Siddur HaMacheneh By Sheryl Rubin

Creating Camp Interlaken’s Siddur HaMachaneh was a spiritual and creative journey.

The road to our new siddur began several years ago. Our current siddurim were showing signs of wear and no longer worked for our community. Camp was on a path to be more intentional about how we prayed, what our services looked and felt like, and what made Interlaken Shabbat special. We wanted our prayer books to demonstrate this. 

The process began with our staff and campers – we collaborated with them during the summer about what were the most important parts of our Shabbat experience and how we celebrate. We then enlisted the help of Beth Garfinkle Hancock – a Jewish educator from the JCCA – to lead and guide us throughout the project. 

Starting with our current siddur and examples from other camps, we began to conjure up a vision of what we wanted: the size, the feel, the art, the extra content. The most important change we wanted to make was that this would belong to each camper. We wanted it to be a treasure they used during their years at camp, and then had as a keepsake forever, becoming a place for their most sacred Shabbat memories. We brainstormed and collaborated for many months. We curated a collection of photos to highlight some of the most loved places and moments in camp, and then our staff expertly turned them into incredible works of art. We poured over meaningful quotes, poetry, and thought-provoking questions that would enhance our services and the Shabbat experience as a whole and agonized over every detail and decision. 

We couldn’t be more proud of the outcome. Made possible by a generous donation James A. Sweet and his family dedicated to the memory of Tracy Sweet, this is a true Camp Interlaken creation. Presenting them to our campers this summer was wonderful. To see every camper holding their own siddur as we recited the Shehecheyanu together brought tears to our eyes. The fact that we could deliver this meaningful addition to camp during a summer like no other only made it that much more special.

What we’ve created was a true labor of love and a priceless gift to camp.


Sheryl Rubin, Mequon, WI, Camp Interlaken Alumni, Former Camp Committee Chair, Current Camp Committee Member