By: Leah Nadich MeirI’m honored and happy to have the chance to wish you – the graduates of Yitro’s 4th cohort – a “Yasher Koach” and send you on to the next step in your learning – because, as you know, Jewish learning is never-ending! AVI CHAI has enthusiastically supported four cohorts of Yitro Fellows because it reflects so well our commitment to Jewish living, learning and peoplehood. AVI CHAI’s 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.” Having spent 12 years in Jewish camps, sent my own children to Jewish camps and visited many camps on behalf of AVI CHAI, I can’t think of a better definition of Jewish summer camp than “Jewishly meaningful, engaging and full of joy.” You, your directors and staff members as well as your campers as part of what we call the “energizing nucleus” of Jewishly committed and educated young people who will lead the North American Jewish community into a bright future. And you, the associate and assistant directors, are 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 (for whom this program is aptly named), wisely counseled him that one leader, even Moses, can’t build a vibrant Jewish community alone; a leader needs a “leadership team” who can work with him or her and then eventually, become the leaders themselves. You’ve involved yourself in all the learning offered by your very special faculty members and mentors. You’ve benefitted from the exchanges with other Yitro Fellows whose camps are similar, and at the same time, very different from yours. You’ve embarked on what I hope will be many years of dialogue, exchange of ideas and sharing of practice. You have grown as Jewish educators. I know that you’ve chosen to continue that growth, and to lead your staff members in viewing themselves as Jewish educators. You also have valuable bonds that you’ve developed with one another that have given you a unique community of colleagues for many years into the future. We look forward to hearing about your continued Jewish learning as you hone your leadership skills. We read in the coming week’s Parasha of Nitzavim, וְלֹ֥א אִתְּכֶ֖ם לְבַדְּכֶ֑ם אָנֹכִ֗י כֹּרֵת֙ אֶת־הַבְּרִ֣ית הַזֹּ֔את וְאֶת־הָאָלָ֖ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ כִּי֩ אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֨ר יֶשְׁנ֜וֹ פֹּ֗ה עִמָּ֙נוּ֙ עֹמֵ֣ד הַיּ֔וֹם לִפְנֵ֖י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ וְאֵ֨ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵינֶ֛נּוּ פֹּ֖ה עִמָּ֥נוּ הַיּֽוֹם׃ I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here this day. And who are those who are “not with us here this day”? Those are the future generations, the children, your campers as well as your staff members. YOU are the leaders who will transmit the covenant, the learning and the joy of Judaism to them. עלו והצליחו Go out there and succeed!
AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.