By: Cantor Ross Wolman, Faculty Rabbi and Cantor of Temple Chai Phoenix

♫ Baruch Eil, asher bara (clap-clap!) ♫

The sights and sounds of Camp Newman are unmistakable. All around, camp is in full swing and chanichim (campers) spend their days seeking fun, playing at the breicha (pool), waiting in a long line for ketchup in the chadar ochel (dining hall), exploring the world around us in teva (nature), learning Israeli dances in preparation for Shabbat, and much, much more.

I am fortunate to come to Camp Newman for the third year since moving to Phoenix, AZ, with my wife Malka and our three young children. Each summer, while our kids have fun in Camp Katan, I am able to connect with a unit on camp and this year I am with Mechina (which means preparation), the youngest session on camp. I also enjoy connecting with campers from my congregation throughout camp.

Last night’s ma’ariv t’fillah (evening service) focused on Sh’ma. After opening prayers, we spent some time focusing on sitting with a gav yashar (straight back) and taking a n’shimah amukah (deep breath). I was impressed at how well a group of eight and nine-year-olds took to the moment, seeking intention and centering themselves. As we listened to the sounds around us, we heard the water crashing into the rocks on the bay, kids playing in the distance, and one camper even said she could hear her heart beating. The conversation continued and I was amazed by the depth of our campers’ responses.

With only a few days left before the end of the first half of summer 2018, camp is alive with excitement. Hagigah is preparing for the Mark & Peachy Levy Hagigah Festival, and the rest of camp is eager for Shabbat. This Shabbat will be bittersweet as marks the end of the two or four weeks at camp, and for our staff, it is the realization that summer 2018 is passing quickly. My family is grateful for our time at camp each year and continue the spirit of Camp Newman as we sing through Siyum at bedtime and integrate camp traditions on Friday nights.

Now, even as things are winding down, we are already looking forward to summer 2019.