Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Mashgiach: Solelim Interview and Expression of Hakarat HaTov
How do we know the camp food is kosher? Thank to Bruce!! Solelim visits with our camp Mashgiach
Meet Bruce Bromberg-Seltzer, rabbi and our camp Mashgiach (kosher supervisor). Bruce has been coming to camp since 1992, and has a long and rich history here. His brother was in the Tikvah program and in Voc-Ed, and Bruce began working here too while a college student…and that summer, he met the woman who would become his wife Deborah (Tzevet Omanut) here! Fast forward to 2017 and Bruce is still here with Deborah and their 4 kids, every summer! It would not be a summer at CRNE without them. Bruce is originally from Wilmington, DE, and now hails from nearby Northampton, MA. He commutes here almost every weekend during the year to help make shabbatonim and special programs just right for camp visitors, in addition to spending the entire summer here. Thanks to Bruce for a tour of the kitchen and a fantastic visit with kids from Solelim this past week, who came to get to know him as a member of the behind the scenes team who makes camp happen for them. They know to thank their counselors, rashei edah and of course their parents for an amazing summer, but who else makes camp happen? Bruce is one of those people!
Bruce’s work in our kitchen and chadar ochel is quite complicated. He checks every food item that comes in to make sure that it is kosher and certified kosher with an appropriate hashgacha (kosher certification from an authorized rabbinical certification team). This is particularly complicated because when buying in bulk things might not be marked like they are when they are individually sold. And it’s a lot of work. He checks every single box, every single item that comes into the kitchen. He also checks to make sure that there are no allergens and works closely with the director of allergy services and the kitchen team to make sure that all items are allergen free. Bruce acknowledges that this is one of the hardest parts of his job: it is not just crucial to make sure that all items are kosher, but that they are nut free. Bruce knows quantity as well as quality. Did you know that it takes 38 people to prepare food for our camp? 38 members of our kitchen crew prepare the food for our camp every day, not including Bruce. This team hails from all over the world and speaks many different languages. Did you know that every Friday night, Camp Ramah in New England uses approximately 84 containers of soup nuts for our famous chicken soup? One of the biggest surprises for Bruce was the realization that we here at camp eat in these massive quantities…pounds and pounds of meat, endless boxes of individually portioned cereal on Shabbat morning, and more. He was also surprised by how loud and messy we are in our Chadar Ochel (dining hall). Come and visit for yourselves, and you’ll discover the very same thing! One other part of Bruce’s job is to walk around camp before Shabbat and check on our camp eruv. An eruv is a physical enclosure that makes a large area into one common space, dating back to the Mishnah, that allows us to carry from one place to another on Shabbat. You can find Bruce checking on the eruv before Shabbat, and you too can take a peek at it if you walk along the road to the Marp.
Say hello to Bruce the next time you are in the Chadar at mealtime! These appreciative interviews were a part of our campers’ encounters with the big idea of hakarat hatov, gratitude and appreciation, and their exploration of the practice of giving appreciation and work to understand what it is like to receive appreciation and gratitude as well.