כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים, בְּעֵינֶיךָ כְּיוֹם אֶתְמוֹל, כִּי יַעֲבר ֹוְאַשְׁמוּרה בַלָּיְלָה
For a thousand years in Your sight are as yesterday when it is past,
and as a watch in the night.
At camp, we always say that days seem to last for weeks but weeks are over in a few seconds. Before you know it, the summer gone. It feels like the Kochavim, our first group of fourth graders, just got here yet they are leaving early on Monday morning to return to home. It feels like I just arrived for Hanhala (senior staff) training and planning week and here we are on the verge of our second Shabbat. Twenty-five percent of this summer’s camper Shabbatot are now completed. Campers who only arrived yesterday look like they have been here all summer. Where does the time go?
After lunch today, I was walking on the kikar when I saw the Kochavim playing a game. One camper who was particularly quiet and shy when I met her before the summer came over to me with a big smile. Before camp, she was worried about being homesick. She told me that she had a great time, that she could not wait to come back next summer, and that she was so glad her friend encouraged her to come to camp. On a similar note, I heard from a parent whose child in Garinim wanted to stay for the whole summer! Camp Ramah in Wisconsin is now their summer home and they will miss it once they leave. And you know what? We will miss them too.
This Shabbat, we celebrate the thirteenth reunion of Nivonim 1998. It must seem like yesterday that the Givah - Nivonim Hill - was theirs. They did not have spouses or significant others, full-time jobs or infants. Here they are thirteen years later, remembering how they loved camp, how camp loved them, and how the camp world was at their fingertips. They are showing their spouses and children the places where they played, made lifelong friends, and transformed and grew as Jews each and every summer. They are reconnecting with one another, with the camp, and with themselves. And, I imagine, that they are looking to the future as well. Where will they be when their twenty-fifth Nivonim reunion arrives? Where will their children be in the summer (here, we hope!)? What Jewish and camp friends and memories will they be creating.
No matter how long any given day feels, we know that time is fleeting. The Psalmist reminds us that our moments are so brief when compared to The Eternal One: One thousand years in the eyes of God are so brief. Each moment is precious. We are charged with filling each minute, each encounter, each learning with meaning, to value it higher than any precious stone. We are compelled to not take a moment for granted, to allow it to pass as though it does not matter. This summer, a teacher from Chicagoland Jewish High School died unexpectedly. Many of his students talked with great love about Mr. Gross z”l and stressed one message above all the others that they had learned from him: always tell people who you love that you love them. Never miss an opportunity. Implicit in Mr. Gross’ message is not to take time, people, or moments lightly. While 1,000 human years may seem like just a moment in God’s eyes, each one is sanctified, kadosh, and Divine.
For a variety of reasons, the preciousness of life, of savoring and appreciating every moment took on greater significance for me this week. I know it did for so many of us in the Ramah world. May this Shabbat be one where we renew our investment in every minute of every day. And may we never miss an opportunity to tell people that we love them.
In memory of Andrew Silvershein z"l, 16 years old, of Davie, Fl.