Archive for 'General Posts'
May 10, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Letters from Staff.
By: Rabbi Joseph Robinson
As we approach Mother’s Day in the secular calendar, I can’t help but think about the mothers in my life. That’s right I said mothers…my mother, my mother-in-law, and my wife. I’m not making the argument, however, that my wife acts as my mother…read on.
Deborah – I lived a blessed life where I was always cared for and looked after by my biological mother (and father). My mom has this natural gift and passion for her craft of quilting. It was her quilt that comforted me and kept me warm as I grew to adulthood. It was her quilt that draped my wife and I at our wedding as a Chuppah (wedding canopy). Now, it is her quilt that protects and comforts my children. My mother exemplifies what משלי (Proverbs) teach us: “She sets her hand to the spindle…and gives generously.” (31:19-20)
Mary-Ellen – Marrying into a family comes with a lot of interesting adjustments. Before Emily and I were married her mother and I connected well. She gets a bit of pleasure at being a bit of a “tough nut to crack.” Though she would never admit it, she loved me right away. Mary-Ellen is the strength and the glue that keeps my in-laws afloat. I am constantly in awe of the power and elegance with which she manages herself. “She girds herself with strength, and performs her tasks with vigor.” (Proverbs 31:17)
Emily – Though she is not my mother, Emily is the mother of my children. Her contribution to my life has gone beyond measure. What I will say is that in the same way iron strengthens iron, Emily has been the greatest partner ever. “Her mouth is full of wisdom, her tongue with kindly teaching.” (Proverbs 31:26)
It is my deepest hope and desire that this trifecta of valorous women continue to lighten my life with their souls. But more then that, that my daughter Ruth looks to them as models of excellence.
Happy Mother’s Day to you and the women in your life.
May 3, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Giving Back to Camp, Letters from Alumni.
By: Dr. Audra (Nathanson) Mintz
In a few weeks, campers will be boarding the bus to Herzl Camp. It was 21 years ago I first boarded that bus for the first time. I did not know how fateful that ride would become in my life. I had been to summer camp for the last four years but never to Herzl Camp. I had heard many things about it but was not quite sure what to expect. Upon arriving I was placed into a cabin with one other person I knew and eleven other strangers. Apprehension and nerves quickly went away as I got to know my new home away from home and quickly became close to all of my new friends. I also was introduced to Judaism at a level I had not yet experienced before. I returned the year after, and the year after, spending my junior high and high school summers swimming at the waterfront, praying at the Mercaz and screaming ruach the Chadar.
I credit Herzl for many things. Camp strengthened my commitment to Judaism and encouraged me to get involved with my synagogue and youth group growing up. It gave me the strength and courage to choose to attend a University where I only knew one person going in, however I was comforted by the fact that there was a large Jewish population in which I knew I would fit, and camp prepared me for countless experiences I have faced in the professional world.
While all these are important, the most important thing that Herzl gave me is the relationships I formed at Herzl. Four of my bridesmaids were in my Kadimah and B’yachad cabins. Twenty years later they are still my closest friends. My husband and I met at camp when I was 17. Today we just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and the birth of our third daughter. I have lived all over the country, but it is my friendships and relationships formed at camp, which remain some of my closest and most cherished.
All this was possible, because of the scholarships I received as a camper to help pay my tuition. I am thankful every day for the donors that made it possible for me to board that bus twenty-one years ago. I never could have imagined the family, friendships, and memories that started that amazing day. Please donate today. You never know whose future you might be impacting and who will be boarding that bus because of you.
Here’s to Dear Old Herzl!
Click here to make a scholarship donation and help a camper board the bus this summer.
April 26, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Jewish Camping, Letters from Alumni, What I Learned from Camp.
By: Danya Kornblum, Director of Youth and Camping at the Sabes Jewish Community Center
My summers were a little different than my friends’ because my mom, Shelley Kornblum, worked at camp. She watched from afar as I developed my true love of Jewish camping. When I wasn’t trying to sneak into her house to use the bathroom (I’ll never tell whether my sisters, Roni Falck and Keren Wolfe, ever tried) , I enjoyed the same incredible experiences and ruach (spirit) as everyone else. I made lifelong friends, created meaningful memories and developed the values that I still hold true today. My summers at Herzl, while also filled with great memories of my mom, were truly a gift and I am deeply grateful to my parents for sending me to camp at an early age. I will always cherish my summer camp experience.
Without a doubt, Herzl Camp shaped me as a person and eventually led me to my current position as the Director of Camp Olami.
When I was approached to join the Camp Olami team, it had been almost ten years since my last summer at Herzl. I was nervous about the opportunity. What did I know about day camp?
But my concerns were unfounded. Whether it’s day camp or overnight camp – Jewish camping is what is important. It is an essential part of the development of a child’s Jewish identity. Extraordinary staff are trained to guide campers within the framework of Jewish ethics, beliefs and values. Camp provides opportunities for campers and staff to experience success, gain confidence and develop feelings of accomplishment every single day. I try to instill the experiences and values I learned at Herzl Camp every day into Camp Olami.
Now, years after my own unique Herzl Camp experience, I’ve come full circle. I watch my son explore and experience camp from 20 feet away on the field at Camp Olami. I peek out the window of the office and watch him “do camp” by developing meaningful relationships with his friends, learning a new skill in sports, laughing hysterically at camp shtick, and singing at the top of his lungs. I make a genuine effort to let him experience camp like all of his friends. As any parent knows – it’s hard to stop yourself from stepping in when your child is upset or hurt, but I trust the truly remarkable Camp Olami staff and feel confident that he will be taken care of.
In no time Aidan will begin his Herzl Camp career. All I had to say to him was “gaga pit and cinnamon rolls” and he was sold. I can’t wait to hear his camp stories and watch him grow into a young man and develop lifelong friends who become his own Adam Challs, Kim (Schneider) Gelperins and David Juriszs…his “camp people”.
I am so proud that Aidan’s early day camping experiences developed and nurtured his love for camp and set him on a path to continue his Jewish commitment at Herzl Camp and beyond. I won’t be surprised if one day far in the future he will be watching his children from the window, enjoying all that camp has to offer.
Shabbat Shalom (love the 1994 Ozrim)
April 19, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Letters from Staff, Outdoor/Environmental Education.
By: Tali Grossman, 2013 Lead Farmer
As my senior year of college winds down, it’s nice to think about returning to my home in Webster this summer. Before we know it, Herzl will be filled with campers enjoying the sun. Regardless of where I might be in the fall, knowing that I’ll be working in the Gan Kehilati (Community Garden) at Herzl Camp this summer gives me great comfort. Chloe Goodman and Carly Spencer will join me on the Gan Kehilati Team this year and we look forward to digging in the dirt with all the campers!
