By Rabbi Lisa Bellows, Tiferet Segel (Faculty)
Each summer, I spend about two weeks serving as faculty at OSRUI, and it is a highlight of my year! This year I am particularly aware of how Jewish summer camp offers a shield from the everyday, from the mundane, from the news, electronics and, I must admit, from the increasing difficulty of what it means to be a Jewish kid in America today. To be blunt– there is no anti-Semitism at Jewish summer camp. The playground is free from any potential anti-Semitic rhetoric bantered about as it is on many schoolyards today.
Kids are just kids here at Jewish summer camp. The no-electronics policy allows kids to get back to basics: playing on the courtyard, in the swimming pool, at the lake, the music center, the art room, the drama studio. They waterski and go horseback riding, do archery and play baseball. They pray in nature and sing and dance and they are looked after by caring young adults and a professional team who has their best interest at heart.
The result is that kids communicate with each other here! There is no retreating to the solitary activity of the computer screen. Here conversations happen! At camp, we share success and failures not through social media, but by simply being together, in real-live everyday activities, shared experiences, and conversation. It is a blessing to have this reprieve. It is the self-care that our children need. It is liberating. The treasure our kids receive at Jewish summer camp is beyond measure.
Rabbi Lisa Bellows serves as senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Am in Buffalo Grove,