrooms).  Their laughter, their singing and especially those practicing for the services was more uplifting than any Rabbi’s sermon.  It was simply from the heart.

#5 – Seeing everyone dressed in white joining the Shabbat caravan.  For us, it was 3 generations together.  Yes, I was moved to tears.  As I was fumbling for tissues my grandson came back to walk with me.  Never enough tissues!!

#4 – Shabbat morning cinnamon rolls.  I had 2, confident in the knowledge that there are no calories at Herzl Camp.

#3 – Services at the Mercaz.  Simple and meaningful set against a perfect backdrop.

#2 – It was pure pleasure watching everyone enjoy the waterfront Shabbat afternoon.  Nelson, now 8, paddling his own kayak.  Isabelle, also 8, and Ansley, age 9, swimming and enjoying the afternoon as only children can.

#1 – Of course number one has to be being with my children and grandchildren.  Hearing my son reminisce with  former campers and sharing my grandchildren’s new experiences.  Shabbat morning, Nelson in his PJs,  playing chess with his cinnamon bun sticky fingers.  Isabelle with a huge smile on her face each time she rang that bell on the rock wall.  Ansley dancing with her Dad on Saturday night.  When did she get so tall?  So much happiness and no batteries required.

Because I was the oldest one at Family Camp, I give myself permission to ramble.  My son was a very good hockey player.  In 1997, he was playing for the University of North Dakota when they won the Division I national championship.  While in high school, the team parents were shocked to find out that Aaron was not spending his summers at one of the many elite hockey camps.  They didn’t understand that he was going to an “elite” camp.  The skills he would develop, and I am not talking about doing laundry, were far more reaching than what happens at an ice rink.  Whether he was a camper or staff, his summers at Herzl challenged him, energized him and grounded him.  I know his experience was not unique.  At Herzl Camp, no matter what you bring to the table, you are made to feel that is exactly what is needed.  Seeing my grandchildren briefly interact with the staff I felt that legacy of caring is as strong as ever.  When we left camp, Nelson asked his dad to stop so he could take a picture of the Herzl sign.  In one way or another, I think everyone took home a little piece of Herzl. I know I did!

Editor’s Note: Interested in joining us in Webster for Family Camp 2015? Click here for details and registration information. 

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Tutus and Clown Shoes

October 8, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Campers, Letters from Parents, Letters from Staff.

By: Hannah (2014 Noar Camper)

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally written by Hannah for a creative writing assignment to write about a special place.  It is posted with permission from her parents. 

Herzl Camp

Herzl Camp is just so magical because when you walk into camp you are free to be yourself.  You can wear a tutu and clown shoes and nobody really cares.  When you walk out from the bus, counselors are screaming their heads off, give you high fives…but it is only just because you are here.  They sing songs and then comes the most exciting part of all…you get to find out who is in your cabin!  After that, they call our names, we sit down and eat cookies and lem-lem (which stands for lemonade).  We sit in a circle and we say our names and our favorite ice cream and stuff like that.  Then, we go to our cabin and each cabin has a theme like “the cupcake makers”.  My theme was sailors.  We learned a song for our cabin.  My song was “we are sailors va va va”.  You will learn one too.

Each cabin has a Hebrew letter or a number – it matters where you are.  For example, I was in cabin Vav in Kadimah Land.  And then came the lake swim.  The cold lake swim. Boy was it cold.  But can I tell you a secret…When you go into the lake, go in holding hands all as a cabin and just run in and then, if you want you, can do ring around the rosie and then you dunk when you say “we all fall down”…that’s what I do.  Or, if that does not help, do high knees.  After the lake swim you get your bed all ready and then that brings you right to dinner and there was a really cool saying for dinner on the first night and it is “GET READY FOR SPAGHETTI!”  After dinner, there was an after dinner activity and then after that was over you will walk back to your cabin and you will go into your cozy bed and the counselors will sing you a song and then you go to sleep then the next day will be the funest day ever and so on for the next days.

P.S. Soon you are going to make your best friend ever and you are going to email your counselors.

Herzl Camp is my second home.

