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Read reflections on the weekly Torah portion by Peninsula Sinai Congregation’s Rabbi Corey Helfand
One of my favorite Shabbat moments this summer at camp came as a total surprise: during Kabbalat Shabbat my prayers were suddenly interrupted by a group of campers and staff pointing out to the sea and jumping up and down. “Whales, whales!” they squealed with wide-eyed excitement. Following their gaze, I too noticed that out in the Pacific Ocean, just a thousand yards off the camp beach, were several humpback whales breaching in grandiose swoops above the water’s surface. I smiled, knowing that if we hadn’t gathered to pray at that moment we would never have witnessed their wondrous presence.
How grateful I feel to be apart of the Jewish community of Ramah Galim that comes together every Shabbat and every summer for life changing moments like this.
And how might we capture more precious moments of spiritual surprise even in our lives outside of camp?
As a camp counselor my fantasy was year round camp. Instead of ending camp and returning to school and work, we’d just stay at camp all year round. I’d live with my closest friends, we’d always have fun activities, and, thanks to the kitchen staff, we’d never have to cook! What could be better than that?
As I grew older I realized that maybe my year-round-camping idea wasn’t really the best idea after all…
A beautiful, productive, and educational camp vegetable garden. Chanichim eagerly awaiting their boxes of nishnoosh (snack), and munching happily once they arrive. Staff members enjoying cholent as they learn together on a Shabbat afternoon.
These wonderful vignettes came to be at Ramah Galim this past summer thanks to contributions of the two participants of Ramah Galim’s Ezra (vocational training) program, which I had the privilege of managing in its inaugural summer.
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Camp Ramah in Northern California operates under the educational guidance of the National Ramah Commission and is supported by an accelerator grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Avi Chai Foundation. Camp Ramah in Northern California also receives financial support from the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. Camp Ramah in Northern California is a proud partner of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.