By Lauren Chizner, Limud Director
Our Crane Lake Camp Mission Statement quotes a verse from Pirkei Avot, “You are not required to complete the work, nor are you free to ignore it.” Upper Bonim campers have taken this mission to heart, spending first session learning about the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. By running a Tzedakah Fair for the Crane Lake community, our campers learned that they have the ability to make a positive difference in the world on issues that matter.
We began by understanding the meaning of Tzedakah, its roots in Torah and agriculture and how giving Tzedakah is both a commandment and a form of social justice. Our campers had the opportunity to meet faculty members, staff members, and camp board members who are passionate about giving. They shared their stories of giving, including how they choose where they give both their time and money. Our campers then shared with one another some of their own strongest memories about giving Tzedakah and the values that help them make decisions about what causes they like to support.
Each Upper Bonim camper chose to focus on one of three social justice issues—the environment, hunger and poverty, or discrimination. After a few days of learning and exploration it was time to choose the organizations they would highlight in their Tzedakah Fair. They studied each organization, looking closely at its mission, the values, how it defines the work they do and why. There were many serious conversations held about which organizations to support. Some of the questions raised were whether the organizations should be Jewish, whether they should help people locally or globally, a larger number of people or a small group, and even how many organizations to highlight. Ultimately, Upper Bonim campers came to consensus on seven different social justice organizations.
They worked hard to prepare for their Tzedakah Fair and took their roles very seriously. Some campers created posters, illustrating the name of the organization and what they do. Others put together a presentation that would be made to the entire CLC community. With posters, presentations, and Tzedakah boxes in hand, they were ready to share their message with the rest of camp.
The culminating moment for this session came this past Thursday, as these campers provided an opportunity for CLC to learn about and give to their causes. The CLC community came together to live out our mission and make a small difference in the world. As one Upper Bonim camper told other campers, “it doesn’t matter how much or how little you give, it just matters that you give.” At the end of the day, Upper Bonim is sending over $400 to seven different organizations—Hazon, Habitat for Humanity, Keshet, World Wildlife Fund, Yedid, Access Israel, and Everything Starts with 1.
As we reflected on the experience, they realized how good it felt to be able to make an impact on areas of social justice. They said they felt as if they were truly living out our CLC mission—that they were not shying away from the work, that they were doing their little part to make our world a better place!
If you would like to support or match Upper Bonim’s Tzedakah efforts, please contact Sarah Lauing, Associate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Chizner lives in Dix Hills, New York (on Long Island) with her husband, Rabbi Todd Chizner, and her 3 Crane Lakers- Jacob, Jed, and Rachel. During the year, Lauren is the Religious School Director at Port Jewish Center in Port Washington. She also runs an interfaith Israel program for Jewish and Catholic 11th graders on Long Island called Project Understanding. This is Lauren’s 11th summer at CLC and she serves as our Limud Director.