By Lauren Chizner, Limud Director
Today is the holiday of Shavuot. It celebrates the moment the Torah was given to the Israelites as they stood together at Mt. Sinai. While the revelation at Sinai happened but once, the receiving of Torah, Jewish teaching, happens all the time at camp, through Jewish values.
There is so much I love about Crane Lake Camp, but one thing that is incredible is that campers receive Torah throughout the entire day, sometimes without even realizing it. For example, lets look at one my favorite times of the day; Breakfast!
Each day begins when the entire camp gathers together in our Chadar Ochel, Dining Hall. As the campers, staff and faculty shuffle in, it appears that every few individuals are engrossed in their own conversations. But as soon as that blessing for the food is sung, it becomes clear we are one ‘kehillah kedosha’, holy community. Still, more is happening in this moment. I think about how each staff and camper thanks God for bringing forth the bread from the earth before diving into their yummy pancakes or fresh fruit. Without realizing it, they learn the value of ‘savlanut’, patience, as they wait for the trays to be brought out and the salad bars to be open. Our meals are served family style so everyone must help out one another, passing plates, silverware, and food. And of course, if you take the last piece of French toast or pour the last cup of water, you will need to refill that for your table. This would be an example of ‘gemilut chasadim’, an act of loving kindness.
We also learn the incredibly important value of ‘bal tashchit’, not destroying or wasting. A few summers ago, we began the practice of composting at Crane Lake Camp. Our campers learn quickly the rules of composting and the power it has to help our environment. Incredibly, there is even more to breakfast. There is a feeling of ‘ruach’, spirit, that comes alive during our meals, especially toward the end. When the music comes on, indicating it is time to clean up, the campers spring to life with singing and dancing in what appears to be a choreographed symphony of cleaning. That’s just at breakfast. Imagine the Jewish learning that happens as the day continues!
On this holiday of Shavuot, I will be thinking of the many ways I will be helping our campers and staff receive the Torah this summer. I am counting the days, just as we are also celebrating the conclusion of the seven weeks of counting between Passover and Shavuot, to Opening Day. May we all receive Torah in the summer of 2016!
Lauren lives in Dix Hills, New York (on Long Island). During the year, she is the Director of Education at Port Jewish Center in Port Washington, and runs an Interfaith Israel program for Jewish and Catholic teens from Long Island. This is her 10th summer at Crane Lake and her 7th as the Limud Director. Her whole family will be at Crane Lake this summer!