By Cantor Brad Hyman, Crane Lake Faculty Member
What is the most important thing in your life? Really take a moment and think about it. I have heard many kinds of scenarios that start out with, “You have ten minutes to leave your home with what you are able to carry.” What would you take? Some might grab important documents for identification, others may grab irreplaceable photographs from relatives no longer able to retake them and finally, many would immediately go for their pets.
When we really think about it, the things we prize most are not things at all but rather people and the memories associated with those people. After all, things can often be replaced, but the people we keep closest to us, cannot. Agreed, through many different stages of our lives, the faces of those people will change but the roles they play in our lives are what we come to count on. I place great value in what camp has done for me, for my own children and what camp does for hundreds of people each summer.
Here at URJ Crane Lake Camp, where I have faithfully served as faculty for ten summers, I have many memories of people I associate with camp and the time spent here. I have watched campers grow up here, become staff or even assistant directors and my fellow faculty make this a wonderful place to want to give my time and energy when I might otherwise be preparing for High Holy Days in my office on Long Island. I am very lucky to call this place a second home, where I gain strength for the year as well as looking forward to being back as much as any camper might.
What do we value, here? Every week we are given a new value, and while it is up to the faculty to help define it, it is surely up to the campers and staff to live these values. This week, we explored the Hebrew concept of “toch’cha” or rebuking someone in a positive way. Let’s face it: we all make mistakes. How we are able to offer constructive correction to our friends, and how we are able to receive constructive criticism will often make or break a moment. It is said that we should only offer correction when our aim is to truly help another, rather than boasting or by appearing wiser in the action. When we combine this lesson with last week’s message of treating others as you would want to be treated, we are reminded that toch’cha is to be handled with the upmost sensitivity and love. If I am wrong, I hope you will all let me know!
As I finish up my nearly two-week stay here at camp, I am filled with emotion. This is my final summer as the parent of a camper, and I am hopeful that my children have as much love and respect for camping as I have. Who knows? Perhaps one day my daughter and I will both serve camp in some meaningful way, her on staff and I as faculty. Thank you, dear parents, for trusting in camp to help shape your children in the most positive ways- building confidence, independence, Jewish pride and a strong identity. I hope to return next summer and see how we have all grown.
Many blessings for us all,
Cantor Brad Hyman
Brad Hyman is the Cantor at Temple Chaverim in Plainview, NY. He is celebrating his tenth summer on faculty at Crane Lake!