Tonight we will light the fourth candle of Hanukkah. Halakha (Jewish law) teaches that we are not permitted to make use of the lights of the Hanukkah candles; rather we are only allowed to admire them and in doing so, acknowledge and give thanks for the miracles Gd has bestowed upon us.
I have always been mesmerized by the flame of the Hanukkah candles, their light increasing in intensity each night as we add to the light from the night before. The camp experience is just like that- each summer builds on the summer before. The light of camp is further intensified by what comes after, in year-long and life-long Jewish identity and relationships. Just as the shamash candle is used to light the other candles, we each have the power to be the spark that creates great change and even miracles.
In the time of the Maccabees the miracle was the oil that lasted for 8 nights in the temple after destruction, a symbol of Jewish resilience. At Foundation for Jewish Camp, we believe that small miracles of Jewish resilience happen every day at Jewish summer camp, with long-lasting impact. We believe that Jewish camp is a miracle in and of itself- creating an immense amount of joy lasting not one night or even 8 weeks, but creating a lifetime of memories and connection.
Sparking the flame of long-lasting impact, Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper® program has sent 77,000 first-time campers to Jewish camp since its inception. We work with 100+ partners across North America to encourage Jewish camp enrollment for first-time families. Campers become counselors, and later camp professionals, Jewish educators or dedicated community lay leaders- the light of camp intensifies and spreads.
As we at Foundation for Jewish Camp reflect on the lights from the Hanukkah candles tonight, we give thanks and express praise for those who support our work. Thank you for being our shamash. You provide us with the ability to light tens of thousands of candles each summer. Those little lights will in turn spark hundreds of thousands in the years to come.
This Hanukkah, share the gift of Jewish camp by giving a child their first Shabbat, their first song session and their first immersive Jewish experience:
1. Recruit. Invite a cousin, friend or neighbor to check out a Jewish camp near them
2. Donate. Support Foundation for Jewish Camp’s One Happy Camper® and other impactful programs.
3. Share. Become an ambassador for Jewish camp on social media by sharing our posts and news.
Happy Hanukkah and Shabbat Shalom!