Shana Says: Making Mensches

“The Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Yehudah Loeb, d. 1609) created a golem (a being from clay that came to life), and this was a great wonder. But how much more wonderful is it to transform a corporeal human being into a mensch!” – Rabbi Israel Salanter 

I have spent the past eight summers teaching and reminding campers and staff that while we often define the Yiddish word “mensch” as a good or kind person, the actual translation is simply “person.” (Literally “man”, but we are going to be mensches and use the more inclusive “person”)

When I ask them to ponder why in Judaism the word for a good and kind person is simply a person, I get some variation of the same two answers: We all have the ability to be good and kind people and we are all expected to be good and kind people.  How do we fulfill this responsibility? We live by the values that Judaism and the Torah teach us.

For many years now, Camp Wise has had Six Core Values that inform our work, who we are as a camp community, and how we guide our campers and staff to be mensches both while at camp and in life. As we prepare for this coming summer, the head staff reviewed our core values and decided that while most of them still reflected who we are and our goals, they needed some updating.  You can find our updated list of SEVEN CORE VALUES HERE.

As we have for the past few summers, in addition to learning more about all our core values, we will be focusing on one in particular. This summer it will be Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests.  Beyond just those who visit, we will discover how camp can be a welcoming community where everyone who enters our gates feels a sense of belonging. We will further delve into the importance of creating communities of belonging wherever we are – school, extracurricular activities, religious communities – and how we go about making other feel welcome just as they are – how we can always be a community of mensches.