By Ben Wong, URJ Camp Newman Communications Coordinator


Google tells me Israel is over 7,000 miles from California. A 15 hour plane flight. A distant world with different customs, tensions, and better iced coffee.

But at camp, Israel is often just a handshake or a hug away. Every summer, our mischlachat make the trek from their homes throughout Israel to Santa Rosa. These Israeli staff members fill roles all over camp and are an essential part of our camp operation.

They dot the landscape, working at the tower, the upper field, the pool and everywhere in between. They are with kids every day, and provide faces and bodies, a real life, tangible connection to the homeland we so often reference.

“The mishlachat are a sacred part of our camp community,” says Executive Director Ruben Arquilivech. 

“They bring Israel to Camp Newman through their stories, their passion for their country, and their lives. They build relationships with staff and campers, helping to deepen our Jewish community and connection to our Holy Land.”

This link shines brightest when the mischlachat lead Shabbat. For a single night every summer, our Israeli staff lend some of their unique perspective to the holiest evening of the week. They plan and lead the service as a group, through singing, prayer interpretation, and public speaking. The bimah is their’s, along with the eyes and ears of the entire camp.

The following is the what our mischlachat chose to share with our community on their Shabbat last week. We hope you enjoy their perspective as much as we do.


Israeli Shabbat

How can we describe Israeli Shabbat?
Israeli Shabbat is buying two Challas because one will already be gone by lunch time
Israeli Shabbat is racing against time knowing that on 3 o’clock the city shuts down
Israeli Shabbat is getting the honor of being Shabbat Mom and Dad in kindergarten
Israeli Shabbat is having no room to sit in the car because everything is loaded with groceries for Shabbat dinner
Israeli Shabbat is buying an oversized newspaper just for the brain games at the end
Israeli Shabbat is overcrowded malls
Israeli Shabbat is flowers on the table
Israeli Shabbat is having bruises after Friday soccer
Israeli Shabbat is turning on the TV before dinner and finding only cooking shows
Israeli Shabbat is mom getting mad because you are “just tasting” before dinner starts.
Israeli Shabbat is 10 minutes round of kisses and hugs when you get to Shabbat dinner
Israeli Shabbat is grandma asking over and over “when will you get married?”
Israeli Shabbat is arguing who gets to drink from the Kiddush wine first
Israeli Shabbat is leaving Shabbat dinner early because your friends are waiting for you to go out
Israeli Shabbat is helping Dad taking care of the plants in the garden
Israeli Shabbat is eating Hummus after spending the day playing matkot on the beach
Israeli Shabbat is the smells, sounds and feelings you can’t describe with words


Shema Israel

When the heart cries, only God can hearDSC_1076
The pain rises out of the soul
A man falls down before he sinks down
With a little prayer he cuts the silence
שמע ישראל אדוני, the all powerful
You gave me my life,
you gave me everything I have
In my eyes a tear,
the heart cries quietly
And when the heart is quiet,
the soul screams
שמע ישראל אדוני
now I am alone
Make me strong my God;
make it that I won’t be afraid
The pain is big,
and there’s no where to run away
End it because I can’t take it anymore
When the heart cries,
Time stands still
All of a sudden, the man sees his entire life
He doesn’t want to go to the unknown
He cries to his God right before a big fall

This is a translation of a song in Hebrew named Shema Israel. The song is about these two powerful words we say sometimes in moments that we feel that the only one who can help us is God.

It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, as a Jew, the god you’re reaching out to is the same god.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Reform, conservative, orthodox or secular
It doesn’t matter if you’re Israeli, American or whatever.
It doesn’t matter your gender
It doesn’t matter what language you speak
We all were born Betzelem Elohim, in the image of god.

Look around you and remember we are all one people, Am Israel.


The Only Country

by Yair Lapid

This is the only country where a patriot is someone in a
car at a red light who buys from a Russian boy a blue and
white flag that was manufactured by a Thai worker out of
fabric woven in a Gaza sweat-shop.

It’s the only country where the unemployed go on strike.

It’s the only country where a trans-national highway stops in
the middle, the ‘Ben-Gurion Airport 2000’ project is still
unopened in 2003

It’s the only country where 60-somethings still despise
their platoon commander from basic training when they were 18.

It’s the only country where people visiting your home for the
first time ask “Can I help myself from the fridge?”(If your
lucky. some don’t ask)

It’s the only country where you can assess the security
situation by the songs on the radio.

It’s the only country where the toughest rap artist is called Muky
(a name usually given to a puppy)

It’s the only country where the expression “I didn’t bother
you” means that I want to bother you.

It’s the only country where you leave home at 18, and at 24
you’re still living there.

It’s the only country where, on a first date, the guy asks the
woman where she did her army service. It’s also the only
country where it transpires that she was more of a combat
soldier than you were…

It’s the only country where just 60 seconds separates the
saddest day from the happiest.

It’s the only country where most people can’t explain why they
live where they do, but have masses of reasons why it’s the
best place to live.

It’s the only country where, if you despise politicians, abhor
clerks, hate the situation, are disgusted with the taxes,
loathe the standard of service, and detest the weather,
it’s a sign that you love it.

And it’s the only country I could ever live in.


Here they come – days of silence

Israeli Shabbat

Here they come – days of silence
after the big horrible noise
We can rest a little on the deck
Pick up the pieces that were scattered by the storm

Here they come – days of silence
I already forgot how it looked like
We can finally open up the doors
Send the birds to the wind

Here they come – days of silence
Let’s go the window and watch
The flood’s begun to dry
And maybe there is land not far away
And Two by Two;
we’ll go out Two by Two
We’ll look up to the sky
Waiting together for the dove

Here they come – days of silence
you and I here on the mountain
The water’s giving way and there is a rainbow
It’s time to get up, the end of the world pass.