Words for the Wise – A Shabbat Message from Rabbi Dan Utley

Shabbat shalom to parents, alumni and the whole camp community! What a fantastic week we’ve had here at Camp Wise. Our week has been filled with a ruach (spirit) that spreads from cabin to cabin, lifting all of us up. Noar and Solel villages enjoyed trips off camp this week, some of them including camping outdoors, zip-lining, and kayaking on Lake Erie. Chalutzim/Rishon had a surprise water day and carnival on the rec-field and sang with strong voices around their cookout campfire. Our ILS experience landed in Israel and will spend this Shabbat overlooking the Jerusalem hills. It is so hard to believe we’ve come to the halfway point of session one and that Rishon departs for home on Sunday – we will miss them dearly!

Tomorrow at services we will read from parashat sh’lach the story of the 12 spies that Moses sends to scout out the holy land. While entering the land of Israel to confirm its beauty and gather intelligence on others who may stand in the way, the spies experience fear and uncertainty about their journey ahead. They return to the Israelite camp and 10 of the 12 spies tell a lie, saying, “We cannot go against these people. They are giants and we are but grasshoppers.” (Numbers 13:33). Only Caleb and Joshua tell the truth and work to calm the community after everyone appears ready to throw in the towel.

Sometimes in life, especially in the midst of our fractured world, we learn about news or events beyond our control that might lead us to feel defeated.

In these moments we can forget that we do indeed have powerful control over our own choices in how we respond. Do we react in anger, fear, haste and hysterics (like the Israelites initially did) or do we channel our inner Caleb and Joshua? One healthy way to respond to unfairness and injustice is to give ourselves space to feel and express our emotions, and then begin to channel that energy toward action and tikkun (repair). We do well to remember the words of our sage, Rabbi Tarfon who reminds us not to be daunted by the world’s grief: “The day is short and the work is immense… it is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:16).

At Camp Wise we’re dedicated to social-emotional and moral development. Campers learn how to respond to difficult moments between people, in communities, and ultimately, in society. In our youngest villages this begins by teaching conflict resolution, sharing, listening, and communication through play. In our oldest villages we apply these skills to our lives and communities outside of camp as well. Today especially, our oldest teens and staff feel the weight of the US Supreme Court’s decisions this week. Many of our teens expressed anger and frustration even while still participating in the joyful, active camp environment. We’re working with our teens and staff to discuss our foundational Jewish values and to strive to create space in Shabbat prayers and reflective campfire moments to hold and process a multitude of feelings.

As we move into this beautiful Shabbat may we all be able to hold the dualities of thoughtful reflection and joy, of concern for our world and endless energy for laughter. May the sweetness of Shabbat remind us that there is great potential for kindness, for justice, and for peace even amidst times of strife. We hope you find inspiration for your shabbat from these camper stories and smiling faces from week 2!


C1 had fun at yoga and is looking forward too having fun together in the future.

C2 has been plenty of time swimming and playing sports, especially fun basketball games in the cabin. We’re looking forward to what’s ahead!!

C4 has had an amazing last week at camp. On Monday we had a rest hour surprise and went jet skiing for a second time at the lake. We’re looking forwards to our last shabbat as a cabin at camp and are super sad our time together is ending.

C5 has had such an amazing second week! We’ve been preparing for chalutzim shabbat with songs, dances and creative writing. We had a mini maccabiah and even got to ride the horses!

C6 loved going horseback riding and the Finding Nemo mini maccabiah. They were very enthusiastic about both of the activities/programs.

Shalom from C7! We had an amazing week, we finished up our first session of chugs and got new ones on Thursday! We’ve gone to the lake, the giant swing, found rubber duckys with our names on it and had the most amazing water day!! We had slip and slides, bouncy house slides, surfing station and we even got to dunk some of our counsellors in the dunk tank !! We’re all really looking forward to exploring our new chugs and especially excited for Shabbat ! Chalutzim are running this weeks Shabbat, with all of us having a special role in it from Skit groups to some creative writings. We can’t wait to tell you all about our amazing adventures, With love, Your C7 Mangos ?


This week Ohalim had a great time getting wet on Yom HaMayim! They also made Peppa Pig episodes based on our 6 core values and then were surprised by a special storytime campfire with Rabbi Shana! We ended our fun week of evening programs with a backwards Gordon Ramsay night that ended with everyone getting chipwiches!


N1 embarked on an awesome adventure to Hocking Hills where we canoeing and went on a zip line tour. Each day that goes by we can tell the cabin is getting closer and closer and creating new memories and experiences together.

N2: This week we went to Hocking Hills for our overnight: We canoed in the river and zipped through the trees. Back at camp, we enjoyed riding horses and playing sports. The week has been pretty packed but really fun!

N3 had an amazing time at Put-in-Bay where our cabin got to go out on a 10 person paddle board and swim in Lake Erie on a hot summer day!

N4 has had a great time staying up late to stargaze, travelling to Put-in Bay for kayaking, cave tours, and mini golf, and showing our Noar spirit all around camp!

N6: should be in the pros after all the sports they did this week. They scored goals, hit targets, and and played volley ball on the sand

N7: They all enjoyed playing cards and hanging out together at night, it was a time when everyone got to know each other.

N8: They had a really fun birthday celebration at night in the pool where everyone played volleyball and went down the slides

Solel has had a busy week, taking our first out of camp trip! Our first stop was in Cincinnati, where we went to the Cincinnati Zoo and Jungle Jim’s, an international grocery store! We had so much fun exploring, seeing the animals, and spending time together! Thursday morning we continued our fun in Kentucky on a hike at Burnheim Forest & Arboretum and touring Mammoth Cave. We ended our trip with a surprise stop for Graeter’s ice cream and safely arriving back at camp. We can’t wait to spend another Shabbat together, and have even more fun adventures throughout the rest of the session!