By Rabbi Norman Cohen, Chalutzim Segel (Faculty)
I recently saw a sign that said: Today is a good day to have a good day. That is what it feels like at OSRUI every day, despite the weather, which has not been as great as it could be. The campers, the staff, the faculty, and starting with the director, Solly Kane…all of us have so much to do and for which to be grateful. The food has been outstanding, the activities fun and educational, the spirit has been high, and the Hebrew has been flowing, especially in our unit, Chalutzim.
Chalutzim is a unique group, which requires a commitment to use Hebrew at every opportunity. The campers have a variety of levels of skill but all are seeking to grow in their ability and proficiency. The phrase “Rak Ivrit” (Only Hebrew) is heard throughout the day. Chalutzim is like an ulpan with staff recruited mainly from Israel, young men and women who have finished their military service and are serving overseas as Shlichim (emissaries with a mission) to interact with American Jewish youngsters and reinforce the strong relationships of respect and friendship…to say nothing of family.
The Chalutzim program is known throughout the United States and inspires other camps to promote Hebrew learning. But nobody has been doing it longer or more successfully than right here in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. It is a special opportunity for a rabbi to play a role in this, the actualization of so many of our dreams. For this, I am grateful.
Rabbi Norman Cohen serves as Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Bet Shalom in Minnetonka, Minnesota.