This week’s parsha is D’varim– Deuteronomy– the first chapter of the last book of the Torah. Before I even read the contents of this week’s parsha, I realized the symbolic nature of my assignment. Just as D’varim is the last book of the Torah, Kerem was supposed to be my last summer as a chanicha. It was the beginning of a new chapter, a new story, a new path– for me and my fifty friends.
D’varim is about memory. In this first pasuk, Moshe stands before B’nei Yisrael and recounts to them their forty-year journey. He recalls the journey from Sinai through the great and fearsome desert; the sending of the spies and their appointment of the judges; their commitment to the mitzvot and their occasional sins; and all that they had achieved and experienced as a nation. He is preparing them for their entry into the Holy Land, reminding them of all that they had been through and everything they had accomplished. Moshe was prepping B’nei Yisrael for the promised land, sending them with a new leader– Joshua– into a land of new unknowns.
Imagine how scared and nervous B’nei Yisrael was to enter an unknown land and start a new chapter as a people. This similar kind of nervousness came over me at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was terrified to think about a summer without going to camp. I couldn’t imagine being apart from the wonderful kehillah that has been my second home for the past eight summers. Just like B’nei Yisrael, we have been thrown into this journey of uncharted waters— and as a group we must come together to support and love one another. As a Kerem chanica, this role was especially challenging, but my friends and I have found ways to laugh over zoom and make memories. Hopefully next summer we will be back together in person, but until then, we can continue to be a source of light and energy during these challenging times.