Shabbat Shalom
VA-ET'CHANAN-NACHAMU | 16 Av 5775
Deuteronomy 3:23-5:18 | Isaiah 40:1-26
 
This Shabbat, Alyssa Coffey shares 
Shabbat Separation

Although we never take off our watches, everyone seems to know that camp-time runs at a different pace. Shabbat at camp feels both longer and fuller that it does at home. Camp is the only place where I am truly able to take advantage of everything it can offer.

At OSRUI, the rituals signaling that Shabbat is coming begin on Friday morning: bagels for breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. We cycle through the day, completing each activity with a bit of extra intention and eagerness. We shower, pick our outfits, and are quickly gathered together for Friday night services, where we sing louder. Following dinner, all of camp gathers together for Shabbat Shira, an energetic song session in which our joy and ruach (spirit) leaks out from under the doors to fill camp with the warmth of Shabbat. The older campers participate in folk dances, and after all the festivities each cabin or tent slowly falls asleep.

This Shabbat, I have volunteered to read from Torah. I greet the morning a "hello" and practice my Torah portion before walking to breakfast. As soon as the Shabbat service starts that morning, I find myself cleaning my plate after lunch. Afternoon free time begins: Shabbat is a day of rest, but as a camper in Chalutzim, I have been speaking Hebrew all week, and it is exhausting. I am now free to relax physically and socially, and mentally: I no longer have the obligation of choosing each of my words carefully, of thinking about conjugations, verb tenses or grammar - I am free to speak English with my friends. We catch up on books we had been reading; we catch up with each other and we catch up with ourselves. We take long walks around camp, we live a little bit more slowly, a little bit more purposefully. Before we know it, our free hours and the size of the sun are dwindling. It is time for Havdallah.

But I am not yet satisfied with my rest - I need more time inside of myself this Shabbat. I decide that I need to spend Havdallah, the ceremony separating Shabbat from the week alone, separate from the group. After all, Havdallah translates to separation.

As the sky darkens, I quietly climb up the migdal, the two-story tower in Chalutzim. I lie down on my back as my friends and counselors sit in a circle, two stories down and slightly to my right. I look up at the sky and see that previous campers have written their names in places that would be impossible to see from anywhere except here. I listen, humming along as they sing the blessings. A small part inside of myself that I did not know existed slides into place. I look at the sky again - all at once, there are stars. I climb down the stairs softly and join the group in folk songs. My friends say that they saw me up there, and I am not disappointed to have been not-totally-alone. I find that it doesn't matter at all. In this moment, I am whole and completely ready for the week ahead. I rush into it as I fall asleep.


Alyssa Coffey has been involved at Beth Emet for as long as she can remember. Currently 16, she has been on the board for Beth Emet's high school age youth group, BESSY, for the past two years. Additionally, she has been a madricha in Beit Sefer. Over the summer or when not completing school work at other times, she can be found knitting, reading, writing, and occasionally running.
Each Friday during 5775, we are featuring writings from you, our congregants, sharing reflections on Shabbat. We hope you will be inspired to share your reflections with the community. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Stacey Zisook Robinson
This Shabbat at Beth Emet

Friday, July 31
6:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. reception) Kabbalat Shabbat in the Sanctuary.  Services will be led by Rabbi Peter Knobel. He will also deliver the D'var Torah.

Saturday, August 1
9:30 a.m.  Congregational Shabbat at Lighthouse Beach Picnic Shelter (2611 Sheridan Road, Evanston). Torah Reader: Suzanne Coffey. Vegetarian potluck lunch to follow services. (No Kahal or Minyan.) In case of inclement weather, please check the homepage of Beth Emet's website.
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