Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living Jewish Values at Camp


This year at Camp Newman, each day at camp had its own theme which was carried through all activities during the day – not just the educational programming. For example, when the theme was “kehillah kedosha” (building a holy community), it was a part of pool time: building a holy community means following the rules so everyone can feel safe. It was a part of meal times: building a holy community means cleaning up your dishes after a meal, because we all have a part in making the dining hall a place we all want to eat It was a part of sports: building a holy community means playing fair on the field so everyone can enjoy the game. It was a part of the talent show: building a holy community means cheering and applauding for everyone at the talent show (whether or not they have talent).

All day there were chances to build a holy community. What is unique about camp is the context put around every activity – the reminder that every part of our day is a chance to express our community’s values, and that these values, which some might label as part of "being a good citizen," are in fact Jewish values.

Every day we each have the opportunity to live according to our Jewish values, in the decisions we make and how we spend our time. At camp it is easy to remember that we are living Judaism; campers are surrounded by a unique Jewish community that only exists at camp. Everything at camp feels Jewish because everyone at camp helps create that environment.

But what about when we’re not at camp? The challenge is to remember that we are each living Judaism every day, even when we are not fully ensconced in an intentional Jewish community. Living Judaism is in part about creating context, recognizing that our values – creating community, friendship, respect for others, respect for nature – are Jewish values. Whether we are at camp or out in the "real world" we can all recognize the Jewish values that are part of our daily lives.

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