From new vegetables to eye-catching, colorful flowers, this summer’s garden is sure to be a special place. We’re adding hot peppers, a pole bean tee-pee, a pizza garden and more! We are so excited to have a full garden chug the summer and can’t wait to spend our days with campers working together to create a meaningful (and delicious) place at camp. In the process of taking care of the garden and growing our own food, we’ll learn about social justice, community involvement and our connection to the land. Extra produce will be donated to the local food pantry.
If you are thinking of pulling out some garden tools and starting your own growing space at home, consider some of these fun ideas:
- Plant Beans or Summer Squash: Beans and squash are easy and fun to grow. Plant pole and snap beans along a fence so they can climb as they mature and blossom or plant bush beans in your backyard. My favorites are yellow crookneck squash and Royal Purple Burgundy Bush Beans (Deep purple on the outside and bright green on the inside).
- Start a Compost Pile: Pick a spot in the yard to pile your vegetable and fruit waste for compost so it doesn’t go to waste. Composting is easier than you think and a great way to reuse your kitchen waste! Don’t forget to add lots of dry plant materials like leaves and shredded paper to ensure proper decomposition. Check out this video for instructions on how to compost.
- Create a Shoebox Garden: Fill and old cardboard shoe box with soil and plant some colorful flowers or herbs in it. If you’re worried about the box breaking down when you water the plants, consider putting it in the ground – the whole thing will just break down into the soil, and the plants will do fine.
- Make a Theme Garden: Pick garden theme like tea or pizza and plant herbs and vegetables that relate to your theme. Chamomile and mint for tea. Basil, tomatoes, peppers, onions and chives for pizza.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Earth Day!
April 5, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Holidays, Letters from Staff.
By: Rabbi Joseph Robinson, Director of Jewish Education
Editor’s Note: Cup-O-Joe is an on-going series written by Rabbi Joseph Robinson, our Director of Jewish Education.
My family and I just returned from our Pesach (Passover) vacation. It was a great to share in the reenactment of the Exodus from Egypt and spend quality time with family and friends. Throughout, I caught myself wanting to freeze frame on moment after moment. Could I find a way to grab these gems and never let them go? It was going so fast and it seemed as though our long awaited trip would just flitter away. Weeks of planning and counting down the days were reduced to seconds.
It was not until the second Seder (Passover festive meal) that it hit me…we had been counting down to this trip, but when we got there, we should have started counting up. You see, from the second Seder, we begin what is called Sefirat HaOmer (the Counting of the Omer) which goes until the holiday of Shavuot. While Pesach is the symbol of our liberation from slavery, Shavuot marks the acceptance of Torah and entry into a covenant with God. During the Omer, we literally count every day, holding onto that feeling of freedom until we are embraced by Torah and God.
Counting up should be our new focus. As we begin the “count down” to the end of the school year, and the beginning of camp, let us also keep in mind the tradition of the Omer. Our thoughts should not just be about moving on to the next thing. Rather, we should hold on to the sacred moments in our lives and begin counting up to them.
March 29, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Holidays.
Why not share some of these gems at your Shabbos dinner table tonight…you’re sure to get a laugh (ok, they may be laughing at you rather than with you but that’s ok).
Knock Knock! Who’s There?
Eliya! Eliya Who?
Q: Why do we use a Haggadah on Passover? A: So we can seder right words.
Q: What’s the difference between matzo and cardboard? A: Cardboard doesn’t leave crumbs in the carpet.
The Jews are camped in front of the Red Sea. They see the Egyptian chariots approaching. Moses turns to his PR man.
Moses – “Nu, where are those boats you got us?”
PR Guy – “Boats? You didn’t say nothing ’bout no boats.”
Moses – “So what do you want I should do? Part the waters and we can all just walk across?”
PR Guy – “If you can swing that, I’ll get you your own chapter in the Bible!”
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover!
March 22, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Jewish Camping, Letters from Alumni.
By: Amy Sandler, Director of Camp TEKO
Recently, I have read several articles and studies examining the benefits of attending and working at summer camp. These articles highlight the unique life skills children and young adults learn at camp. Camp not only has the power to shape our adolescence, it continues to impact us throughout our entire life. I speak from first-hand experience. As a young child, I attended day camps, like Girl Scout camp and basketball camp, where I learned how to act independently, connect with new people, and to try new things.
But still, I was reluctant to attend overnight camp as I was worried I would not make friends or have a good time. I am so grateful for the day camp experiences I had because when I finally decided to attend Herzl – it was a simple and smooth transition. I am not only a past Herzl camper, but a past staff member and Program Director. I attribute my communication skills, my love for Judaism, and my desire to give back to our community to all the summers I spent at Herzl.
I’m now the full-time Director of Camp TEKO and it’s even more clear to me now that day camps and overnight camps are partners in developing strong, independent Jewish kids. At an early age, day plays an important role for both children’s and parent’s development.
Even before entering kindergarten, you can be a TEKO camper. As young as five years old, TEKO campers step onto a bus, wave goodbye to their parents, and embrace a day of unfamiliarity and new experiences. Parents may be apprehensive about sending their young children away for an extended period of time. They wonder: will my child be okay? Will my child have fun? Is someone looking out for my son or daughter? For some first-time campers, adjustment to camp life is easy while others may require some extra attention. Our dedicated staff are not only qualified, they are eager to help each child make day camp a positive experience. Every morning campers embark on a bus ride filled with singing and games as they make their way to camp. Once there, campers embark on a day of exploration and discovery through games and activities. For many of our campers, it is their first time learning about Israeli culture, playing the ever famous game of gaga, and swimming in a lake rather than a pool. At TEKO, it is our goal to provide campers with new experiences.
We often take for granted our ability to take care of ourselves, to have meaningful conversations with others, and to be part of a caring and close knit community. This journey of learning about self identity and community oftentimes begins at camp. I have so many vivid memories of attending camp as a child, yet it seems as though my years as a camper and staff member passed by so quickly. I remember sitting at my final song session on Friday night as a Program Director and Herzl staff member. I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotions. Here I was sitting in my whites, holding the hands of my closest friends, and weeping as I knew I was closing a very large chapter in my life. Although my time at Herzl is now complete, the friendships I made and the skills I obtained will remain with me forever. I realized then and there how fortunate I was to have been a camper and a staff member at Herzl. I am grateful that I, as TEKO’s Camp Director, can now help to ensure that children receive the same enriching and life-changing experiences I had as a child.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover!
