It was earlier this year, fall of 2020, when I was heading to the Northeastern University college campus in the face of a pandemic. I was excited to be starting my program of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Because of the obvious logistical issues of being a freshmen, I really didn’t know many people at college, or have any orientations to attend. The only connection I had on campus was my Jewish community. Reasonably, I immediately got involved with Hillel on campus. I attended a Hillel Shabbat dinner the first week of the semester outdoors. After running into several Yavneh alumni, and enjoying a fantastic dinner, it was time for some Friday Night Zemirot. Without hesitation, I can attest that our group of former Yavneh chanachim (campers) had more ruach (spirit) than the rest of the group combined. Yavneh taught us and showed us what it can look like to live and embody our own Judaism, singing with joy and ruach, even if our vocal talents weren’t up to par as illustrated by my ayda never once winning Zimryiah.
Here we were, on a college campus, outside in a tent, in the face of a global pandemic, masked up and all, but with our love for Judaism and camp, we were together as a kehillah (community), singing as one. After nearly nine months of separation, hearing zemirot b’kol echad (in one voice) was pure bliss. While the ruach wasn’t quite like Shabbat at camp, the words could never have rang more clear, and such moments make me excited to be back at the machaneh (camp) for my 11th summer, listening to those same zemirot ring out on Lucas Pond Road.