Blog with Springboard

The Springboard blog highlights the experiences of Jewish teens and Jewish teen professionals participating in community programs across Chicagoland and beyond. Dive into blogs about different Jewish teen events, leadership programs, trip opportunities, and more! Join us in celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions of Jewish teens and professionals in the Jewish community. To post a blog, please email danielleburstyn@juf.org.


Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Adding Some Jewish into Your Week: What Happened to All of the Miracles?

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Looking for some new thoughts on this week’s Torah reading? In this series, Daniel unpacks some of the questions that we can ask about the stories in the Torah. Below are some reflections on Parshat Beshalach: 

Usually, before I write these weekly posts, I read through the upcoming parsha to get some inspiration. Normally, I am left with a number of questions and have many ideas of what I could talk about. After reading through Parshat Beshalach, however, I'm left only with one big question: What happened to all the miracles? 

In this week's parsha, God makes a number of miraculous things happen. Moses raises his staff over the Red Sea and it splits in half, God sweetens the Israelites' water in the desert, God makes water flow from a rock, and God brings down manna (food) and quail for the Israelites to eat every day.  

All of this is quite impressive when you think about it, but what happened to the God who makes these miracles happen? Where is he today? Why doesn't God bring down manna and quail now to solve world hunger? Why hasn't God ended climate change and solved all of the issues of hate in our world? 

Over the last few weeks I've written a lot about God as a complex character in the bible. When I read through these stories each week, I see a changing, growing God who develops gradually over time. In the early stories of the bible, God intervenes a great deal. God plays a major role in what happens to our ancestors and the "heroes" of the bible. But when I look at the story as a whole, I begin to see the nuances of how God interacts with the world and the changes in his behavior over time.  

In the beginning, God creates the world and everything in it. God is extremely active and participatory in everything that happens on earth up until the story of Noah and the flood. At this point, God takes a step back and lets the story play out without as much intervention. God speaks with some, but not all, of our characters. Instead of making significant interjections, God pushes and nudges humanity in the right direction through different leaders. This limited guidance lasts until God gives the Israelites the 10 commandments at Mount Sinai. After this point, God takes another step back, now existing as a guiding cloud for the people. Moses appoints judges and leaders to help guide the Israelites, and God leaves them mostly to themselves. Finally, once the people enter the land of Israel, the manna stops and God's physical manifestation on earth ends.  

At this point, humanity is trusted to make its own decisions. When I think about the God that resolved all of our problems for us with miracles, I think about how little responsibility people demonstrated and how much we have learned over time. As a people, we have evolved alongside God. We are now deciding for ourselves where to go and what to do. With this independence comes the understanding that we have an obligation to address problems that arise but we also have the ability to solve them.  God has done God's part in teaching us and helping us grow, and has passed on the responsibility of fixing problems to us. Now we have the opportunity to create the miracles that will address the issues in our world.  

Building Something out of Nothing

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Throughout my 17 years at summer camp I have seen some amazing things. I have seen shy campers grow up to be all-star counselors. I have seen empty patches of forest turn into amazing activity areas, but never before have I seen something as incredible as I did last Spring Break.

Tree House

Last year a group of teens with little to no experience with power tools rolled up their sleeves and got to work during BreakAway: Tree House Design at Camp Chi. In five days they designed a concept, learned the ropes, and worked together to create a functioning tree house. And this was not any old tree house, but one that was built to last and be enjoyed by campers for years to come.

Tree House Group

Throughout this process, the campers came up with some amazing ideas that were not initially part of the plan, such as building a roof, windows, benches, and even a trail leading to the tree house. We got to a point where it wasn’t clear how we would finish in time with all of the extras that we were adding to the already difficult task of building a tree house. But not only did the campers come through; they exceeded our expectations of what Camp Chi's new tree house would look like.

Tree House Participant

Over the summer the tree house was enjoyed by hundreds of campers. Now we have the opportunity to create a whole tree house village that will be imagined, designed, and created by different groups of Springboard participants each year! If you would like to help us create something amazing this Spring Break, join us for Breakaway: Tree House Design, and see your dream tree house come to life!

-Kyle Kolling, Camp Chi Program Coordinator