Dear G.U.C.I. Staff:
I had the opportunity, last week, to participate in a very special Havdalah
service. Havdalah, along with the closing (Ne'elah) service on Yom Kippur have
always been my favorite services. Last Shabbat was special. Last Shabbat was
the brotherhood work weekend here at camp. I'm sure that most of you have
never heard of this event. Twelve years ago brotherhood members from our
Reform congregation in Toledo, Ohio asked me how they could help the camp. It
seemed that they didn't have the budget to contribute financially to G.U.C.I.,
but were willing to contribute in other ways. We came up with the idea of a
brotherhood work weekend. It's really quite simple; a dozen or so members of
the Todedo brotherhood (now joined by some Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Terre
Haute brotherhood members) come to camp on a Thursday night one weekend each
Spring, and work their asses off doing anything I ask them to do until Sunday
afternoon. I'm talking electrical work, carpentry, landscaping, painting,
cutting wood, etc. etc. Some of the men are quite skilled. Others, like me,
carry the wood, shovel the gravel, and push the paint brushes. If you have
been to camp in the last decade, you've seen their work: a new roof on the Beit
Am, new steps carved into the hill on the path to the boys' area, our soccer
goals, The lighting system in the Oolam, shelves and cubbies in each of the
cabins, benches in the Chadar Ochel, roof on the athletic shed, and many other
projects including this year's, a magnificent new deck/porch on our newly
remodled Avodah bulding.
One of the special moments during each of the work weekends has been our unique
Havdalah service. As we all know, Havdalah demarks the end of the day of rest
and the beginning of the work week. But, on these weekends we work harder than
we do during our usual work week. Havdalah might seem strange under these
circumstances. The reality is, however, that the Havdalah service is very
appropriate, because the type of work we are doing is unique, almost sacred.
The brotherhood members understand that their labors are a Mitzvah; that they
are doing their part to make camp better for all of our kids. The brotherhood
work weekend Havdalah is a religious thank you for the opportunity to be
together and to perform such an important Mitzvah. Their spirit matches that
of our summer staff, and as such its uplifting to work with these men.
In just a few weeks our Unit Heads, specialists, counselors, Machonickim, and
Avodahnickim will gather to once again create our special kind of summer camp.
In much the same way as that of the brotherhood members, our work will be
unique. We know it will not be easy. But each Shabbat we will remark at how
quickly our time together at camp is passing, and at Havdalah most of us will
give thanks for the opportunity given us to be together and do this good work.