Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Our Commitment to Community - Shavuot Passing, Camp Pinebrook Beginning

As May comes to an end, the echoes of a moving Shavuot and confirmation service are still reverberating in my mind. Despite my being the cantor, I’m not actually referring to the beautiful music (although much of our festival music is indeed beautiful and powerful). Rather, what made this Shavuot and confirmation so powerful were the primary participants: our confirmands.

Sixteen 10th graders were confirmed during Shavuot. It is not a coincidence that our tradition places confirmation on the holiday that celebrates the gift of Torah. We as a people received Torah at Sinai, and year after year, our 15- and 16-year-olds actively receive it again and confirm their commitment to Torah. The confirmation tradition and Shavuot holiday make a strong case for the Jewish sense of community. We don’t just celebrate a book (Torah); we celebrate its power as the defining source and guide for our entire people, l’dor vador, from generation to generation. If you know any of our confirmands, or if you witnessed them chant our sacred books, lead prayers, sing and play music of worship or express themselves through personal, confirmation statements, then you know the strength of each individual. They stood up as a community; but sixteen unique individuals confirmed their commitment to both our synagogue and the Jewish community at large.

On June 3rd, at 4:00 pm, we celebrate another powerful commitment to community as we officially open Camp Pinebrook with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (see invite below). The opening of our camp will not only strengthen the Temple Israel community, but the Jewish People! Study after study shows that a Jewish camp experience is the greatest indicator for lasting Jewish engagement. How many of you have vivid memories of special moments at camp and lifelong friendships? Commitment to camp doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to encourage a diverse involvement in Jewish life such as a religious school education and participation in Shabbat and other holiday observances, both at home and at the synagogue. But if we truly want to cultivate engaged  Jewish adults, the future of our people, then meaningful camp experience could be the most important thing we do. The Reform movement understands this, creating more and more URJ camps of all kinds and placing a great emphasis on youth engagement. How wonderful that within our Temple we are doing the same.

But Camp Pinebrook does not only serve community, it takes the support of our community to make it happen. Our camp staff (really the entire Temple staff), led by Jesse Gallop, is working diligently to create both a beautiful camp facility and great programs. And, our lay leaders are equally committed and involved—this is no small endeavor. But it requires all of us. Many have given time, expertise and money to ensure the success of this community project.

If you would like to donate, there is still time! Visit to give.

Also, join us on June 3rd as we stand as a community to support our new camp, and know that through this project we are strengthening both Temple Israel and the people of Israel.

Let us go from strength to strength,

Cantor Randall Schloss

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