Posted on May 21st, 2016

Don’t Forget to Pack Your Jewish Educator Hat

So many of us look forward to summer camp. We are 30, 40, 50 years old… maybe even older, yet we still go to camp each and every summer. We may not sleep in sleeping bags or swim with abandon like we did as children, yet we look forward to immersing ourselves in that safe Jewish bubble, the time with dear friends, and perhaps even the camp food (or the opportunity not to cook for a week or so).

ARJE members are intimately connected with many of our Reform Movement’s summer camps. We are camp directors and educators, faculty members, alumni, donors, and of course parents of campers. No matter what our roles, we as Jewish educators make real and significant contributions to the experiences campers and staffs have and on the relationships built.

We lead meaningful t’fillot and song sessions.
We teach limudim and shiurim.
We teach others how to teach.
We teach others how to be Jewish role models in the dining hall and at the swimming pool.
We create Jewish memories.
We make ourselves available for youth and young adults who have existential questions, or maybe even relationships drama.
We comfort homesick campers.
We play basketball and Ultimate and softball and Marco Polo and gaga.
We put on silly costumes.

Perhaps one of the most important things we do is inspire. Our words and deeds, our knowledge and skills, our mindsets and manners demonstrate what it means to be a Jewish educator. So this summer, as you get ready for camp, whether it is as faculty, staff, parent or alum, don’t forget to pack your “Jewish educator hat.” With that hat you carry the potential to teach, to create Jewish memories, and to inspire others.

Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, RJE, is the President of the ARJE.