Shlach L’cha: The Community at Camp
Dear OSRUI Families,
There’s something special about the community we create at camp.
While I was sitting in a t’fillah (service) this week being led by our chanichim (campers), a camper introduced the V’ahavta prayer by talking about the idea of love. He shared that at home, there are not many Jews, but that at camp he is lucky to be surrounded by the love of OSRUI and not to have to fight the anti-Semitism he experiences at school. Sitting in services, I was reminded of the power of the Jewish community at camp for all our campers.
On Thursday, the entire camp participated in OSRUI’s Maccabiah Games (our version of Color War) for a variety of sports, arts, and team-spirit activities. All the chanichim were split into four teams and spent the day participating in competitions all throughout camp. Though chanichim were divided by color, Maccabiah is a day of all-camp spirit and unity. Everywhere I went on Thursday, chanichim were chanting and cheering, both for their teammates and friends on other teams.
In this week’s Torah portion, Shlach L’cha, God commands Moses to send twelve spies to investigate the Land of Israel. Ten of the spies come back and report that though the land is flowing with milk and honey, it is also full of giants that they will not be able to overcome. Only two of the spies, Caleb and Jacob, return and say that they believe the Israelites are strong enough to overcome the challenges of the land. The command that God gives Moses, shlach l’cha, is often translated as “send” or “send for yourselves.” The command shlach l’cha can also be understood as a command about an internal journey. Though the spies leave the desert and scout the Land of Israel, the true journey they are on is one of self-discovery. Ten of the spies show that they are not ready for the challenge of living in the land. I believe that our campers are on a similar journey of self-discovery. Though they have traveled far to be at camp this summer, the true journey is the one they have every day as they challenge themselves to try new activities, make new friends, and have new Jewish experiences. We know that chanichim leave camp better prepared to be independent young people, committed Jews, and good global citizens because of the experiences they have at camp.
While our campers had a great week participating in all the activities that camp has to offer, I’ve watched with sadness the news about the conditions children are in at the U.S.-Mexico border. Recent weeks have unfortunately been a reminder that not all children have the same great opportunities and freedom that our children at camp enjoy. At camp, we strive to teach our campers to be welcoming, kind, and to celebrate the differences among us. As we head into Shabbat, I pray that the lessons we’ve instilled at camp have taught our campers to be future leaders who create the same kind of welcoming places we create at OSRUI. I believe that the skills our campers learn at camp will help them build a better, more just, world when they return home.
For those of you whose campers are ending their OSRUI experience for the summer on Sunday, I want to say thank you on behalf of our entire staff for being a part of our summer family. For those of you whose campers are staying with us past Sunday we are looking forward to more great weeks of summer in the OSRUI community!
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