by Sam Pollak
I am so excited to be back at GUCI this summer! This will be my tenth summer on camp, and my years at camp have been absolutely incredible. I’ve been a camper in Geza and Anaf, a participant on the NFTY trip to Israel with fellow GUCI-ites, and an Avodahnik. I’ve also been a counselor, a tikkun olam (social action) specialist, a t’filah (prayer) specialist, an Avodah unit head, and head songleader. This summer I am thrilled to be returning to camp after a one-year hiatus, now as the director of Judaic studies, and I could not be more excited to be stepping into this new role.
This year I have been living in Jerusalem, Israel, engaging in my first year of studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion to become a rabbi. It has been wonderful to learn with my many phenomenal teachers and classmates, all who share an immense love of Judaism. This year I have been challenged by new ideas and inspired by new experiences, and I have found the best hummus in Israel and learned to speak Hebrew. I am looking forward to sharing what I’ve gained from my experiences this year back in Zionsville.
This fall I will be continuing my rabbinic studies in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. There I grew up at Isaac M. Wise Temple, where I was an active NFTY participant in high school. After completing my undergraduate studies in philosophy and religious studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, I remained in the city for one more year to work at Temple Beth Shalom, teaching Hebrew and music and coordinating youth programming. I am very excited to be back in the Cincinnati area, able to reconnect with all these communities––including GUCI!
Outside of camp and school life, I enjoy playing board games, cheering for the Ohio State Buckeyes, playing guitar or piano, cooking with friends, and reading a good book. My current project is to read the entire Harry Potter series in Hebrew––three down, four to go!