Give and Take

-Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow, Jewish Education Specialist at the Foundation for Jewish Camp September 21st, 2010

Now that the summer is over we find ourselves basking in the holiday spirit. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
surely gave us time for self reflection. And just when you thought you
could not deal with any more self reflection we are gearing up for Sukkot in which we eat and spend time in a booth called a Sukkah,
meant to be reminiscent of the type of fragile dwellings in which the
ancient Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the
desert after the Exodus from Egypt. As you build and spend time in your
Sukkah this holiday, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the
environment we craft at camp…

Beyond the Sukkah itself, we also turn our attention to the Four Species. About which we read:

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you are gathering
in your produce of the earth, you shall celebrate a celebration of God
for seven days… And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the
fruit of a beautiful tree (etrog), palm branches, the branch of a thick
tree (myrtle, hadas), and brook-willows, and you shall rejoice before
God for seven days. (Leviticus 23:39-40)

The Four Species are a symbol through which we rejoice and celebrate.
It is noteworthy that the verb used by the Torah to describe what we do
is to “take” them. This is not happenstance. For many of us the
experience of joy is connected to the experience of mastery and
ownership. Surely this is something that is taken and not given.

Like the Sukkah itself, camp is a unique environment we create to
bring us to joy and celebration. Camp is unique in that it puts youth
at the center. Where else in society is an 18 year-old the model
citizen because s/he will do anything for his/her 9 year old student or
camp? Camp is special in that we give over the space so that youth can
take it and make of it what they want. Just as we are instructed to
enter the Sukkah to connect to the past, so too we “take” the four
species so we experience the joy of owning our tradition today.

-Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow, Jewish Education Specialist at the Foundation for Jewish Camp

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