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

Red team wins!! It was an energy-packed week at Camp Wise with Maccabia taking center stage. At Camp Wise Maccabia means healthy competition, team building, exercising strong sports skills, and using our best creative minds to develop a fun-filled 36 hours of color wars. This year the main highlight was how cohesive the entire camp community was in participating in every aspect of the events. We enjoyed beautiful weather and each and every person took part in cheering, running, swimming, and singing. It was awesome to see.

This shabbat we read Parashat Korah which tells the story of a group from the Israelite community who take up protest against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. They express anger demanding from Moses and Aaron “Why do you raise yourselves above God’s congregation?” Essentially they ask Moses – “who appointed you in charge? Aren’t we all the same, holy in God’s congregation?” (Numbers 16). In the Israelite story – this is a good example of a naïve teenage moment.

At camp each day we work through discussions and sometimes tensions between different levels of authority in the community- campers, counselors, supervisors, head staff. We also address leadership styles that emerge in cabin groups, too – with an emphasis on trying to offer each camper an opportunity to be a leader in various situations that match their interests. In all of this, we emphasize the Jewish value of kavod, respect and honor towards others as a guiding principle of leadership. We honor others by listening more than talking, by working towards what’s best for the group, and by acting with humility.

Rabbinic commentators conclude that Korah’s uprising is an example of an “argument not for the sake of heaven.” Meaning that their challenge of Moses’s leadership wasn’t justified – they had no reason other than ego aggrandizement. As we reach the end of this third week of camp, we have many opportunities to learn through arguments that ARE for the sake of heaven. We’ve build a foundation of trust in the community over the last three weeks that allows us to go deeper. We explore for example: How do we best understand good sportsmanship? How do we respond differently to matters of injustice in the world? How do we each explore our different paths in spirituality? How do we express our likes and dislikes, while making room for other people’s ideas and opinions, too?

May this shabbat allow us to move a step closer toward the arguments that advance our world in holy directions, and towards more enduring connections and relationships between one another!

Check out some amazing updates from our villages this week along with cabin photos. Also we hope that this beautiful reflection from Ohalim camper Ethan Shneyderman lifts your shabbat as it has done so for us!


Chalutzim had a great time this week leading our teams in cheers during maccabiah, learning how to make shelters during teva and for our caveman evening program, and splashing at the pool to cool down!


Ohalim had a very lake-filled week! They saved the turtles at an evening program and then on the next day canoed over to Annisfield to spend the night camping! Everyone enjoyed singing campfire songs, eating s’mores, telling stories, and having fun as a village.


Noar is having an amazing session! We are really coming together as a village and getting to experience the ~noar magic~. Our camp fires and song sessions have been a huge hit and it’s been awesome hearing the roses and buds of the session from everyone around the village. Can’t forget about the Gaga pit dance parties though!! We are excited to have the most amazing last week of the session in the best village!


Solel started off the week with a field trip to a nearby observatory, getting to explore the trails and stargaze! We had a blast with a song session there. Solel campers carried their Maccabiah teams and helped lead cheers, run between activities, and get the younger campers excited to win! We had an awesome pool party with our Chalutzim buddies and a paint party full of fun! We can’t wait for the last week of camp and more adventures to come.


SITS have had an exciting week. They continue to work on their SIT project which will help to make one of our trails more accessible. They recently have joined the mighty village of ohalim, where they are getting to know a new group of campers and develop a new experience. They also had the chance to join Ohalimers on their overnight! All the while, they are working hard prepping for our Fourth of July carnival which is going to be a blast for all of camp! For all of their hard work, they were recently given a much needed and relaxing in camp day off, followed up by a day trip to Burton circle where they enjoyed time out of camp, coffee and milkshakes! They are all continuing to learn and grow as counselors and specialist and are excited for this final week of camp!

Health Center Update!

Happy Early Shabbat from the Health Center! 

It is week 3 of camp, and the community is well. Our big push is to bring your water bottles with you! They very often get left in the cabin, on the fields, or in activities. We all need to be drinking more water!

Our community health, well-being and safety are always our top priority. We are in continuous contact with our doctors, and are able to schedule campers to see the doctor when they have office hours at camp. We work in conjunction with our camper care team to ensure that everyone is having the best summer possible.

We value our communication with you as their family members, and are always happy to talk to you about your concerns.