Lisa J. Goldstein, RJE and Missy Rachel Goldstein are a mother and daughter who are able to share their camp experience with one another. Lisa Goldstein is the Director of Lifelong Jewish Learning at Temple Beth-El in San Antonio. She has served several Reform congregations over her 28 year career. Missy Goldstein is a second year Education Fellow at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, MS. A graduate of the University of Florida, she is currently working on applications to graduate school to pursue a career in Jewish education.
We first started going to camp together in 1993, when I was first-year faculty at OSRUI and Missy was just two years old. I was what people referred to as a “staff brat.” Twelve years at OSRUI and 4 years as faculty at Greene Family Camp later, we are once again going to camp together, this time, both as faculty. I’ve always seen my mom at camp as faculty, now my counselors are returning to camp as faculty, and I can’t believe that I’ve already been given this incredible opportunity.
Why do I return to GFC year after year? Because camp is special to my students at Temple Beth-El and I love interacting with them in this environment, because I feel like I make a difference during my time here, and most especially, because I know the impact that Jewish camp has had on my own daughter, who is now a Jewish educator herself. I’ve experienced the magic of camp in so many different ways. I first learned Hebrew at camp. I met my very best friends at camp, and those are my longest and dearest friendships. Working as staff I saw campers make those same connections and learn about Judaism through various art mediums. Connecting to Judaism at camp is a one-of-a-kind experience that has made me want to be a Jewish educator.
This is Missy’s first year as faculty at a URJ camp, and I’d like to offer some advice to make her first experience great. First, throw yourself into camp and all that it has to offer. Do the job you came to do and much more. Interact with the campers at every opportunity, but don’t forget to take time for yourself. Networking with colleagues at camp is so enriching. Be available to the counselors as a resource; after all, you were an amazing counselor yourself. One of the best parts of your job with ISJL (in my opinion) is the opportunity to see and learn from different cultures and practices within Jewish institutions and I know how much you love that, so above all, soak up all of the unique experiences – the culture and customs that make GFC so special – and carry them with you as you continue your work.
Shehecheiyanu is my all-time favorite prayer. And, yes…I do have one of those. It’s a prayer we say at times when we experience something new. As a traveling Jewish educator I have the opportunity to work with congregations all throughout the South and have new experiences with these amazing communities. This means that I get to say the shehecheiyanu ALL THE TIME, and it’s great!! Today, I invite my mom to say it with me as we start on this journey together, not just as mother and daughter, but also as colleagues.