La-bri’ut: To our health and wellness is a program guide adapted for camps to offer Jewish values-based resilience building for young campers - but the five caregiving principles the curriculum is based upon can be a framework for supporting mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health and resiliency for camp community members of any age. The Jewish texts that follow in this sheet, and accompanying discussion or journaling prompts, are intended to help you reflect on these five essential element of trauma-informed care, what Jewish tradition and wisdom has to say about them, and how you might integrate them into your life as a camp staff member this summer (and beyond).
Sukkat Shalom (shelter of peace): sense of safety
Ometz Lev (inner strength): calmness
G’vurah (strength/power): self- and communal-efficacy
K’hillah (community): social connection
Hesed (loving kindness): hope, attained by reaching out to assist others
SUKKAT SHALOM (SHELTER OF PEACE): A SENSE OF SAFETY
Below, read the text of the Hashkiveinu prayer that is shared each night. Think about how to understand this ancient blessing in a modern day context.
הַַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְשָׁלוֹם, וְהַעֲמִידֵנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ (שׁוֹמְרֵנוּ) לְחַיִּים וּפְרוֹשׂ עָלֵינוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ, וְתַקְּנֵנוּ בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ, וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ, וְהָגֵן בַּעַדֵנוּ, וְהָסֵר מֵעָלֵינוּ אוֹיֵב, דֶבֶר, וְחֶרֶב, וְרָעָב וְיָגוֹן, וְהָסֵר שָׂטָן מִלְפָנֵינוּ וּמֵאַחֲרֵנוּ, וּבְצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנוּ. כִּי אֵל מַלְכֵּנוּ (שׁוֹמְרֵנוּ) וּמַצִּילֵנוּ אָתָּה, כִּי אֵל מֶלֶךְ חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם אָתָּה, וּשְׁמוֹר צֵאתֵנוּ וּבוֹאֵנוּ, לְחַיִּים וּלְשָׁלוֹם, מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, שׁוֹמֵר עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַד
וּפְרֹשׂ עָלֵינוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַפּוֹרֵשׂ סֻכַּת שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל יְִרוּשָׂלָיִם.
Cause us to lie down to peace, Adonai our G-d, and raise us up to life, our Sovereign (protector), and spread over us the shelter of your peace, and direct us with good advice before You, and save us for the sake of your name, and look out for us, and keep enemies, plagues, swords, famines, and troubles from our midst, and remove Satan from in front of us and from behind us, and cradle us in the shadow of your wings, for You are G-d who guards us and saves us, for You are G-d. Our gracious and merciful sovereign (protector). Guard our departure and our arrival, to/for life and to/for peace, from now and ever more.
Blessed are You, Adonai, who guards G-d’s People Israel forever.
And spread over us the shelter of your peace. Blessed are You, Adonai, who spreads a shelter of peace over us, over all of G-d’s people Israel, and over Jerusalem.
Do you share this prayer at camp or have you heard it before? What does this blessing mean to you in a modern day context - either from previous experiences or having read it for the first time?
Now, read a reflection paying close attention the phrase "sukkat shalom" - a shelter of peace.
From the Velveteen Rabbi,
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
During evening prayer there's an extra blessing added -- extra because it doesn't appear in morning or afternoon prayer -- which asks G-d to shelter us through the coming night. We pray ופרוש עלינו סכת שלומך, ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha, "spread over us the sukkah of Your peace."
Of course, a sukkah is by definition permeable. The safety and comfort we seek as night begins isn't the comfort of armored gates and locked-down windows. This is a peace that's open to the changing sky, and to the sounds of crickets and cicadas playing their end-of-summer tune. A peace that knows the heady scent of new-mown grass, and the spiciness of woodsmoke.
The word שלום (shalom) comes from a root which means wholeness, completeness. What we're asking for in this prayer is to be made whole, to find our whole selves sheltered by the Infinite. This shelter is real, but it's permeable. Our wholeness is possible only when we embrace fragility. It's a paradox: protection comes when we embrace humility, not strength. The way to be safe is to open our hearts.
Why do you think the author suggests that we must balance vulnerability and safety, being open as a means to being protected?
What do you need from others in the camp community this summer to feel a "shelter of peace"?
How will you create a "shelter of peace" for your campers this summer?
OMETZ LEV (INNER STRENGTH): SENSE OF CALM
In Hebrew, Ometz Lev means strength of the heart - and is often translated to mean courage. Within the La-Bri'ut program guide, this term is connected to the caregiving principle of finding a sense of calm. As you read the text below, consider what this says about the importance of finding calm - and for whom.
The dispute described above, between Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi, is not resolved - there may be no right answer.
When you have 'care' in your heart, feel worried or concerned, what do you typically do with those feelings or thoughts?
How do the actions you take (or choose not to take) make you feel?
Re-read the bolded section above.
When and why might it take courage to find an inner sense of calm?
When and why might it be courageous to help create a sense of calm for those in your care?
Do you have strategies for connecting with your heart that help center you in a sense of calm?
How can you create habits and practices that will help you to find a sense of calm as you support others to do the same?
In times of stress or trauma, moments of transition can be hard - including the end of the day. When we pause and look inward, rather than continuing at full speed and plowing through the day, our minds and bodies allow ourselves to feel big emotions which can feel out of place or have been bottled up.
How can we respond, to ourselves and to campers in age-appropriate ways, when big emotions start to pour out?
G'VURAH (STRENGTH, POWER): SELF- & COMMUNAL-EFFICACY
The value of g’vurah , strength or power, is part of trauma-informed care through the principle of self-efficacy (an individual’s belief that their actions will have a positive impact) and communal-efficacy (the positive outcomes that can result from people cooperating and working together). If we use our strength positive, have confidence in ourselves and also work together, it can be an enormous catalyst for positive impact - but we have to believe it will.
