Friday, June 3, 2016

Shabbat Message - Behukotai - Camp Send Off Shabbat 5776/2016

Shalom Shaarei Kodesh!  

In this week's parashah, Behukotai, Bnai Israel make their final preparations before leaving Sinai for the promised land, they light the menorah, the seven branched candelabra that they placed in the mishkan/Tabernacle, and later, in the holy Temple in Jerusalem.  In Judaism, we are always looking forward to the bright lights of the future.  As we light our own candles, we wonder - who will kindle the lights after us?  This Shabbat will be a truly special weekend at Shaarei Kodesh. On Friday evening, we will honor our congregants who are participants in our Create a Jewish Legacy program at Shaarei Kodesh.  This first cohort of congregants, who we are calling, our "Gate Keepers" have pledged to make an after-lifetime gift to benefit Shaarei Kodesh and other Jewish organizations in South Palm Beach County.  These gifts will help preserve and perpetuate Judaism in our area for years to come.  On Shabbat morning, we will honor the Gate Keepers as well as our children will be attending overnight sleep away camp and/or programs.  Honoring and blessing our children is another way that we look toward the future. 

I am a strong believer in Jewish overnight summer camps because I believe that they are one of the most effective ways to build our Jewish future. Children who went to Jewish overnight camp are more likely to feel emotionally attached to Israel, attend synagogue services monthly, and donate to Jewish causes. There was actually a study done to prove the effectiveness of Jewish overnight camp that I hope you take a look at: CLICK HERE FOR THE STUDY.  I spent nine blessed summers at Camp Ramah Darom in North Georgia, and I'll be teaching at Darom during the first two weeks of second session in mid-July. The Ramah camping movement is the camping arm of the Conservative movement and is one of our most effective programs that have shaped Judaism in America. My summers at Ramah inspired me to become the Jew I am today and I even credit Ramah with my marriage to Alissa! I was interviewed about my experience in the book titled, Ramah at 60: Reflections. As you can see, there is an illustrious list of alumni and I was honored to be part of that list: click here for Rabbi Baum's story.

But there is more than just the Ramah camping system that we will celebrate this weekend.  Last week, we heard about how Camp Judaea has touched the lives of Emmett Lessne and Liora Tuchman.  As part of their Mitzvah Journey, they raised money for camp scholarships and they spoke about their love of camp in their dvar torah.  We also bless our children going Jewish summer programs like USY Pilgrimage, USY On Wheels, Ramah Israel Seminary and those who are attending secular overnight camps.
Please join us for this wonderful weekend of celebrating our collective future!  

Shabbat Shalom, 
Rabbi David Baum

For your viewing pleasure, Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt on the Jewish summer camp experience!