It is my pleasure to welcome a guest writer this week, Federation’s Director of Campaign & Women’s Philanthropy, Sheryl Press. I hope you enjoy her message.
Shalom Chaverim (Hello Friends),
I write this message having just dropped my kids off at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, where they are traveling to their “happy place,” Camp Ramah in Ojai, California. Will my husband and I miss them?…maybe a little; will they miss us?…probably not, because they’ve been looking forward to this day for many, many months, especially having missed last year due to the pandemic.
These past couple weeks my social media feeds have been filled with posts of Jewish day camps and overnight camps gearing up to welcome campers, pictures of over-stuffed duffle bags awaiting camp pickup, and many teens heading off to Israel for life-changing summer experiences – it is so wonderful to see things somewhat “back to normal.” I must admit I get a bit verklempt (overcome with emotion) as I scroll through the posts, partially wishing I could be one of those kids heading off on an exciting adventure but also knowing that these kids are having Jewish experiences that will help to shape them into Jewish adults – my kids included.
“What is your favorite part of camp,” my kids are often asked by friends and family. And, while they both look forward to Camp Ramah’s famous chocolate muffins, the delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice from Ramah’s orange groves, some time away from me and my husband, and reconnecting with friends, my son’s answer is always “Shabbat, the ruach (camp spirit) — there’s nothing like it.” I am filled with pride (and truth be told some joyous tears) as I know that this camp experience is instilling in him, and in my daughter, strong Jewish roots and values that will help to shape them into the adults they become. And, I know that I’m doing my little part to help sustain the Jewish people for the next couple generations to come.
This week’s Torah portion is Balak (the name of the main character) in the Book of Numbers, the fourth in the five Books of Moses.
In it, Balak asks the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. Three times he tries but is unable to; and he blesses them instead saying “how good are the tents of Jacob the tabernacles of Israel.”
Being able to send our children to overnight Jewish summer camp is yet another way to exhibit this age-old blessing. As I light my candles and welcome in Shabbat this week, I will be thinking fondly of my kids in their “happy place” in Ojai.
Light candles Friday evening at 7:24pm
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 8:25pm
Director, Campaign & Women’s Philanthropy
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix
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