What 90 years of living teaches you about the world

try this out B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp–a magical place in itself. However, for a few days each summer, Perlman is joined by a few special guests, which make it just that much more magical. During the second shabbos of International Kallah, we are lucky enough to be blessed with Shabbat To Remember (S2R). During S2R, camp is joined by many Holocaust Survivors for the weekend so that we may learn from them and hear their stories to ensure their memory succeeds them.

I was fortunate enough to serve as a grandchild for Trudy Album this past summer. Meaning, I helped her navigate camp and made sure she was enjoying her stay. I expected this would be a truly memorable weekend. I was talking with the rest of my team just before Trudy arrived and I offered them this, “There aren’t many children in the world today that will ever hear a first-hand account from a Holocaust survivor. Much less any who will get to literally be a Suvivior’s family for a weekend. Bathe in every moment of this experience, because you likely won’t get one like it again.” I can tell by our Havdallah tears on Saturday that I was right, all of us were sad to say goodbye.

But there’s one thing Trudy said which stuck with me so much I feel the need to share it with you all. It wasn’t during her speech, or designated time for talking, but rather quickly before the HaMotzi during Shabbat lunch. First, you have to understand that Kallah is an inherently stressful idea for our minds. Waking up to learn that what you thought you believed you don’t actually believe–every day for three weeks– takes its toll. For example, I was struggling with the idea of Tikkun Olam, so I thought I’d ask Trudy her thoughts. “Trudy, I have a question. As someone who has seen first hand the hatred for Jews in the world, do you believe in Tikkun Olam? How or why should we go around saying it’s our job to heal a world that despises us?”

I could tell Trudy was intrigued because she sat back in her chair and said: “hmm, let me think for a moment.” I waited patiently, eager for her response as she continued, “Well, yes, I do believe in Tikkun Olam and let me tell you why. When we carry out the calling of Tikkun Olam, it is as if we are saying ‘even though you hate me, I am helping you because that is what I believe is right’ and in doing that, you embarrass them for hating you in the first place”.

I’ll tell you. I did not expect my cold-cuts Perlman Shabbat lunch to stick around in my memory for presumably the rest of my life. But the message Trudy shared at that moment truly helped me satisfy some of the eager confusion swirling inside me about my own Judaism. And it’s an incredibly insightful perspective which I don’t think is fair to hold for myself–so maybe this is my own bit of Tikkun Olam.

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