Or Hadash and Camp JRF: Perfect Together
When my parents first joined Or Hadash, I was not yet born. As they began to search for a synagogue, it was their wish to find a community where they could make a difference, and where their voices could be heard. Upon their initial arrival at Or Hadash, their prayers were, quite literally, answered and they looked forward to raising my older sister (and soon me) in such an empowering Jewish environment.
Having grown up at Or Hadash, I am grateful for the opportunities and values that this community has given to me, no doubt similar to those that first drew my parents in so many years ago. One of the most valuable lessons that Or Hadash has taught me is knowing just how enriching it can be to be a member of a close-knit Jewish community.
I carried that lesson with me when I began the work experience that has continued to help shape my Jewish identity. I spent five summers working at Camp JRF, the first summer camp for youth belonging to today’s Jewish Reconstructionist movement. Camp JRF gave me a meaningful and enduring connection to my Judaism over the summers by infusing Jewish teaching and daily camp life together in a fun and informal way. With Jewish Reconstructionist values at its core, I believe that Camp helped me to find a balance between being a good citizen of the world and being a productive Jewish individual, which enabled me to truly live in two civilizations. I found that Camp helped me “own” my Judaism with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Over the years, Camp strengthened my Jewish identity. To that end, I became more dedicated to promoting and strengthening the Jewish identities of my campers, and also to developing all of our commitment to the formation of a stronger Camp community.
With community at the heart of my Camp JRF experience, I know that it mirrors the mission of Or Hadash, whose atmosphere and traditions of community are at the foundation of my Judaism. These lessons have and will continue to serve me well in my Jewish life.