jewish camp 07.19.17

Meaningful Jewish Moments Happen Everyday at Camp

Meaningful Jewish Moments Happen Everyday at Camp

By Phyllis Kenigsberg, Assistant Director, Camp Shalom

At Camp Shalom, we believe that any moment can be a meaningful Jewish moment.

On Monday morning every week when our campers arrive, we experience Jewish moments by practicing hakhnasat orhim (welcoming the stranger/guest). Throughout the week we continue to have Jewish meaningful moments each day. From sports to swimming in the pool, we’re having Jewish moments by showing each other kavod (respect) and hesed (kindness). To the lunch-room when we teach our campers to think about tikkun olam (reparing the world) while we clean up the trash.

At camp, everything that happens can be a Jewish moment.

There are moments when we teach Jewish values and discuss what they mean, but the best moments are the ones that occur organically. Those are the moments we particularly cherish. Especially when a child expresses pride in their Jewish identity, on their own.

Last summer, one of our younger campers entering kindergarten found her voice and Jewish expression through our morning songs. This somewhat shy five-year-old, personally requested that Modeh Ani morning prayer be sung all together as a camp community.  She was so excited about singing the song, she stood in the front of the whole camp to help lead it.

Camp Shalom’s culture continues to evolve through Jewish music and through everything that we do.  This summer we are fortunate to have two Israeli shlichot (emissaries) on staff, one of whom serves as our Israeli Culture Specialist. Our campers, who are a range of ages are able to benefit from interacting with the Israelis in many different ways. They have been introduced to Israeli Food, the Hebrew Language, and Israeli culture.

This is not something that many of them have experienced before but because of Camp Shalom, they now have.

Above all else, the sense of kehillah (community) found at camp is a defining Jewish experience. We learn that when campers and staff from all backgrounds come together to form an inclusive community, we gain a deeper sense of understanding and strengthen our bonds as a camp family.