Shalom Chevrei! Hello friends!
I've returned from my two weeks at OSRUI (Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute) which completes, in whole or part, my 21st summer at Jewish sleep-away camp. I return to you with added inspiration and spiritual excitement.
I was so delighted to spend real time with young people at camp, which offers us a broader slice of life in which to connect and interact. At camp, I'm more than a rabbi in a suit and bowtie. While we still learn and pray together, we also eat, play and share experiences in ways only summer camp can offer. I only wish I could interact in person with, on final count, all 31 Emanuelite campers at OSRUI and our many other children at other Jewish summer camps. Perhaps the letters I am writing will serve as a bridge. Just another reminder to make sure I know where your kids are at camp this summer so I can reach out. This includes young people at day camp.
The highlights of this last week included a visit to the University of Wisconsin Hillel, which houses a hydroponic garden. The kids in Gesher, my edah (unit) got a chance to plant spices. We also visited an urban rooftop garden. Back at OSRUI, for Yom Yisrael, we enjoyed Festikayitz(SummerFest), which brought Israel and Israeli culture to life. Among our hosts were Chalutzim campers Ellory and Max, who are up at OSRUI for a 7-week Hebrew immersion program; and I so appreciated the chance to visit with the Bachrach family, who came up to visit Marissa. Thanks, Julia, Lloyd and Paili for making our Shabbat more special.
At OSRUI, we pray twice a day, and the t'fillah experience is really quite beautiful and uplifiting. I learned a great deal about innovative musical and thematic approaches to prayer. The chanichim (campers) have a lot of say in what we do, and so they feel invested in the experience. My unit prayed in a very beautiful outdoor beit t'fillah made possible by the generous leadership of Jean and Jordan Nerenberg. Thank you Jean and Jordan! I felt so blessed to sing, pray, teach, and build community in this precious space you have provided us.
On an unrelated but very special note, I'd like to wish mazal tov to Bob Heyman, our current Board Treasurer and a treasured volunteer, on being named Honorary President of the Illinois Pharmacists Association. What a tribute to you, Bob, on your lifetime of service to your profession and to the community. We salute you! Kol ha-kavod!
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good!