This morning we celebrated the bat mitzvah of one of our chalutzim, Josh.  This was Josh’s first summer in Jewish summer camp.  His parents, siblings and grandmother were here to celebrate.  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,

and  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,

“Is this really happening now?” once.

Someday you’ll return

to this camp and every refuge

that nurtures a different blossom

in you, and filled with these lessons

you’ll become the world’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:  a first

for us and for you.

Soon many other firsts

will roam the Earth

that you

yourself have touched

or seen, broadened

or deepened, studied

or taught, cried or created,

-by Sarah ShulmanRamah Outdoor Adventure

Summer 2010

once to begin and v’sof ha olam.