D’var Torah: Learning Through Tears & Songs of Joy | Camp Ramah Northern California

D’var Torah: Learning Through Tears & Songs of Joy

I have always believed that each of us is a rabbi inside, because “rabbi” after all means “my teacher.” At camp we have the opportunity to learn from everyone.  Just the other day a staff member reflected to me after our last session of campers left on Wednesday, “Thank you for modeling that to be a leader is to be a learner.”

To be a leader is to be a learner of text, emotions, and experiences.  I cried twice this week in joyful learning. Both times were amidst moving experiences with my rabbis at camp, the campers of Ramah Galim. The first time was while witnessing a beloved returning camper wrap herself in her own tallit and come to the Torah surrounded by her beaming family, friends, and counselors at our community’s first ever bat mitzvah at camp. What atShehechiyanu moment this was for all of us! I watched as our bat mitzvah found her own Torah in Parshat Eikev, and in doing so created a holy space for all of us to sing songs of joy.

“We need to keep remembering that advice from Moshe because without gratitude, the world, our world, would be really different.” -Zoe at her Bat Mitzvah at Ramah Galim

The second time I unexpectedly noticed tears trickling down my cheeks this week was during the rehearsal of the Musical written by our campers based on interviews with campers, staff, and visiting rabbis about their Jewish identity. The experience of sitting with two campers while being interviewed with inquisitive questions about my own relationship with Jewish tradition and practice in the past, present, and future, and then watching my interview transform through their creative touch to the bimah is one I will never forget.  So much so, that I wanted to share the song they wrote based on the interview with myself and Rabbi Reuven Taff of Congregation Mosaic Law in Sacramento. For this is a Torah of themselves and all of us: “Both of us together, we are building something new. Kehillah Kedoshah. No one will ever break through. We are strong, we are people.  We are rabbis and we are Jews.”

What a blessing their Torah will be to this community and to so many other communities who will benefit from the impact of these rabbis, these Jews for years and years to come.