Family Camp 2014

A Note from Hannah’s Mom, Wendy Clyman: 

After I had the chance to read the above journal entry that Hannah wrote for school, my first thought was – is this the same kid that had second, third and fourth thoughts about going to camp?  My second thought went instantly to her Noar counselors and how amazing each one was because they helped her have the most amazing summer.  Raleigh Kibort, Becca Lear, Rachel Alter – I would love a chance to let your parents know what a profound impact you made on my daughter this past summer.  You are role models for her, she looks up to you and there isn’t a day that goes by where she does not mention one of you.  Being an only child, Hannah doesn’t get a chance to have an “older sister” type relationship…but then she goes to camp and can have young ladies like you around for an extended period of time.  It is absolutely priceless.  Your parents should be proud of each of you and I would like to let them know how thankful I am that they raised such wonderful young ladies.  For parents that are reading this and wondering if Herzl Camp is the right place for your child, I can honestly say it is, you will not find a better group of young people to help guide your child, teach your child and love your child as if they were one of their own.

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Lessons from Camp and the High Holidays

October 3, 2014 by , under General Posts, Holidays.

By: Rachel Saks 

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally posted on The Canteen and is reposted with permission from the Foundation for Jewish Camp and My Jewish Learning, Inc.

The buses have rolled away, the bags are unpacked, the phone calls between your campers and their friends are sending your phone bill sky high, and the countdown until next summer has already begun. As the days and weeks tick by, the Jewish calendar asks us to take pause and evaluate ourselves and account for our deeds. With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur right around the corner we begin the process of looking at what we have done and how we have grown so we can do more and grow more. The High Holidays aren’t just about beating our chests in repentance; they are also about accepting responsibility for our individual and communal actions and learning from our past experiences. Click here to continue reading.

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Herzl @ Home: Rosh Hashanah

September 24, 2014 by , under General Posts, Holidays, Letters from Staff.

By: Jamie Diamond, Director of Jewish Education

Rosh Hashanah always creeps up on me. Between camp ending and the school year beginning, life seems to get a bit crazy.  Then all of a sudden, before I know it, it is time for Rosh Hashanah- built in time for me to take a step back from the craziness of the beginning of a new school year to reflect on the past year and be mindful of the things I hope for in the year ahead.  A time to set goals- I will make a new friend this year, I will make more time for my family, I will try a new chug at camp, I will include someone who feels left out, Rosh Hashanah is a reminder that we get a fresh start to be the best versions of ourselves.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we can look at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “Make the most of yourself…for that is all there is of you.”  This is not an easy charge.  It is easy to go through the motions of every day just to get by, but if we add a little mindfulness to each day, looking at the type of person we hope to be, we can reach that lofty goal of being our best selves.  Go out and be the best version of yourself, whatever that means for you.  Try to set a few goals for yourself as Rosh Hashanah is quickly approaching.

Below you will find some of the blessings and some activity suggestions that you can do with your family to help celebrate Rosh Hashanah with a little of our Herzl magic.  I hope you and your families all have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Herzl @ Home:  Rosh Hashanah

At Herzl, we strive to create experiences to help foster a sense of love for being Jewish in our campers. We are excited to introduce a new series of Herzl @ Home resources to give you ideas about how to enhance your families’ celebrations throughout the year with a Herzl twist. We hope the Herzl Magic can extend past the summer and into your home celebrations of the Jewish holidays.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is a time where individuals, families and communities reflect on the past year and think about what they want to change in the upcoming year. Rosh Hashanah is the first and second day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on September 24.

Special things we can do for Rosh Hashanah include:

  • Eating apples and honey for a sweet new year
  • Blowing or hearing the Shofar
  • Going to Synagogue
  • Having a festive holiday meal with our families

Blessings

Candle Lighting

Ba-ruch ata Adon-nai Elo-hei nu melech ha-olam asher ki-de-sha-nu be-mits-votav ve-tsi-va-nu le-had-lik neir sher (shabbat ve-shel) Yom Tov.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of (Shabbat and) this “Yom Tov” Festival

Apples and Honey

Slices of apple are dipped in honey, before eating, the following is said:

Ba-ruch ata Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu melech ha-olam bor-rei pri ha-aretz.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the tree, Creator of the sweetness in life.

Challah

It is customary on Rosh Hashanah to have a round Challah

Ba-ruch a-ta Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu me-lach ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Family Activities

Family Goal Collage:

At Herzl, we push our campers to be the best versions of themselves. Challenging themselves daily both physically and socially, camp helps them grow in many aspects. Rosh Hashanah is the perfect time to set goals for the upcoming year. Here is an activity to help facilitate that conversation as a family.

