This summer at Goldman Union Camp we wrapped up a session of excellent educational programming by revisiting the stories from the Book of Genesis that we have studied during our time here this summer. Our campers had an outstanding time reviewing this material in the form of activities at various stations in a Yom Sport-style marathon.
As the sun began to descend on Friday, bringing Shabbat along with it, I could not help but think about the first story we studied together this summer – Creation. Each day of creation God reviews His work, just as we have done, and declares that it is “Good”. But after viewing the finished product God declares that it is “Very Good”.
For the past four weeks your children and our camp staff have worked to create a community. And all along the way we have paused at the appropriate times, specifically Shabbat, to appreciate just how good our community is. Now on this final Shabbat of the session we can look back at the almost-finished product and see the following: our campers are happy, our staff is happy, we are all healthy, we have learned a lot, we have laughed even more, we have made new friends and strengthened bonds with old ones, we have sung, we have danced, we have played, canoed, climbed, and camped. And for all the rain, the weather hasn’t been so bad.
In the Torah portion we read on Saturday, Parashat Balak, the prophet Bilaam looks down from his mountain perch at the Israelite camp and famously declares, “Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’akov, mishkinotecha Yisrael.” – “How beautiful are your tents House of Jacob, your encampments Israel”. From the perch of the final Shabbat it was easy to see just how beautiful our encampment had grown to be this session. It is easy, and gratifying, to see that what we have created is not just “good”, but is indeed “Very Good”.
Rabbi Mark Covitz