July 20, 2024
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July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The last week of camp had arrived, which meant many different things for many different people. Some campers had enough and were just waiting for the week to pass. Others tried to make the most of every moment, like staying up late every night hanging out and laughing in their bunks. Another group of campers were hard at work, preparing for the Camp Nargilah talent show.

This annual performance, which took place two nights before camp ended, was the highlight of the summer for many campers and staff alike. Moshe and Chanan were two campers who felt this way, as they had performed in the show for the past three summers. Normally, these best camp friends would do something together, but this summer was different. Moshe had injured his ankle jumping off his bunk’s roof after going up to retrieve his pillow (don’t ask). So Chanan was on his own.

Moshe and Chanan were planning on putting together an act that combined unicycle riding, juggling and a cappella singing. They were discussing what could have been when a bunkmate of theirs spoke up. “Hey guys? I’ve been going to clown college at night, and I’ve gotten really good at juggling on a unicycle. Any chance I could fill in?” The two boys burst out laughing.

“Haha, Yair. Very funny. Clown college? Hahaha! The new kid is funny!” But Yair was serious. “Actually, I’m serious,” he replied. Chanan looked at Moshe. “I think he’s serious.” And so began the unexpected pairing of Chanan and Yair for the talent show.

Not only was the talent show huge at Camp Nargilah, but so were the practice sessions. The gym was arranged into a giant practice arena, complete with temporary walls for those who didn’t want anyone stealing their acts. The camp director provided snacks and drinks for all the acts, and the gym was usually hopping until 2 or 3 in the morning, until it was shut down for the night.

The next morning, Chanan and Yair were the first to arrive at the gym to practice, but they found it locked. The sign said it would open at 7, but it was only 6:30. Instead of heading back to the bunk until the gym opened, Chanan and Yair sat on the grass, waiting and talking. When the camp director arrived at 7 to open the gym, he found Chanan and Yair laughing hysterically on the grass. He didn’t bother asking, and even if he did, the boys were laughing too hard to answer. Inside, Chanan and Yair continued getting along well, chatting and laughing throughout practice.

At 11, Moshe showed up at the gym to see how Chanan and Yair were faring. Chanan saw Moshe first and called him over. “Moshe! Hey Moshe! Get over here! You know this guy Yair right here? He is the best! Where has he been all my life?” Fortunately, Chanan wasn’t the jealous type, so he immediately joined in on the fun. The three of them got along fantastically, and ended up finding a way to use an injured Moshe in the act.

The next few days went by quickly, and pretty soon they were boarding the buses to head home. Moshe and Chanan exchanged contact info with Yair, and they all promised to keep in touch.

A few days after returning home (and sleeping for 17 hours a day), Chanan started to feel sad. He had such an amazing summer, from start to finish, and Chanan already missed Nargilah. His father noticed Chanan looking upset, so he asked him about it. They talked about the best parts of the summer, including Chanan’s friends.

“You know what’s weird?” Chanan asked his father. “Moshe is easily my best friend from camp. But it’s not him I miss the most. I really miss this new friend, Yair. He was only in camp for the second session, and Chanan and I only got to know him for less than a week. But I feel like if I could invite one friend for Shabbat, right now I’d pick Yair over Moshe.”

Chanan’s dad patted him on the shoulder. “That’s not weird; it makes perfect sense. You only realized at the end of the summer that you and Yair could be good friends. You probably feel like you missed out finding out for real. But you know what you have with Chanan, so it’s not as exciting for now. Either way, let’s make plans for both of them to come for a Shabbat soon.” Chanan smiled. “Thanks, Dad.”

In Parshat Vayishlach, we hear about the death of Devorah, Rivka’s nurse from when she was a child. When Devorah passes away, she is buried under a tree that is named “Alon Bachut—The Tree of Weeping.” A big deal is made about Devorah’s death, because she was instrumental in raising Rivka. She did so behind the scenes, with Rivka getting the “spotlight.” It was only after Devorah died that Yaakov and his family realized how important she had been. The extra crying could be viewed as feelings of guilt for taking Devorah for granted, or for missing out on learning more from her while she was alive. Let us all take a lesson from this, and appreciate those people—and experiences—enhancing our lives.


Yair Daar is the director of Student Life at Bicultural Hebrew Academy High School. He can be reached at [email protected].

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