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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 18, 2008 / 18 Elul 5768

Is camping the panacea to save Jewry from self-destruction?

By Rabbi Hillel Goldberg



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Before we spend millions answering that question, consider this:


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I begin: I went to a Jewish camp. Loved it. We have six children. All went to Jewish camps. All but one loved them. Jewish camps are a good thing.

But not what they're hyped up to be. Just the opposite.

Camp, the current hyperbole goes, gives Jewish kids a total Jewish environment.

To pray is natural because all the other Jewish kids are praying, too.

Not to mention, all the kids are Jewish.

"To be Jewish" has no dissonance.

No competitors.

It's natural, and, to boot, fun to be Jewish at camp.

Not to mention, the whole experience is in the outdoors.

With G-d.

Direct.

Beautiful.

Because of all this, Jewish identity is transformed at camp.

Get that word: transformed.

The argument today is not that Jewish camp is good for Jewish identity, but positively revolutionary.

Radically transformative.

Worth investing hundreds of millions of dollars in. To solidify Jewish identity, Jewish camp is the best investment.

That's the argument today.

I think all this is exactly backwards.

Here's an issue that gets to my point:

When you plan a "Shabbaton," where's the best place to hold it? In the beautiful setting of the Colorado mountains, or within the comparatively drab walls of the synagogue?

The instinctive answer is: the mountains.

I've asked this question countless times because I've organized many such events.

Everyone I've asked initially says: "It may be more expensive in the mountains, more complicated to plan, but of course it's better there.

"If a person's going to spend a total Shabbes, what could be more influential on his or her religious commitment than a Shabbes in Vail, or Aspen, or Copper Mountain?"

The question is rhetorical.

The answer is taken to be a given: in the mountains.

A no brainer.

Wrong, I say.

For this reason: What is Shabbes, an oddity or a regularity?

Here's the message sent to non-Sabbath observant Jews via a beautiful Shabbes in the mountains:

Shabbes is not for my real life.

Shabbes is an exception.

Shabbes is for the mountains — where I am a couple of times a year.

Shabbes is an oddity.

Nice. Beautiful. Lovely in the outdoors . . . but has nothing to do with my regular life, week in and week out.

A Shabbes in the shul, on the other hand, communicates this: Shabbes is for the city.

Where I live, week in and week out.

Shabbes is for real life schedules.

Shabbes happens for Sabbath-observant people in the normal context of their busy lives.

Shabbes is not an exception.

It's is beautiful even when the setting in not beautiful.

Shabbes is holy even if cars, cacophony and pollution greet me as I exit from shul.

Shabbes is definitive even if the KGB watches my every move, and I have no choice but to observe Shabbes in fear and hiding.

Shabbes provides the fundamental rhythm of my life in its totality, in good times and in bad, in comfortable settings and terrible ones, in breathtaking settings and mundane ones, in riches and in poverty.

Shabbes is Shabbes.

A regularity.

Week in and week out.

That's the message sent by a Shabbes, with meals and a guest speaker, when it is held in the place where Shabbes is always held.

If the goal is merely to have a lovely weekend, then by all means go to the mountains.

But if the goal is to communicate that Shabbes is an integral, indispensable part of a person's normal life, then host that special Shabbes in the place where the intended attendees normally live.

Shabbes is not an oddity.

Nor is Jewish identity.

If the message that Jewish identity is for all time, in all circumstances, then it is best built precisely in the place where there are interferences, competitive events and values.

It is best built where most of the Jewish kids are not praying and not "doing Jewish."

The message of a Jewish camp is: It's great to be Jewish . . . while I'm in camp.

Yeah, all that Jewish stuff is neat . . . for the summer.

Sure, I liked being around Jewish kids . . . for a few weeks.

As I said by way of introduction, I love Jewish camps.

But I love them for what they are, not for what they are not.

They are wonderful getaways, great fun and, yes, an opportunity to intensify a Jewish child's comfort level with other Jewish kids, with prayer, and with Jewish values.

Intensify, yes.

But create? Revolutionize? No, not for most kids.

If a Jewish kid cannot be taught how to live as a Jew in his own neighborhood, with all the distractions that entails, then the Jewish boost from camp will not stick.

At least, not in a transformative, revolutionary way.

Not for most Jewish kids, anyway.

There is no getting away from the hard work.

Jewish identity that lasts is built each small piece at a time, day in and day out, mitzvah by mitzvah, over time, steadily, without interruptions.

Bottom line: Jewish camps are good. But the real investment, the heavy lifting, needs to be not in the few-week framework of the summer, but in the every-day framework of intensive Jewish home life and intensive Jewish education.

I value Jewish camps, but a substitute for day schools — they're not.

If resources are limited, it is not good Jewish public policy to divert heavy investment from Jewish day schools to Jewish camps.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Hillel Goldberg is Executive Editor of the Intermountain Jewish News. Let him know what you think by clicking here.




© 2008, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg