The Magic Camp Provides

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Shalom from OSRUI! Every year, more than 50 Rabbis, Cantors, and Educators who spend time with us at camp in the summer.  They work closely with the Rashei Eidot (unit heads) to create fun Jewish experiences that are educational and engaging. Today we are joined by Jay Rapoport, RJE, who reflects on his time at camp and the value it brings.

I arrived in Oconomowoc on Monday morning, July 4 – a tough day for our community with the tragic events in Highland Park. In that challenging moment, I was immediately so grateful for our OSRUI leadership in communicating with and supporting families, tzevet (staff), chanichim (campers) and segel (faculty). In our little slice of paradise in Oconomowoc, we still managed to have a fun, meaningful and welcoming week for our new Kallah and Tzofim Bet participants as they joined our older chanichim here at camp. Serving this summer in a new role as Creative Arts Segel, I was able to observe and engage with various eidot (units) in a variety of ways. I watched our Gesher “Making a Musical” group perform fully choreographed numbers from their show, led elective Music Appreciation and Gratitude sichot (conversations) with Chalutzim, and joined Kallah, Tzofim and Moshavah for their daily arts chugim (activities) rotations. In each space, I got to interact with amazing young people of all ages as they built lifelong friendships and experienced the joy of artistic expression with a Jewish lens, and I loved seeing how our talented Mumchim (specialists) nurture their creative sensibilities. Our Limmud (learning) themes during my time at camp were Tshuvah – returning to our best selves – and Lecha Lecha: Be Bold and Go Forth, and there were so many natural connections to these concepts to be made in the camp environment where we live in Kehilah Kedusha (holy community) together. We spent a joyful 25 hours immersed in a Disney-themed Maccabiah (color war), with all the hilarious skits, songs and ruach (spirit)-filled chants that accompany the annual competition. And as we entered into Shabbat at the end of each week, OSRUI truly lived up to its Disney-esque promise as the happiest place on earth. Sending love and strength from our family to yours.

Jay Rapoport, RJE is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Sholom of Chicago.