Read the text of Pirkei Avot below, specifically focusing on the section in bold.
"Eizehu gibor? Who is mighty?" The Hebrew word "gibor," meaning mighty or heroic, comes from the same root as "g'vurah," strength or power.
Aside from physical attributes, what are some of your strengths as a member of the camp community?
Do you believe you can use your strengths to make a positive impact this summer? Try to think of an opportunity at camp this summer when you should leverage your strengths for the benefit of those you're caring for or working with this summer.
Camp empowers young people to recognize their strengths, to grow, and to develop
into their best selves. When is it challenging to help campers on this journey?
How can you help campers feel empowered to inspire others (peers at camp, friends at home, family members, etc.) to be a force for good?
According to the Pirkei Avot text above, Rabbi Hillel asked, "If not now, when?" In your opinion, is empowering and inspiring others this summer either urgent or important?
K’HILLAH (COMMUNITY): SOCIAL CONNECTION
The value of k’hillah, community, is linked to the fourth principle for caregivers working with people who have faced trauma – social connectedness. This term refers to an individual’s support system, those who can help guide the individual towards improved mental, emotional, social, and spritual well-being. Maslow’s hierarchy even speaks to love and belonging. A sense of social connectedness, then, is when an individual truly feels a sense of belonging within a network of support. This is where the idea of a k’hillah joins forces with the principle of social connectedness. We think of a k’hillah as a group where members have a sense of belonging, with social connectivity, a reciprocity of responsibility, and a shared sense of purpose.
This statement from Rabbi Hillel is in the negative - how might you frame this in the positive, and what would you add to convince someone of your reasoning's importance?
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l explains that there are three models through which we can consider the idea of community within Jewish life. The La-Bri'ut program guide summarizes these three models:
Members of an edah (unit) are like-minded with a strong sense of collective identity; they have much in common but can be a group that operates for good or bad.
Members of a tsibur (gathering) are brought together by circumstance; they happen to be in the same place at the same time, but do not necessarily share a collective identity or purpose, certainly not one that would continue beyond that moment. Think of people who gather for a concert and then disperse afterwards.
Members of a k’hillah (community) are different from one another, thus taking on the characteristic of a tsibur. But a k’hillah has a strong collective purpose that enables them to make a distinctive contribution.
Sacks writes: “The beauty of a k’hillah... is that when it is driven by constructive purpose, it gathers together the distinct and separate contributions of many individuals, so that each can say, ‘I helped to make this.’ … To preserve the diversity of a tsibur with the unity of purpose of an edah – that is the challenge of k’hillah-formation, community-building, itself the greatest task of a great leader.”
List out some groups you are a part of, within camp and throughout the year. Which of models do they align with? Do you feel a different sense of social connection with different group models?
Do you prioritize social connections? Why or why not, and how do you keep those connections intact and strong?
What are ways you can create different kinds of communities and social connections for campers and peers this summer? What is your responsibility in making these connections happen and maintaining them, if any?
The text above uses the Hebrew term "ometz" - translated here as "resolute." We explored the term "ometz lev" above, understanding it as heart-strength. The text gives a reason to be strong and resolute: G-d is always with you.
In your opinion, does this feel reassuring? Why or why not?
Who in your camp community would benefit from knowing YOU are with them, wherever they may be (literally or figuratively)?
Who do you want to be able to count on as being with you this summer? How can you communicate that to them?
HESED (LOVING KINDNESS): HOPE, THROUGH ASSISTING OTHERS
The value of hesed, loving kindness, is anchored in the fifth principle for caregivers working with people who have faced trauma – hope, the expectation of brighter days in the future. A person who acts toward others through the lens of hesed anticipates a better future for themselves and for others. Jewish text typically explain hesed as a BIG kindness, but what does that mean...?
Alan Morinis tells the following story:
“I once heard Rabbi Abraham Yachnes clarify the extent of the stretch that is necessary to have an action qualify as hesed. He said that if you are walking down the street and someone is walking beside you carrying a large box, and you offer to help the person carry the box, that’s not hesed. You’d simply be a terrible person not to help someone in that situation. What counts as hesed is when you are walking the opposite way from someone carrying a burden and you turn around to help carry that load in the direction he or she [or they] is going. That’s hesed.”
How does this definition of hesed or "BIG kindness" align with your own definition? Try to determine some camp-specific examples - these can be hypothetical, or share an experience of this kind of hesed you've received, given, or witnessed.
Your acts of kindness are
iridescent wings of divine love,
which linger and
continue to uplift others
long after your sharing.
Rumi (a Persian poet and Sufi master born in 1207) describes acts of kindness as lingering and lifting up others. How, if at all, does this relate to the fifth caregiving principle of hope?
LA-BRI'UT: TO HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN YOUR LIFE THIS SUMMER
are you a davenner or a meditator?
i am an artist.
i do not speak in silence or prayer.
but draw out the east in unholy west.
staring stone cold into the illusions of our forepeople.
moving us to the space around inner sanctum, sun and cloud.
until all we can see are wholly human beings.
lifting us up to g-d in all of our beautiful, aching eyes.
(mishnah sukkah 5:4)
By: Devon Spier
We are prescribed to bless each day with 100 blessings. What might be reason(s) to create a habit of acknowledging blessings or expressing gratitude? What are some less traditional ways to acknowledge our blessings?
How, if at all, are blessings or gratitude expressions connected to mental, emotional, social, or spiritual health, well-being, and/or resiliency?
People often refer to gratitude as a "practice." Why do you think that it, and how can you practice gratitude this summer at camp?