Rachael Speck on April 13, 2018
Of all the things I love about camp, Shabbat is one of the things I love the most. There is nothing more picturesque than the amphitheater on a Friday night. The green of the forest, everyone dressed in white, the natural feel of the bima — it all goes so well together. There is something so special and pure about it, because it brings a unique feeling of peace and calm that can only be created in this space. It’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
The amphitheater is where all the magic happens on Shabbat. It’s where we come together as a camp community to reflect on the week we just had, and to get excited for the week ahead. It’s the only place you get to sing Adon Olam to the tune of your favorite Backstreet Boys song. It’s the only place you can get up on stage and lead a prayer or a reading without having to know any Hebrew at all. It’s the only place you get Saturday Torah Live.
2 out of 88. That’s how many Jews were in my graduating class. For me, there was no bar/bat mitzvah circuit in 7th grade, no walking up street after Hebrew school on Sundays, and no J Serve or any other organized way to connect to my Jewish friends. EKC was where I went to get “my Jewish” every summer.
EKC was my Jewish journey. It led me to everything – my college choice (Indiana University), my sorority (AEPhi), my career (working in Jewish non-profits, and now EKC) and most importantly, my husband.
The “Jewish” you get at EKC is “Jewish” you can’t get anywhere else.
I have so many of my own memories growing up Jewish at camp. I would keep my eye out all year for the best white dresses I could find for Friday nights. I would come home every summer with 100 (no kidding…100) of the same pictures on my disposable camera in the same whites with the same friends in the same spaces. It didn’t matter that it was the same year after year. Every same Shabbat memory was as important as the last. It was the only Jewish I got all year long. Sitting in that amphitheater every Friday night made me comfortable with my Judaism. It made me feel like I belonged.
Every kid needs camp. It’s what I tell myself when I come to work every day. But why? Because every kid needs camp to experience Jewish in a way they can’t experience it anywhere else.
So how do we preserve Shabbat at camp? We take care of our sacred spaces. We preserve them so we can ensure that the Shabbat experience is there for generations to come. So that the camper who only gets Jewish at camp can have their first Friday night experience in the amphitheater be a defining moment in their Jewish journey.
You can do your part to make sure every kid gets that experience, and has a comfortable tushy in the process. Between April 16 and April 26, you can donate to EKC’s Tush Push! Our goal is to raise $43,000 in 10 days to build new benches in our amphitheater in time for Summer 2018.
We’ve made so many improvements over the years to preserve the future of EKC. This is our next immediate need. If we act now, we can build these benches in time for camp. The amphitheater is the life blood of Jewish life at camp. Every camper, staff member, and EKC alum has created memories in this space. It’s where we truly become a family as we participate in the meaningful weekly ritual of Shabbat. It’s where all those Shabbat concert memories and Color War breaks are held. This is a space we can all connect to.
Summer is coming soon. I can feel it. The sunsets are later and the days are longer. Slowly but surely the weather is getting warmer. Our first all-camp Shabbat is only weeks away. I can’t wait to look out into the amphitheater, seeing nothing but whites and green forest. Campers and staff with tushies on brand new stone benches, fully experiencing the magic of Shabbat at camp.
Please help make sure every camper gets that experience by donating to our EKC Tush Push.
CLICK HERE to DONATE
Rachael Speck, Director of Communications & Alumni Engagement, Emma Kaufmann Camp, would love to hear from you. Please contact her at 412-697-3539 or fill out the form below and she’ll get right back to you.