Pesach is about waiting for the inevitable. Relatively early in Abraham’s relationship with God, at the “Covenant Between the Pieces” (ברית בין הבתרים), God lays out the entire cycle: strangers in a strange land, enslavement for generations, triumphant redemption. The promises of progeny and inheriting the Land of Israel are repeated to Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the Children of Israel – even as slaves. And yet the back-and-forth between Moses and God about Moses’ ability to lead his people to freedom, and then between Moses and Pharaoh about the actual terms of Israel’s departure from Egypt, are interminable.

A dear friend once remarked on the beauty of Shabbat. Every week, no matter how harried and hectic she feels on Friday afternoon, at some point in time the sun moves towards the horizon and Shabbat begins, freeing her from the anxiety of anticipation. Every week, the meals are prepared, the house ready, by the time the candles are lit. So too with Pesach – we spend weeks preparing guest lists and menus, shopping, cleaning, and preparing to facilitate the Seder. Some times we feel ahead of the curve, other times far behind it, and yet, year after year, all is ready by the time the sun sets on the 14th of Nisan and, miraculously, another Pesach is upon us. With everything done, we are given a little itty bitty taste of Pesach’s eternal message: from being enslaved (to time, pressure, waiting, and more) to feeling truly free.

Though the lingering bitter cold in much of the Midwest continues to stymie spring’s onset, the growing hours of daylight and brightness of the sun tell us that, indeed, we have entered a new season, and another summer at Ramah is a little more than two months away. The buildup to camp, which begins in early September as we close the books on last summer and begin scheduling recruitment visits, brainstorming and planning, and reaching out to senior staff and candidates for jobs as Roshei Aidah and more, can mirror the preparation for Pesach: sometimes ahead of the curve, sometimes behind the curve, rushed and pressured this minute, seemingly relaxing the next. And then, before we know it, the summer is upon us.

Our aim every summer is to provide a taste of that true freedom Pesach represents for our campers. Like the freedom embodied by the Torah, the experience at Ramah is not without limits, requirements, or values. It is not an absolute freedom that can be a codeword for amorality and anarchy. Rather, our freedom is that provided by a nurturing educational structure that allows our campers to grow into the human beings they have the potential to become, to experience the freedom from time pressures and digital screens. We offer a freedom of possibility and the freedom of time – time to take a walk, enjoy the feel of grass beneath us as we sit and ponder the meaning of life with a new friend, discover a new hobby, be captivated by a dynamic staff member. These are the great freedoms of the summer, those made possible by lived, vibrant Judaism in a shared community.

Pesach – even when it comes very early, like this year – is an important marker in the lead-up to camp. May the 2013 season at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin reach our lofty aspirations and provide a taste of the essential message of this holiday. And may all of us move from waiting for Pesach’s inevitable onset to relishing in its potential to transform us and the world in which we live.

With deep wishes for our entire Ramah family to enjoy a festive, reflective, and meaningful holiday – חג שמח.

Shabbat Shalom.