Blog  Shabbat Message from Solly: Supporting Each Other at Camp

Shabbat Message from Solly: Supporting Each Other at Camp

Shabbat Chukat

Dear OSRUI Families,

It’s hard to believe we are celebrating our fourth Shabbat of the summer tonight! It has been a great week at camp. On Wednesday, a particularly hot day in Oconomowoc, chanichim (campers) had the chance to pick out an ice-cream treat from an ice-cream truck that our senior leadership team put together! It was a great way to stay cool on a hot day! The whole camp community came together this week for Rega Shel Ivrit (a moment of Hebrew), a program put together by our Merkaz Ivrit (Hebrew Center) staff and Chalutzim. The night ended with all our chanichim singing an Israeli song together.

Last Saturday and Sunday, many of our chanichim had the opportunity to hear from David Lepofsky. David was a camper and staff member at OSRUI in the 1970s and has since gone on to become a prominent lawyer and advocate for disability rights. David shared his story of being a camper with complete vision loss. He spoke about the support he received from both camp and his camp friends. He also encouraged chanichim to use the skills and values they learn at camp to help build a world without barriers—a world in which inclusion and celebration of all people is a central value. Each summer we invite a speaker to share their story about inclusion and disabilities in memory of Jeff Erlanger, and we were honored to have David join us this summer.

In Moshavah, chanichim returned from their third trip of the summer. Moshavah chanichim love sharing stories of their tiyulim (trips) when they return. One of the consistent themes of the stories they share is the ways their friends help and support them on their trips. They help each other carry supplies and encourage each other to keep going when they are tired. At Etgar (our challenge course), chanichim also help and support each other. As chanichim climb the tower, their friends on the ground cheer them on and encourage them to keep climbing. Those on the ground often also give the climbers advice—“there’s a ledge by your left foot!” or “reach up a little higher to grab the hand-hold!” When chanichim reach the top of the tower, you can hear their friends clapping and cheering for them far beyond the challenge course boundaries.

In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, Moses’ sister Miriam dies. Immediately after her death, the Torah recounts that the Israelites struggled to find water in the desert. The ancient rabbis connect these two events. They suggest that Miriam’s existence is inextricably linked with the Israelites’ ability to find water in the desert. In this way, Miriam was a central part of sustaining the Israelites on their journey. Here at camp, chanichim are a central part of sustaining each other. Together, they build the camp community to be a place where everyone feels welcome and at home.

As we close out these first four weeks of the summer, I hope that the experiences chanichim have had in the last two and four weeks are experiences that will sustain them throughout their school year. For those of you picking campers up on Sunday from camp, or buses, or at the airport, I hope that the stories your children share with you about their time at camp give you a taste of the powerful experience here at OSRUI. As many of our campers prepare to return home on Sunday, we are also preparing for a great second half of the summer with our campers arriving next week and our Chalutzim campers who still have three weeks left in their summer!

Shabbat Shalom,


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