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Good Bye 2020.  I have never been someone who is a big on celebrating New Year Eve.  But this year I am looking forward to saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming 2021!  Though my celebration will be at home with my wife, Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, we will dance a little hora to say goodbye to this difficult year.  So much was taken away from all of us during 2020 as we hunkered down to fight the Global Pandemic. We missed family gatherings and celebrations in person; the chance to travel; going to Temple; and dinners out; going to the theatre and movies and of course the summer at Jacobs camp! Come on 2021!

But I do admit I have rediscovered some things in this past year of adversity. I have an immeasurable sense of gratitude for those renewed understandings. They have helped me keep perspective.  And one of those things has been the bonds of caring and friendship that run straight through Utica, Mississippi and down Morrison Road and through the gates of Henry S. Jacobs Camp!

Jacobs Camp always has played a central place in my life.  It formed my most treasured friendships. It shaped and built my Jewish identity.  It birthed my love of guitar and song leading.  It laid the foundation for my career and calling as a rabbi. Jacobs camp developed my leadership skills. It sculpted my spirituality and my faith in God.

In this past year I have had a profound appreciation and gratitude for the deep bonds and lifelong connections that are part of the Jacobs Magic.  In a year marked by isolation Jacobs Camp has fostered deeper friendships by continuing to program and calling us into relationship with one another. In a year marked by sadness, Jacobs camp has brought happiness and joy through its online Shabbats and programs and Havdallah gatherings.  In a year marked by illness across the world, Jacobs camp has encouraged and supported our wellbeing!

I am grateful to Anna, Sarah and Jacob and the whole staff, the Camp Committee with Gary’s incredible enthusiasm and leadership and the wider circle of Campers, Alumni (both campers and Staff), and Supporters who continue to believe in power of our community. Jacob’s Magic is real. It moves out beyond the gates across the South and the whole U.S. and truly around the world.  And I am excited to think about how it will feel to be at camp again in this new year!  Whether you are like me a former camper and staffer who wants to ensure that the next generation will experience what we experienced, or the parent or grandparent of a current camper or staff member, or maybe both, we can be part of the paving the Road Home to Jacobs for 2021!

I hope you will consider joining me in giving.  Camp is the glue that holds so many of us together. In these still difficult days, our children have been deprived of so much. We have the opportunity to ensure that our next generation will once again be shaped by the love and caring and Jewish values that is the Jacobs magic this coming summer!

Rabbi Denise L. Eger is the Sr. Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA. She was a camper, Kibbutznik, CIT and Counselor, Hebrew Coordinator, candlemaker and lanyardmaker and canoe trip leader in the 1970’s and early 1980’s