How Chavurah Finds Inner Beauty

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The unit of Chavurah led our last Saturday morning Shabbat services of first session. Their theme was Tiferet or inner beauty. Below are some of the words they shared.

By Emma, Carly, Jack, Lila, Bailey, and Ben: This week’s middah is Tiferet: finding inner beauty. As the session comes to a close, we have all learned to find inner beauty in situations where we wouldn’t normally look for it. For example, during the white-water rafting trip, our boat got stuck on a rock two miles into the trip. As we were jumping on our raft, trying to get it unstuck, we found tiferet in the teamwork we had to use as a group. Working as a team showed us the inner beauty of overcoming tough challenges. During this last Shabbat, we find inner beauty in the bittersweetness of this moment.

By Ella, Lily, Ilana, Mollie, and Sam: As the Barechu talks about preparing for the service, we reflect on preparing for camp. We look back on our past decisions and think of how we prepared ourselves for our last summer as campers. Not only did we physically prepare ourselves, but we also mentally got ready as well. Although camp can be stressful for some, we as Chavurah campers have been doing this for many years and know what to expect. Our camp friends have shaped us into the individuals we are today and helped us find our inner beauty. For example, one of our evening activities in the beginning of the session was geared toward all of us in bunk 1 to gain confidence in ourselves and find our inner beauty. This activity made us realize we all have similar views on ourselves and each other. We are now more aware and have more respect.

By Eva, Bram, Dasia, Drew, and Amelia: Light and dark are an endless cycle. When there is light, we can anticipate looming darkness, and the dark we can look forward to when the light comes out again. Throughout our summers at camp, we are forced to live with the understanding that soon enough we will be leaving, but when we are home, we can always look forward to next summer at camp. In Chavurah, some may think that the light of camp is coming to an end, but there is always more beauty to look forward to, such as traveling to Israel with friends and coming back to camp as CITs and counselors. Light and dark are endless cycle, like the love, experiences, and friendships that we make and continue to make at camp. Although light and darkness are endlessly beautiful, the light at the end is always the prettiest, just like the sunsets we watch every day here at camp. Today is our last ever day as campers, for some the last at camp. Today is similar to a sunset as we have finally found the light after a long, long road. The end of an era.

By Annie and Izzy: The Shema talks about becoming one and how God is one. Throughout our time at camp, the Shema is one of the prayers we say most frequently. We hear it from our very first evening ritual in Carmel sounded by all our new bunk mates to our last evening program in Chavurah surrounded by our friends who have become family. Over our years at camp, our unit was divided by things like bunks, cooties, and color war, but over time, our unity has more and more started to become one. Now when we hear the Shema, we think of how much we have seen each other grow and how much our unite has united.

By Bee and Jax: As you have heard several times in the past hour, this week’s middah is tiferet or finding inner beauty. Gender dysphoria and societal expectations of how trans people should look or act can make it very difficult to find the beauty of our trans bodies. Whether it’s leg hair, chest size, or facial structure, dysphoria impact many aspects of our lives. Similarly, societal expectations often limit what is deemed “acceptable,” which can be very constricting. Despite all of that, we have been able to find narrow pathways through the waves to be our authentic selves. Hey Jax, you know who else found a narrow path through the waves? Who? Moses when he parted the red sea! That is what the Mi Chamocha is about. Please join us in the Mi Chamocha.

By Raya, Scarlett, Melissa, and Rachel: The trek to Chapel on the Hill from the village can feel long and endless. These walks have brought us meaningful conversations and connected us to many new people. When we finally reach the hill and grab each other’s hands, we know the walk was worth it. For many years, we have overlooked the beauty of services and small traditions that have developed like this. Now, after countless services, we have grown to appreciate how Shabbat services bring out the best parts of camp. After learning to appreciate services and the traditions that go along with them, we know that Shabbat is what you put into it. Now at the end of the session, we have ripped calves, popping quads, and the walk to services feels like a breeze. These walks make us appreciate the small moments in camp and the inner beauty of the traditions; like the song we are about to sing, Sim Shalom. Now sing your heart out because before you know it, you’ll be at your last Shabbat surrounded by your best friends.

By Max: Tiferet or finding inner beauty can mean many things. However, in this case, I take it to mean finding the good in people including yourself. Sometimes, even before you meet a person, you may hear things about them. These rumors may or may not be true. For example, I heard many people tell me someone was annoying, but they were genuinely nice when I got to know them. All you need to do to make a friend is to bypass their outer self and find who they truly are. The same also holds true for yourself. If you want to make friends and find tiferet, you need to be yourself, whether that means eating muffins with a fork and knife, wearing ridiculous clothes, saying totally ridiculous things, or making strange animal impressions. While these may not apply to everyone, all of you should work to find your inner beauty, whether in yourself or others.

By Cameron, Lilly, Lola, Eva, Matt, and Zoe: When we say Mi Shebeirach, it is important to reflect on both physical and mental health. They overlap so much that it is almost impossible to separate the two. Tiferet, finding inner beauty, is a simple way to improve our mental health. Enjoying the little things and appreciating our surroundings can be grounding. Camp has many moments that are often overlooked but contribute to overall appreciation of what keeps us coming back each summer. We look to our camp as an escape from outside responsibilities. Some of our favorite smaller memories include sim shalom(ing) at Shabbat services, pierogies for lunch, reading under a tree during rest hour, an extra minute before breakfast on Saturdays, hugging your friends and talking with them late at night, porch gaga, basketball in the sports palace, and inside jokes. These experiences have been constant factors in shaping us into the people we have become. Camp is at the center of our lives, it’s what we look forward to all year and cry when it comes to an end. As our camp experiences come to a close, we hope that younger campers take advantage of the little things throughout their time at camp. This place has given us so much and has allowed us to become the truest version of ourselves.

By Lexi, Allie, and Hailey: As our last Shabbat here comes to an end and we return back to our normal lives tomorrow, we wanted to thank you for all the memories we have made and the chances we have gotten to find our inner beauty. My Carmel year, I was given a Chavurah buddy I did not know at the time would become a person that gave me the ability to find my inner beauty and shaped me into the person I am today. Thank you camp Harlam for bringing me to a second sister, Izzy Cutler. I was considered a late starter at camp when I came in Kineret. Camp meant a lot to me because they still welcomed me instantly. Thank you Camp Harlam for brining me a forever home. Since the day I started here, the constant camp saying has been, “the time flies by so don’t waste a minute.” I never realized how powerful this saying was until now as I look back on how much I have grown. Thank you Camp Harlam for making me wish I could do it all over again.

By Aubrey: Look at camp in all its visual beauty. There are pretty mountains, starry skies, laughing campers, and so on, but the beauty at camp that you find is most likely not visual but inner. Even through participating in activity you don’t like, you and everything around you are growing in inner beauty. There is value in pushing through the stream hike then realizing how fun it is, to sharing the last donut because you and your friend were waiting for Saturday morning doughnuts and there was only one left, and finally hating the walk to main camp but making some of your friends in Chavurah from talking and singing on the walk. Camp forces you to grow your and others inner beauty and by doing so camp beauty also grows.