At Camp Kalsman, we believe each of our campers has the power to change the world. We talk about it all the time, asking, “What do YOU believe is right? What can YOU do to make that happen?” We encourage campers to stand up for what they believe in, to speak up when they have something to say, to share their unique perspective with the world and fight for positive change. We ask them, “What does Judaism have to say about this issue? Why is it important to you?” We believe that children and young adults who are able to articulate the change they want to see and frame it in a Jewish context WILL succeed in creating change.
We remind Kalsman campers of the lesson we learn in Pirke Avot, that while they are not obligated to change the entire world themselves, they are responsible for doing their part. Many of our campers are doing work in the world to make it better, to change the things that don’t sit well with them. We are always, always proud of the work that they do and we are even more excited when our campers are able to do that work in a Jewish context.
Recently, one of our campers went viral for doing just that.
Duncan, a long time Kalsman camper, became a Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon on November 9th. In preparing for the momentous occasion, for the transition from child to adult, Duncan was asked to prepare a D’var Torah, a speech that looked at the Torah portion for the week and relate it to contemporary life, relate it to his own experiences, and give it meaning for all those gathered to celebrate Shabbat and Duncan that day. Duncan read Vayeitzei, a portion that, among other things, discusses Jacob’s marriages. We thought what Duncan had to share about this portion was extraordinary.
Yasher Koach Duncan. We are so proud.
(Want to learn more about this Torah portion? Click here to read summaries, commentaries, and suggested discussion questions on ReformJudaism.org.)
UPDATE: Duncan was also interviewed with Rabbi Michael Cahana on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to talk about his speech. Click here to check it out!