Blog  How Israel Brought Me Home

How Israel Brought Me Home

The following is an excerpt from our Garin Unit Head, Taylor Poslosky’s sermon during our Friday night Shabbat Service!

“Just over a year ago I was getting ready to leave for Israel. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I knew the food would be delicious, I would be living surrounded by Jews, and I would be learning with people who shared the same passion for Judaism as I do. I was most looking forward to the many different styles of worship in Jerusalem and around Israel. While the past year in Israel was full of meaningful experiences, I actually found prayer in Israel challenging. I encountered Women of the Wall, a group of women fighting for equal rights in the women’s space at the Western Wall, and to my shock, there were other women who shouted and blew whistles at us while we tried to pray peacefully and read from the Torah. I entered more traditional prayer spaces where women and men were separated, and the women were supposed to pray quietly. One Orthodox synagogue had a female prayer leader, and while that was unique and very liberal of them, it still felt foreign to me. Even the services led by our classmates were a bit different. We prayed exclusively in Hebrew, went through all of the prayers, and they introduced us to a few Israeli tunes for prayers. I liked learning new Israeli ways to sing prayers and reading all of the liturgy, but I was never quite at home.

My Jewish journey was shaped in large part by the Jewish summer camps I went to as a camper, and those I have staffed as an adult. Camp has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up at another URJ camp, and we also had an outdoor chapel, much like Jacobs, without the beautiful view of the lake, though. That was where I fell in love with services. We sang beautiful melodies to familiar prayers, and cabins led t’fillah. It was an amazing experience to be up in front of the whole camp, explaining my connection to t’fillah, looking at the breathtaking canopy of endless trees and smiling faces of counselors and campers. There is something special about t’fillah at camp. It’s a combination of the melodies, being outside, and the people we’re with that makes it feel just right. I realized it immediately when I got to Jacobs this summer. After a year of searching, and trying on new styles of prayer, coming to camp and having our first services in the chapel felt like coming home. We say welcome home a lot at Jacobs Camp, and here in the chapel, on Friday night as we start Shabbat, looking out at all of you, this is home.”