From The Director’s Desk – March 2018
Fourteen years ago, my camp friends and I starred in the camp version of the hit Broadway musical, “Hair.” While the final song starts slow and dark, it quickly rises in both energy and light, and it concludes with the refrain “Let the Sunshine In.” Though our scripts called for the repetition of this line five times, we – 72 young, energetic, and idealistic teenagers – sang it 36 times.
This weekend, we will “spring forward,” changing our clocks for Daylight Saving Time. In doing so, we will adjust our schedules such that there will be more daylight hours. Originally, Daylight Saving was created to provide farmers an opportunity to conduct more of their important work when innovations such as artificial light were not yet invented. But today, there is much more dialogue regarding the impact of natural light on our psyche. Studies have shown that many people are more cheerful during the summer months, in part due to more sunlight.
It feels that we, as Jews, knew about the connection between light and happiness long ago. Last week, during our Purim Megillah reading, we read another light-themed line:
La-y’hu-dim Ha-y’ta o-ra v’sim-cha v’sa-son vi-kar.”
Give us light and joy, gladness and honor.
We recite this line toward the end of the Purim story, as the Jews celebrate their triumph over evil during the saga with Haman. It is an acknowledgment not just of joy, but specifically, deliverance from a place of darkness into light. This line also made its way into our weekly liturgy as part of our Havdallah service, which we recite at the conclusion of Shabbat. Here, too, light is associated with joy and gladness as we look toward another wonderful week together.
A lot has happened in the past six months since we all departed from camp. Some of it has been wonderful, while other parts have been difficult. Particularly during those challenging moments, I’ve thought often about the Ner Tamid, the eternal flame first referenced in a recent Torah portion. Like a pilot light in an oven, it never quite extinguishes. Instead, it may get turned down low, and then, when we need it most, we increase its intensity and turn it up.
As I think back to our camp version of “Hair” many years ago, I remember turning up our intensity. A group of young people, dedicated to a common love of camp and of one another, joining together in a chorus of voices, gaining in momentum, energy and excitement. That’s how I feel today. We have much for which we can be grateful, specifically from our campers and staff. Later this month, we’ll celebrate the 100-day mark, when the countdown until first session truly begins. Until then, I’ll be embracing every opportunity to let the sunshine in.