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Jeremy J. Fingerman

Slow Down. Make the Moments Last.

Simon and Garfunkel had it right. Sometimes we move too fast. We just need to slow down and make those important moments last.

We know that’s not as easy as it sounds.

For the field of Jewish camp, right now is crunch time! Camp professionals from over 300 day and overnight camps across North America are fully immersed in their pre-summer preparations, including staff training plans, program enhancements, and additional counselor and camper recruitment.

Beyond the stress of preparing for camp, whether in North America or in Israel, we have no shortage of societal and communal issues to confront and address as well. And everything seems to be happening at lightning speed, demanding actions and responses, without much time to reflect, consider, or prepare.

With so much negative energy and turmoil happening throughout the world today, which concerns and even frightens us, it seemed particularly hard this year to fully embrace the famous rabbinic dictum: “Mishe’nichnas Adar marbim b’simcha” — as we enter the Hebrew month of Adar, our Jewish tradition instructs us to increase our gladness. And Purim, which we celebrated last week, is known to be one of the most joyous Jewish holidays.

On a personal level, my family has been fortunate to have a good reason to escape, at least for a short time, some of these challenges of the 24-hour news cycle and to focus on love and joy in this Adar. We recently returned from Israel, where we celebrated our daughter’s wedding.

Even though many people had warned us that this would happen, we found ourselves wholly unprepared for the speed with which the days had passed leading up to and including the wedding week.

What an extraordinary and deeply meaningful celebration it was. The kallah and chatan — the bride and groom — radiated love, positivity, and optimism. We experienced how their contagious ruach, their spirit, transmitted a special energy of possibilities that inspired all. The singing, dancing, and celebrating went on for hours, elevating this union in powerful ways.

I could not have felt more privileged or prouder.

Each aspect of the wedding ceremony had special significance and meaning. Blessing Esther (yes, our Esther got married in Adar!) at the bedekken, the veiling ceremony. Walking her down the aisle. Seeing our bride’s beauty shine brightly, both inside and out. Feeling the groom’s genuine personality, excitement, and spirituality. The outpouring of love and joy. We just wanted to slow down and soak it all in even more, making these special moments last as long as possible.

We returned home with our hearts full of joy that truly carried us through last week’s Purim celebrations. We hope and pray that throughout their lives, our bride and groom will find appropriate ways to slow down and make these very special moments last.

As we adjust to Daylight Savings Time, we spring forward with our eyes and hearts set on the coming camp season, trying to embrace the increased light and warmth to counter some of the darkness and negativity of our times.

About the Author
Jeremy J. Fingerman has served as CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) since 2010. Prior to joining FJC, he had a highly-regarded 20+ year career in Consumer Packaged Goods, beginning at General Mills, Inc, then at Campbell Soup Company, where he served as president of its largest division, US Soup. In 2005, he was recruited to serve as CEO of Manischewitz. Jeremy, a former board Vice-Chair of JPRO (the network of Jewish communal professionals), received the 2023 Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence from Brandeis University.
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