Much to my oldest son’s horror, I signed up for Facebook a little over a year ago. It started out because as an educator and parent, I felt it was important that I understand how this new medium my son was exploring worked. I had done the same with MySpace a few years ago. I found several of my colleagues and contemporaries and “friended” them. (That means I sent them a message and they added me to their list of friends. No one can see your information unless you permit them to be your Facebook friend.)
The something wonderful happened. Ever since that first day, I find or am found by friends I have not seen or heard from in years—sometimes decades. People from college, high school, even elementary school! Then I heard form Uri Lessing. Uri had been a camper in my cabin when I was a counselor at Olin Sang Ruby, the Reform Jewish camp in Wisconsin. He posted a picture of our entire unit from 1981.
That’s me, at the back, in the middle, with Robin Barbara (now Salzberg) on my shoulders. Robin was our Unit Head and now lives on Long Island. Since then, I have been in touch with over twenty people in that photo—former counselors, campers and faculty members. Some of them I never lost touch with, for others it was an online reunion. For all, it was like we just left Oconomowoc, Wisconsin a few weeks ago.
I have no financial interest in Facebook. I have a very large professional and communal interest in our children going to our Reform Jewish camps in the Northeast: Eisner and Crane Lake. My son Ethan won’t let me see how many camp friends he has on Facebook. (I am not permitted to “friend” him—that is “Facebook creepy.”) I know there a lot of them, and they are mostly linked to one another.
And that is the point. Our camps create and cement links between our kids and Jewish children from all over. Many of those links will last a lifetime. I urge you to send your kids to Eisner or Crane Lake this summer. There will be several opportunities to discuss it this winter with me and with the staff and campers. Please visit our camp page on the temple web site to learn more and to find links to Eisner and Crane Lake. Please call me at 336-1858 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp will build your children’s Jewish identity even higher. It will be lots of fun, with all of the sports, swimming, drama, arts and music you expect from a top quality summer camp. It will help them develop independence and a sense of community. And it will help them find lots of friends. Not just Facebook friends, but the real kind that endures and enriches their lives.
Ira J. Wise, R.J.E.
Director of Education