  • As a family come up with a list of things you want to improve on in the New Year as both an individual, a family unit, and as part of the Jewish community.
  • Have one person in the family keep a list of the goals created.
  • Suggested Discussion Questions:
    • What are things in the past year which you wish you could have done better?
    • What Mitzvot (good deeds) can you do in the coming year to be a better person?
    • What types of things do you hope to learn in the New Year?
    • What contribution can you give to help your family be the best it can be?
    • Why is it important to think about the past year and set goals for the upcoming one
  • Once you have created your list, make a family collage to hang on the refrigerator from old magazines, newspapers, and your own artwork to represent your Rosh Hashanah goals as a reminder of what you want to improve upon.

Bake a Round Challah:

One of the favorite Friday activities at camp is baking fresh challah. The difference between the challah we bake at camp and the ones you will have for Rosh Hashanah is that for Rosh Hashanah we eat round challah symbolizing the cycle of the year.

Tashlich – Throwing away Transgressions:

  • As a family, discuss that Rosh Hashanah is a time to reflect about the past year.  It is a time to think about what we might have done wrong and things we would like to do better.
  • Explain that there is a custom on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah that symbolizes getting rid of anything bad we might have done in the past year.  This custom is called Tashlich.
  • Go to a body of flowing water and empty your pockets of any crumbs by tossing them into the water (you may want to take a little piece of bread to make crumbs with you).   The bread represents our transgressions.

L’Shanah Tovah.

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Beyond the Empty Nest

September 19, 2014 by , under General Posts, Giving Back, Letters from Parents.

Matt, Brett & Adam as campers...Or, Brett, Matt & Adam. Can you guess the order?

By: Cindy Tarshish (mom of Gabe, Evan & Adam and former Herzl Camper) and Wendi Rosenstein (mom of Brett & Matthew)

While volunteering at the Herzl office last week (which is great and you should try it sometime), we were asked how we were handling being empty nesters.  We both sighed and admitted that we really missed our boys.  We then decided that we would simply ignore the fact that Adam, Brett and Matthew are in college but rather pretend they are just staffing camp for the next eight weeks.  What happens at the end of eight weeks remains to be told, but we will keep you posted.  In all seriousness however, we are grateful that having our children attend and staff Herzl Camp in some way has prepared us to let our sons go off in the world, or at least to Brandies and UW – Madison.

We know these boys have learned wonderful life lessons behind those orange walls.  They have learned daily living skills such as sharing a bathroom with several cabins at a time, how to wake up on time (or have an OZO wake you up), how to get dressed and to flag within 10 minutes, and how to share meals, chanut and care packages with your cabin mates.  They have also learned larger life lessons, such as comforting a friend who is homesick, being inclusive to campers with special needs, and respecting the staff and camp.

Adam's in the middle...can you guess which one is Brett & which one is Matt?

They have earned the respect of their peers and older Herzl staff because they are menches.  We give them up to Herzl every summer and know they are safe and loved.  They are embraced in their summer home just as they hope to be at home among their college friends and professors who will guide them through even more life lessons.

What is the take home from this blog?  We are grateful that Herzl has had such a positive influence in our boys’ lives and we can rest assured they will use this experience to transition well into college life.  While on the one hand we are happy and excited for them, we both still seem to be transitioning to the life of empty nesters.  So, if you see us a little too often volunteering at the Herzl offices, you will know it is our new way of handling being empty nesters.

Shabbat Shalom.

Editor’s Note: If you, too, find yourself with an empty nest and are looking for something meaningful to do,  join the Herzl Chaverim – a group of volunteers who join us in the office on a monthly basis to help with a variety of projects.  Click here for more information about volunteering. 

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If You Will it, It is No Dream

September 12, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni.

The 1995 Ozrim

By: Cara Greene Epstein (Camper and staff member between 1989-97; Family Camper in 2014)

The first real thing that I ever directed was the 1995 Ozo play. Yes, I consider that a real thing and no, I didn’t do it by myself. I co-directed it with this guy you’ve probably never heard of (unless, of course, you read BuzzFeed’s The Official Ranking of the 51 Hottest Jewish Men in Hollywood and then, fine, he’s Number 2).  But back to me.

Growing up, I had two big dreams: 1. To be a writer/director/actor. 2. To be an Ozo. If you’d asked me which one I wanted to be more, it honestly would have been hard for me to decide.  So when, in the summer of 1995, I became an Ozo and got to write, direct, and act in the Ozo play, it wasn’t just a dream come true, it was two. 