March 8, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Alumni.
By: EJ Clyman
Editor’s Note: Below is an excerpt from an interview with the Clyman Family (EJ, Wendy and Hannah) about their experiences at Herzl Family Camp. The Clymans have spent the last 2 summers at Family Camp and will be returning again this summer for their 3rd year because they simply cannot get enough!
EJ: Hannah, how do you feel about going to Family Camp at Herzl Camp and what are some things you like to do there?
Hannah: It is exciting once you get there. It is really easy to sleep overnight. There are lots of counselors around, and you can go into your friend’s cabin and sleep over if you want. I like all of the amanut (arts and crafts) projects and going to the beach. I have made new friends at camp and I also get to see friends I already have.
EJ: Wendy, what do you like best about Herzl Family Camp?
Wendy: I like feeling that if I lose track of my kid, that they are in a very safe place.
EJ: Do you lose track of your kids often?
Wendy: Funny. I also like the Shabbat Caravan before flag lowering on Friday and really enjoy being on the waterfront. EJ, what do you like about Family Camp?
EJ: The best part of Family Camp is that I get to be a camper with my family. I love seeing the expression on Hannah’s face when we do something silly together. And, I like holding your hand while we walk to the Chadar (dining hall). Seeing my old friends with their own families is a pretty great feeling too. In particular, however, I truly enjoy hiding behind the North Haks (bathrooms) at night shaking branches to scare people as they walk by (first deployed by myself on Mindy Soshnik Horowitz in 1989 – Mindy, if you are reading this you are a great kid and good sport. The resulting scream and ensued laughter has me giggling to myself 24 years later). Editor’s Note: We will make sure that EJ is confined to his cabin each evening during Family Camp so you can walk to the bathroom in peace.
EJ, Wendy and Hannah: We hope to see you all at Family Camp 2013!
Family Camp weekend is a meaningful vacation for families, parents and grandparents. It is a perfect way to introduce future campers to the Herzl experience, a chance for current campers to introduce their parent(s) to Herzl Camp and a way for all families to experience Jewish camping together. If you are interested in joining EJ and his family at Family Camp 2013, click here to register.
March 1, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts.
By: Rabbi Joseph Robinson, Herzl Camp Rabbi
Editor’s Note: This week, we are excited to kick off a band new blog series called Cup-o-Joe, written by our very own Camp Rabbi. (Rabbi JOSEPH Robinson’s blog is called Cup-o-JOE…Get it?). The Cup-o-Joe series will feature everything from observations about life and bite-size Jewish teachings to D’var Torah entries and maybe even a few humous stories about raising his adorable twins.
What are our sacred cows? Every now and again we each need to stop ourselves from surrendering to the sacred cows in our lives. By that I mean we ascribe great value and meaning to things. We create a “sacred cow” to gives us focus. It helps us center our world in a way that makes sense. Yet the world does not stand still. Rather it is dynamic and always in flux.
Remember back to when the Israelites were hanging out at the foot of Mt. Sinai? For the majority of them, all they had ever known was life in Egypt. Now they were free and they wanted to celebrate that freedom. What better way to do that than to create an actual sacred cow? After all, the Egyptians’ way of life was to worship idols, why shouldn’t they? Their sin was only partially related to creating and worshiping an idol (let’s face it, it is in the big ten). In fact the larger sin was staying stagnate in a moment of freshness.
Let us find the strength to identify our sacred cows and embrace the innovative. May it be that Herzl has the wisdom to hold on to the sacred, but be ready to dismiss the cow.
February 22, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Giving Back to Camp, Letters from Alumni.
By: Louie Sloven
I would not be the first person to tell you that Bikkurim is about more than winning. My team got last place during my first six Bikkurims - but it was still my very favorite day of the summer, throughout all my years as a camper. As a Herzl staff member, I rediscovered my love for Bikkurim because it gave me a chance to go nuts with all of the over-the-top Ruach I could muster. I loved being able to staff teams with campers of all different ages, and it was so much fun to have the opportunity to take a group from being strangers to being teammates in the space of a single day. Of course, when you do win Bikkurim, it’s awesome. When I won my first Bikkurim ever, I was a captain for the Blue Wizards’ team — I remember putting last bit of energy I had into getting my team pumped up, helping my staff and campers be great, and when we found out that we had won at the end of the day, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was so proud of my team!
I had a great time every Bikkurim, even all those ones I didn’t win. Then, during the summer of 2011, I crossed over to the other side and helped plan two Bikkurims. This past summer, I got to help plan another two. I learned a lot about Bikkurim during my time on the planning side. Bikkurim is different from every other day at camp, because the intense Ruach doesn’t come and go — it lasts all day long! More than anything, I learned that everyone else loves Bikkurim as much as I do. Everyone is excited to be a part of their team’s shot at winning the day. It’s like the underlying ethos of Herzl — all the Shtick, Ruach, silliness, and group bonding — all concentrated into one moment where everybody sets their Herzl-y-ness to maximum. It’s what Herzl would be like if you condensed an entire summer into a single day. The entire day is a testament to how happy and excited we all are just to be at Herzl for the purpose of having a good summer together. How could you not love it?
All through this past summer at Herzl, I was thinking about how it was likely going to be my last, and how much I wanted to make a board game about Herzl that would be a fun way for campsick alumni like myself to relive their Herzl experiences with their friends. I’ve always loved board games, and I figured the best thing to do would be to make a board game about the experience of working as a Herzl staff member. The more I thought about it, though, the less I liked the idea. It would be fun for past staff members, sure. But the best games have an element of competition to them. Any element of that in a cooperative camp game would just seem cruel. What would you do, play a card to make one of my campers forget his buddy tag? Sounds awful – nobody’s winning at that point. Camp’s a cooperative place most of the time, and introducing competition into that doesn’t seem like it’d make for good gameplay. I wanted to design a game that would be fun for campers, that would frame camp in terms that they can understand, and be about something at Herzl they really care about.
But Bikkurim is a totally different story. Bikkurim is all about competition, but in a Herzl-friendly way. It’s about competition that makes everyone better, about trying to do the very best you can. It’s about showing your Ruach, rallying your team, and getting your campers as excited as possible! It brings out the best in our campers and staff members. And we use it to encourage our campers to be the kind of people that we want them to learn how to be at Herzl. The more I thought about the idea of a Bikkurim board game, the it occurred to me that the most important part of Bikkurim isn’t the specific events, the facilities, even the Herzl traditions (although all of those things are important in their own right). The thing that makes Herzl special is its people, the campers and staff members who show up every summer to share in something special together. Without that, we wouldn’t have a camp at all – so any game about Bikkurim would have to revolve around Herzl’s people. Herzl is all about its characters.
