By Sarah Silver, URJ GUCI Camper
Candles flicker; illuminating faces singing with all their heart. Prayers echo as a community chants as one. Sweaty bodies jump in unison as song leaders make their way through the crowd. Campers twist and turn to the beat of Israeli dance. A rabbi tells the stories of our ancestors as the GUCI community encompasses a crackling fire. These experiences create the magic of a GUCI Shabbat. Each Friday begins as a usual day, with the same schedule until lunch. The afternoon starts as a regular schedule but then changes to begin the Shabbat Festivities. The first tradition is the Shabbat Walk. Boys and girls dress in their nicest clothing and prepare for the musical hike from the “up-top” area to the Beit T’filah, where Shabbat services commence. Next is the classic Shabbat dinner—crispy fried chicken, savory green beans, cinnamon-infused kugal, and to top it all off is a sweet delicious slice of pie. The true fun begins after the meal. Shabbat song session is full of jumping, sweaty campers and counselors screaming the words to their favorite camp songs. Just when you think the loud and exhilarating song session is finished, a soulful and spiritual song session takes over. Candles are placed at each table and the entire camp joins hands as we sing as one harmonious community. Israeli dancing follows, and campers dance to their favorite songs. A roaring campfire ends the night with songs and stories filling the air and our minds. As we watch the embers of the flames float slowly towards the star-studded sky, the memories and thoughts of the day fill our hearts with pure joy and happiness. This is the end to the most wonderful Shabbat. I look forward to the GUCI magic every Friday, and all of the incredible and amazing experiences each Shabbat brings.