Blog  The Best Gift I’ve Ever Gotten

The Best Gift I’ve Ever Gotten

by Becci Jacobs

When I was a senior in high school, my New Orleans Saints-loving family and I trekked to Miami to see the Saints play in their first ever Superbowl. The game was, of course, the highlight of the vacation, but one of the most memorable moments of the trip had absolutely nothing to do with football.

As we passed through airport security on our way out of town, I removed my school laptop – adorned with an old Jacobs Camp bumper sticker – from its bag to go through the scanner. I heard an unfamiliar voice behind me ask, “Is that sticker from Jacobs Camp? In Mississippi?” I turned around to find an older man who I did not recognize; I hesitantly answered yes, unsure why he was asking. “Wow!” he exclaimed, “I went there as a kid, too!” We chatted briefly before we both had to scurry to catch our flights, and I couldn’t believe the strange coincidence. How unlikely, I thought, that the man behind me in the security line at the Miami airport had not only heard of Jacobs Camp, but attended it too!

Looking back on my years as a camper and staff member at HSJ, it is clear that the sense of community and belonging I felt here is what kept me returning summer after summer. Jacobs became my home away from home, and the people who shared this kehillah kedoshah, holy community, with me were nothing short of a geographically-separated family. What I didn’t realize until that moment in the Miami airport is just how big (and welcoming) the Jacobs Camp Family can be.

I am relocating to Memphis, TN to continue in my role with Jacobs Camp and NFTY Southern from there. Because of HSJ, and the home and community it’s provided me, I know this transition will be a smooth one. I am so thankful for all the Jacobs Camp families in Memphis, both those of my own camp friends and those with current campers, who have already invited me over for home-cooked dinners and offered to help with the move. And thank you to Temple Israel for welcoming me with open arms (and an open office!).

But most of all, I am grateful for Jacobs Camp – for being my home for fifteen years now, and for helping me create a new home for myself in Memphis. The community, the family that camp has given me – in Memphis, in Miami, all over the United States (and even in Israel) – is what I am most thankful for.