Intensives at Camp

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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 Rabbi Rachel Heaps who reflects on the Gesher Intensives at OSRUI.

At Machaneh OSRUI, chanichim (campers) get innumerable opportunities to be their best and most authentic selves. They participate in chugim (electives) and tochniyot (programs) that they already know and love. They also lovingly challenge themselves with new experiences and friendships. Gesher especially finds the balance between familiar and unfamiliar with our intensives: STEM, Musical, Cooking, Sports, and Aquatics. 

As a member of the segel (faculty), it is so wonderful to see our chanichim work together to overcome challenges, ask meaningful questions, and discover the connections between their passions and their Judaism. And, as a member of the segel, I also get learn while playing. In just one day, I was able to spend time with Gesher discussing renewable energy and hydroelectric generators, experiment with Kallah and Tzofim on the efficacy of sunscreen with our UV indicator beads, and discuss how our Jewish and scientific kehillot (communities) are made stronger when we publish our results – even if our experiments didn’t come to the conclusion we were hoping for. Even our madrichim (counselors) channel their passions and education into making OSRUI a place of joyful learning and growth. 

This summer I have the honor of spending four weeks at OSRUI and watching every person on camp share their passions and become their best selves. Halfway through the session I can already measure the growth of our chanichim who use their curiosity to push them out of their comfort zones. What a blessing it is to see the truest version of Torah lishmah, learning for the sake of learning – where measurements of knowledge aren’t in tests and papers, but rather in the bonds made between people and between interests. May we all take the passion cultivated here at OSRUI and channel it into our own lives outside of camp. May our chanichim become our teachers of what it means to be Jewish and… Jewish and a scientist, Jewish and an athlete, Jewish and a chef, Jewish and a friend, Jewish and so much more than we could have ever imagined.

Rabbi Rachel Heaps is the Associate Rabbi at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, IL. This is her 4th summer at OSRUI and 3rd as Gesher Segel.