Shabbat in Camp

I love arriving to Shabbat in camp. For one, it’s a time when I know that all of the campers (and staff!) will have showered. Everyone dresses up a bit, or at least puts on a clean shirt. We head down to dinner, light the candles, say kiddush for the juice and the challah. And Chef always prepares a nice meal for us to enjoy. It’s a bit of a calmer, quieter time in the dining hall. It’s different from the chaos of the rest of the week.

From there, we walk back to the Mishkan for a Shabbat service. Going through the liturgy, it’s easy to see the campers that know it from the ones that don’t. I love giving the campers that don’t really know much more than the Shema, exposure to these prayers, and the opportunity to learn and participate.

Our pace slows down for a bit.

There’s very little time or space in our regular lives to slow down. We are all moving at such a fast pace. I live in New York City, and I feel I know that acutely, but I know how full these campers’ schedules are and they live in cities, suburbs and rural places. We are all so busy.

And yet God gave us Shabbat, and told us to rest.

Being the person who writes the schedule for camp, it would be very easy to blow past Shabbat and keep our schedule just as full as the rest of the week. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything on Shabbat, but have a full day of FOB, but we’re intentional about what’s in the schedule and what’s out.

Shabbat Shalom, Camp Gilgal Community!
– Twister


Finding Meaning at Passover

Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday. Scratch that. Passover is my favorite holiday. I love being with a group of people who all know the same weird rituals, and think it’s totally normal. I love learning different Passover rituals than the ones I grew up with. I also love introducing new people to the traditions of Passover and explaining what it all means.

It’s meant different things to me, though, over the years. When I was a kid, Passover was all about the afikomen, the 4 questions, and matzah brei. In high school, I was too busy to really care about Passover and I let it pass me by. In college, I brought friends together and we pulled off our own Seders. I learned my family’s version of matzah brei isn’t the only way to do it. (Sweet vs. Savory – the debate continues!) I’ve been “adopted” by other peoples’ families for the Seder. And on and on Passovers have come and gone. Somewhere in there, celebrating it with my family has become the Passovers I love best.

Deep inside Passover is a lot of meaning. Meaning about things that really do matter – a people gaining freedom from slavery, being redeemed from slavery (basically that we didn’t become free for free it cost something). Passover shows us that, not only is there a God, but this God is involved in the lives of people and cares deeply.

Passover is a story that we retell each year. So we remember it, and if possible, in some ways experience it. That’s what all the weird rituals are about. It’s also one of the clearest stories that shows us that God can (and does!) redeem people. But this wasn’t a one time only event, believe me. God also redeemed people from spiritual bondage when Yeshua gave up his life on our behalf. There was a cost there too. Some of us didn’t (and don’t!) realize that we need to be freed from anything, or rescued in any way. And even though we may not recognize it, God still opened the doors for us to have this freedom, which puts us in relationship to him.

So, what are you going to do this Passover? How are you going to experience the freedom that’s possible? How would a personal relationship with God change your life?

Chag Sameach Camp Gilgal Family!