Lovingkindness at Camp… and Everywhere

Dear Friends,

In Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book Of Hours, the poet refers to God as “the great homesickness we could never shake off.” There is something effortlessly resonant in that mysterious image for us, given the number of names and ways of referring to God that are part of Jewish tradition. Our God is at once called a still, small voice, an everlasting rock, the One who formed us all, and many other names. Why not the great homesickness as well? Especially during this particular season. Depending on our life stage, one of the primary things summer means to many of us is camp.

Below, I share a piece with you that I’ve written for Camp Newman’s weekly blog. During the last week of June I’ll have the pleasure of spending some time there assisting staff with programming and tefillah. Many area rabbis in California (as well as rabbinic colleagues across the country) set camp time aside during the summer months. For the first time in a number of years, it’s my good fortune to be among them.

On Friday June 29, at the end of that week, in addition to our regular 6:30pm Shabbat service led by Cantor Chabon at Temple, CBT congregants are warmly invited to experience a Shabbat at camp (hint: they are unforgettable!) with Newman at its temporary Vallejo location. Details on timing and other practical matters are forthcoming. I hope you’ll be able to join me to welcome Shabbat and to celebrate the resilience of this camp, its staff and its campers who are making sure that joy and learning flourish following the all-consuming wildfires of last fall.

Providing our children with Jewish camping experiences is one of the ways we take care of them and promote the passing on of our primary values. On the subject of both of these things, there’s not a person I know who isn’t sick at heart at the news coming from our borders. Separating parents from their children is anathema to our most fundamental principles as Jews and members of the human family. Every child deserves to be treated with basic decency, to say nothing of the loving care and creative resources like camp that most parents in our community are blessed with the ability to provide. At the very end of this message, you’ll find an action alert from HIAS, an organization that protected our people when we were immigrants, and now makes sure we remember to do the same.

May our hearts be with all of our children this Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gutterman