I was inspired by my friend Rabbi Elisa Koppel’s #blogelul post tied into Throwback Thursday. Since it is still Thursday in my time zone as I write this (but after sundown, so technically the 3rd of Elul!), I am going to stop and today, even though I don’t have any #TBT pictures to include at the moment.
Elisa and I met at the URJ Kutz Camp, and her post was about prior summers with URJ (formerly UAHC) Urban (formerly JFTY) Mitzvah Corps. This of course got me thinking about camp – shocking, I know. It was 20 years ago that I spent my first summer at Kutz. After the first week, I called my mom and cried that I wanted to come home. After the second week, I called my mom and cried that I wanted to stay the whole summer. I had found the home of my heart, my spiritual home, there in the Warwickian Hills. In the Wing (z”l) and in the TC cabins. In the Teyatron and the Pagodas. With people whom I had not known in May 1993 but who by July 1993 had become my dearest friends. In the songs we sang by the campfire and the songs we sang in the Chadar Ochel on Erev Shabbat while the candles burned on the fireplace mantel. Because yes, we used to be able to do that and somehow did not fear that the candles were a fire hazard and the floor might cave in to the Program Room below, even though we should have.
I think of this now and appreciate what a blessing it was to have been able to spend that first summer at Kutz, and the even greater blessing that this community continues to be part of my life 20 years later. The blessings of friendships cultivated at Kutz that have withstood the tests of time and distance (particularly those that began in a pre-cell phone/email/Facebook era). The blessing that allows my children to also consider this place home before they are even old enough to be Program Participants. The blessing of teaching amazing teen leaders each summer, and learning so much from them. The blessing of strength I receive by my connection to this holy community, a Kehillah Kedoshathat exists even when summer is but a distant memory.
“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But, because I knew you… I have been changed for good.”