Posts Tagged 'IRL'

IRL: A Blessing for Connecting

This past week Foundation for Jewish Camp ran an amazing conference in Atlanta. This year we hoped to have 600 camp people at Leaders Assembly. We had 900. Beyond the programming and all the coordination, it was just so good being with old friends and new ones in person. My colleague Briana Holtzman who brilliantly put the event together asked me in advance what blessing we should say on this occasion.

We learn in the Gemara in Berakhot, ” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees his friend after thirty days have passed since they last saw each other recites: שהחיינו -Blessed…Who has given us life, sustained us and brought us to this moment.  And one who sees his friend after twelve months recites: מחיה מתים  Blessed…Who revives the dead. “(Berakhot 58b)

It had been some time. It was really great seeing all of these people in real life. It had been more than 30 days and more than 12 months. For many people there I had not seen them in real life for three years. But would one really think seeing each other constitutes revival of the dead?  

The Gemara in Berakhot continues saying that Rav learns this from the notion we consider something that we lost 12 months ago,” like a lost vessel” we consider it abandoned (Psalms 31:13). (Berakhot 58b)

Martin Buber wrote, “Every You in the world is doomed by its nature to become a thing or at least to enter into thinghood again and again”  In our lives we have Human “I-Thou” relationships and Transactional “I-It” relationships. Over the last few years we have allowed many of our “I-Thou” relationships to lapse into “I-It” relationships. Reconnecting with your lost friend creates the occasion to transform an I-It into an I- Thou relationship.  Emerging from Covid we need to intentionally reconnect with people. Camp-friends are best-friends because at camp we can be totally present and most aligned to our I-Thou relationships. We all went to Atlanta to come together to escape Zoom and get revived. Moving forward we need to keep connecting. The last few years has made me realize that being together in real life is critical. Our presence is a blessing.  

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