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On the day I arrived at camp this summer, I heard something that stuck with me.
Rosh Edah Maya Wasserman shared, “I came back to Ramah Galim this summer because I realized after my experience here in 2021 that this place is where I become by best self.” I imagine that many of us who have spent significant time at a Jewish overnight summer camp can probably relate to these profound words. For me, they struck so poignantly in my final days as Director of Ramah Galim both as a meaningful reflection on the transformative community we have built for so many individuals, and because I remember feeling this same way after my first experience at Ramah many years ago.
This week’s Torah portion, Kedoshim, has historically offered us some of our most enriching Torah. In the same week that we seemingly revisit the 10 commandments, we also read of what many of us have come to understand as the “golden rule” – וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ – Love your fellow as yourself (Vayikra 19:18). In my many summers as a counselor, I would support my campers in making their own cabin brit or covenant, on our first night together. Without fail, the charge to treat others the way we want to be treated was on the list every single time.
Camp is only a few short weeks out of a long year. But that’s part of the beauty of it. Camp is a sacred oasis in time, and while we’re there, time actually feels almost nonexistent. It’s because we only get to be there for a few weeks of the year that camp is so special.
With just 100 days until camp, I find myself looking back upon my experience last summer more and more.
I am excited to be joining Ramah Galim this Summer for all the magical moments of camp I’ve heard so much about, from the dolphins and otters and whales that visit Tefillot Afloat to Havdallah on the beach. I’m also excited for the less glamorous moments, the socket moments. From waiting in line to get your surfboard to walking down with your edah to the beach, in some ways, this is how the real magic happens.
Hanukkah is one of my favorite weeks to spend in Jerusalem. For in the weeks leading up to Hanukkah, the sun sets earlier and earlier and we see less and less daylight, and then all of the sudden, my walk home after school is illuminated by candles! I pass by taxis with electric hanukkiot on the roof; I pass coffee shop owners lighting in their shop windows; I pass families gathering together to light and sing Hanukkah songs; the city grows brighter both physically and emotionally.