That summer was one of the most joyous of my life.  It was also the hardest I had ever worked.  Turns out the cliché is true – dreams don’t come easy.  They take dedication, hard work, courage, a lot of ruach and very little sleep.  If you’ve ever been an Ozo, or a parent, then you know what I’m talking about. Dreams don’t just happen – they’re a labor of love. 

This summer I was lucky enough to have another opportunity to turn a dream into reality.  I spent six weeks in Minneapolis shooting Dragonfly, an independent feature film that I wrote and am co-directing and acting in. Dragonfly follows the story of struggling artist Anna Larsen, who returns home to Minnesota to help care for her mother who has been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. It’s a beautiful little film about homecoming and healing and it also features Herzl alumni David Greene and Robyn Frank. They’re great!

While this film is a dream come true, tackling a dream of this size takes a village.   Last week we launched our Dragonfly Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds we need to see our film through to completion. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by how many of my Herzl friends have generously supported our campaign, but I know that I shouldn’t be surprised. I chose to set Dragonfly in Minnesota because that’s where my village is.  It’s where the people live whom I know will always support me, encourage me, and have my back, and the Herzl community has always been a huge part of that village for me.

That’s why this summer, in the middle of shooting my first feature film, I took a break and I took my family to Herzl.  I did it for a lot of reasons – I wanted to get off the grid, I wanted to jump in the lake with my kids, and I wanted my husband to understand what this whole “Jewish camp” thing is about.  But underneath all of that, I really just wanted to reconnect with my village and with the magic of Herzl, the place where I first learned that with enough hard work, ruach, joy, and determination, no wall is too high, no lake is too wide, and no dream is too crazy.  Because after all, if you will it, it is no dream.

Shabbat Shalom.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Cara’s film Dragonfly and how to support it, click here.

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Lessons from a Bulletin Board

September 5, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff, Why We Love Camp.

By: Anna Simon, Community Relations Manager

I was sitting in my home office trying to think of what to write for the blog when I looked up (that’s what people do for inspiration, right?) and stared at my bulletin board.  Editor’s Note: A bulletin board truly the original Pinterest…it’s actually made of cork, it hangs on your wall and you use push pins to attach real things to it.  Yes, I still have a bulletin board…don’t judge me.  Fine, judge me all you want…I’m proud of my bulletin board.  I like the fact that I don’t have to turn on something electronic for inspiration.  If you must know, I also have a phone that is attached to the wall with a cord so you can only walk about 10 feet from the phone while chatting with a friend – it kind of forces you to stop whatever else you are doing and focus solely on the conversation with your friend.  Plus, it’s a super-cool transparent 1980s telephone…I know you want one.

Ok, back to the bulletin board…As I was searching for some inspiration, it occurred to me that this bulletin board is very “camp”…but not in the way you might think.  There are no friendship bracelets, camp pictures or candle-sharing gifts pinned to this board.  It’s really just a collection of random quotes, photos, buttons and childhood memorabilia that probably all belong in a junk drawer.  It actually kind of looks like a junk drawer hanging on the wall.  Each item is a visual representation of something much more than one might think.  Almost everything pinned to the board is from a time, place or experience where I was able to be the most true and authentic version of myself  – or, my camp self, as I like to call it.  This messy, old-school cork board serves as a constant reminder to continue to strive to be my best self…my camp self.

As I look up at it, I see so many things that represent the lessons I learned as a camper, Ozo and staff member.

  • Ba’al Tashchit…Respect the land, the buildings, the earth
  • Be kind
  • Be silly
  • Celebrate
  • Find inspiration
  • Connect with your community
  • Sing
  • Unplug
  • Make new friends
  • Explore
  • Work hard
  • Be compassionate
  • Be creative
  • Show gratitude and appreciation
  • Laugh
  • Stand up for what you believe in
  • Make stuff…with your hands
  • Take pride in your history
  • Help people
  • Try something new
  • Play

Every summer, I get to watch our staff and Ozrim teach these lessons to our campers and to one another.  And, every summer I am inspired by what I see.  For me, this little bulletin board inspires me to strive to be better and to be my most authentic camp self…just like our staff and Ozrim are inspiring our campers to do.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Shabbat Shalom, Love the Ozrim

August 29, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni, Music.

Check out what we stumbled across while rearranging some boxes in the office. Yes, we know you’ll be singing these songs all day long…you’re welcome. Shabbat Shalom.

