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Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Summertime...Do you know where your kids are?

I hope you are saying to yourself - summertime?  Umm...the High Holy Days just ended.  Well, it's true.  Yes, it is September 28.  However, it is time to begin thinking about the plans for your children.  It is NEVER too early!

***Disclaimer - I attended URJ Camp Coleman as a kid....and worked there for 5 years.  However, I have also worked at 6 other camps.***

So, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, here is the truth:  We have a problem (not just in the Jewish community).  Our kids are being "forced" to attend religious school...they are going through the motions with B'nai Mitzvah preparation.  Once they finish, they may or may not come back for confirmation.  And, if they do, once they get to the "freedom" of college, we lose them (sometimes completely).

Now - I will admit that I am not speaking for every single Jewish child out there.  We do see many success stories of kids that have continued their Jewish education beyond college and have become very active members of their Jewish communities.  Ok, are you ready for the secret?

Here it is - JEWISH CAMPING! Now, as I wrote in my disclaimer, I am a graduate of URJ camping.  I attended and worked at URJ Camp Coleman.  I worked for 2 summers at Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, Indiana (another URJ camp).  I have lots and lots of friends that have attended all of the other URJ camps.

I have also worked for JCC Camp Barney Medintz, Camp Judaea, High Meadows Day Camp, JCC Capital Camps, and JCC Camp Livingston.  Having worked in a variety of Jewish camps from the JCC camps to the URJ camps, I can tell you that Jewish camping is completely invaluable.  There is not anything in this world that has greater value for Jewish children.  Now, my children will attend URJ Camp Coleman - that is where I grew up - but if you do not or not able to send your kids to Camp Coleman, fine, send them to a different Jewish summer camp.  If you are unsure which camp to send your children to, contact me...I would be happy to discuss with you the questions you should be asking and the variety of programs that are out there.

There is not one single reason that should keep your kids from going to camp.  My parents were in the bottom rungs of lower middle class.  Yet, my brother, sister and I all attended Camp Coleman.  And, Jewish camping has had an indelible effect on all of our lives.  There are many programs out there that can help with all kinds of challenges you might have, including financial worries/concerns.  Please, take this blog seriously!  Jewish camping is so, so, so valuable for our children!

Be in touch...

Rabbi Boxt

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 11 years later...

Shalom friends and family,

11 years ago today, I was woken up very early in the morning by Batya.  "Get up, Erin, you need to see this..."  What I was about to spend the next 5 hours watching (really glued to the TV) was something that seriously affected my life then and continues to affect my life every day.  You see, I had a sister who was supposed to be campaigning about a block or so away from the Twin Towers.  And my brother?  He was supposed to be in NY (with my sister) for a meeting and some campaigning.  "Oh my God," I thought.  "What about Bekki and Jason?"

Clearly, every single person in the United States (and outside as well) who knew someone in the NY area was trying to call or make contact with someone/anyone to check and make sure they were ok.  Well, this assured that no one would get through.  Telephone lines were jammed for hours, days, or what seemed like forever.  Fortunately, I was able to get through to my Mom in Columbia, SC.  She told me she had spoken to Bekki and Jason.  She described for me in great detail the story Bekki had told her of running as fast as she could away from the Twin Towers.  She relayed a story of New Yorkers uniting and walking together for miles and miles to get to their homes or away from the destruction.  What about Jason?  For some reason, Jason never made it on the train to NY - so he missed being in harm's way.

For Americans, this was the first time or first realization that no one was completely safe from the effects of terrorism.  11 years later, we have increased our security - anywhere and everywhere.  And, while we certainly live in a "safer" world...it is truly not possible for us to know if we really are safe.  We hear and read of stories every week of new acts of terrorism or destruction on our soil and around the world.  One major effect of the September 11 attacks was that Americans finally were able to know what it felt like to be in a state of desperation.  Americans united together eventually...but many of us felt helpless, maybe even hopeless.  Truth is - we did unite together.  We did come together as a community and we did support each other.  I thank God every day that I live in a country that was able to respond the way we did...we had the resources.  We had the community to do so...we had the infrastructure...

As we remember those that perished in these attacks...as we continue to support those families who still feel the effects today, let us also continue to work toward a world in which every one of us can be an equal partner in this world wide community.  A prayer for the 11th Anniversary of those terrible attacks:

Eloheinu v'lohei Avoteinu v'Imoteinu,
God of mothers and fathers,
Help us in our attempts at understanding,
Help us in our coming together as one community of brothers and sisters.

Beloved God, 
God of our brothers and sisters,
Help us in our support of each other,
Help us in our working toward a better world.

Our Father,
God of our friends and acquaintances,
Teach us what we need to know,
Teach us how to accomplish Your will on Earth.

Baruch Atah Adonai,
Blessed are You God,
Blessed are the people on this Earth,
and Blessed are those that have come before us.

May each of us be blessed in our comings and our goings.

Rabbi Erin Boxt

 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Another Victory for Progressive Judaism!

Shalom Y'all!

I have been trying to figure out a way to advertise an amazing an important event which will occur at The Temple in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 16.  Rabbi Miri Gold, the first non-Orthodox rabbi to receive a salary and recognition from the Israeli government, will be speaking about her experiences.  This is such an amazing event for our community as we will get to hear first hand of the strides and successes of the Israel Religious Action Center (www.irac.org) and of Progressive Judaism in Israel.

Well, this morning, I received an email from the IRAC which contained a letter written about a brave 15 year old girl in Beit Shemesh who fought for her rights and won!

Please read the article and then support the IRAC and Progressive Judaism in Israel:

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50494/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1225374

To sign up to receive emails from IRAC and/or to check out what they do:

http://irac.org/

Rabbi Boxt