Why Camp? A Shabbat Message

May 22, 2013

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Shabbat message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter.

There's a famous story about Jimmy, a loyal summer camper who misses camp so much after coming home for the school year. His memories of Shabbat are so powerful, especially the Havdalah Ceremony at sunset on the edge of the lake on Saturday nights with wine, spices, and a brightly lit, braided candle, that during Shabbat back home he is particularly sad and filled with nostalgia. His mother, worrying about his happiness at home, has a striking suggestion: "Jimmy," she says, "if you want, we'll do our own Havdalah Ceremony at home!"

"Oh, Mom," he whines, "We can't do Havdalah . . . we don't have a lake!!!"

At all of our JCC summer camps (with or without lakes), the Sabbath is SUCH an important part of the camp experience.

      • Albert & Ann Deshur JCC Rainbow Day Camp: Shabbat is a BIG part of the program. Every Friday after a special hot dog lunch we have our special Shabbat program featuring the TALKING TORAH! And . . . two family Shabbat programs happen every year - a family lunch program, and an evening Shabbat dinner.
      • Gan Ami Aleph Camp: Friday morning special "Shabbat Sing" with the inimitable Wendy Cohen and her guitar, followed by individual Oneg Shabbat celebrations in the various smaller groups.
      • Gan Ami Gesher Camp: a "Shabbat Sing" with Wendy at the Hy & Richard Smith JCC WATER PARK, along with a pre-Shabbat swim!
      • Shemesh Camp: Fantastic Shabbat activities on Fridays - Challah braiding and Shabbat stories told by Milwaukee Jewish Community leaders. For many campers, receiving weekly (chocolate) kisses just before the Shabbat is a definite highlight!
      • Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC: Shabbat at Interlaken is a full Shabbat experience - Singing & Dancing, Sabbath Meals, Services, Special Activities . . . there's even Havdalah by the Lake!

Our camps are fun for everyone. But when it comes to making connections to community and tradition, the Shabbat is such an important part of how we build identity and community. We're in the business of creating wonderful memories. Jewish summer camps in general and JCC Summer Camps specifically, create such powerful memories of Shabbat - Memories for life.