I started thinking of ways to make a game about Bikkurim where you send staff members to events to represent your team. I laid out a series of events that would represent a day in the life of a camper during Bikkurim – you’d start with Breakfast, then play Rotation events, and move throughout the day. Whoever has the most Ruach at an event gets the most points. Of course, various events would have different skill symbols on them, and they would give Ruach bonuses to staff members who had those skills and could help their teams succeed at those events. And of course, there would have to be a big emphasis on Herzl Shtick. It would be impossible to make a good game about Herzl without making it possible for players to use some goofy Shtick to get their teams energized and take their Ruach to the next level. I started writing Shtick cards that you could play when you assigned a Staff Member. The idea of those cards really appeals to me, because I love the idea of a camper or staff member having an experience on Bikkurim that has a permanent impact on who they are — maybe they discover leadership talents they never knew they had, or maybe they forge a friendship with a teammate that becomes a big part of their life.
The idea started spiraling out of control in my mind, distracting me from classes and consuming my free time. I needed to figure out how to turn this idea into something concrete. I needed help turning card concepts into card art, and for that I needed someone who knew how to do top-of-the-line graphic design work. I also needed an outside perspective on the viability of my ideas, from someone who understood enough about camp to be able to think about the game in terms of the flavor and feel of Herzl and of Bikkurim. I needed someone who I knew cared enough about Herzl to put a lot of work into a camp project with little to no expectation of reward. I needed someone who I could communicate effectively with, preferably someone who I had worked with before, and whose skill set complimented my own. And I needed someone I could trust.
Calling Avi Baron and telling him about the idea was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
Avi was enthusiastic from the get-go, and even though I had initially only planned to ask him for help on the graphics work at first, he knew (even better than I did) that I couldn’t do this alone. Over a period of three months, we worked together on our secret project – and by early January we were ready to order our playtest copies. It felt like an incredible accomplishment. Something was still missing – apart from just creating a fun game that Herzl campers, staff, alumni, and families could use to bring the magic of Bikkurim to kitchen tables and Tzrif floors, we wanted this project to make a real impact on the Herzl community. Avi and I talked it over with Anne, and discussed our options carefully, before landing on our solution. We decided we’d donate 50% of the proceeds from sales of the game to the Herzl Scholarship Fund, to help bring more campers to Herzl to experience the magic of Bikkurim for themselves, and then Avi and I would each use a portion of the remaining proceeds to impact camp in our own way. We’re really happy about the charitable dimension of our project; it’s the kind of impact we’ve always wanted to be able to have on Herzl, but we never knew how… until now!
We knew that we had a lot of work to do to get the word out about the game so that we could reach our funding goal, but the response from the community so far has been more encouraging than I could have hoped. When Avi and I showed off our playtesting prototypes at the Herzl Shabbat Dinner, it was absolutely heartwarming to see campers looking through the cards on display to find their Madrichim, and laugh at how silly their pictures were. Thinking about the conversations that families will have about Herzl memories while playing this game fills me with joy.
I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface — I didn’t even mention the Ballad of Bad Horse 5-6 player expansion, the Plot cards, the Clipboards that each team gets with blank backs that you can decorate, the stretch goals that we have planned for later on in the Kickstarter campaign, or how much fun I’ve had writing the project blog – but whatever specific aspects of the game designing experience I could tell you about, the underlying story is the same. I would summarize it like this: This past summer at Herzl inspired me to envision a game about Bikkurim that brought the excitement of the real event to Herzl lovers, wherever they may be. Avi shared and embraced my vision and strengthened it with his own, and after countless hours of design and revision, we brought this game to life in a way that we are very proud of. And as we spread the word about the game, we continue to encounter unanimously supportive and encouraging responses from a Herzl community that shares our love for Bikkurim, our desire to make an impact on the Herzl scholarship fund, and our eager anticipation of the day we ship the final product to all of our backers. Working on this project has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my entire life, way up there with the summers I spent as a Madrich at Herzl. When I look at card art that communicates the contagious energy of Bikkurim, or when I write a captain ability for a staff member card that really captures the idea of that person as a team captain, or when a player gets excited about a sweet play during a playtest, I remember the rush of excitement that I got from being a camper or a staff member during a real Bikkurim. We hope that you experience the same when you get a chance to play Bikkurim in a Box with your friends and family — and enjoy the game with our thanks, because it could not have happened without you.
Editor’s Note: You can order your own copy of Bikkurim in a Box on Louie and Avi’s Kickstarter page.
February 15, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Camp Updates, General Posts, Letters from Staff.
Working together over the last 5 years, we have transformed Herzl Camp and built a brighter future for our community. Herzl friends, families, and alumni have given $8,150,000 to rebuild and expand camp.
Thank you to all who gave their time, talent, and treasure. You made this dream a reality!
When construction is complete this summer, the historic Here’s to Dear Old Herzl Campaign will have added 20% more camper capacity and made camp fully accessible for children with physical challenges. The renovations, additions and expansions include:
✔ 25 new cabins
✔ 2 new showerhouses (Haks) & renovation of two existing Haks (Final new Haks coming this summer!)
✔ 1 new Ozo Moadon
✔ Staff office and living space expansions and improvements
✔ Expansion and renovation of Mercaz
✔ Rebuilt and expanded waterfront & waterfront access
✔ Tennis center renovation and expansion
✔ A 12,000 sq. ft. indoor sports structure (new this summer!)
✔ Amanut (Arts & Crafts) expansion (new this summer!)
✔ Marpeah (Infirmary) expansion (new this summer!)
We’ve condensed the last 5 years into 6 minutes – click here to check out the transformation!
February 8, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.
By: Drea Lear, Assistant Director
A little over a year ago I was chosen to participate in the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Yitro Fellowship for Assistant and Associate Camp Directors. I have had the honor and privilege to build relationships with and learn from some of the most talented, passionate, and inspiring educators, camping professionals, and professional peers in our industry.
In that time, Herzl Camp has seen our share of progress. Our community has come together to complete the historic Here’s to Dear Old Herzl campaign raising more the $8 million. We have expanded our programming to include the Israeli Camper program and Gan Kehilati (Community Garden), among others. We have seen an unprecedented investment in the future of our camp.
Through the Yitro Fellowhship, I have had the incredible opportunity to grow personally and professionally along with Herzl Camp. As I take a minute to reflect on my journey, I find myself coming back to an essay I wrote in my Yitro application. There are so many lessons to learn, plans to implement, and opportunities to explore, and yet, we are at the beginning, paving the way for generations to come.
