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A Rosh Hashanah Message From Zach and Josh

September 7, 2018by Josh Niehaus

Shalom CSS Community,

We wanted to reach out before the final Shabbat of 5778 and wish everyone one last Shabbat Shalom, and a heartfelt Shanah Tovah! We both really miss picking up the campers from their cabins on Friday evenings and singing songs as we walked together as a community down to the amphitheater to bring in Shabbat. Shabbat is a magical time at camp, and we hope your campers have brought some of that magic back with them.

As we turn our focus to the High Holidays and 5779, we are more dedicated than ever to learn from the past and strive to reach new heights. The central mitzvah (commandment) of Rosh Hashanah is to listen to the blast of the shofar. There is a great discussion in the talmud about this mitzvah, which centers around the difference between listening and hearing. The conclusion is that commandments must be accompanied by intention. In the same way that small-talk can be elevated to deep conversation by active listening between two people, an ordinary ram’s horn can be transformed into a spiritual instrument that can shake a listener out of complacency. In this way, the shofar is kind of like an alarm clock for the soul. It reminds us that we need to wake up, not just physically, but spiritually as well, and reach for a higher purpose in life.

For us at CSS, this lesson on the importance of listening is doubly meaningful at this time of year, because we also receive the CSI survey results for the previous summer. The survey, much like the shofar, reminds us that we must not become complacent. We must take a break from the routine of daily life to reflect and to listen to those around us, so that we can recalibrate and continue on towards our higher purpose.

We are so grateful to be working at a place where we can make a positive impact on the lives of children. We are thrilled to be able to create immersive and joyous Jewish experiences for our campers. We are so thankful for the many voices that have shared their thoughts, suggestions, and gratitude, to keep us moving forward in the right direction. In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, we promise to listen with intention to our community, take time to reflect on our journey, and then get back to the sacred work of running a Jewish summer camp.

Shanah Tovah,
Zach Duitch, Josh Niehaus

Josh Niehaus