The United States is celebrating the Fourth of July and here at camp we are celebrating Yom Sport (Sports Day, watch for another post about that later). This morning we added another celebration – we welcomed a new Torah, generously donated by B'nai Emet Synagogue of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Receiving a new Torah is no small thing, and this summer we are blessed to have two new Torahs! We recently received a beautiful sefer Torah from Ner Tamid Congregation of Chicago given in honor of the hundreds of campers and staff members from the congregation who attended Ramah throughout its history. Now we have added a new sefer Torah from B’nai Emet. We celebrated Ramah-style today with a special Hachnassat Torah (Celebration of the Torah). Normally morning tefillot take place by aidah, but this morning campers davened by color for Yom Sport, so Team Kachol (the Blue Team) had the opportunity to take part in this special event with lots of singing, dancing and ruach (spirit).
So how did the new Torah find its way to Ramah? Recently B'nai Emet Synagogue merged with Adath Jeshurun Congregation. In deciding what to do with their collection of Sifrei Torah, B'nai Emet, under the direction of past-president Adeel Saad (whose children were campers and staff members at Ramah Wisconsin), decided to donate one Torah to Ramah Wisconsin.
The celebration this morning focused on moving the B'nai Emet Torah from one home to another. Our Rosh Mercaz, Rabbi Rob Kahn, spoke at the service about how the Torah "is a tree of life"–it not only guides us on how to live our lives, but the Torah is like a life itself. It takes longer to make a Torah than it takes to make a human life, most Torahs live longer than humans, and when a Torah dies it is buried. In the same way, for a person to move from one home to another can be a difficult thing, so we recognize that and try to be respectful of a Torah as we move it from one home to another.