Please describe your career path and how you came to be a camp assistant director.
How does your current job fit into your future professional goals?
“It is not up to you to complete the task, nor are you free to desist from it.” Pirkei Avot 2:21
I learned this important lesson as I hopped off the bus on my first day of overnight summer camp. Even at the young age of ten, I knew I was becoming part of a community. I saw the faces of the staff that would inevitably shape the rest of my life and knew that one day I wanted to be like them. I had to be a part of it.
Throughout my years as a camper I learned the traditions and rituals that made up the camp experience and came to understand that camp was a microcosm for the larger Jewish community. As young Jews we are taught the traditions and rituals of our religion and commanded to carry them on, to teach them to our children, in the hopes that the Jewish people may live in perpetuity.
It was the same at camp. It seemed that each year the staff had made a promise to pass on the camp experience in the hopes that their campers would have the same experience they had. It was their mission to ensure that Herzl Camp lived forever. As I took my place amongst the staff, I made the same promise.
During my years on staff I moved through the ranks gaining more responsibility each year. It became clear that the mission of passing on camp’s traditions was much more successfully carried out when everyone was working together towards the same goal. In college I focused my studies on Management and Team Development aiming to put these skills to use in an informal educational setting. Camp was the perfect place to stretch my skills in building group identity, creating effective modes of communication, and motivating individuals to work towards a common goal.
The years went by and my passion for working with campers and staff continued to grow. After college, I spent one year working in Corporate America where I learned that my passion was not just a passing fad. It was real. I realized that, at camp, I could make the impact on the world that mattered to me.
Campers and staff come and go. They spend a few summers celebrating Shabbat, playing Ultimate Frisbee, canoeing, and making new friends and incredible memories. Then they move on and new campers and staff arrive. But little do they realize that their camp experience is paving the way for the next generation. Their efforts to teach the traditions and rituals truly make camp thrive in perpetuity.
So we may never be able to impact every young Jew, but we can enrich their lives with traditions and rituals, even for one summer, through the camp experience. And, as long as I can, I plan to be a part of that.
February 1, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Letters from Staff.
By: Avi Baron
Editor’s Note: The lyrical master, DJ Avi Baron, treats us to his original rap song about camp. Valleyview Times was quoted as saying, “It’s not awkward! It’s endearing.” Grab your turntables and rap along with Avi. To see what else Avi does in his free time, click here to learn about the hot new board game in town…Bikkurim in a Box. Avi Baron and Louie Sloven did put Bikkurim in a Box and your can order yours now!
Sometimes I think about a place in Webster,
where, this summer, I know a lot of us were.
I think about the intricacies of Shabbat,
and how rock climbers know how to tie a good knot.
I think about campers who have a long commute,
and how extremely excited they are for amanut.
Like, when they pack their bags, they deal with 3 ounces,
but when we’re all at camp, no one dare announces
the fact, that ten months of the year, we’re all apart.
doing regular things, like calling it art;
or being the cheery greeter, working at Walmart.
Camp people like camp, and Herzl Camp’s a camp too,
We have lots of fun things, and we stand for the Jew.
Don’t call it Camp Herzl, that’s not the right way,
We’re kind of unusual, well unique, I’d say.
Sometimes I think about our Bikkurim,
and if an outsider came that day, how would we seem?
We’re all running and skipping with our faces painted,
I don’t think they’d try to get very closely acquainted.
All around, everybody is singing and cheering,
while in the middle, this visitor is struggling hearing.
Trying to understand what’s going on,
like an American suddenly thrown into Taiwan.
But forget about that guy, just keep on winning.
The marathon’s coming up, it’s like the 7th inning
of a baseball match that lasts all day,
‘cept this game starts in the most unusual way,
with a giant creature of papier-mache,
and ends on the new big screen display.
Sometimes I think about Yom Yisrael
and all the other words that in English we misspell.
like Haks and the Marp or even the mercaz,
but don’t worry that much, yeah we have a good cause.
We teach all the prayers b’ivrit,
and we make sure to separate our milk from our meat.
Our chinuch team’s ideas are really free flowing
we learn about Israelite, Levi, and Cohen.
And Shabbat is the best, we all dress up in white,
we sit down for the meal, take our first bite,
and we know in that moment it’ll be a good night.
Sometimes I think about the last day of all.
“Goodbye, I’ll miss you, don’t forget to call.”
There’s always next year, and we pray to God,
that we’ll all be back soon for B’yachad.
January 25, 2013 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Staff.
By: Jonathan Edelman (2013 Camp Photographer)
I have the best job at Herzl Camp.
Each and every day, I wake up and go to flag like everyone else, but unlike the rest of the campers and staff, I don’t head straight for the breakfast table. As soon as the Ozrim press play and the dancing begins, I emerge from the office with my camera in hand. From the first picture at breakfast to the last at dinner, I am reminded about 800 times a day why I have the best job. No matter how frustrating the project in Amanut or how difficult the Navy Seals drill, when I look through my lens, I always see a smile. The campers and counselors alike love having their pictures taken and compete for the camera constantly. How could you hate a job where you get to see the happiest people in the world all day long?
But there is also a challenging aspect of my job. When I think back to my favorite moments as a camper, I think about my first time climbing the rock wall, catching my first fish and swimming across the entire lake all by myself. Now, as the photographer, I have the difficult task of documenting these magical Herzl moments. How can I ever truly capture that amazing feeling of winning Bikkurim? Throughout each day of the summer, I try my hardest to show the best parts of camp through my photographs. I have come to realize that what I was doing was similar to what camp had done for me. In my six summers as a camper, Herzl showed me the best parts of myself. Herzl showed me that I could have the confidence to lead a service on Shabbat or swim over a mile and a half in the lake I once was afraid to step foot in. Herzl showed me that I could be who I am and not worry about what others thought. All of these feelings and emotions are felt by the campers today.
I received a notification last week from the mailroom at my college that I had received an envelope from Minnesota. I ran up the stairs to my mailbox and pulled out the 2012 Herzl yearbook. As I sat on the floor of the University Center, flipping through the pages, I saw in the photos those feelings and emotions I had once felt. I saw the campers jumping into their first puddles, the Ozrim glowing as they sang their song for the first time, and the Yachers weeping as they held each other during their last Shabbat caravan. Everything I had experienced and felt in my past years at Herzl were there, only this time other faces besides my own were within the borders of the photograph.
December 21, 2012 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Alumni, Shabbat.
