Camp YavnehCamp Yavneh
March 21, 2019

Increasing Our Joy – at Camp and Beyond – By Rabbi Karen S. Citrin

Author - Camp Yavneh

This week, as we celebrate the Purim holiday, we are immersed in joyful Jewish time.  I am busy preparing the chanting of Megillah, and getting ready for the Purim shpiel, a humorous retelling of the Purim story – this year at my synagogue a rather bizarre mash-up of the Muppets and Queen!

The Talmudic teaching for this month, “When Adar enters we increase in happiness,” stands in contrast to the Talmudic teaching for the month of Av, “When Av enters, we decrease in happiness.” (Taanit 29a)  Av overlaps with our time at camp, when the rhythm of camp life is tempered by the tone of Tisha B’av, the 9th day of the month.

I appreciate how our Jewish calendar continually moves us through the cycles of joy and sadness, darkness and light.  Even in our most joyful times, we acknowledge those who are suffering. And even in our lowest times, we find moments of joy.  

As we have now arrived at the “less than 100 days until camp!” point, there is so much joy to look forward to – ReliSh, Oneg Shabbat, Zimriyah, Maccabiah, and yes, even kitah!  I can’t wait.

There is one other lesson from Purim that I hope we will take with us into the summer.  Purim is about revealing and rejoicing in who we really are. The strong women of the Megillah, Vashti and Esther, stood up for their beliefs and identity.  Dressed in royal robes, Esther revealed her true identity as a Jew. Esther found her voice and made herself heard. Today, on Purim we wear costumes that simultaneously recall the masking of identity and celebrate the freedom of overcoming our fears.  

Much of our time at camp is about discovering and expressing our Jewish identity.  These expressions may appear different, and we should embrace these differences. Parts of our selves may still feel hidden, waiting to be discovered.  The blessing of camp is that we create an environment where we can feel comfortable to be who we really are.

Chag Purim Sameach!  Looking forward to joyful times at Yavneh soon!