Shalom from Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in sunny Oconomowoc, WI!
What an amazing privilege it is to be here immersed in Jewish life with some 15 young
people from Emanuel--from chanichim (campers) to madrikhim (counselors). We are
having a collective blast and are proud to represent Emanuel. Every time I witness us
sing or pray or learn or speak Hebrew or hang out or do myriad other things to dive in
to our Judaism, I feel special kavod (respect) for Rabbi Herman and Lotte Schaalman,
who not only built up “our house” at 5959 North Sheridan but did so here, too, at 600
Lac La Belle Drive.
Speaking of kavod, this summer the segel (faculty) have introduced four middot
(virtues) that we try to infuse into all aspects of camp life. Thus, in addition to kavod
(respect), we are also learning about derech eretz (courtesy, community-mindedness),
ometz (the courage, strength to persevere), and t’somet lev (mindful presence, active,
empathic listening). What an inspiration it is to see our camp community embrace these
middot, not only in word but also in deed. The effort makes for a more virtuous
community. I find the young people discover great inspiration and applicability in our
blossoming middot practice. It seems to me we should do more at Emanuel to consider
such middot and others.
In fact, there are a number of activities done here at OSRUI that we’d be wise to
embrace under our own roof: tefillah (prayer) outside by the neighboring lake, shira
(song sessions) and rikudei am (folk dancing) on Shabbat, Hebrew immersion, and
tiyulim (trips) into nature on bikes or canoes or maybe even just with our feet, hearts,
and minds. (BTW, as you read this reflection, I am pedaling along on a biking
expedition with some members of my eidah (unit) Moshavat haTeva. Others are hiking
or rock climbing. And I am happy to say: “So far, so good, chevrei!” Wish us luck and
success the rest of the way.) At camp, I see unbridled joy and uplifted participation in
those present for every one of these engagements, and I aspire for it to be absolutely
nothing less for those of us at home in the city.
Long live OSRUI and all Jewish summer camps! Long live Emanuel Congregation! (140
years and counting.) It is a blessing to serve our community and build anew upon our
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good!