In a few hours we will once again gather as a community to welcome the Shabbat. Over the past week our chalutzim (campers) have been spread out across central Colorado on their Massaot, biking, climbing, hiking, kayaking and more. Our chalutzim have grown emotionally and physically this past week. They have shared experiences that only those in their group will fully understand and seen vistas that can not be understood by other. Most importantly, they have all returned safely to our ranch.
Friday night, after massaot, is one my favorite times in camp. While every Shabbat is unique, these shabbatot are that much more special because of the contrast from the previous few hours when most of chalutzim are dirty, smelly and wearing the same shirt they have worn for days in a row. By 6:00pm, everyone will have showered, put on a clean white shirt and begin to gather for Israeli dancing. During these hours stories are exchanged, dishes are washed and a transformation is underway. Massaot are a time for a small group of people, to form a tight bond with each other. Masa is about pushing oneself on a personal level to achieve personal and group goals while also helping a peers to achieve their own goals.
Shabbat is the opposite. On Shabbat, we come together as one large community. Age and experience do not divide us. When we dance on Friday night, older and younger chalutzim dance together. When we sing at Shabbat services, older and younger chalutzim sway to the music together, singing the words of kabbalat shabbat. Throughout the day on Shabbat one sees older and younger chalutzim playing games together and relaxing on benches together.
Unlike Masa, Shabbat is not a time to push ones physical boundaries, but to relax and contemplate the week that has passed and the week to come. While we have some structured time each Shabbat, we also have a plethora of free time during which chalutzim can read, relax and go for walks together. In the afternoons we have optional activities such as juggling, ultimate Frisbee and drama/improv. (or impramah as it is called).
This Shabbat, our last of session one, emotions will be heightened that much more. For most of our 85 chalutzim, this weekend marks their final Shabbat at Ramah until next year. As I will mention to our chalutzim when we gather for our pre-Shabbat circle this evening, this week’s portion, parshat Pinchas, reminds us of the importance to sanctify time on the Jewish calendar. Pinchas is one of the most commonly read parshiot of the year, because it contains the reading for Rosh Chodesh and some of the Jewish holidays. At the beginning of the month when we read this parsha we are minded of all that happened the previous four weeks, and all that is to come in the coming month. Similarly, on Shabbat, we have a chance to take a step back and to reflect on the week that has passed and the week that is to come.
Anyone who sets foot in our camp knows that this place is a magical environment. The challenge for all of us is to figure out how we take the magic felt and learned at camp and translate it back into our lives back in the “real world”. This will be on the minds of our chalutzim and staff members who are ending their Ramah summer on Monday morning, and on all of our minds in only a few short weeks. For those who are not with us this Shabbat, we hope to post pictures from the Massaot and Shabbat dancing Saturday night.