Words for the Wise – We are ONE!

The end of week four is upon us! Here at the Mandel JCC and Camp Wise, we are grateful for the partnership of parents, community organizations such as Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland, the Jewish Education Center, and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, our seasonal staff members, and most of all the incredible campers who have made this Trip 1 2024 an absolute blast! This week we welcomed our youngest campers – Machar – for one week of incredible fun!!!

Sometimes our oldest campers teach us of the bigger picture and the most valuable lessons that can be learned through camp…namely that as a Jewish people, we are all ONE! This week we received photos and reflections from our 11th graders who are presently enjoying two weeks at Camp Szarvas in Hungry!  After two weeks of travel and learning through Prague, Vienna and Budapest, this leadership program jumped right into a brand new community.  Camp Szarvas is the JDC’s Lauder International Camp for Jewish kids and teens from around the globe.  The 22, 11th graders from Camp Wise represent the only American delegation is Szarvas’ first session.

In their videos and pictures we’ve seen our group involved in Jewish learning, activities, and exchanges with teens from many different communities including Latvia, Hungary, the UK, and Ukraine. Through ruach (spirit)-filled song sessions and team-building exercises campers share the awesome traditions of Camp Wise, like Spirit Circle, singing Taylor Swift at the top of their lungs, roses-thorns-buds and more. Our group has begun to branch out socially, too, making friends and connections in new communities.

The experiences and the joy that we see though this exchange reminds us of the importance of internalizing that the Jewish people are ONE. We may live across oceans, speak different languages, and eat very different foods, but there exists a shared sense of history and values in common that bind us. This year in particular has challenged the sense of Jewish solidarity and unity in regards to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.  In these times, making individual and authentic connections throughout the Jewish world and strengthening our bond is ever more essential.

Back here at Camp Wise we’ve solidified our sense of kehillah (community) and oneness, too, as we move each day closer to the end of the session. This week we’ve celebrated World’s Fair (where each community of International staff share traditions from their country), watched fireworks and enjoyed a carnival on the 4th of July, celebrated our talents as a community in the camp play, Beauty and the Beast, and now enjoy the ever-spectacular Solel Shabbat! It has been a very busy week…and oh yeah… we had an EPIC mud party on July 4th afternoon as the rains poured down. This was a week we will not soon forget.

Check out some of the best highlights from this week in the pictures below – behind each smiling face or arm around the shoulder lies a story of connection and friendship and of our community growing closer each day and each summer!  Shabbat shalom!