By Rabbi Jason Fenster and Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, RJE, Our Gesher Segel (Faculty)
1. Gesher Means Bridge
Gesher chanichim (campers) are a bridge between the older and younger chanichim on camp and we love getting to know them. Our chanichim are enthusiastic and energetic, and each day they surprise us with their questions, comments, insights, and unique take on the world.
Chanichim have been excited to work together, even if it’s something as simple as untying a human knot. Activities like this are helping us to create community and leadership bonds in our eidah (unit). Our first morning of learning together was full of the perfect blend laughter and meaningful conversation.
3. We are a community of leaders
Through text, conversation, and “meeting” biblical characters, chanichim have been exploring different styles of leadership. We invited them to consider several styles of leadership and think about which one they identify most in themselves. The chanichim wrote their styles on t-shirts and shared their thinking with the rest of the eidah. It was inspiring to see how many different styles of leaders we have in our eidah, and we look forward to learning more about each style and learning how each one has an important role to play in all that we do.
4. Gesher can beat the heat
You may have heard that we had some hot days at OSRUI, but in Gesher, it was “Yom Polar Vortex” as the madrichim (counselors) wore winter scarves, lead the eidah in Chanukkah songs, and insisted that everyone stay hydrated with a bakbuk (bottle) of “hot chocolate” (water). This is an eidah that is joyful and ever-creative!
5. Eidat Gesher Ohevet Ivrit
We have loved meeting our Israeli mishlachat as we work on honing our Hebrew skills. Our chanichim are reviewing basic conversational structures and we’re excited to move onto more vocabulary so we can have longer conversations rak b’ivrit – only in Hebrew! It’s a fun part of each day in Gesher.
6. Nothing is better than Shabbat at camp
Our Gesher chanichim joined together with all of OSRUI to celebrate a glorious Shabbat! We loved sharing t’fillah (services) and shira (singng) in our new Heichal HaTarbut Kaye (and the air conditioning didn’t hurt either!). Shabbat gives us a chance to rest and renew ourselves for another awesome week at camp!
7. Siyyum is the best way to end your day at camp
Each evening, Gesher gathers in a circle to sing a beautiful rendition of Kumbaya and share the best parts of their day. This Gesher-only tradition is inspiring and peaceful, giving each member of the eidah an opportunity to reflect on the day and take a few quiet breaths together as a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community.
This summer marks 13 years at camp for our rosh eidah (unit head), Jami Goldberg, at camp. On Saturday, she read Torah for the first time in a decade. We were all so proud of her and celebrated her hard work! We are excited to hear more of our madrichim AND chanichim flaunt their Torah skills in the coming weeks.
This is Rabbi Fenster’s first summer on segel at OSRUI, and Rabbi Sommer is excited to teach him about her favorite camp traditions, including her favorite camp lunch: pizza!
10. This is only the beginning
In just a week, we are noticing strong bonds between the campers, joyful, compassionate leadership from our madrichim, and a love for Jewish tradition and experiences in this eidah. It was a great week, and we know there are many more beautiful days at machaneh (camp) OSRUI ahead!
Rabbi Jason Fenster is the Associate Rabbi at B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE) in Deerfield, Illinois. Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, RJE, is the Director of Congregational Learning at Am Shalom in Glencoe, Illinois.