The Traditions That Make Tevya Home

  • Tonight, like many of you, I will be sitting around a table with my family and friends telling the story of the Jewish people’s journey from Egypt. Our celebrations will be filled with laughter and warmth as we realize that the passing down of the informal family traditions such as Grandma Dolores’s fluffy matzah balls, Uncle Seth’s singing of Dayenu, and Cousin Sam’s finding the afikoman, are as important as the formal holiday traditions. I look forward to tonight knowing that with these yearly traditions comes a feeling of comfort and a sense of home.

    This year, as I prepared for Passover, I was preparing for my own journey, a move to a new home in a new town. I am excited about the opportunity for a new adventure, but nostalgic about the familiar place that I have called home for the last 17 years. As I pack away my personal items, the transition is made a little easier, as the place where I live feels more and more like a house and less and less like a home.

    IMG_3668This week, I organized the plastic boxes in my basement, the ones filled with holiday decorations, supplies, and my children’s art projects. I packed away the bins labeled “Chanukah” and “Thanksgiving,” and then sat on the basement floor and opened the “Passover” box. There were Children’s Haggadot, plastic frogs, and plague masks, all used when my children were young to make our Seders more engaging. Then I see the Elijah’s cup that Ryan made in second grade. Oh no, the tears start to form in my eyes. Then there is the matzah cover that Adam made in preschool, now wet with my tears. Then there is the Seder plate made out of recycled items that Abby made in Kindergarten. No need to put salt water in the cupcake holder. Each of these art projects more beautiful and more priceless than anything I could buy in a store.

    Forget packing, I took out these works of art and decorated my house. Now, with the familiar scribbles of my children on the walls, it feels like home again.

    With my holiday cooking almost done, I spent yesterday at Tevya. I was so happy to be back in 03033. It was a beautiful sunshiny day, and yet something was missing. Just like my house did not feel like home without signs of my children, camp did not feel like camp without signs of our campers.  In April, the day before Passover, camp just felt like buildings on a lake. But in two months, the buildings will fill with children and their belongings. Unpacking, putting pictures on the wall, making friendships and memories, and ready to celebrate camp traditions.

    Camp_Tevya_2015_1417Just like Passover, it is those formal and informal traditions that make us look forward to each summer at camp. It is returning to the familiar that makes Tevya feel like home. Campers and staff know there is going to be grilled cheese on Monday, David Melech at Friday night Shira, the hand motions during the Birkat, and four square every day. They know that Color War is going to break (but not how or when). They know that they are going to have counselors sharing stories with them, Steve Siagel singing “Tevya Spirit” with them, and Amy Jo taking pictures of them. There are so many exciting new adventures to look forward to, but we know that it is the yearly traditions that make Tevya feel like home. I feel so lucky to take this journey with our campers and staff each year, so lucky to be a part of our summer home on Lake Potanipo.

    So I came back to my house, got ready for bed, took another look around, and smiled. While my house may be growing empty, it is now decorated with paper frogs, dancing matzah men, and pictures of the parting of the red sea: the beautiful artwork compliments of my children. Yes, it now feels like home again.

    Wishing you all a wonderful Passover, surrounded by family and love…and lots and lots of your children’s artwork.

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