Monthly Archives: July 2016

2016 Bogrim – Week 5

This marks the end of yet another exciting week in Bogrim. We began the new session with much enthusiasm for new electives and yahadut classes. From stand up paddle boating to cooking, and from farm-based Jewish learning to a class on Hamilton, the musical, and its relations to Jewish values, there hasn’t been a dull moment. The Edah has also had a lot of fun with Meah Milim– the new Hebrew language initiative at camp. It’s an amazing opportunity to bring Hebrew informally into the camp environment.

This Shabbat we are discussing issues regarding the LGBTQ community and how it is presented in high school settings and in Camp. We will be discussing progress and activism around discrimination  and how we, as Jewish adults,might approach LGBTQ issues.

Shabbat shalom!

Hannah Kober
Rosh Bogrim

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2016 Cochavim – Week 5

We had an amazing first week in Cochavim! We loved greeting our chanichim and madrichim at the buses, getting to know each other at our first few peulot erev, and having a blast at our boker tzrif. What a terrific start!  We’re looking forward to an amazing and restful first Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom,

Didi Kalmanofsky
Rosh Cochavim


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2016 Nitzanim – Week 5

Nitzanim welcomed 22 amazing new chanichim into our edah this week! On Monday, we went roller skating with all of the full-season machaneh aleph chanichim. On Tuesday, each tzrif wrote and performed a silly song for the edah. Wednesday was our first full day with swimming, omaniyot, rikkud, sport, and yahadut. We’re looking forward to spending more time together  on Shabbat,  getting to know each other even better!

Shabbat Shalom.

Sarah Davis
Rosh Nitzanim


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2016 Shorashim – Week 5

Shorashim had a great start to second session!  We began with an icebreaker peulat erev consisting of a variety of getting-to-know-you games, learned about how to make tefillot personally meaningful, and enjoyed rollerskating on Monday!  This week is  Shabbat Pinchas and we will learn about helping one another.

Shabbat Shalom!

Naomi Weinblatt
Rosh  Shorashim

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2016 Tzeirim – Week 5


Tzeirim began Sunday by saying goodbye to 20 first month chanichim.  On Monday, Tzeirim went to an arcade and had the opportunity to roller blade with the rest of machane aleph. The chanichim and madrichim had an awesome time riding around, playing games and winning prizes. On Tuesday we welcomed 20 new chanichim into Tzeirim and began getting to know each other in a reverse talent show.  Over the course of the week, we also played a live pokemon-go game, competed in a girls basketball inter-camp game, celebrated a bar mitzvah and enjoyed boker tzrif. We are looking forward to this first Shabbat with all of the new chanichim!

Shabbat Shalom

Emily Rebenstock
Rosh Tzeirim

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2016 Solelim – Week 5

Solelim said good-bye to the first session chanichim on Sunday and before the second session chanichim arrived we participated in Yom Chatunah (Wedding). We explored various Jewish wedding rituals and prepared for the culminating event of the day, a mock wedding full of ceremony, dancing, and singing.

Second session began by welcoming eleven wonderful Solelimers into our edah. As part of the week, Solelimers competed in a spelling bee, defeated the evil pigs in human Angry Birds, and had a blast during casino night.

This Shabbat, Solelim will learn and study the teachings of Abraham Joshua Heschel in ShaRadical Amazement (Shabbat Radical Amazement). We’ll explore how one can get the most out of each moment in life and and be in awe of all the wonders that exist around us.

Shabbat Shalom.

Noam Kornsgold
Rosh Solelim

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2016 Gesher – Week 5

This week was jam packed for Gesher! Monday, Yom Chof – a day at the beach, was spent at the agam, playing on the water toys, kayaking, and drinking smoothies. It was a wonderful day. Throughout the week, Gesher worked hard CITing their chanichim, as they welcomed  new campers who arrived for second session!  This week, Gesher had the privilege of listening to two Holocaust survivors, grandparents of a Gesher chanichah. Today, Boker Tzrif, we enjoyed a BBQ and  scavenger hunt and anticipate a  relaxing Shabbat together!

Shabbat Shalom!

Deb  Pollack
Rosh Gesher

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2016 Machon – Week 5

Machon is really on the move!  Last night,  Machon’s sensational production of The Wiz impressed the entire machane. Our Yom Daled was dedicated to “I love Camp because…..” and today’s Boker Tzrif  allowed the chanichim to bond with their tzrif .  We’ll continue with tefillah electives  and look forward to another amazing Shabbat.  Everyone is getting psyched for the second Machon trip that leaves on Sunday. We are headed to New England and can’t wait!

Shabbat Shalom.

Gideon Weiss
Rosh Machon


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D’var Torah – Parshat Pinchas

For What We Do in Moderation, They Will Do To Excess:
A Dvar on Parashat Pinchas and Leadership

by Julie Wohl

julie wohlIf there is one thing that our chanichim and our tzevet (our campers and our staff) are working on collectively and individually at camp, it is this:  We are all leaders and aspiring leaders.  So much of camp is about challenge and growth and becoming.  And, as any good Jewish leader/teacher will tell you, the Torah itself is filled with a great variety of examples and models of leadership. When we look at Moses or Miriam, or Abraham or Sarah, we can find inspiration for ways to lead and how to act; and while on closer examination we may find some troubling behaviors (dishonesty, quickness to anger, impatience, to name just a few), we learn even from this.  We are taught to see that our Biblical ancestors were human, and we are able to learn from both their strengths and their weaknesses.  When faced with troubling behaviors we learn to accept that no one is perfect. It is a good reminder for all of us to be understanding and compassionate with all of our fellow humans. It can also serve to keep our egos in check—for though we may be leaders, we are certainly not perfect. No matter where we are on our leadership journey, we have much to learn.  However, even with this in mind, this week we are presented with a story that on its face presents a highly problematic (to put it mildly) model of leadership.

