On the Influence of Camp

January 27, 2012

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


Ramie Arian reflects on the Friday evening service held at the Biennial of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) recently. Although held in a hotel ballroom with nearly 6000 adults participating, it  "felt a lot like camp".


He points out that the formal, staid, transcendent prayer services that were the norm in the Reform movement had been transformed by the adoption of the camp prayer services. The music of the latter was "inviting, simple to learn and to join, accessible to all. Musical selections were accompanied by guitar. Participation by worshippers was welcome, and ultimately, it was expected. Today, when more than 70% of younger Jewish leaders are products of Jewish camp, the norms of Jewish summer camps have penetrated deeply into the mainstream of synagogue life."


The URJ Biennial’s Shabbat evening tefillah " was a stirring tefillah, an uplifting tefillah, a tefillah that left most of us participants with a sense of awe and connectedness. It was a tefillah that felt like camp, or perhaps, like camp on steroids. It felt great to participate."


Arian also discusses similar "camp born influence" elsewhere in the Jewish community, such as in the "Independent Minyanim" movement, which is quickly transforming tefillah in the Conservative and Modern Orthodox worlds.


See his post at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Mar. 05, 2012