By Roy Splansky, OSRUI Alum
How has your experience as a camper, counselor or faculty member at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute changed your life? What is your favorite memory? When you close your eyes can you visualize your old cabin or green army tents? Can you hear the singing during a raucous Shabbat song session or Jerry Kaye telling a story? Can you still smell the egg water?
Some friendships have continued for decades, some are rekindled thanks to Facebook, and perhaps others could be reborn given the right opportunity.
Some lives have been forever changed because of OSRUI. A summer romance turned into marriage, a life altered for commitment to Judaism, or perhaps just a way of life reflecting the community ruach taught to us by our experience at this summer camp in Oconomowoc, WI.
We move on with our lives. With our very busy lives.
I remember hearing the news that Andrea Zoll Stein had suddenly and unexpectedly died on October 29, 2013. Like many others, I was shocked, saddened, and in disbelief. I had known Andrea from CFTY youth group, we both were Chalutzim campers in 1979 and Mosh counselors in 1984. Our daughters, Sara and Hannah, have become friends from their own experiences at OSRUI. I had not kept in touch with Andrea and met her husband Jim just a few times, including at a Chalutzim visiting day. Andrea was only 49 years old. Like many others, I read posts about Andrea’s passing and about great camp memories. I learned about her life in the Jewish community in Madison, WI.
I reached out to Jim Stein to let him know that Andrea inspired us to organize this special reunion. He responded and described OSRUI as “a fundamental, life-changing experience for Andrea that set her on a path towards a rich life of Jewish communal service”. He also let me know that he and Andrea’s mom will be at HUC in LA this May as Andrea was awarded a posthumous doctoral degree for her body of work in the Jewish community. OSRUI set her on that path.
And just a few days later, something else happened. I shared a post on Facebook, tagged a few people from camp on the OSRUI 1980 Alumni group and put it out there: Who is interested in reunion at camp? About a 100 comments later we were planning a 30 – 35 year reunion simply to reconnect, share memories and have a fun Shabbat day at the camp we know and love.
We would like to invite anyone who was a camper, staff member, or faculty member from 1979-1984 to our OSRUI Alumni Summer Reunion. The date is July 19th, 2014. We look forward to spending this wonderful day together, and celebrating Shabbat at OSRUI. It will be full day including services, Shabbat picnic lunch, Israeli dancing with all OSRUI campers and staff, sports, lake/pool, a “Limud of all Limuds”, dinner and Havdalah. We have reserved blocks of hotel rooms in Oconomowoc and people are already planning their travel: Alan and Laura Rabishaw from Sacramento, Sam “disco crutch” Lieberman from Las Vegas, Robin Barbara Salsberg from NY, and Mike Epstein also from NY are making their plans to attend the reunion.
We look forward to spending this special Shabbat together at camp. It will be a day of friends and memories, and most importantly a day at camp.