This blog was written by Session 2 Faculty Member Rabbi Dan Medwin, who is also a member of Sci-Tech’s Camp Council
Joining a council envisioning a Jewish science and technology camp was an opportunity to imagine the camp of my dreams. Watching camp grow and evolve, from a seed into a vibrant and dynamic community, has been the joy of a lifetime. The campers, staff, and leadership manage to weave their passion for science and technology with the values and lessons of our Jewish tradition into an experience like no other.
Every morning starts with a Sci-Tech tradition called “Boker Big Bang,” which consists of a blessing over a traditional daily miracle, an original Sci-Tech blessing, and a science experiment that often explodes (on purpose). During the day, campers participate in a Workshop they selected before coming to Sci-Tech for the summer. In workshops, campers dive deeply into their chosen subject matter and receive opportunities to live out the sci-tech values: kavod (respect), kesher (connection), sakranut (curiosity), taglit (discovery), and savlanut (patience).
My job, as a faculty member, is perhaps the most fun of all. I visit each of the workshops, any one of which I’d love to delve into, and share pearls of Jewish wisdom and connection to the work and learning of the campers.
For example, I enjoy discussing with the campers in Robotics and Video Game Design, that they are enacting our most God-like gifts: the ability to create something where there was previously nothing. They use words, codes, pixels, wheels, motors, and microprocessors to embody what it means to be created in God’s image, b’tzelem Elohim. In food science, we discussed the roots of Kashrut in the Torah and how we as Reform Jews may understand the values in our own society, such as eco-kashrut and sustainable agriculture.
It’s also quite a treat for me to get to share my professional work with such a receptive audience. Whether it is the custom circuit-board themed interactive siddur, the Visual T’filah for nighttime prayers, and even beta testing a new CCAR Press app: Psalm 27, I often wonder if one of these campers or staff today will go on to continue the work to which I’ve dedicated my life.
Jews and Judaism have made a profound impact on the fields of science and technology, and in turn, Judaism continues to grow and evolve by incorporating new understandings of the universe and our own selves, as well as benefiting from the appropriate use of technology in prayer and Jewish practice. I’m convinced that someday a Sci-Tech camper will earn a Nobel prize. But even if that doesn’t happen, I am confident this camp is having a positive impact on the world, and on the lives of the campers, staff, and families of URJ6 Points Sci-Tech Academy.