Saluting Our Jewish Communal Professionals
This time of year is ripe with transitions – graduations and completions of all types leading to new beginnings and opportunities – and for camp professionals it represents a switch to summer mode and the final countdown until opening day of camp.For me, I am writing to you today at the conclusion of the annual JPro board meeting in New York City, where I am completing my board service. JPro is a network of Jewish communal professionals across North America – some 80,000 strong. I have proudly served on the JPro board since 2014 and have had the honor and privilege of helping to broaden and extend JPro’s reach and impact on today’s younger and more diverse group of professionals working for the Jewish community. Around the JPro board table with me sit proud Jewish camp alumni. (In fact, Jewish camp alumni fill so many Jewish communal leadership roles – both lay and professional.) I admire the dedication of my talented, motivated, and creative colleagues and you should know how committed we all are to make Jewish communal work attractive, respected, and appreciated. When I think about commitment and admiration, though, my mind goes immediately to the Jewish camp professionals, who are in the midst of their own transitions. They have labored rigorously throughout the year to prepare for this summer, ripe with both complexities and opportunities. They know the critical role they play – they nurture and nourish our Jewish youth. They truly hold the keys to the Jewish future. And we must continue to recognize and appreciate their dedicated efforts. We’re optimistic about this summer, especially as camps have reported generally strong enrollment trends. Last summer, Jewish day and overnight camps reached 95% of their 2019 record levels and early indicators point to reaching – and maybe exceeding – pre-pandemic levels in 2023…an amazing achievement! In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Ancestors) Chapter 2, Rabbi Tarfon said: “Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo ata ben chorin l’batel mimena – It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.” So much has been achieved…and much more remains to be done, to enable as many kids as possible to experience joyous Judaism each summer. FJC salutes the collective effort of our field professionals – truly committed to their Jewish communal service – who do not always receive the recognition they deserve for the essential work they do every day. Join me in blessing these camp professionals with a safe and secure summer, measured by the number of friendships formed, individuals inspired, and joy produced by 180,000+ young leaders who will celebrate being Jewish at camp this summer.