Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
As we head toward the end of the week and into the peace that is our Shabbat, I am amazed that I have entered my third June in the Valley of the Sun. What makes each June so memorable for me is the start of JCC summer camp. I started going to summer camp at a JCC when I was 6 years old and it is the single greatest reason why I chose to make Jewish communal service my career. Now, I see a new generation of children enjoying camp – their smiles and laughter as they skip through the building with their friends on their way to swimming, the splash pad, gaga ball, sports, and so many other activities that will give them memories, and perhaps friends, to last a lifetime. These are just some of the things made possible by Federation, one of the largest, if not the largest supporter of our Valley’s two JCCs. It is how we, through our donors’ generosity, help to strengthen our Jewish identity and to engage our youngest community members.
This week’s Torah portion is Behaalotecha (when you ascend), the third chapter in the Book of Numbers. These past two weeks, I have witnessed all of the Shemesh campers climbing to new heights, both literally, on Valley of the Sun JCC’s 26-foot rock wall, and figuratively, as they stretch themselves trying new things and making new friends. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have attended summer camps and other programs at the JCC when I was growing up, and I feel privileged to be a part of ensuring that the experiences I had in my youth continue for generations to come.