In our portion, God has sent a plague amongst the Jewish people as punishment for the crimes of assimilation with the Moabite people and for worshipping their gods.  Pinchas, a son of Aaron and a priest, becomes incensed at seeing an Israelite with a Moabite and violently kills them in God’s name (see, I told you it was problematic).  Even more troubling, God seems to pretty clearly endorse Pinchas’s actions.  Our Torah portion says that after the killing, God ends the plague (thus saving the Jewish people), and grants Pinchas a covenant of peace, a brit shalom. We read:

“Pinchas has turned back my hot wrath from upon the Children of Israel by expressing zealously My zeal amidst them. And so I did not finish off the Children of Israel in My zealotry. ” Therefore I say: Here! I give him my Covenant of Shalom; it shall be for him and his descendants after him a covenant of priesthood forever, because of his zealotry for his God, through which he made-atonement for the Children of Israel.”

 As we read through this section of our Torah portion, we may find ourselves surprised or even repulsed. Is this really suggesting that God endorses violence as a path to peace? That killing in God’s name can ever be justified? That one man can kill another in order to make atonement (isn’t that just a little bit like human sacrifice?)  Exactly what lessons are we supposed to derive from this portion?  For answers, we will look more closely at this passage, but before we do that, let’s see what happens next.

After this accounting of violence and reward we are given a list of land divisions by tribe, and then Moses asks God to name a leader for the Jewish people.  Given that the name of our Torah portion is Pinchas, and that we learn that Pinchas’ own violence is what has saved the people from God’s plague, it might make sense that Pinchas would be chosen as leader.  However, it is not Pinchas, but Joshua whom God names as the leader of the community.  Where Pinchas is known for passion, violence and zealotry, Joshua is recognized as “an inspired man,” a wise man.  A true leader of the people. Joshua is no less dedicated to God, but shows his leadership in a more tempered, thoughtful way.

Certainly this is a much more reasonable choice.  But still, what are we to make of Pinchas? How can we understand his actions, and the offering of the Brit Shalom that seems to be a reward for zealotry and violence?

Rabbi Arthur Waskow suggests that we might have a different way of reading this text.

Rabbi Waskow suggests that instead of reading this and concluding that God was pleased with Pinchas, we can read the text this way:

“In a blind rage, consumed with jealousy/zealotry, I began killing My people with the plague. Then Pinchas imitated Me: in his own blind and jealous rage, he turned his hand to killing. “His jealous/ zealous act opened my eyes, shocked me into shame at what I Myself was doing. That is why I stopped the plague; that is why I made with Pinchas my covenant of shalom/ peace.”

In this reading, God recognizes that what the leader does in moderation, the followers will do to excess.  If the leader is harshly critical, the followers may be overtly cruel.  God recognized that in sending the plague as a punishment, His follower, Pinchas, echoed that into an act of greater personal violence.  God took the plague away, not as a reward for Pinchas, but, according to Rabbi Waskow, as an act of t’shuvah. God repented and called off the plague, because the repercussions of zealous violence were shameful.  The rewarding of the Brit Shalom was in fact a remorseful act, a way of bringing about change and peace.  Likewise, in naming Joshua the community leader, God made it clear that passion needs to be tempered by wisdom.

At camp, we are leaders and aspiring leaders.  And part of being a leader is recognizing that our followers will not only do what we say and do, but they will expand upon it.  If we lead with an example of harshness or cruelty, we may find that our campers (or our junior counselors, or our friends, or for some of us, our own children) will learn from that, and expand upon it. But if we lead with an example of love, of compassion and wisdom, our followers will expand upon that as well.  So let us remember the significance of our actions—for those who follow us won’t simply do as we do, they will do more.  Let us all lead by example, in the ways of wisdom, kindness and compassion, and hope that those with eyes upon us will do the same.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Shabbat Shalom from Wingdale – Week 5

DSC00863It’s been a fabulous week in Machaneh Ramah. Ta’am, our youngest campers, entering third grade, arrived on Monday for a terrific one week taste of Camp. Surrounded by  marvelous madrichim, they have acclimated well and taken advantage of everything Camp has to offer.

We welcomed our second session campers on Tuesday.  Immediately unpacking, these campers slipped right into the swing of the camp routine.  I am more than proud of the diverse options of our robust program. Walking around Camp, I greet hikers, bikers, cooks, dancers, baseball players, bakers, Ultimate enthusiasts, soccer players, high ropes and rockwall climbers, artists, musicians, swimmers and performers everyday..

Last night,as I watched the Machon production of The Wiz, I was once again awed by our incredibly gifted and talented campers.  Our hofa’ah staff, too, need to be commended for their tremendous expertise.

Today’s Boker Tzrif gave way for clever planning by our madrichim.  Promoting a sense of unity, they planned bunk activities, lasting the entire morning. A break in the regular routine organically initiated a sense of bunk bonding.

Some CRB Board of Trustees members will be joining us for Shabbat and many more will be attending our annual summer Board meeting on Sunday.  This very special group supports and helps to govern Camp. It is always thrilling to host our Board and enable them to visit and observe Camp in action.

Bruchim Habaim and Shabbat Shalom


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