As the days get shorter and it is darker outside we know the festival of lights, Chanukah, is around the corner. This year, Chanukah follows right after Thanksgiving. In many ways, Thanksgiving mirrors Jewish celebrations. Some historians believe that Thanksgiving was modeled after Sukkot since they are both harvest festivals that take place in the fall. The main theme of Thanksgiving comes from the name itself, reminding us of the importance of giving thanks. We traditionally say a blessing of thanks before and after every meal. The additional blessing after the meal is significant because even after we are full and satisfied, we take the time to pause and be thankful. At camp singing, Birkat Hamazon, the blessing after the meal, is a ruach (spirited) communal experience full of hand motions and camp traditions. And maybe most importantly, Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to gather with friends and family.
Chanukah is also a holiday that brings us all together. The Chanukah candles and dreidels remind us of miracles long ago. At camp when we light the Havdalah candles or candles at the lake, we remind our campers that sharing the light from one candle to the next doesn’t diminish the flame. As the light grows and spreads, it’s just like spreading kindness and good deeds throughout our community.
A Thanksgiving prayer by Rabbi Naomi Levy beautifully captures the essence of both these holidays:
For the laughter of the children,
For my own life breath,
For the abundance of food on this table,
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast,
For the roof over our heads,
The clothes on our backs,
For our health,
And our wealth of blessings,
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends,
For the freedom to pray these words
In any language,
In any faith,
In this great country,
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants.
Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen
The Camp Team is grateful to be able to start attending in-person events. From ice skating with our Rookie campers to Chanukah celebrations in Baltimore and Northern Virginia we are looking forward to the laughter of children and a chance to reconnect. Like the light of a candle, please spread the word that we will be hosting in-person and virtual meet-and-greets to introduce Capital Camps to potential new families. We continue to appreciate the importance of spending a summer at camp.