Heartbroken for a Summer that Could Have Been
A Message from Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz
May 1, 2020
Like the beginning of one of Rose’s stories on an episode of Golden Girls, I can picture it. Kansas City, 1985. It was 35 years ago and I was only a year older than my oldest son is now. I reluctantly boarded a flight to Indianapolis, hours from arriving at what would soon become my “home away from home,” Goldman Union Camp Institute. Every summer since, I have sorted through memories of this life-changing experience. The friendships I made, the values I learned, the music we sang, and the moment I first contemplated a life of service to the Jewish community.
Jewish camping is more than just a summer of fun and games. It is transformational. Children mature before our eyes as they navigate their own feelings and decisions and begin to understand what it means to live in a community grounded in Jewish values. Those are the very same values at play right now, the prioritization of pikuach nefesh, preservation of life and health. I know that this decision by the Union for Reform Judaism was exceedingly difficult to make, but I am grateful for such responsible leadership.
Unfortunately, knowing it was the right decision doesn’t change the grief that both kids and parents feel right now. This, compounded with all of the other losses we are all experiencing, makes for a heavy load. Our home, and the homes of those in our Jewish community, are filled with pain and disappointment. For all who have looked forward to summer camp all year long, we are heartbroken. We mourn the summer that could have been. I know that in time we will be able to find the blessings, to move from strength to strength, but today it hurts. A lot.
Know that I and your Temple Israel family are here for each of you, as you process this news with your children/grandchildren. If you are overwhelmed, please contact us. Camps have provided us with exceptional resources. In the meantime, the phenomenal URJ camp staff will be brainstorming ways to create meaningful summer activities that will connect campers online. https://guci.org/gucigatherings/