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What’s a Rabbi Do Up at Camp?

We met yesterday with some people from a Foundation who were interested in partnering to further deepen the Jewish educational experience at camp. They asked us a series of questions including: What do you do as Rabbinical faculty at camp? We asked: Expected responsibilities or unofficial ones? They asked: Both!

What does a Rabbinical faculty member at the URJ Camp Newman do?

  • Lead services and help others lead services
  • Help the Rosh (unit head) lead tochnit, or daily content programs
  • Meet with cabin groups for Torat Chayim, relaxed discussion about explore how Torah lives in our lives
  • Support the Rashim (unit heads, plural) as they work with counselors and their campers
  • Teach adult learning “lunch and learn” sessions – this week a panel on tattoos and Judaism
  • Partner with the Infirmary staff to comfort sick campers, especially when they are from our congregations
  • Tutor Bar/Bat Mitzvah students to keep them on track in their studies
  • Orient newer faculty members on our responsibilities at camp
  • Meet with the eidah (unit) staff to brainstorm programs and manage camper problems
  • Provide support for HUC Rabbinic/Education students who give their summers to help lead camp (three current and past Or Ami interns/faculty are Education and/or Tefillah/service Directors)
  • Fill in wherever the Directors need help

We also have a lot of fun, hanging with our friends, sharing ideas about synagogue programming and leadership, drafting future High Holy Day sermons, reading, talking walks in the beautiful forests, go wine tasting, watch our kids make friends and grow up, climb the 50 foot tower…

We Rabbis come to camp for so many reasons:

  • Camp is one of the premier Jewish educational and Jewish living environments, and we want to help create and sustain it
  • Camp provides a real time laboratory for informal Jewish education
  • Camp offers a place for spiritual renewal for us too
  • Camp allows us to interact with our congregant kids in informal ways (18 Or Ami kids and staff are up here this summer)
  • Camp is so much fun
  • Camp gathers together some of the most creative rabbis which allows us to share ideas to bring home to our congregations
  • Camp, like life in general and sometimes better, allows us to watch our kids grow in a loving, supportive environment with positive Jewish role models.

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