Could You Beam Me Up…

batmitzToday is the 24th anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah.  I am not sure why this year feels any different than any other year, but it seems significant to me.  Maybe it has to do with losing my Dad four months ago right after my daughter, Nava, was born.  Perhaps I’m remembering how proud he was on the day of my Bat Mitzvah.  We had a joke that he would repeat after every tutoring session with the Rabbi; he would say: “I’m so proud; I’m beaming.”  He may have really liked the word “beaming” due to his undying love for Star Trek.  I have been thinking about that and him non-stop since this past weekend.  I attended Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid like I normally do every Saturday since he passed away so I can say kaddish and be embraced by my community, my family.  This past Shabbat was a little bit different because one of my kids, errrrr I meant campers, became a Bar Mitzvah.  From the bimah, he chanted one of the most beautiful and assertive haftorahs (I am unsure the plural for that – haftorahtot?) that I have ever heard.  When he finished, he let out a barely audible sigh, and I could see in his eyes that he knew his parents were just beaming.  I realized a few things at that moment:

  1. I wasn’t going to cry.  His whole cabin was there, and I’m the Camp Director!
  2. This young man, who will be attending Camp Interlaken for his 5th summer, was little… 5 minutes ago… like Jaron, my 3.5 year old… who will be up on that bimah also in 9.5 short years.
  3. I couldn’t help but cry

I moved into the Kiddush luncheon and wiped my mascara off my face, I couldn’t help but check in with the 7th grade Camp boys.  It was so fun to see them; they’ve all grown up so much since last summer.  They were generally interested in Nava, and they really wanted to see Jaron!  I told them that someday, sooner than we think, that they would be Jaron’s camp counselor!  Panic!!!

It is really (really really really really really) hard for me to think about anything through a lens that isn’t my Camp Lens.  And, no, it has NOTHING to do with the fact that I am moving to Camp in two weeks…

I am in Chicago for a few days now immersing myself in learning.  I am pursuing my master’s degree in Jewish Professional Studies at the Spertus Institute, and they declared a few days this week an “Intensive” class where we knock out an entire class in three days.  I think I’ll have a paper to write that is due in August, but we will worry about that later!  I really had looked forward to our learning filling my brain and giving me a mental break from the stress of planning for Camp and then returning to work later this week feeling completely free of everything else and able to immerse myself in maximizing my last 2 weeks in Milwaukee!  I can’t…

As we talk about Zionism, the New Jew, the Holocaust, the role of Women in early Israel, and the conflict in Israel today, all I think about is Camp.  I think about our gender separate campfires where we establish and empower the women of Interlaken (I think they do something like that at the boy’s campfire, but since I haven’t been, I am not 100% sure what they do; I’ve only read about it).  I think about last summer where tensions in Israel were extremely challenging, and we had to decide how to present them (or not) to Camp.  I think about our tolerance and acceptance programming that we deliver to our Campers at Camp as we continue to look forward and make sure that nothing like the Holocaust ever happens to the Jews again.  I think about how avodah (work) in Camp can make us feel like the New Jew in the early settlements of Israel who worked day and night to create the Israel we know today.  I think about the word Zionism, how it began, what it looks like today, who we are at Camp, and how we maintain our personal neutrality while educating our campers.  It’s so much!  I am so thankful that Yoav and Jonah Wagan (referred to as JWag) have participated in the Bringing Israel To Camp Initiative (which they are now just calling “The Initiative” due to challenges with the acronym for the entire name of the program), and that they are equipped and prepared to deliver an even better Israel education than in past years.

Right now, Interlaken’s Cornerstone Fellows are at Capital Camps in Waynesboro, PA learning about Jewish programming, being the best role model and counselor, other camps, and they’re planning their “wow” programs for the summer of 2015.  I’m SO JEALOUS!  Sharon Cohen gets to be there as the liaison.  She’s been our liaison for 11 years, and she gets to spend the week with our fellows as they learn, grow and plan together.  I will get to FaceTime with them on Wednesday to hear all of the ideas and work with them to figure out how they will implement them in Camp.  I NEVER want to go to Cornerstone because of how close in the season it is to Camp, but I really want to be there with them!

Like I said last week, Camp has started for me, and I can’t think about anything else!  As we walked back to our hotel tonight, the temperature dropped.  Today was one of those perfect, 75 degree Chicago days, especially when you’re spending it walking up and down Michigan Avenue from my hotel to Spertus!  I turned to the girls I was with and said, “this is what Shabbat is going to feel like when we’re celebrating the 50th at Camp.”  And, I’m planning what I’m going to wear to stay warm during Friday night’s Shabbat festivities.  Oy.

As I embark upon the summer of 2015, I think about a cheer that I learned at Camp when I was a camper.  We didn’t actually say this cheer ever, but my friend Pam said that her older sister, Alice, used to sing/chant this cheer at Camp: “Be Cool.  Be Calm.  Be Collected Be Collected Right On Right On.”  So, that’s me, I guess.  I’m a little bit all over the place, but I’m completely centered and ready to think about NOTHING but Camp for the next 3 months starting Wednesday when I get back to the office from my intensive class.  I’ve got more Israel to talk about, read about and learn about in the meantime!

BatMitzEvanCircling back to my Bat Mitzvah, it was the BEST day, and I promise to talk more about it in future blogs.   Everything about it was classic 1991 as my sister and I debuted our choreographed moves to Everybody Dance Now, we practiced our Vogue poses, and  the tie dance began with Patience by Guns N Roses (and my first dance partner was Evan from my previous blog about my friend Erica)…

Mazel Tov to all of our 7th grade campers who became a Bar or Bat Mitzvah during this school year.  I can’t wait to spend the summer with the ”adult” version of you!