A Life Long Blessing….

By Susan Alexander, Associate Director


Yom Kippur is a time for reflection – a time to engage with other human beings and with God.

This past Saturday, at Yom Kippur services, and deep into my own thoughts, I heard a voice that was so familiar and sweet and filled with a confident knowledge, it gave me pause.  When I looked towards the bima, I saw Rachel Kaplan Marks, white robe and all, speaking to the congregation.  I was so thrilled and excited that I was moved to tears!!

Rachel, you see, grew up at OSRUI.  She was a camper, an avodahnik, a machonik (CIT), a madricha (counselor), a sganit (assistant unit head) and a rosh eidah (unit head).  She even brought with her, one summer, Albert, now her husband, who became a wonderful part of OSRUI as well, first as a member of the sports staff and later as a rosh eidah.  The campers loved him and her!  I love him and her!!

I was present.  I watched Rachel grow from little girl, to confident camp leader, to almost rabbi.  I was part of the team that listened to her ideas, taught her, laughed with her at the many funny and weird things that happen throughout a summer at camp, encouraged her choice of profession and shared her excitement when she married Albert.  I was present – it was as though I was watching one of my own children.  Connecting with Rachel and other staff members is what I love most about my position at OSRUI.

Rachel spoke beautifully that Saturday.  She spoke words from her heart as well as from the Machzor. Her Hebrew had a song-like quality and as she spoke you knew that the words reached each individual in that room.  I wanted to applaud but my son seated next to me gave me the look!  Rachel, if you are reading this, I was applauding on the inside.

I know that in 2015, when Rachel graduates as a rabbi, she will do even more great things in and for the Jewish community.  That is who she is.  You will want her as your rabbi and your friend.


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