Shavuot is a time of reflection and celebration about our Jewish Identity and Peoplehood centered around the Torah. At Mt Sinai we fulfilled a desire and necessity to become our own nation, עם ישראל – a community who emerged 50 days earlier from the struggles and hardships of being slaves to the beginnings of becoming a liberated people. We were apprehensive about what lies ahead in our future, not fully trusting our own experiences with human nature, leadership and the ways to live as free people. Standing at Mt Sinai was no small feat- What would God command us? How were we to behave as a people? Could we handle our freedom? Could we live together and make ourselves into a nation that was productive and honorable?
We, בני ישראל , now as a free people, had the power and the need to formulate our own identity and values system, with the help of God and our leaders. The Torah states that even before any of the Torah laws were revealed we stated “נעשה ונשמע” “We will do and we will hear”. We were desperate and infused by the idea that we could form ourselves into a nation of people who were willing to do everything necessary to unite ourselves even if we would hear something different. We are also taught that all of us, both those who came forth from Egypt, as well as ALL the generations of Jews that have followed throughout eternity, were part of the experience of receiving the Torah on Shavuot at Mt Sinai. This demonstrates how Torah is our Crown Jewel for עם ישראל, for all time and for all of our people.
We at ,מחנה יבנה Camp Yavneh, are the story of Shavuot! We are a diverse group of עם ישראל coming together to be proud and supportive of our individual family connections to Judaism. Every day at מחנה יבנה our community experiences Torah! As a Morah at Camp, I get the privilege to witness and often orchestrate with my Chanichim (campers) the revelation of Torah throughout the day. In Tefillah, every morning we acknowledge our freedoms and simultaneously our connection to God and one another- how glorious it is to be able to sing “Ashrei” with truly happy voices and motions, as well as support our younger campers in the process of learning how to take on the responsibilities of our people to continuing to lead our people עם ישראל in Tefillah and Torah service. How wonderful that our Chanichim (campers) have the opportunities to interact kinetically with our Jewish texts and values, making them come alive through different means of expression of Art, Music, Dance. Seeing and hearing Birkhat HaMazon, experiencing the beauty and love of Shabbat, displaying passionately the centrality of ישראל, focusing on individual moments between campers and counselors, interacting with Text on a daily basis and building life skills alongside Jewish souls allows me to firmly believe that all of us from מחנה יבנה were counted at Mt Sinai and we proclaimed loudly and with ease: “נעשה ונשמע” “We will do and we will hear”.