A few days ago I pulled up to the Henry S Jacobs camp gates and my mom, who drove me to camp, stopped the car, I looked up at the gates, and said to her “What if I can’t do this? What if this isn’t the right place for me?” She said, “I know you can do this, but we can turn the car around and everything will be fine.” After a deep breath, I said, “No, I decided to be here, I want to be here, I can do it.” Some of you may have had the same experience of fear or uncertainty upon your arrival here, looking up at the gates wondering to yourself, “can I do this?”. In a way, we’re just like the Israelites standing on the border of the promised land unsure whether to move forward or to go back. Moses led the Israelites through the desert, out of slavery, and they finally reached their destination, but they were scared. Moses sent spies into the land and while some came back with positive reports others reported back sighting of giants and huge armies that the Israelites would have to overcome to enter the land. The Israelites were uncertain; Egypt was awful, but it was a known entity. The promised land, however sweet it could be, was altogether foreign.
Whether we have been to Jacobs camp for twenty summers or this is our first time in Mississippi, we have entered into foreign territory this summer. None of us have ever been a part of a summer camp during a pandemic. And it is certain that we will face our own giants. Some of the giants will be real, they will be hurdles that we’ll have to overcome. And some of the giants will be perceived, created in our mind as impenetrable obstacles standing in our way. But whether our giants are real or perceived, familiar, or altogether new, they’re all scary. They all require work and dedication and bravery. One of my favorite teachers often says, “This is hard, and we can do hard things.” Not only can we do hard things, but we can do them together. Look around at the people sitting here. These are the people who will help you battle your giants, who will stand side by side with you as we face an uncertain summer, who will be your listening ear, and your shoulder to cry on, who will make you smile and laugh, and remind you that everything’s ok. When we rely on our community, I believe that there’s almost no giant we can’t overcome. We too are entering a strange land, but the most important thing to remember is not to be afraid.
כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר – לא לפחד כלל
Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tzar me’od, veha’ikar lo le’fached klal.
All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid.
Jessica Jacobs joins us this summer as the Director of Jewish Life. This is Jessica’s first summer at camp and she is so excited to learn about the wacky traditions we have here at Jacobs. Jessica took the picture on the top of this blog.