From The Blog

Holding Onto Camp

Holding Onto Camp

Posted on July 27th, 2017

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously taught that Shabbat is a sanctuary in time: “The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals, the Jewish equivalent of sacred architecture.”

Building on the idea that time is sacred, but also recognizing that it is difficult to make the most of every single minute, Rabbi Andrew Terkel, GFC’s Director of Year Round Programs, invited all campers to find two or three moments during the course of Shabbat that are extra special.  These moments may be moments of sacred connection, or moments of personal growth, or moments of appreciation of the world around us.  Whatever the moments are, Rabbi Terkel invited us to hold on to them and to use them as building blocks for our own sanctuary in time during Shabbat.

As my time on faculty at GFC comes to an end, I hold on to the moments that have become the building blocks of my experience here over the past two weeks.  I hold on to seeing the entire camp welcome Shabbat dressed in white, singing and dancing.  I hold on to the sacred conversation with a homesick child at the end of which he smiles, says that he is going to be Ok, and really believes it.  I hold on to the laughter and silliness inside a Kohanim girls’ bunk during a lesson on using all of our senses to be truly present to each other.  I hold on to the curiosity and the off-topic questions asked by the Shorashim boys, which lead to a most meaningful spontaneous conversation.  I hold on to a dance party with Melachim, which has these post-B’nai Mitzvah campers relive their rite of passage.  I hold on to the one-on-one conversations and group interactions, to the puppies at the farm and lanyard in the art room, to the beautiful sunsets that grace camp every evening circa 8:30pm, and to the smiling, bright-eyed faces of all of the campers and staff whom I knew before I came here and whom I didn’t know before I came here, but whom I will now – having met them – never forget.

There is a teaching in the Talmud (Masechet Megillah), which asks the question of whether the student and the teacher should sit on the same level, or on different levels.  Rav Abahu says that a teacher should not sit on a couch while the student sits on the floor.  Rather, the teacher and the student should be on the same level.

One way to understand this teaching is to recognize that learning is not a one-way street, but a sacred relationship in which the teacher and the student are both transformed by the encounter.  Camp is a beautiful place to experience these transformations, which help to shape us and the young people around us.  As I think back over the moments, which I have collected during my time at GFC, I see that they all shape up to form a stunning sample of sacred architecture in time, which will remain with me for years to come and, certainly, until the summer of 2018.

Cantor Vicky Glikin is the Senior Cantor at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, TX. She spent two weeks with us on faculty, along with her children, campers Adam and Michelle, and her youngest son Sammy.