My First Shabbat Shira At OSRUI
By: Zachary Seaver
As I entered the bright room on a beautiful, peaceful Friday night during a Jewish holiday called Shabbat, I felt a sense of greatness in the atmosphere. OSRUI, a Jewish camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, was a welcoming place where I was greeted by wonderful spirit-filled singing from my many fellow campers and song leaders who said, “Shabbat Shalom Zachary!” The music wrapped me in a blanket of peace and calm as I listened to its memorable melodies. This all-camp program is called Shabbat Shira. This Jewish camp is very special to me because it is where I first developed my passion for music.
Before I knew it, I was at my first Shabbat Shira. My friends and I looked around for the rest of the third grade kids in my unit called Kallah, and when we found them, we all sat down and joyously sang our hearts out. Kallah in Hebrew means a Jewish communal gathering. When I sat down on the floor, it was mainly hard and smooth which helped remind me that this all-camp event isn’t necessarily fancy or luxurious, but actually more for everybody to just relax and enjoy themselves. I was mainly excited for this ever since I came to camp because my parents said that they had a very strong feeling that I would love this camp and this event as much as they did, and of course, I believed them. I saw everybody enjoying themselves and embracing this extraordinary experience full of friendship and fun, and I found that I did love it as much as my parents did, and maybe even more!
At the time during my first year at OSRUI before my first Shabbat Shira, I would have never thought that I would have so much fun singing with my friends there because I didn’t enjoy music very much before camp. I thought music was okay, but I thought very little of it. But there was a song I was really looking forward to singing because my parents told me about it before I went to OSRUI, and it was called Mah Tovu. The lyrics go like this: Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov Misknotecha Yisrael. In English it means How great are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! It later became one of my favorite songs.
Soon after my first Shabbat Shira, I started to absolutely love music and I became a lot more musical. It inspired me to join junior choir at my temple and I started playing several different instruments. I started playing trombone, piano, and guitar. Shabbat Shira made me enjoy music and chorus class more at school. It also made me appreciate OSRUI more when it comes to music and services. OSRUI has always been a very special place to me ever since the first time I arrived. I am always approached by new, smiling faces each and every year. I would consider it a second home because of how welcoming, kind and friendly everybody is, and how its music has had such a significant impact on me.
Returning to OSRUI each year reminds me why I go there each summer- to sing and develop an everlasting love for music.
Now I know, I will never be the same.
Zachary Seaver is a 6th grader at Hawthorn Middle School and a member of Congregation Or Shalom in Vernon Hills and will be returning to OSRUI in 2018 for summer number five in Gesher Gimmel. Zach took home third place in the nonfiction category at the Stevenson High School Page Break Literary Festival with his beautiful essay about camp.