We started the morning with a hug circle, taking in the changed landscape and singing Esa Einai — we lifted our eyes to the familiar mountains of Santa Rosa, where our star still sits; that is where we find our faith – in our community continuing to come together to sing and pray in these mountains.
The CITs were the first group of campers back on site at Porter Creek, and as they held each other and sang Shehechianu, we held both the sadness for what was lost in the fire, and the joy of what remained, and the knowledge that our community is stronger than fire.
Soon Porter Creek was filled with the sounds of happy campers. Calling out to each as they tossed a Frisbee around, cheering each other on as they climbed the new Alpine Tower, and yelling “I love being Jewish” from the top of the hike to the Star.
It was another reminder that it is not the buildings that create camp, but that we create holy space when we come together, and it is we who create a space for God to dwell among us.
Eli Burg, the Porter Creek program director, studied the story of Honi the Circle Maker with some of the campers and talked about our obligation to create for the future. Just as Honi planted trees for the next generation, the CITs helped create for the campers arriving throughout the summer, painting signs welcoming other campers and carving out a shady spot by the creek.
At lunchtime, our CIT gathered around a small pool in the creek and joined Songleader Arie Finkelstein in an impromptu song session. It was a moment of joy and healing. From the top of the Star you could see campers walking in the vineyard, making art by the cabins, and playing on the field — and it felt like home.
At the end of the day we joined together once again to pray Shehechianu and the CITs asked Arie to lead the evening siyum even though bedtime was hours away. Praying together in the sacred space that we create when we are together, whether we are at Porter Creek or Cal Maritime … wherever we are together, when we are at Camp Newman we are home.