Blog  Value of the Week: V’ahavta L’reicha Kamocha

Value of the Week: V’ahavta L’reicha Kamocha

By Rabbi Molly Kane, CLC Faculty Member 

I’m not the best, “camper.” I don’t love not being in air conditioning when the humidity is 100%.  I’m not a big fan of scrambled eggs that were prepared with the intention of feeding almost 500 people. And honestly, I love my summer routines in Brooklyn, a relaxed time at my congregation I can plan and vision for the upcoming school year. All this being said, I still take a week to go up to camp because so much of what I just mentioned (or kvetched about) is environmental and honestly, the true magic of camp, is the people that fill the space. Campers and staff who spend their summers at camp are filled with joy and passion for community and play. Their passion is contagious, and like in summers past, I caught the bug.

I’ve spent three summers serving on Crane Lake Camp faculty. Each time there is a particular value or core Jewish concept that is the theme of the week. This past week while I was there we teached, preached, and talked about Leviticus 19:18, “V’ahavta l’reicha kamocha”, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you’re not familiar with this passage from Torah, you may also recognize this phrase as similar to the, “Golden Rule.” In fact most likely, the golden rule is based on the teaching from Rabbi Hillel, who lived around the time of Jesus.

Hillel taught that he could teach the whole Torah while standing on one foot, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it.” Clearly, Hillel had a few more words than how the Golden Rule exists today. Yes, Rabbis like to talk a lot….but, Hillel’s additional statement is crucial to how Jews and in particular, the Jewish community of Crane Lake Camp live this value. Hillel knew that love and peoplehood are lofty ideas that are not so easy to attain. So he reminds that one must study in order to really understand how to live life by this ideal. And that’s what we did at camp this past week. We took this value and let it be the lens to help us magnify how we want to treat one another at camp. We didn’t just say this is what we should  do we said, let’s figure out how to do it. 

So campers talked about how to treat their bunkmates with kindness and empathy and staff used this value to support their mentorship and care for their campers. Staff used this value to inform their conversations with one another and I even caught a glimpse of the leadership team using this value as a framework for visioning their approach to a few issues. V’ahavta l’reicha kamocha jumped out of our Torah scroll and came alive at Crane Lake this past week.

Camp is where Torah is studied and then lived and that outweighs any need for air conditioning and a freshly prepared omelette. 

Rabbi Molly Kane is the Associate rabbi at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue.  She has worked at Eisner and Kutz Camps and is spending her third summer on faculty at Crane Lake! She enjoys writing and performing stand-up comedy, riding her bike around Brooklyn, baking, and spending time with family and friends.