By: Sarah Allen, Former camper, Ozo and staff member (Sarah lives in Jerusalem and loves running in to Herzl alumni. If you are in Jerusalem and see her, please say hello…she may even invite you to stay for Shabbat!)
A few weeks ago I was at a meeting for my synagogue in Jerusalem to talk about Shabbat and Friday night services in particular. We were asked to write down a few words that would describe how we felt about Shabbat and the things that made Shabbat special for us. I had a hard time coming up with words or sentences, so I drew a picture. The picture I drew was of rows of people walking in a circle, and off in the distance, a lake, rows of benches, a stage, and in my mind, the setting sun. I had to describe this scene to the group I was sitting with. I started by saying that my strongest Shabbat memories and experiences were from my Jewish summer camp in the states. I could see the Jewish educators in the room nod their heads, and the former camp director sitting next to me understand instantly what I was talking about.
So I wanted to share some of the things that I keep with me that still make Shabbat special.
1. White Clothes! The most spectacular thing I can think of is 300 people dressed in white walking through camp. It’s not only about the white, but about making a separation—changing from the clothes we wear all week to something else, something that will reminds that Friday night and Saturday are different. When I really want to get into the Shabbat mood, I wear white on Friday night.
2. The Shabbat Caravan and Flag Songs: The Shabbat Caravan was a process—we started at the Ulam, picked up cabins 2-11, continued on to Ozo Park and so on until we ended up at the flag circle. It was a few minutes of slowing down, of not rushing into Shabbat, of physically leaving the last week behind and getting ready for some rest and relaxation. One of my favorite parts of Shabbat in Jerusalem is the walk to synagogue on Friday night. There is a calm that comes over the city, and walking with so many other people who are no longer rushing to get to where they are going, but walking slowly to their destination is like having a neighborhood caravan.
3. Eskimo pies! Well, maybe not just eskimo pies with peanut butter, but those last few sweet hours of having a different routine than we had the rest of the week. (Editor’s Note: Prior to well-loved Chipwiches, dessert on Saturday night was always Eskimo Pies…look them up if you don’t know what they are.)
4. Havadala: Maybe my favorite times at camp. There was something magical about being in the Ulam or on the lake in the dark with only on candle lit. I don’t usually say Havdala at home, but when I do I always sing it just like at camp!
Even though we grew up as a family always having Shabbat Dinner at home, and going to services, one of the reasons I still do it today, is because of the magic and joy that filled those weekends at Herzl!
November 21, 2012 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Herzl, Beyond Webster, Letters from Staff.
By: Aiden Pink (Aiden is studying at the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University in Jerusalem)
Herzl Camp has always played a large role in my relationship with Israel. Whether it was sneaking past the British (really, the Ozrim with really bad British accents) to Escape to Israel, doing Israeli dancing on Friday nights, or cooking delicious pita with za’atar in Israeli Scouts chug, the fun activities afforded to me and thousands of other campers over the years have surely influenced positive feelings towards the Jewish state. Of course, as befitting a camp named after the founder of Zionism, campers were always encouraged to go and visit Israel for ourselves.
So, when I had to choose a Middle Eastern country for my study abroad experience, there was no question my destination was Israel. But upon arriving, I realized that the Israel of Herzl Camp is very different than the Israel of reality. For example:
- I cannot stress this enough: Do NOT try to escape to Israel. Back at Herzl, if you were caught by a border guard, your punishment would be jumping jacks while singing the Hatikvah. Let’s just say the consequences for getting caught sneaking into the country by an IDF soldier would be a bit more severe.
- There are eight gates to the Old City of Jerusalem, not twelve. Also, this is off topic, but did you know the Twelve Gates song is actually a Christian gospel song? If anyone has the story of how it ended up at Herzl, I’d love to know. (Editor’s Note: “Twelve Gates” is a shtick/song that is performed on Saturday nights during the summer)
- If you get lost, don’t bother calling the Israeli Scouts. Most fans of Twelve Gates (the Saturday night skit, not the incorrect number of entrances to the Old City) would tell you that this is because the Scouts always point the Gates crew in the wrong direction, and only after a song and dance about cooking an unappetizing supper. Not true. In fact, peeled potatoes and squished tomatoes can make a great salad, especially with a banana split for dessert. But that’s beside the point. The reason you shouldn’t ask the Israeli Scouts for directions is that they are twelve-year-olds. Also, they don’t lip-synch Disney medleys.
- It doesn’t make sense to ask an Israeli where the best place to go “Israeli dancing” is. If at any point you dance with an Israeli in Israel, you will, ipso facto, be Israeli dancing. Usually for college students, this takes place in a nightclub, and most definitely does not involve holding hands and doing the grapevine in a circle. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for nightclub is “moadon,” which gives new meaning to dance parties in the Beitan Chadash.
- If you need tips for the best nightclub, don’t ask locals where to find the coolest “mo.” Mo isn’t a word in Hebrew. Neither is Haks. Or Marp. Chadar just means “room.” Mercaz means “center,” not “beautiful prayer space overlooking Devil’s Lake that could use a bit more shade on hot Saturday mornings.” Nobody knows what kashke means.
- People still do what Herzl calls “Israeli dancing.” The Hebrew phrase for it is “rikudei am,” which literally means folk dancing. Actually, most of the dance moves are the same as what Herzl campers and alumni are familiar with. The key difference, however, is that when dancing rikudei am in Israel, yelling “SNAP, SNAP, BRING IT BACK” at the top of your lungs is generally frowned upon.
Despite all of these differences, I am having the time of my life in Jerusalem. Already, I’ve met up with three Herzl alumni (Orr Krupnik and Jane and Todd Lifson), and hope to see more before I go home in January. Even if that doesn’t happen, I still see reminders of camp everywhere I go. Going to the Western Wall brings me back to Friday nights at the Mercaz, surrounded in cramped quarters by people I would otherwise have never met, but united in a shared feeling of togetherness and spirituality. Watching the Israeli national basketball team is just as thrilling as seeing your friends play in the World League final. And the seeming impossibility of Israelis waiting patiently in line reminds me of my Taste campers. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I wrote this silly, schticky post about a month ago, before the current situation in Israel escalated. Thankfully, Jerusalem, where I am currently living, is relatively safe, although the same can’t really be said for areas in the south and west of the country. To be honest, I never expected anything like this to occur. I don’t think anyone ever does.
Another thing I never expected, though, was the tremendous outpouring of love and support I received from my fellow Herzl alumni. After the siren went off in Jerusalem, I posted this on Facebook:
Why was it that in a time of crisis, my first thought was to the basement of a dining hall in rural Wisconsin? And what was it that caused 64 current and former campers and staff, many of whom I hadn’t heard from in years, to know exactly what I was talking about?
