Shabbos at Camp Tagola
I am maybe thirteen years old, and I am going out on the lake, in a speedboat at Camp Tagola.
My legs are hooked up to the thing that you wear when you’re going to ride the water.
And I hold on, God knows how I did it, until the boat takes off and for maybe three seconds I am standing up just like that in the water.
The memory of those three seconds is so weird.
It’s like the time was so incredibly short, but I can cover myself in that sensation for as long as I want to, whenever I put myself back there.
In the morning before Shabbos we would have an activity period, and I would go waterskiing as much as I humanly could.
Those were the days when you could take time to get ready for Shabbos.
There was no thing of working right up until the last minute, and then begrudgingly setting up the candles. Eating somebody else’s homemade cooking, that you took home as takeout food.
I remember we would all line up for the showers in the bunk.
The floors of those showers were so gross, lined and spotted with dirt and dirty leaves, but nobody ever bothered to clean them.
We didn’t care. We took our showers and put on something relatively clean and brushed our hair.
The more sophisticated among us put on lip gloss.
We all went out to the walking path to synagogue in lines. (At camp, we called this structure the synagogue, even though it was basically a large, very simple, cabin.)
There were prayerbooks at the front of the synagogue and we took them and sat down on the hard wooden benches.
The country air felt so good on my cheeks.
Most of the service was singing.
“Lecha Dodi, Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah, Penai Shabbat Nekabela, Lecha Dodi Lekrat Kallah, Pnai Shabbat Nekabelah.”
God, I remember it like it was yesterday.
We turned and swirled and swayed to the songs. I can still smell the trees in my nostrils.
After services we walked up to the dining hall.
You can’t imagine how good the food was.
And there were trays, and trays, and trays of it, steaming hot.
The kids did not have to go crazy, fighting for the last morsel of the kiddush. Because there was just so — much — food.
Just like we sat together in the synagogue, we ate together at the meal.
My mother worked there as the nurse and I enjoyed absconding from my bunk every week to sit with her and my dad, who would come up for the weekend.
Shabbos days I clearly remember, as well.
They were so incredibly lazy.
We sat on the lawn and talked.
We played “chamesh avanim,” five rocks. Tossed the rocks one at a time up in the air, and tried to catch them again on the way down.
I broke every single finger on my hands playing that game. I loved it.
Again I sat with my mom and dad in the afternoon.
And somehow nighttime approached, the end of Sabbath, and we gathered again in the dining hall for kumsitz. (We sat around in a large circle and sang.)
Shabbos is going away,
Shabbos is gone it’s the end of the day
Oh Shabbos you really should know
We’re sorry to see you go.
But you will come back next week we know.
Yes you will come back ’cause we love you so.
So let us thank HaShem,
Who will bring Shabbos back again.”
I miss those years.
I miss the innocence.
I miss when Shabbos could truly be called a day of rest.