By Rabbi Daniel Kirzane, Tiferet Segel (Faculty)
The chanichim (campers) in this summer’s Tiferet Bet are creative, collaborative, and caring. In less than a week, they’ve shown commitment to the middot (values) we focus on at OSRUI, and they’re already begun meaningful practice in our three studios. Together, our community has formed around chanichim dedicated to one another, and to creative Jewish expression in OSRUI’s unique environment. Tiferet chanichim are engaged daily in living out the values we promote at OSRUI. They demonstrate derech eretz (community mindedness) in caring for one another and making sure no one is left behind, physically as well as emotionally; they give kavod (respect) to one another as well as the staff; they exercise tzomet lev (paying careful attention) in responding contemplatively to prompts in their art studios; and they carry themselves with ometz (perseverance) even when it rains or is brutally hot. Whether they’ve been here for years or are experiencing their first summer at OSRUI, this band of newfound friends is building a strong community that relies on and shows up for one another.
This year’s textual focus is Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), whose themes of hevel (futility), simchah (joy), and kehilah (community) have inspired thoughtful and emotive works of art. The Music studio has contemplated the value of a rest, emphasizing the music that emerges from withholding. In Drama, chanichim are exploring “character motivations” and “given circumstances” in order to tap into underlying dynamics of ambition, yearning, and success. And the Visual Arts studio has challenged chanichim to collaborate with a partner in creating new works of art based on well-known paintings, living out the verse from Kohelet, tovim hashnayim min ha-echad, “Two are better than one alone” (4:9). These opening projects are designed to acquaint chanichim with the studios and the moomchim (specialists) who guide them,and they also serve as the framework for educational and artistic goals threaded throughout the whole summer.
In some ways, it feels as though we’ve been here for years, and in other ways it feels like we’re just getting started. Much remains to be explored, and the chanichim demonstrate every day that“God made human beings upright, and they seek out many inventions” (Kohelet 7:29). In the weeks ahead, through our exploration of middot, Kohelet, and sacred community, we look forward to encountering “a time for every experience under heaven” (Kohelet 3:1).
Rabbi Daniel Kirzane serves as the Associate Rabbi at Oak Park Temple in Oak Park, IL.