Living Camp in the Here and Now

Usually, this space is used to describe the ways in which we are preparing for, and thinking about the summer.  We latch on to words of inspiration from the Torah portion that remind us of the idyllic setting in Conover where we create an intentional and meaningful Jewish community from June through August.  Writing this piece in HaMirpeset Shelanu usually allows that week’s author to suspend all of her realities of the current moment to focus on the culmination of our work—our summer months at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

However, this month, I find myself inspired and thinking about the exact reverse.  Instead of writing about how the work we are doing now is preparing us for the summer, I will share how our summers have prepared us for this moment.

There has been a change at the camp’s year-round office in downtown Chicago.  We learned that folks who daven in an egalitarian setting and need to say kaddish were at a loss for an appropriate mincha minyan in the middle of their work day. In response to this need, the Ramah Wisconsin office on East Wacker Place now hosts an (almost) daily mincha minyan.

Why is it that the Ramah Chicago office is the natural place to host an egalitarian mincha?  The answer is precisely because the purpose of our work in the summer is to infuse our lives with Jewish meaning.  Not “our lives” for eight weeks of the year, rather our lives in the largest sense of time and possibility.  Camp reflects the values of, and our commitment to, Jewish practice, egalitarianism, and community—each of which is embodied daily in our conference room at 12:30pm.  This opportunity to pray and to serve our community in the midst of busy days of e-mails, phone calls and meetings, is an amazing reminder of the bigger picture of why we do what we do.

We begin mincha with the words:

Ashrei yoshvei veytecha od yi’halelucha selah. Happy are those who dwell in Your House; they shall continue to praise You, Selah!

May the purpose of our work in the summer, continue to provide us with inspiration and opportunities to dwell in God’s house all the days of our year.  Selah!

(If you are interested in joining us for mincha, please call the camp office to find out if the minyan is taking place that day!)