There is a special blessing from the Talmud that we are supposed to say when we encounter a large group of people. We are supposed to say:
Blessed is the Wise Knower of Hidden Truths who sees that each person’s knowledge is different from the next, just like each person’s appearance is different from the rest.
When I got to camp this past week, in some ways I was overwhelmed by the large group of people and activities that were going on. But this text grounded me in the idea that each person had something to teach me and that each individual at camp helps to make the entire camp team. The camp experience is about the capacity of the individual AND the collective. There are individuals stars, but at the end of the day, camp is about coming together as a kehillah (community), to be part of something larger than ourselves.
That capacity for greatness is what I have seen this past week on faculty at URJ Camp Coleman. From my perspective, camp is one long, amazing episode of Saturday Night Live.
Dozens of creative minds come together to build a temporary paradise. With a long-term vision, these programmers/unit-heads/counselors/specialists come together to create something beautiful, but ultimately temporary. The set will need to be struck, the cast will change and go home each year, but all of that adds to the feeling that, for a brief moment in time, we the viewers/campers are part of something greater than ourselves.
Camp is the place where we discover more about ourselves and the special role we can play in our community.
Yesterday, URJ Camp Coleman began their Maccabiah games and two days ago Camp Barney Medintz put on an incredible performance of Frozen—Temple Emanu-El kids played starring roles in both.
Individually, these kids are filled with wisdom and unique perspectives, just like our Talmud describes in the blessing above, but their strength comes from their diversity. Together, they are capable of amazing feats of creativity.
Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 58a
Blessed are these summer havens: places where our identities are formed and our communities are created and recreated each day, week, month, and year. May we always find fulfillment in the company of our friends and family. May we always find joy in the freedom to be our truest self. May we know that each of our talents is wanted and needed to complete this world.