Tonight’s Hanukkah blog post was written by Lihi Solomonov, a Summer 2021 Mishlachat member, photographer, and Chalutzim counselor.

Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays, and it is for a good reason. For eight nights, we get to spend time with loved ones, share stories and sing our hearts out while lighting the Menorah, we play with dreidels, and we eat the best holiday food there is. For each of us, It brings a magical warm feeling during the cold of winter – but my favorite thing about Hanukkah is the lesson that it teaches. This holiday shines light in the darkest time of the year and is a fantastic opportunity to look back and express gratitude. As we light the Hanukkah candles, we not only think about the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, but we recognize and feel grateful for all of the things that bring light into our lives. This is a lesson that touches all of our hearts.

During this time of the year, we start to get less and less hours of sunlight during the day. The further we get into the season, I find myself missing the sun peaking out of the clouds and I long for the beautiful cotton candy-colored sunsets in Bruceville, Texas. Sunsets that are so magical, that GFC is the only place in the world to experience them. I’m overwhelmed with joyful memories of the lights surrounding the campfire at Havdalah, the clear night sky and mesmerizing stars in the sky, the light in camper’s eyes when Maccabiah breaks, and most importantly, the miracle of light that camp lit in my heart.

Greene Family Camp is, indeed, a family. It happily welcomes everyone, people from different cultures and backgrounds, and gives them a positive, carefree environment to grow and shine their lights. It took me in with open arms, an Israeli who had never been to a summer camp before in her life, and quickly became my home away from home. I got to be a part of such a loving community with beautiful traditions, and got to make friendships with people from across the globe. Camp is a place where time stands still and you lose all of your worries. It allows you to develop new skills, to make memories worth cherishing forever, and to become the best version of yourself in a judgment-free atmosphere.

This winter, while lighting the Menorah, I am grateful for my summer at camp. The warm days spent in the pool, dressing up in white with my friends on Shabbat, smiles on camper’s faces, discovering new hobbies, memories filled with Shabbat Sha-brownies and S’mores, and most importantly, I am grateful for the overwhelming love and light GFC brought into my life.