1966 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Oklahoma
OZRIM! We’re Ozos and we want
Machaneh to know
When there’s when there’s work to do,
We’ll well see it through
And you’ll find your spirit never low!
OZRIM! We’re Ozos in a group that’s really unified
We’re responsible and trustworthy
And you’ll always find us side by side
You know we belong to the camp
And the camp we blond to is camp
And when we say Herzl
We’re really on our way
We’re really saying
We’re proud Herzl Ozrim
We’re the OZOs
H-E-R-Z-L-O-Z-R-I-M OZRIM
 
1967 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Kellog’s Corn Flakes Commercial
Stand up
Give a great big cheer
’67 Ozrim are here
we know that we are on top
Our leadership will never stop
 
Stand up chonim
Take heed madrichim
Herzl, stand up
Stand up and up and up and up and up
For the ’67 Ozrim
 
1977 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Those Were the Days, My Friend
’77 Ozrim, we keep the Machaneh clean
And we have fun at everything we do
We shlep the docks for you, we clean the haks for you
And when we sing, you know we really mean…
 
Chonim large and small, we love you one and all
With Bev and Bob behind us all the way
You know we’re always there, because we really care
Herzl Camp, we’re with you all the way
 
To the tune of: Alice’s Restaurant
We’ll help you with everything you need
The ’77 Ozrim 
(repeat)
 
1982 Ozo Song
To the tune of: There’s No Business Like Show Business
We’re 16 keen Ozrim
We’re shvitzing for you
Even though we often seem outrageous
B-bopping hopping up in the chadar
You will find our ruach is contagious
With an Ozo you’ll go far
We’re know for docks and our b-ball jocks
There’s nothing we can’t do
Spastically we jump and shout for Mom and Pop
We’ll never stop, we’ll reach the top
Meeting, greeting, treating you like number one
We’ll have some fun, before we’re done
When it comes to Herzl’s crop we are the cream
The ’82 Ozrim
 
To the tune of: The Big Fig Nuten commercial
Giving tender loving on the inside
Sweats and Herzl t-shirts on the outside
Mix the smiles with the sweat
And what do ya think you get? 
You get the ’82 Ozrim
One more time
A grand old time
Here’s the tricky part
The ’82 Ozrim
 
The 1995 Ozo Song
To the tune of: Chocolate Banana song
1, 2, 3…C’mon People!
 
Thanks for knockin’, come on in
Ozo summer is about to begin
What are Ozrim all about?
Listen up and don’t storm out
Toast, luggage, clipboard art and fun 
Docks, laundry, doin’ dump and run
 
Hey Herzl – Shake your leg!
 
To the tune of: Me & Julio
Every morning we wake you up and you  see
our smiling faces
When we go to eat it is such a treat to get
Apple Jacks at our place
’95 Ozrim
We make a perfect team
Livin’ Herzl’s dream
’95 Ozrim
 
On the go or in the mo we never stop to rest
But ask about page 65 and we’ll never past the test
Where is our pay?
Oh, it’s never coming
But that’s okay
 
There is no place we’d rather be
We are the Ozrim
of ’95
 
Playing Ultimate Frisbee in Ozo Park
Together in the unexpected dark
 
Excuse me, are you a vegetarian?
 
To the tune of: Wake Me Up Before you Go Go)
Ozrim (4 snaps) – ’95 (4 snaps)
 
Machaneh have no fear
Because the Ozrim ’95 are here
We always aim to please
Through drama games and FMGs
Come on campers rise and shine
We’ve got ruach and we know the time
Services in the chadar
Wear your seat belts if Stacy’s gonna drive the car
Hurry up and grab your fans
‘Cuz we’re late again for our plans
Sippy cups and hadracha
Is that Quentin we just saw?
Hi, wassup – you’re in my seat
Ozrim ’95 can’t be beat!
 
HOT OZO GUYS! HOT OZO GUYS!
Holy rusted metal, Batman!
 
To the tune of: Uncle John’s Band
Doing nikayon each day and shmiring late at night 
We are strong and able and the Ozos do it right
Ozrim are here to help
We are not hear to hinder
Ozos, we always know
There’s something hot for dinner
 
Corey Friedman is our dad, our ma is Stacy K
Goochers, shoes and heavy dews just couldn’t stop our play
 
25 Ozrim
All in the same boat
Oh yes, we are the best
We know cuz we took a vote
This was our Ozo Song
It wasn’t very long!
 
