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Jewish Holidays 3 min read

"Shabbox" Brings Shabbat Home for Campers

By JCC Milwaukee August 4, 2020

Camp Interlaken JCC “Shabbox” a new way to share Shabbat with camp families, alumni

When the Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC leadership had to make the tough decision to suspend the summer 2020 season, the entire Interlaken community grieved. They all knew what it meant to miss a summer at camp: the friendships, the beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Finley, the traditions. And maybe most of all, the Shabbats.

Shabbat at Camp Interlaken is something special—it brings everyone together to observe this important weekly Jewish holiday and celebrate being Jewish as part of a special kehillah (community). From getting dressed up, to the communal Shabbat walk, to reciting the blessings and hearing the answer to “why there are two challot,” to the raucous song session and Israeli dancing in the chadar ochel (dining hall)—campers and staff look forward to each Friday evening with joyous anticipation.

Recognizing the sorrow over what was not to be—and seizing an opportunity to engage with the camp community outside the 54521 Eagle River ZIP code — Camp Interlaken leadership created a “Shabbox” to send to every camper and staff family, so that they could share some of the special camp traditions at home. The Shabbox included things like Shabbat candles and matches, an Interlaken challah cover, and a booklet outlining camp’s Shabbat traditions and songs, as well as fun surprises like a s’mores kit (because what’s camp without s’mores?!), postcards to send to camp friends, and a deck of cards.

Thanks to the generosity of the Clarice S. Turer Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation, we were able to send 380 Shabboxes to every 2020 Interlaken family at no cost. Additional Shabboxes were sold to camp alumni, grandparents, and anyone else who wished to share these special traditions.

On Friday, June 26, nearly 300 families who love camp gathered over their iPads, laptops and smart phones to commemorate what would have been the first Shabbat of Camp Interlaken’s 55th season. Camp counselors and song leaders helped lead a 30-minute interactive experience that evoked some of Interlaken’s best parts of Shabbat.

Our “Shabbox Shalom” was only the first of many engagement experiences for the Camp Interlaken community during this unique summer apart. We hope that the ruach (spirit) felt over the Internet in summer 2020 will move back to 54521 come June 2021.