AVI CHAI has enthusiastically supported overnight Jewish summer camps because they reflect so well our commitment to Jewish living, learning and peoplehood. As our aspirations state: “Our best hope for attaining this vision of the future is through a focused investment in educational experiences for Jewish youth which are Jewishly meaningful, engaging and full of joy.” After spending 12 years in Jewish camps, sending my own children to Jewish camps and visiting many of your camps, I can’t think of a much better definition of Jewish summer camp than “Jewishly meaningful, engaging and full of joy.”
AVI CHAI see the leaders, staff members and campers as the Jewishly committed and educated young people who will lead the North American Jewish community into a bright future. And the professional leadership of those camps are the ones entrusted with infusing those camps with Jewish values, content and tradition. It’s an “awesome” (in the original meaning of the word) responsibility. Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law, wisely counseled him that one leader, even Moses can’t build a vibrant Jewish community on his own; a leader needs a “leadership team” who will eventually themselves become the leaders.
As we read in the book of Bereishit, when Jacob is traveling and still unsure of his place and where he’s headed, he dreams of a ladder with angels going up and down between heaven and earth. When he wakes, he exclaims:
וַיִּיקַ֣ץ יַעֲקֹב֮ מִשְּׁנָתוֹ֒ וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אָכֵן֙ יֵ֣שׁ יְהוָ֔ה בַּמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָנֹכִ֖י לֹ֥א יָדָֽעְתִּי׃ “Surely the Lord is present in this place and I didn’t know it!”
“Achen Yesh HaShem BaMakom Hazeh…” – the Lord is present in these summer camps full of children and young adults. These are sacred places because of what is happening within them
As the summer of 2018 quickly approaches, take a moment from the frenetic preparations in which you are all immersed to accept our thanks in advance for inspiring a generation of young Jews. Alu Ve’hatzlichu – go forward and succeed!