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Connections

Thursday, 14 August 2008

As I sat with a group of campers at shira last night, an image of another rabbi flashed quickly through my mind. Clean-shaven, youthful, and energetic. The campers flocked around him, listening. Learning. Enjoying being in the presence of a rabbi who was simultaneously wise and approachable.

I see my dad every day and I see the same rabbi today that he was then — with just one exception. His hair is completely white now, though for some reason I still see it as dark brown with some white streaks. He is still wise and he is still approachable. But he is not the camp rabbi this summer. I am.

I think I learned how to be a camp rabbi by watching him. Though we never talked about it, I think that he saw the role of the camp rabbi as the opportunity for the kids to get to know a rabbi in a casual, relaxed setting. That meant being with them as much as possible. Hanging out with them at shira. Or eating at their table. Or just being present.

Not every rabbi approaches camp this way. Many colleagues take this time to connect with one another. Some use time to write sermons. And, of course, we all spend time with our units.

It is still work. Different from our day-to-day tasks at our home congregations, to be sure. But it some respects, it is even more important. We have the opportunity to help connect these kids to their Judaism is a unique and beautiful way.

What a gift…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. tamaraeden permalink
    Thursday, 14 August 2008 2:56 pm

    Ohhh, you ARE the camp’s rabbi this session. Before I was thinking, “oh, she’s a counselor?”.

    So cool. I really love reading camp stories. Man I’m a dork. 😀

    By the way, did you send me a note last night? I swear I had a ton of new emails, then gmail disappeared them…so odd.

  2. Thursday, 14 August 2008 3:17 pm

    aw that was a sweet tribute to dad…

  3. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Thursday, 14 August 2008 4:57 pm

    And all the time I was a Camp Rabbi, I kept thinking back to the great Camp Rabbis I knew when I was a Senior Counselor. Mike Heller entranced the campers with his stories about Gary Golfball. I could never do that.

    Thanks for your sweet words. It taught me, once again, Popeye’s great lesson, conveyed to both of us by our dear teacher, Rabbi Samson H. Levey, zt”l: “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” If we can each be the best possible Popeye (or Zusya), we’ll be ok.

  4. Frume Sarah permalink
    Thursday, 14 August 2008 9:19 pm

    TE — too old to be the counselor! Yeah, one of the camp rabbis. And yes, I did send you a message…

    Phyl — thanks!

    DG — I even brought the same book of Jewish stories that you used @ camp. Figured if they worked for you…

    There are different definitions of greatness. In the case of rabbis, I really think that the greatest rabbis are not necessarily the most knowledgable or the best speakers. The greatest and most effective rabbis are those who meet our Jews where they are — figuratively and literally.

    I hope to be great one day!

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