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Greenwich Letter: Thank Your Local Chabad For Running A Day Camp

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GREENWICH, Conn. -- The Greenwich Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Please send letters to .

To the editor:

When parents see the signs posted for a “Camp Gan Israel” they may wonder two things: what is the meaning of calling a camp “gan” and why “Israel?”

Gan is the Hebrew word for garden. The Rebbe named the first camp “Camp Gan Israel,” literally “Garden of Israel” in honor of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the 17th-century founder of Chasidism known as the Baal Shem Tov.

Camp Gan is the garden of the Jewish people. It is a modern-day Eden in which young married couples, mentors, young adults and pre-teens make it their summer’s mission to water each flower with Torah and provide sunshine and warmth.

The camp is an opportunity for children to be re-connected to their Jewish roots, to grow in their love for their fellow Jew who, because of camp, is as close as one’s bunk mate. It also is an opportunity for parents to strengthen their roots as well.

When a community supports a local Jewish camp, like a Camp Gan of Israel, they essentially, child-by-child—future family by future family -- build-up the stability of future families in their community. At Camp Gan Israels throughout the world, children partake in a “mock wedding.” This light-hearted tradition allows children to witness a fun, spirited “Jewish wedding” scene, filling their consciousness’s with pride, anticipation and a positive regard for the sacred Jewish promise of a happy, G_d centered matrimony.

The mock wedding gives children a mental model that matrimony between man and woman is a joyous, communal celebration wherein the best fruits of life and togetherness take root and become life. Every individual needs this modeling, particularly in our modern world, as our camper children eventually become heads of households and leaders in their own community.

So, thank a local Camp Gan of Israel for showing modern children the joy of Jewish weddings and the garden that family unity creates for society at large. Children’s friendships in campmirror the desire in all of us to drink up the sweet nectar of Jewish pride, unity, friendship and laughter.

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