By Cantor Irena Chklovskii
Since I first entered the world of “Jewish professionals,” I encountered two groups, the ones that went to Jewish camp and a few of us who didn’t. I mean, it’s like belonging or not to a “secret society.” Therefore since the first days of my professional Jewish path, I have always been intrigued by this “magic” of Jewish camps. I know the study shows that adults who spent their youth going to Jewish camps most likely will lead their adult lives as Jews and will raise their children within the Jewish faith.
And so, a few years ago I “introduced” Sci-Tech to my family. Let’s say it was not an easy sell. Well, the idea became a reality to all of us when my daughter and I embarked on our journey onto URJ Sci-Tech Academy – East, in July of 2016. I’m not sure who was more nervous, her or myself? And then just like that magic happened.
We were welcomed by most warm, wonderful, smiley people who just happened to celebrate their Jewishness from morning tonight. The counselors took their time to get to know the kids. They cared for the campers with such respect and kindness that as a mother, it was moving to watch.
This year is my daughter’s fourth year and my first as a faculty member here at Sci-Tech.
Sci-Tech is a place for all kinds of kids: sporty, awkward, a bit nerdy and odd. It is truly a place that celebrates our Jewish diversity. Sci-Tech is all about science, creativity, and everything is looked upon within the Jewish lenses.
In this Shabbat Torah portion, Pinchas, from the book of Numbers, God appoints Joshua as a new leader of the Israelites. Joshua is the one who will lead our people to the promised land. God identifies Joshua as a man, asher Ruach bo, filled with spirit, and therefore, he will be the new leader after Moses.
This week at Sci-Tech, I have observed so many young leaders filled not just with much spirit, but with kindness, respect, and curiosity. These children are our future, and they are our leaders. I do not doubt that some of them will go out in the world to discover, research, lead in a most beautiful, menchy way, caring a bit of Sci-Tech ruach with them.