Firstly, as Louie Sloven correctly pointed out, the Chadar Basement IS the safest place in Burnett County. Whenever there’s a big heavy dew (aka: rain) storm, the Chadar Basement is where we go to wait it out, by making the world’s biggest neck massage assembly line or playing camp-wide games of Simon Says. But expanding on that, Herzl Camp is and has always been a safe space, both physically and emotionally. Camp gives everyone, campers and staff alike, an opportunity to safely try new things and grow as individuals. Camp is the place where you can try new foods and new identities, and if you stumble or get scared, there will always be people there who have your back.
Before camp, I was never able to last the night at a sleepover. And look at me now: I’m living in Israel all by myself. I never would have been able to go to Israel without Herzl. (Heck, I would never have been able to make my own bed without Herzl) And the knowledge that the Herzl community not only shares a deep love of Israel, but also a personal connection to other alumni that spans generations and half the distance of the globe, makes me feel safe.
Unfortunately, not every Herzl camper is in as fortunate a situation as I find myself in. For the past few years, Herzl’s Israel Education Fund has allowed Israeli children from Sderot and other heavy-hit areas an opportunity to experience a safe, magical summer at Herzl Camp. I encourage you to contribute to this worthy cause, which may be needed now more than ever.
I will close this post the way we finish every Friday night song session, with Debbie Friedman’s (z’l) T’filat Haderech:
“May we be sheltered by the wings of peace
May we be kept in safety and in love
May grace and compassion find their way to every soul
May this be our blessing, Amen”
October 26, 2012 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Letters from Staff, Shabbat.
By: Anna Simon, Community Relations and Event Manager
There are so many things that make Shabbat meaningful at Herzl. For some people, it’s simply dressing in white clothing and walking arm in arm with your bunkmates in a caravan around camp. Though the campers change throughout the summer, one thing always remains the same with the caravan…everyone follows the Torah. One person carries the Torah and joins the Rosh Shira (song leader) in leading the caravan each week as campers and staff sing Shabbat songs. “Bim, Bam, Bim, Bim, Bim, Bam…” This is how we get ready for Shabbat at Herzl Camp. As the caravan grows and winds its way around camp, voices rise in song. When the caravan finally reaches the flag circle and wraps around to bring everyone into one big circle, it is truly quite impressive. It’s a very powerful and magical visual of camp – hundreds of campers and staff dressed in white all joined together as one to welcome Shabbat.
While caravan may be what makes Shabbat meaningful to some people, for others it may be the creativity and humor displayed through flag songs. Before the flags are lowered every Friday, groups of campers and staff write what is known as a “flag song”. A flag song is essentially an actual song (that someone else wrote and likely is featured on the Weekly Top 40 throughout the entire summer) with lyrics that are tailored to Herzl Camp. The songs often feature memorable moments from the previous week and anticipated elements of Shabbat. For those of you who have ever written a flag song, perhaps tonight is the night for another debut. Before you light the candles this evening, why not treat your entire family to a rendition of your Top Ten Favorite Flag Songs? You know you want to. Ok, I’ll start…
Tune: Your Song by Elton JohnChorus: We’ve had a good time (2x) But now that it’s done How wonderful camps been With aliyah one
You thought I was going to include the entire song, didn’t you? I did consider it for all of 10 seconds…and then I realized that I had no energy to re-type the brilliant lyrical stylings of the 1988 Ozrim and, if I did, you would have likely stopped reading. So, let’s get back on track.
A lot of people find deep meaning in having Shabbat t’filot (services) outside on the mercaz overlooking the lake. The fresh air and the view of the lake combined with the beautiful melodies of Shabbat make it a very spiritual and personal experience for many people. It’s a time to reflect and take in Shabbat for all of its beauty. For some people, it may even be the rare sighting of the eagles soaring above the mercaz during Saturday morning t’filot…somehow those eagles manage to plan their cameo appearance during the silent Amidah almost every Shabbat.
For many people, it could be some of our newer traditions that make Shabbat at Herzl feel so magical. On Friday night, after the campers enter the chadar (dining hall) and find their seats, everyone gets ready to light the candles and say Kiddush. Cabin groups gather together – girls on one side of the chadar and boys on the other – as the entire camp sings a niggun (wordless song). Camp Director Anne Hope leads the staff in the prayer to bless all of the children. We sing Debbie Friedman’s (z’l) beautiful song, “Light These Lights” as campers and staff light the candles and welcome Shabbat as one camp kehilah (community). It truly is a stunning part of Shabbat. If I could stop time in that moment, and just bottle it…it would be a beautiful thing.
Tonight, why not revive an “oldie but goodie” flag song, wear your TGI Shin (Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat) t-shirt or have your own Shabbat song session after dinner? Whatever you do this evening, I hope you feel the warmth and magic of a Herzl Camp Shabbat.
October 19, 2012 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Letters from Alumni.
By: Tana Goldberg
Tana was a Herzl camper in 1957 and a counselor in 1964. Since retiring last year as Director of Communications at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, she writes regularly for The Jewish Advocate in Boston. Tana resides in Andover, MA, and is the mother of three grown sons.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 14, 2012, in The Jewish Advocate.
Few places in my life have helped me connect spiritually to Judaism as much as my Jewish summer camp – Herzl Camp in Webster, Wis. How wonderful to discover, almost a half-century later, that the magic of the place is still there.
I just returned for a 50-year staff reunion, and as I sat in the Mercaz (outdoor amphitheater) overlooking the lake for Shabbat services and sang a Misha Berach (prayer of healing) for a friend back home, an eagle suddenly flew overhead, lifted by the voices joined in prayer. At that moment, I knew I had rediscovered the roots of my Jewish identity.
The reunion brought back 79 former counselors and staff from throughout the United States, Canada and Israel. Most of us are now 65 to 70 years old, and nothing could dampen our enthusiasm as we celebrated Shabbat together, went boating on the lake, painted rocks with our names to put in the camp garden, sang Hebrew songs around a bonfire, ate s’mores and reconnected with childhood friends.
Four of us were from Greater Boston: Susan Moore and Roy Zahreciyan of Plymouth, Renee Tankenoff Brant of Newton and me. “I couldn’t miss it,” said Moore, who like me had not been back to the camp since 1964. “I wanted to share this with my husband,” she said, “so he would see why I am what I am. I told him, ‘I can’t explain what it’s like, but you’ll see it.’”
