26 Jul 2016

Tuesday Morning Torah – July 26, 2016

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I hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer and managing to stay cool!
 
As many of you know, for the past month I have been away at Camp Ramah in the Poconos where, for the fourth summer in a row, I had the privilege of serving as one of the Rabbis in Residence on the tzevet hinukh, the teaching staff. I want to begin this message by saying “thank you.” Thank you to our board leadership, and our lay leadership who allow me to be away for such a long time and ensure that our congregation continues to run smoothly.  And thank you to Rabbi Metz and all of our staff for their help and support while I was away. Why do I say “thank you?” Because going to camp each summer is truly a blessing.
 
People often ask me why I choose to spend much of my vacation at Ramah each summer? They know that I am a lifelong member of the Ramah family. They have heard me say many times that I would not be the Jew, Rabbi, leader, or parent that I am today were it not for my nearly thirty year affiliation with Camp Ramah. But still they wonder, “Why does he keep going back? Why does he spend much of his summer teaching campers and counselors, when he teaches throughout the year?
 
In addition to the rewards of spending time with my children, and seeing some of the members of our synagogue and our greater Ocean Township community-the short answer is that my time at Ramah fills my soul and gives me the energy to renew and refresh myself before coming back to my congregational responsibilities each year. Camp is a place for me to unplug, recharge, and be inspired by the vibrancy of Jewish life, living, learning, and discovery that can be found around every corner. From the sounds of Hebrew language on the basketball court, to the sight of children learning about our responsibilities for the earth as they plant a garden at camp, to Jewish learning that happens on top of a ropes course, to plays performed in Hebrew, to prayers recited against the backdrop of a beautiful lake on a Friday night – there is simply no replicating the Jewish summer camp experience. I am honored to be a small part of it each summer and thankful for the spiritual nourishment which it provides.
 
Even more than that- I am confident each year that my summers at camp help strengthen my rabbinate and our congregation throughout the year in numerous ways. And apparently, I am not alone in this assessment. In case you missed it last summer, check out the   following article written last summer about the benefits of sending clergy to camp and you will have an even better sense of why I keep on going back each year.
 
Thanks again! I look forward to sharing some of my stories, memories, and ideas with you in the weeks and months ahead!
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