Blog  Jewish Value of the Week: Teshuvah

Jewish Value of the Week: Teshuvah

by Mindy Sherry, RJE, faculty member

In September 2018, Serena Williams played Naomi Osaka in the championship game at the U.S. Open. During the match, Serena had an altercation with the umpire chair. This altercation brought a grey cloud over Naomi’s win and took away from her big moment. In a recent article, Serena reveals that following the match she sent Naomi an apology letter. In the letter, she apologized for how she behaved and that her actions overshadowed Naomi’s first big win. Serena may not have known it, but she was making teshuvah.

This week at Crane Lake our middah, or Jewish value, is teshuvah. The literal translation is “return” or that we are given the ability to return to our natural state. At camp we define teshuvah as seeking forgiveness. Most people think teshuvah is something we only do or think about during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. In reality, we should be making teshuvah all of the time. Throughout this week we have learned several lessons from our faculty about teshuvah.

We explored the idea that teshuvah is not just forgiving other people, but sometimes we have to forgive ourselves. We learned that when we apologize and mean it, this is an act that brings us closer together and closer to God. One of the biggest ideas we explored, is that teshuvah is hard. It is hard to admit you are wrong, it is hard to admit you made a mistake and it is hard to change your behavior. While the faculty was teaching these ideas, we hoped to share examples of famous people or leaders apologizing for their actions and changing the way they do things, but we had a really hard time. I know that our campers can take the act of making teshuvah back to their homes, friends and communities and show our leaders what teshuvah means and how to do it. They will be the examples we use to teach teshuvah in the future.

Mindy Sherry RJE, is the Director of Education at East End Temple in New York City. Mindy has served on faculty at Crane Lake for 6 summers. Mindy lives in New York City.