Yavneh prides itself on being a K’lal Yisrael camp. As a community, we spent months defining the term so that someone from the outside could understand our terminology. While we focused on clarifying the way Yavneh “does Jewish”, it was never our intention just to use the word K’lal Yisrael to only conjure up thoughts about Yavneh’s Jewish practice.
One usually defines K’lal Yisrael as promoting a sense of Jewish community regardless of affiliation. This is surely important as we look at the way our Jewish community functions today. Affiliation lines are more blurred and organizations that nimbly play in multiple Jewish worlds are flourishing.
But what if K’lal Yisrael means more than the way we observe (or don’t practice) our Judaism? What if we challenge ourselves to think of K’lal Yisrael more holistically? If we are parents, we challenge our children to see diversity as a strength, to create friendships with many different types of peers and to embrace their friends for their differences. We also try to emulate this behavior for our children by showing openness to others or volunteering our time in a myriad of ways.
One of the key tenets of Yavneh that we attempt to teach our campers is sovlanut (tolerance). When I think of tolerance, I am immediately drawn to the word receptiveness. When one is receptive to others, we then let loving-kindness take over. At camp, we tell campers that all of us are working on something and that no one is perfect. A way to go deeper with our community would then be to model sovlanut for them? This past summer some of our Kerem modeled this for our community by being Shabbat buddies for younger campers who may either struggle socially, need extra support to navigate camp or just want an older friend to throw a ball or play a game. The Kerem buddies as we call them show our entire community the importance of inclusivity and being open to the other.
As we sit down on Thursday evening for Thanksgiving, I hope that you will discuss ways that your children can show sovlanut towards others this summer at camp.