Did you know that every session of 6 Points Sci-Tech has volunteer faculty on board? We are rabbis, cantors, educators, and professors who help bring our deep knowledge of Jewish learning to the campus, serving as a resource for the JLife team, the workshop leaders, and the rest of the camp. It’s a wonderful experience! I’m the Dean of Faculty here at camp, and I’d like to share some of the things that we do.

We normally stay for two weeks (the length of a session), on break from our regular jobs. In this role, we are called to help in multiple ways. This past Wednesday morning, for example, I gave a drash (talk) about one of the “nissim b’chol yom” (daily miracles) in our liturgy at our Boker Big Bang.

On Wednesday, I spoke about the concept that God “stretched the earth over the waters” (as the morning blessings describe it) and explained some of the latest scientific research about how the continents were formed. I questioned why we say this blessing, which attributes this process to God, given what science has to say. I suggested in response that perhaps we could think of God as the creative force that makes for these processes to take place. If the blessing and the science appear to be in conflict, it could be that we need to develop a more abstract and subtle idea of God.

The faculty at camp also visit workshops to provide additional help with their Jewish content. In the Digital Film Production workshop, for example, I spent some time talking to each of the groups about their movies. Given that they are Jewish filmmakers creating a movie for a Jewish audience, how do they reference that set of shared values and culture in their movie, even when it’s not necessarily about a Jewish topic? Each group had a different answer: in some cases, it’s the shared culture of Jewish jokes, holiday experiences, and Hebrew terms that makes a movie recognizable as Jewish; in other cases, the movie investigates one of the Jewish values that we observe at camp, drawing a moral from them.

The camp faculty have other roles as well. We help plan services with the Jewish Life (“JLife”) team, creating meaningful and engaging experiences. In some cases, our contribution is seen by the whole camp (such as when we chant Torah or give a drash), and in other cases it’s more behind the scenes (such as when we help campers and counselors with writing parts of the service). We also do bet mitzvah tutoring to help campers stay on track, which is a traditional role for faculty across the URJ camping world.

In my mind, though, our most important role as faculty is to serve as a caring presence to campers as they pursue their varied interests. We are, in effect, conduits of divine concern. By showing enthusiasm and appreciation for our campers and staff, we help camp become that magical place where you can be both rigorously scientific and deeply spiritual, all at once.

Rabbi Kari Tuling, Faculty Dean