Moore’s husband is Armenian. “I came to this reunion to honor my wife and her religion,” Zahreciyan said. “I came knowing two people, and I’m leaving with 77 new friends.” He likened the sense of community and acceptance he felt at Herzl with the year he lived in 1984 on Kibbutz Ein Hamifratz in Israel.
Herzl Camp was founded in 1946 by a group of young families from Minneapolis and St. Paul. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the reunion attendees were campers and counselors, Israel was a new state. The focus of the camp then was Zionism – introducing Jewish children, especially those from small towns in the Midwest, to Israel, Israelis and a Jewish community.
I came to Herzl in 1957 from Lincoln, Neb. A scholarship to the camp was my prize for winning an essay contest that launched my lifelong career as a writer. At that time, I had never met an Israeli or been surrounded by Jews. I knew no Hebrew and only a smattering of prayers.
At Herzl, I gradually learned Hebrew words, starting with a booming voice waking us up each morning over the camp loudspeakers: “Hakshivu, hakshivu, Mahkhahneh Herzl” (Attention, attention, Herzl Camp). I learned to sing the Birkat Hamazon after meals and even came home after camp and asked my parents why we didn’t keep kosher.
When I returned to Herzl in 1964 as a counselor, my connection to Judaism began to deepen. I was moved by the outdoor services, and I participated in late-night discussions with other counselors on Jewish observance, life in Israel and finding meaning in life. The camp truly shaped me as a Jew, and I left knowing that Judaism would always be a significant part of my life.
Evidently, Herzl influenced many other lives, too. One of the other counselors in 1964 was Abe Foxman, who since 1987 has been the national director of the Anti- Defamation League (ADL) and is known throughout the world as a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, hatred and discrimination. Herzl’s music director in the early 1960s was Aharon Harlap, now one of Israel’s most prominent composers and conductors. One camper in 1957 who never returned to Herzl as a counselor was Bobby Zimmerman, known today as Bob Dylan.
Although we left Herzl as teenagers and college students, we returned as grandparents and recent retirees with lots to share about our lives. One of the most moving moments of the reunion was when one man revealed what he had hidden from us so many years ago. Yitz Adizes had been the camp’s music director in 1964, and we all remembered his ever-present smile and booming voice singing one Hebrew song after another.
At the reunion, Adizes showed a documentary film he made a few years ago, “I Want to Remember, He Wants to Forget”. The film shows Adizes and his father revisiting the concentration camp in Bulgaria where they were held during World War II and where a very young Yitz had watched from the window as his grandparents were herded onto railroad cars headed to an extermination camp.
I approached Yitz after the film and asked him why in all of the conversations we had had as counselors in 1964, he had never revealed he was a Holocaust survivor. He replied, “I felt then that it wasn’t appropriate. I wasn’t ready to talk about it.”
At the reunion’s Shabbat morning service, instead of hearing a d’var Torah, participants were asked to talk about Herzl and what the camp meant to them. One person after another rose to say how being at the reunion felt like coming home again and how the camp had influenced their careers, families and lives. By the end of the service, there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere.
“My parents are no longer here,” said Moore. “They sent me to Herzl, and I wanted to complete their legacy by returning.”
August 10, 2012 by Herzl Camp Admin, under General Posts, Letters from Staff, Top 10 Lists.
By: Anna Simon, Community Relations and Event Manager
- Every time you go out to dinner, you have this urge to stand on a chair and yell, “People!”
- You’ve got ruach, yes you do
- You cry when you light the Shabbat candles on Friday night
- All of your white clothes are packed in a box in your closet
- When the ice cream truck rolls up and is selling Chipwiches, you scream at the top of your lungs as if Justin Bieber just walked down the street
- You make up cheers for everyone in your family
- You swipe the challah from your own family’s Shabbat dinner table and hide it just so you can have some during the meal
- You are hungry at 3:36pm every day
- You put on your shoes at night just to go to the bathroom…which is down the hall
- All of your clothing was either purchased in Chanut or has someone else’s name in it
August 3, 2012 by Herzl Camp Admin, under Benefits of Summer Camp, General Posts, Shabbat.
By: Molly, 2012 B’yachad Camper
Editor’s Note: This D’var Shabbat was originally written and delivered by one of our B’yachad campers on Friday, July 20 during B’yachad Shabbat. It is reprinted with her permission and with her parents’ permission.
Shabbat Shalom Machaneh - Welcome to “Yin Yang” Shabbat.
Growing up through camp, I’ve seen it all. Even when camp is my favorite place in the whole world, there’s always some bitterness to the sweetness, or some Yin to the Yang. But, none the less, I’m back for my 8th summer.
On June 17th, when I loaded the bus for my B’yachad summer, I was beyond excited. I was ecstatic. But there was always this idea itching in the back of my mind. Did I make the right choice?
We all give things up for camp, but this year was the first year that I’ve had to make a decision about whether to come to camp or not. Especially because 2 of my best friends – who I’ve always had here – couldn’t come back this year. It’s 6 whole weeks of no Chipotle, no volleyball practices, and none of my home friends. But, it’s also only 6 weeks of ruach-filled meals, time spent with my favorite people, 6 weeks of crazy shtick, and only 6 Shabbatot as B’yachad. The summer is already going quickly, with only 2 1/2 weeks left.
Inevitably, and unfortunately, leaving is a big part of camp. THere are always trade-offs you have to make in life. But, focussing on the bad is never the answer. Throughout my years at camp, I’ve tried to keep this quote in mind:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Suess
In B’yachad, it’s so hard not to think about the end. Judaism makes it a point not to talk about the end. And, when it does, it makes the end as joyful and as much of a celebration or remembrance as possible.
I know many of us this year and past few weeks have gone through a lot on our own. But, we’ve also gone through a lot together, or B’yachad. And, that’s the important part.
You have to make the most of things. One example of this, for me, is certain concerts at camp. When I was younger, I was never a fan. I didn’t understand how all those older kids were having so much fun. But, when I finally realized that it was within my control to make those concerts fun, I had a blast. I could’ve sat in the corner counting the seconds until it was over, but instead I chose to put away my ego for an hour and jump and cheer and have a great time with my friends around me.
So, the next time you’re faced with a situation, try to think about your yetzar tov and yetzar hara (our supportive or unsupportive inclinations). Those are your abilities to make decisions. You see them all the time in cartoons – they’re the angel and devil sitting on your shoulders. A reflection of yourself. Which one you choose to listen to is up to you.
When August 8th rolls around, and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” is the soundtrack to your breakfast of cereal and muffins, “smile because it happened”.