June 25, 2021

Shabbat at Camp – Hineini

By Aaron Cantor

Hineini – “Here I am.”


This word, this statement, is used often by familiar characters from our past whenever they’ve encountered a profound moment or change. A statement meant to share with God that we are here, ready to offer our full self, an offer of total availability. That’s the feeling I had just before 9:30am on Sunday, June 20th. A full 22 months had passed since we last welcomed campers to EKC, and the significance of the moment was not lost on me, nor was it lost on any of our staff. Our entire team is all in on this summer. Saying Hineini on Shabbat also speaks to the spiritual readiness of our Jewish community at Camp. Saying “Here I am”, while at Camp shares that we’re ready to reflect on who we are, what’s important to us, how we can support others, and what we’ve contributed to our community over the past week. As we welcome Shabbat for the first time as a community, it is my hope that everyone will take a moment to say, Hineini.


The plot of Balak, this week’s Torah portion, repeats itself throughout Jewish texts and history. In this edition, a Moabite king named Balak fails to achieve his wish of cursing the Israelites. Not only does he fail (three different times), but his goal becomes inverted when the prophet Balaam blesses the Israelites with prosperity and success. As Balaam looked upon the Israelites with the intention to curse them, he was overwhelmed with a feeling of joy and peace and was only able to speak a blessing. One of Balaam’s blessings for Israel has since become a beloved prayer and song. “How good are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel!” – we sing this most weeks at camp, and the transliteration may jog your memory: Mah tovu ohalecha, Ya’akov, mishk’notecha, Yirsael. This parsha also reminds me about finding the beauty in everyone and everything around us. That we all are made in the image of God, b’tzelem Elohim, and that we all treat each other at Camp (and everywhere) as such.

Now, as we make our way to the amphitheater to begin our Kabbalat Shabbat, we wish you a Shabbat Shalom,