This past Friday, March 1, Camp Harlam accomplished something that was truly an amazing thing to watch. We celebrated the largest Shabbat, geographically, that we have ever celebrated together. Thanks to social media outlets such as facebook, twitter and, most importantly, instagram, we celebrated Shabbat Across America – Camp Harlam Style. Several years ago, the Shabbat Across America program was started by the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) to connect Jews all over the country.
Because of Camp Harlam’s expansive community in every corner or the United States, we thought it would be a great idea to use this platform to connect our community over something that has united all generations of Harlamites over the years – Shabbat! The goal was simple. We wanted to create an atmosphere where Harlamites were coming together to celebrate Shabbat. And connection was the key word this past Friday night.
It all began with those who chose to host these amazing dinner experiences. Because this was our first time trying Shabbat Across America, we expected a smaller turnout. Much to our surprise, however, over 30 volunteers offered to host dinners in their community. The next step was sending these volunteers the materials they needed. Each volunteer received a box with a Challah cover, candles, Camp Harlam Kiddush cups, a prayer card and a little token for each participant to take home with them. Now that we were ready with everything we needed to make dinner happen, all that was left was cooking, gather, having fun and sharing our photos so that all can see what a strong community Harlam has across the country.
Because of instagram, we were able to see the incredible turnout we had on Friday evening and we are proud to share a glimpse into that success with you here. We noticed that all ages were celebrating, from current and future campers to parents to alumni of all ages. We noticed that many of you were cooking camp favorites such as Fried Chicken and Kugel, while many of you decided to cook something completely different. Some dinners were small, while some involved entire religious school classes. Some were on the east coast and some were in California. Regardless of what you cooked, who was there or where it was, we were all connected through the Shabbat experience that we shared in Kunkletown when we were at Camp Harlam ourselves.
Next week we will go back to our regularly scheduled Friday evening, but we will all now know that, even when your camp days seem long gone, the bond that you share through this experience will genuinely last a lifetime. This is just one of many ways that we can connect to eachother throughout the year and throughout our lives. We look forward to the next chance we get. Now, there are only a few months left until a new round of Harlamites will fill the 300 acres in Kunkletown to rekindle this flame and carry the Camp Harlam Shabbat experience with them into their lives. Like them, we are eagerly awaiting the start to the summer of 2013! Thanks for making Shabbat Across America – Camp Harlam Style a huge success and we look forward to the next time we can all share a camp experience together.