Please enjoy a d’var Torah this week from Eliana Kaufman. Eliana was a camper at Ramah for six summers and this will be her tenth summer at camp. She is graduating from Tulane University with a bachelors in English and will be pursuing American Sign Language Interpreting in the fall.
Reflections on Parashiot Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
by Eliana Kaufman
What a strange year it has been! Between quarantining, wearing masks, hoarding hand sanitizer, and getting vaccinated, we are in some brand-new territory. For the first time ever in Ramah’s history, camp did not meet last summer.
For the first time in my entire life, too, I did not go to any kind of Jewish camp that summer, and I know that this was the case for a lot of people. No cinnamon rolls, no Yom Sport, no running to tzorchania (storage room) for toilet paper, no watching the sunset over our beautiful agam (lake) during Kabbalat Shabbat. It was a very strange and disconcerting feeling. It was an experience that everyone had to adjust to. What will the summer look like when I was supposed to go to Ramah and now I can’t?
And now here we are a full year later. Camp is so close, so near, and emotions are running high. Where will I go first when I get back? What song will I sing first? What tarbut (activity) should I sign up for? And with these feelings of excitement are also feelings of worry. What will it be like to see people I haven’t seen in two years? Will it feel odd? Or awkward? Will we still be friends? Can we hug each other?? All of these feelings are new, so they are scary, and all of them are so normal.
The second of this week’s parashiot (Torah readings) is Kedoshim, which means “holy ones.” In this parshah are many rules and commandments that we must follow in order to make ourselves holy like God. It is also where we find one of the most famous commandments “v’ahavta lereicha kamocha,” “you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” When I think about the nervous thoughts we may all be feeling about this summer, I find myself returning to that quote. It is important to remember that while we may be feeling a little nervous about the newness of this summer, everyone else around us is feeling the same way. Will Ramah look different this summer? Absolutely. But it will still be the beautiful and magical place we all know and love and wait for every year. So long as we maintain kindness and compassion for each other and remember to love our neighbor as ourselves, this will truly be an unforgettable summer. Love your neighbor, your bunkmate, your madricha (counselor); be patient with them, remember the year we all have experienced, and how we may be different people. So long as we can do this, I know we will have an incredible kayitz (summer) filled with fun, singing, kikar dancing, laughing, and, of course, cinnamon rolls. Shabbat Shalom.