By Lori Sagarin, Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie, IL and Chalutzim Segel
“You do what in the summer?” It is a question I have gotten for years from friends, colleagues and congregants. This summer, I will spend 3 ½ weeks volunteering as faculty in Chalutzim, OSRUI’s unique and renowned Hebrew immersion program. In years past I have been in Tzofim, served as faculty in Avodah corps and for most of the almost 20 years I have been here, in Tiferet, the arts unit. I have less than no artistic talent but loved spending time with the talented kids, staff and specialists. A few years ago I was approached to serve in Chalutzim, which is where I belong. I am trained as a Hebrew educator, speak the language fluently and have what to offer.
Serving on faculty is hard work and serving in Chalutzim is especially hard work and meaningful work.
Why do I do it? Simply put, because I believe in it. I am passionate about Jewish summer camp and want to do what ever I can to support this remarkable endeavor. My congregational school has been transformed by having large numbers of our students attend OSRUI. There are classes in my school where fully half or more attend OSRUI. They return with competence in Hebrew, Jewish worship and most importantly, they value their participation in and connection to their Jewish community. This summer we have 41 campers at OSRUI and when I went to order the tee shirts for staff and campers from our congregation, I needed 65 tee shirts! There is a fine line between where Temple Beth Israel ends and OSRUI begins and I could not be more grateful for the seamless connection between us.