 

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Hineini

August 22, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff.

By: Hannah Berc (2014 Communications Coordinator and Hanhallah Member)

Editor’s Note: This week’s blog was originally written and delivered by Hannah on Shabbat during staff week this summer. 

This past spring break, I was fortunate enough to travel with five of my best friends. On the first night, we were sitting at a restaurant and we were all on our cell phones. One girl noticed the irony. What could be more important on social media then being with your best friends…right here, right now? I am sure you have all experienced a similar situation. However, this time, she shared a phrase that changed the way I interact with people and a phrase too important not to share with all of you. She said to us that we need to be “hineini”. We all looked at her confused, none of us proficient in Hebrew. She shared that hineini means to be present and be in this moment. From that discussion on, we put our phones away and challenged each other to really be there. We had an incredible last spring break with each other, grew our friendships more than we thought possible and made amazing memories.

During this last week at camp, we’ve talked about this a little bit but I wanted to take a moment to let you think about hineini in a variety of ways. I challenge all of you to, first and foremost, be present: right now you are sitting at what most of us would consider a second home with people who over the past years have become your family. As I just graduated from college, I can assure you that time flies by. There may not be another summer where you get to live with your best friends, so really live in each moment, have fun, make each other laugh and be with the people who made you love this place so much in the first place. Second, and more importantly, be present with your campers. These campers deserve your full attention. You are granted the unbelievable opportunity to change people’s lives. Although you may get tired and feel like using that extra ruach may not pay off in the moment, it WILL pay off. Being there – really being engaged in the ruach, getting to understand who they are as a person and being there for them emotionally – can alter someone’s life forever. I am sure you can all think of staff members who were there for you when you were a camper. They listened to your emotional needs. They got to know you and challenged you to be a better person.

In this week’s parashat, Moses sends scouts to Canaan and ten of the scouts come back with frightening reports. They tell the Israelites that the land is filled with giants and it is far too dangerous to go there. The people are then too fearful to enter the Promised Land. G-d is angry that the people don’t trust and believe in what G-d told them about Canaan being the Land of Milk and Honey. As a result, G-d decreed a forty-year delay in entering Canaan. All of those scouts lost their faith except Joshua and Caleb.

This summer, you may have to solve problems that you may not think you can solve. I encourage you, like Joshua and Caleb, to not be frightened by what may seem like an impossible mission. Listen to your campers’ needs and be present with them. Although Joshua and Caleb had to wait forty years, their wait paid off. In the moment, being hineini, may not seem to give you an instantly gratifying result but, I can assure you, it will change your life and your campers’ lives in the future.  I challenge you to be hineini in all aspects of your time here. Being hineini will inspire you and allow you to have the best time possible and, more than anything, change your campers’ lives.

I look forward to everything we are about to accomplish and the unforgettable summer we will provide for these campers.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

 

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Grateful and Blessed

August 15, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Alumni, Letters from Parents.

By: Amy (Swatez) Fiterman

#gratefulandblessed
#herzlcampmercazmagic
It’s our annual family driving trip. But let me explain that this is not your ordinary or average driving trip…This is so far from the norm that you have to be navy seal certified. There is no rest for the weary. This is a carefully constructed, planned out to the minute, intense experience that my family of five anxiously looks forward to every year. We all crave the hours of being together, bonding, trying new things, and eating ourselves silly with every delicacy of every state or country we stay in.

The Fiterman family on their Seattle adventure

As we conquered Seattle, Washington, (and yes we did do just that) I had a few minutes to sit back and watch the delight in my kids eyes as they were taking in all the amazing things that this beautiful city had to offer. I kept pinching myself, saying how fortunate I am and how fortunate we are to get to do these things as a family. As I reflected on my childhood and thought about how grateful I was to be able to do the things I did, I thought back to my summers at Herzl Camp. I feel so blessed to have made the life-long friendships I have to this day. While we were driving, I look over and see my best friend, the love of my life, my partner on crime, whose relationship Herzl had cultivated many years back, and I say to my kids, “do you guys know how lucky you are to be able to do these things!?” I am so thankful everyday, for my experience at Herzl Camp because it’s where I got to grow and experience life skills in a Jewish environment. It’s where Jack and I were able to be young and free and share our ideas on life and share our love for Judaism. Today we are married with three beautiful and healthy kids, and we are still doing all of those things and more together, thank G-d.

