A Camp Tevya Bar Mitzvah

  • Last Shabbat, Camp Tevya celebrated the B’nai Mitzvah of three of our staff members: Yoel Drachman, Harrison Shapiro and Jeremy Wolff. The milestone of coming to camp for 13 summers was truly a reason to celebrate. This event also led to engaging discussions about why this is such a milestone. Today, I use this blog to share the words of Ben Portnoy, Camp Tevya’s Assistant Program Director.

    This past Saturday, three members of our 2012 Tevya staff celebrated their thirteenth summers at Tevya by being called before our community to become B’nai Mitzvah. If a tradtional Jewish Bar Mitzvah ceremony signifies the leap from childhood to adulthood in the eyes of the Jewish community, what does a Tevya Bar Mitzvah cememony signify? At its most basic level, a Tevya Bar Mitzvah ceremony simply means that you have been here for a total of thirteen summers. But symbolically, it means so much more.

    One thing that comes to mind when I think about a Tevya Bar Mitzvah is commitment. Think about one thing, any one thing that you have done on a consistent basis for thriteen years. I bet there are not too many things that you can think of. So, for the people who have continued to come to Tevya for thirteen years, it speaks volumes about their character. As we all know, people are not immune to change and Tevya is no different. Just as we have seen changes in our society, we have seen changes in Camp Tevya.  Our three Tevya B’nai Mitzvah have not only been lucky enough to grow up with Tevya over the years, but were also strong and flexible enough to grow with Tevya to be a part of it in its current beaming state.

    Something else that comes to mind when thinking about thirteen summers at Tevya is the question of “why?” Why do we keep coming back? Summer after summer, we find ourselves returning to our summer home, our safe little bubble that we call Tevya. For a month or two at a time, we shut ourselves off from the outside world and immerse ourselves in everything Tevya. The trite and trivial become magnetized to the extent that three days can seem like a week, a week can seem like a month, and a summer can feel like a lifetime. By the time we go back to our non-summer homes for the next 10 months, we feel emotionally and physically exhausted, yet strangley energized. Every little thing becomes so important when we are here because in all seriousness, nothing else matters. This place has the capability of being the closest thing to a utopia that most of us may ever know, so why shouldn’t every little mundane detail of a day matter tenfold? There are moments througout the couse of a normal Tevya day when the sun is shining and a slight, consistent breeze is rolling through the trees, campers are settled into their activities, and everything is in its natural place. In those moments, those utopian Tevya moments, if you take the time to step outside your mind, you might feel like your’re floating between your waking life and a dream. Tevya is the only place on earth where I can get that feeling. It’s what has been bringing me back for 10 summers of my life, so I can only imagine that this feeling has something to do with why our B’nai Mitzvah have returned for thirteen summers.

    Congratuations to Yoel Drachman, Harrison Shapiro and Jeremy Wolff.
    Here’s to living ten for two for thirteen!

3 responses to “A Camp Tevya Bar Mitzvah”

  1. Gayle Seidman-Seletz says:

    Thanks for sharing this blog with us Ben.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Its wonderful to read the words of someone who can put this “Utopian society”, we call Camp Tevya into such eloquent words.  Mazel Tov to Yoel, Jeremy and Harrison.
    Enjoy the rest of your summer….clearly you know how lucky you are to be are part of Tevya.

  2. Nursegold2 says:

    Mazel Tov to the B’Nai Mitzvot and to whomever came up with the idea. Perhaps it will become n annual event as more reach their 13th year at Tevya.

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