Written by Ruben Arquilevich

Our Avodahnicks (rising 11th grade service and leadership camp), along with their staff and faculty, are spending Sunday marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade. They will represent a legacy of Camp Newman Avodahnicks, joining our brothers and sisters in San Francisco to support the rights of the LGBTQ community as well as all of our rights. I am so proud of them as they represent Camp, the Jewish community, and humanity in making strides on one of our last civil rights frontiers. They will spend several hours preparing themselves spiritually for this sacred act of solidarity. They will share each other’s stories and listen to what is at all of our core – the desire and need to be fully accepted, unconditionally, regardless of our differences.

The Parade and its mission are a wonderful illustration of one of Camp Newman’s most precious pillars – Betzelem Elohim, the idea that we are all created in a divine image; that we all have inalienable gifts; that we all have a role and purpose on this journey called life. It is one of our governing principles as a year-round camp community and retreat center. Our camp culture not only welcomes diversity but we celebrate it and recognize that it is part of our key to success. In building leadership teams over the decades, I have come to understand the great value of casting – in insuring that the team is diverse – varied styles, interests, communication approaches – strengths are critical for building a balanced team to serve a diverse community.

As our Avodahnicks march, I wish for them to savor every moment and to recognize a unique moment in their life. They might march in many Pride Parades, but this is the one time in their life they march as an Avodahnick. May they absorb the full meaning and transformation, for themselves and the community.