So, long story short…a year and a half ago, we were invited to an event where Peter Himmelman was brought in to do something called The Big Muse as a corporate team building experience. Well let’s just say great minds think alike because both Jack and I left that night so inspired by what took place just hours before, and our ideas were firing off like fireworks. We had this whole crazy idea of this amazing experience of bringing Peter Himmelman to the Mercaz at Herzl to do The Big Muse and concert for everyone to enjoy and explore their own Jewish journey. We had it all mapped out and romanticized in our heads of what we wanted it to be like, where we wanted it to be, and how we wanted it to feel. We felt that the idea of having it up at Herzl, at the Mercaz, would really allow for the floodgates of emotions to connect everyone to their own path of Judaism and what it means to them and their lives. Now we just had to convince Herzl to let us do this. So, after a couple of meetings with some key players at the Herzl office along with Jack’s persistent and convincing nature, this crazy idea came to fruition! We were in like Flynn! We were beyond excited, over the moon- thrilled! This was our chance to give back to Herzl, what we had learned during our time as campers and staff.

The culmination of our passion is called Music & Musings at the Mercaz, Herzl’s first-ever benefit concert. Yes, we were able to meet our goal of bringing Peter Himmelman to the Mercaz at Herzl for a spectacular event that will help camp! On September 14, 2014, Peter will join us at the Mercaz to perform some of his top hits as well as his Big Muse project. We can’t wait to share it with all of you!

We are both passionate about giving every kid the opportunity of having a Jewish camp experience and for every child to be able to experience a similarly amazing camp experience with inclusion capabilities so it just made sense to incorporate those things into the event . Editor’s Note: Through sponsorships and ticket sales, this event will raise money for camp scholarships and inclusion services at camp. Working together on this event has been an unbelievable labor of love. We are so grateful that we could work with Herzl to make our dream become a reality.

Amy and Jack

This has truly been an amazing thing to watch as it’s grown. Our crazy little idea has grown tremendously with help from so many people we are so thankful for. I would encourage everyone to do yourselves a favor, and join our passion! Scholarships and inclusion needs touch so many of us or someone we know…please join us in supporting those efforts! I promise you, you won’t want to miss out on this “first time event”!

Music & Musings at the Mercaz is sure to be a spectacular event! I hope to see you all there!

Shabbat Shalom.

Editor’s Note: Click here for event details including sponsorship and ticket sales.

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Thank You for Another Amazing Summer!

August 8, 2014 by , under General Posts, Letters from Staff, Top 10 Lists.

To our Herzl Campers, Staff, Parents, Alumni, Volunteers and Community Members,

Thank you for another amazing summer! Whether you are currently wading through piles of laundry, incessantly Instagram/SnapChat/Facebook-ing your friends from camp or simply remembering what it was like when you came home from camp oh so many years ago, it’s hard to believe that summer is coming to a close.

Here are some of our favorite memories from Summer 2014:

20.   Welcoming the 2014 staff and ozrim to Machaneh Paradise

19.   Watching alumni put their children and grandchildren on the bus for first time as they reminisce about their own first bus ride to camp

18.   Playing gaga with the campers

17.   Mastering the art of starting a lanyard bracelet

16.   Teaching the Taste Campers about the Herzl Camp traditions

15.   Catching a camper cleaning up camp (when they didn’t actually know that you were watching them)

14.   Watching the bald eagles soaring over the Mercaz during Shabbat

13.   Hearing laughter and ruach spill from every square foot of camp

12.   Dancing like a flash mob in the chadar

11.   Smelling delicious cinnamon rolls on Shabbat morning

10.   Observing the breathtaking blanket of stars in the sky every night before lights out

9.   Meeting our new Israeli campers and introducing them to Herzl Camp

8.   Sampling organic vegetables from the Gan Kehilati (Community Garden)

7.   Celebrating little moments every single day

6.   Walking hand-in-hand with new friends in the Shabbat Caravan

5.   Seeing the spark of curiosity from campers during Shabbat Sichot

4.   Observing campers learning a new skill, discovering a new talent or becoming a leader

3.   Raising and lowering the American, Israeli and Herzl Camp flags together as one camp kehilah (community)

2.   High five-ing campers as they get off the bus on the first day of each session

1.   Experiencing the magic of Herzl Camp during a summer filled with ruach, good friends, beautiful Shabbat experiences and a life-time of memories

Thank you for all those memories and more. See you next summer!

Shabbat Shalom.

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