Healing the World with Lessons from Jewish Summer Camp
Treat elections like Jewish camp color war.
In case you haven’t heard, the world is in trouble. Let’s put aside the global pandemic that’s killed countless people and has grounded our society to a halt. Yes we are putting that aside. What may be even more disconcerting is that it seems like all around the world, we all hate each other. Take America for example. There was an election, half the country wanted one guy and the other half wanted the other guy. And yada yada yada, we all hate each other. But does it really need to be that way? Why can’t we all just get along?
If only the world could learn from the Jewish people. But what can we share? There’s so much wisdom from the Torah that could help the world in this challenging time. Unfortunately, we at Jewlarious are completely untrained to share any of it. So instead, we will share lessons that will help no one. Our lessons will come from material that we are more familiar with, Jewish summer camp. So what follows are lessons that American can use to heal the rifts, as learned from Jewish summer camp.
Treat Elections Like Jewish Camp Color War
If your camp doesn’t have color war, it’s not a Jewish camp. It doesn’t matter if you are davening from morning until night – no color war, no Jewish. And what happens at color war? Half of the camp wears red, half of the camp wears blue, they cheer, they compete and they hate each other’s guts. Sound familiar? At the end of color war, the judges announce the winner, half of the camp cheers, and the other camp cries. Again sounding very familiar. But what happens the next morning? We all go to the “chadar”/mess hall for breakfast and then we all go swimming together and then everything is back to normal. So what do you say America, why don’t we all go for breakfast and swimming together? What Dr. Fauci? Oh.
Well can we do it over Zoom?
Send Someone Tuck
If you’ve been to Jewish summer camp you have experienced the sheer joy of receiving tuck, also known as “canteen”. To the uninitiated, this is a candy bar or other such treat because given out at camp because Jewish children are severely malnourished. Here’s where it gets interesting: on the rarest of occasions, some Jewish campers have been known to receive a gift of someone else’s tuck – known as “double tuck.” This is when some else, perhaps because they lost a bet, or perhaps they just want to say thank you to a friend, gives his tuck to another. And you know what happens when you do this? You make a friend for life. Joey Finkelstein could have had that Twix bar but he gave it to me instead? I will never forget you Joey as long as I live. Well you know what America? Maybe it’s time you buy that neighbor of yours a Twix bar. It doesn’t matter what sign he had on his lawn, what matters is that you’ve shared with him some chocolate wafery nougety goodness, and you will now be friends forever.
Settle Scores by Playing Gaga
When Cabin 8 and Cabin 9 are having a feud, their wise 17 year old counselors know how to settle the dispute. A good old fashion game of gaga. Cabin 8’s best against Cabin 9’s best in a match of sweaty crouched combat. May the best cabin win. And after the match, grudges no more. Actually right after the match it’s popsicles, and then no more grudges. So why not in America? How about Texas and California square off in a state wide gaga match and then when it’s over, we can all be friends. Right, 70 million popsicles first.
Some Jewish camps have visiting day. Mostly the ones where either the kids or their parents are sissies. You can’t stand being away from each other for four weeks? Really? Anyway, visiting day just makes the home sick kids more home sick, crying for days after their parents leave. Nevertheless, after you see someone’s parents and little sister and Bubbie and Zadie hug them and offer the rest of their bunk Laffy Taffy, you can’t help but develop a soft spot for them for the rest of the summer. Even if they continue to wet their bed. So maybe we can employ something similar in America? Each state can have its own visiting day. Have you ever been to South Dakota? Of course you haven’t, nobody has. That’s why you can dislike people from South Dakota – because you’ve never been there. But if we all roll up in South Dakota one weekend and bring our Bubbies and Zadies and kiss all of the twelve people who live there and give them Laffy Taffies, how could we not all come away best friends?
Shabbat Across America
At the end of each week, no matter what happens at Jewish summer camp, we all shower – for some of us it’s our first of the week, we get dressed in our finest (i.e. our only clean clothes), and we create a unique experience – Shabbat at Camp. Depending on our camp, the experience is different but what is the same is that feeling that this is special, and whatever our differences, we are really one unit. So maybe it’s time for a Shabbat Across America? Wisconsin can bring the cheese, Nebraska can bring the corn and California can bring the half caf pumpkin soy lattes, and we can all have a giant Shabbat dinner together. No matter how different you are, after sitting across the table from someone and talking to them without any distractions, there’s no way you can hate them anymore. Even if they are drinking a pumpkin soy latte.