Recently, we sat down with OSRUI Alum Bari Finkel
When were you at camp? I first started going to OSRUI on retreats with my shul, Temple Beth Israel, when I was in preschool. My first summer at camp was in Tzofim in 2001. I spent my 8 years as a camper both upstairs and downstairs; I was in Tzofim, Mosh, Kallah, Tiferet, Chalutzim, and Avodah. I then went on to be a Machon [counselor in training] and spent my last summer as a madricha [counselor] in Tzofim in 2011.
What are you doing professionally? I’m Head of Partner Editorial and an executive producer at Pineapple Street Studios in Brooklyn, NY. I help creative companies produce podcasts at the same high quality their fans know and expect of their traditional medium. I manage and produce podcasts like The Chernobyl Podcast and The Official Watchmen Podcast with HBO, Behind The Scenes: Stranger Things 3 with Netflix, and more. I also produce and am on mic for a weekly comedy podcast called Unhappy Hour with Matt Bellassai.
Tell us a fun fact or story from your camp days. The small moments are the ones I lean on the most from my memories. Star gazing on Tzofim hill, catching sunrises on the docks, Shabbat Shira. But one of my favorite camp stories happened on my Mosh Aleph hiking trip in 2006. First of all, I did not want to go on the hiking trip. I put it as my fourth preference, and we were told it was highly unlikely we’d get our fourth pick. But lo and behold, I got hiking. The great Beth Rodin (Avner at the time), our rosh eidah, consoled me, telling me that not only did she know I could handle this disappointing news, but that she knew I’d be able to handle the hiking itself. It turned out to be some of the greatest days of my life at camp.
The hiking group was a mix of girls I had grown up with, and ones I barely socialized with at camp. On our first or second day hiking, we happened upon a small kitten in the woods. We couldn’t believe it! It was the cutest little gray and black kitten. Of course, we had to name it. So naturally, we decided on the ingenious name “Pooky Barthalamuel Socks Yakar The Third.” What we didn’t expect was for Pooky to start following us on our hike. But she did, and she kept up with us for miles. At one point, something spooked li’l Pook and she climbed up a tree that, at the time, felt like the tallest tree we’d ever seen. We didn’t know what to do, but thankfully she ended up shimmying down the tree back to safety. I can’t remember if Pooky stayed with us overnight or not, but either on the day we found her or the next, we ended up hiking by one of the ranger stations. We coaxed Pooky to the station and there was a very kind person working there who made a bed for her in a cardboard box and promised to find her a good home. It was a tearful goodbye and I hope Pooky’s out there right now snuggled up with her human.
By the end of the trip, I had grown close with all the girls. I’m still friends with ones I got to know during those few days, a few of us even celebrated Sukkot together in Brooklyn a few years ago. Hiking ended up being my favorite trip of Mosh Aleph and I prioritized it on my list for Mosh Bet. The real moral of the story here is to always listen to Beth Rodin. Another fun fact: Beth Rodin is now OSRUI’s Associate Director!
How has camp impacted your life? OSRUI shaped the way I experienced time. For other kids, the year may have been determined by Hanukkah or New Years, Rosh Hashanah or birthdays. My year centered around camp. Every week spent outside of camp was a countdown to when I’d be back. It’s how I marked personal growth. Camp instilled a deep sense of community within me, while also teaching me practical leadership skills. I still hold onto the confidence, independence, and spirituality that was fostered there.
I’m still close with many of my camp friends. I love finding out that old camp friends live in New York, or even are just visiting, and meeting up with them. My dear camp friend Danny Barry and I just went to see Lion King on Broadway last week while he was in NY!