Living Six Days for One

Written by: Anat Litwok
August 2020

Living Six Days for One

Shabbat at camp is one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had. For campers, camp is a happy place, the place waited to be in all year round.  Surrounded by camp friends. No parents, no rules, just the freedom of summer.

And when it comes to Shabbat, the energy that is felt is indescribable. Staring out on the lake, watching camp besties with their arms on each other’s shoulders, singing Jewish songs at the top of their lungs, and words in Hebrew that they may not even understand, the sense of Jewish pride that runs through my soul is one that is unforgettable, and one that is hard to find anywhere else.

I’ll never forget as a teenager, when my parents took me to a Kabbalat Shabbat service in the synagogue. I was so excited because I knew how energizing Kabbalat Shabbat could be and how much I loved singing all the songs that we sang at camp.

I remember that as I stood in the synagogue and watched the crowd sing their monotone tunes, I could not understand where the energy and magic of Shabbat were.

This wasn’t what it was like at camp. I tried to start banging along with a beat on the seat in front of me. A couple of heads turned and gave me a look that said, “That’s cute.”  I remember the disappointment I felt at that moment. I tried to understand. Maybe Shabbat could only be magical at camp?

My love of the camp world and the magic it brings along with it led me to the path of becoming a camp professional. I feel privileged to bring the joy of camp and the magic of Shabbat at camp to children every summer, making sure they have the experience of a high-energy Shabbat ritual.

Living on Camp Time

In the camping world, we have a saying: We live 10 months for 2. We work and get through the ten monotonous months of the year in order to get to the two amazing months of summer, the two months of camp. Campers also use this phrase often, as they get through ten months of school in order to spend two months at camp having the best summer ever, every summer.

This summer is my first summer without camp. I know most people are thinking, “Welcome to the real world: there’s no magical lake with a zipline leading into the water, no singing kumbaya around the bonfire, no rock wall, no morning lineup, and no camp Shabbat.” For me, it has been a summer of work, lots of time at home, and lots of TV.

From a Camp State of Mind to a Shabbat State of Mind

These past couple of months, I have found myself no longer living 10 months for 2 but living 6 days for 1. Each week, I wait for Shabbat, the one constant that has remained during this time. I find myself shutting my eyes as I sing Shabbat songs and feeling the magic that Shabbat brings pulsing through my veins.

Just as camp is an escape for us when we are kids, Shabbat is an escape for us when we are adults. A time to connect, a time to recharge, and a time to relax from all the hard work we put in during those six days, as we waited for this one.