This morning we celebrated the bat mitzvah of one of our chalutzim, Josh. Â This was Josh’s first summer in Jewish summer camp. Â His parents, siblings and grandmother were here to celebrate. Â We will post pictures later today or tomorrow, but in the meantime, I wanted you to enjoy the poem our assistant director, Sarah Shulman, wrote and delivered in his honor.
For Josh on his bar mitzvah
You only read a book
for the first time
once, tucked under your covers,
snuggling the story as it unfolds.
You start a new camp
with your fresh clothes and your full backpack and your mysterious
new counselors once in a lifetime.
You are born a single time.
You take your first step
and your first kiss.
You take your first test
and your first fall.
You write your first letter,
whittle your first stick,
andÂ get your first map
to journey only once.
And while you travel and laugh
and learn again and again
or release the tears upon your cheeks upon departing from
new friends or making mistakes
or climb too high or sleep too late
or grow and dream
again and again,
you only meet someone special
in your ohel or on masah
for the first time once.
You only become a man
with a tallit from your family and penciled fondness
from your friends, with sweet treats
and lingering hugs, a gift of tefillin
and time alone to ask,
â€œIs this really happening now?â€ once.
Someday youâ€™ll return
to this camp and every refuge
that nurtures a different blossom
in you, and filled with these lessons
youâ€™ll become the worldâ€™s gardener,
a student, a teacher, a man,
and maybe even a father one day.
Whether you meant to be or not,
you are a chaluz:Â a first
for us and for you.
Soon many other firsts
will roam the Earth
yourself have touched
or seen, broadened
or deepened, studied
or taught, cried or created,
once to begin and vâ€™sof ha olam.