Editor's Note: Thanks to our friends at the Foundation for Jewish Camp for coordinating this series of blogs from camp. More voices to come!
Being a counselor in a sleep away camp for the first time is always a daunting job. In the days leading up, you wonder how in the world did these children's parents entrust us, a bunch of 16 and 17-year-old high school kids, to look after their precious cargo for 4 week? I don't know the answer to this question but I do know that despite this, parents keep sending their kids every summer; and for the right reasons.
In camp you learn a tremendous amount. You learn about yourself, other people or even a specific theme. Something Camp Moshava IO teaches is inclusion and I am a first hand witness of this. In my first year as a counselor, my fellow co-counselors and I had the privilege of having a very special camper in our bunk. She was a 10 year old girl, excited to start camp, just like everyone else.
The film opens in a small village in the Portuguese countryside: “Judeus? Judeus?” The director asks where the Jews live and sure enough, everyone in this village—which seems not to have changed very much since 1497, when Portugal’s Jews were forcibly converted—can identify them. Thus begins Frederic Brenner’s The Last Marranos, a film about the community of anusim, the descendants of forced converts who clandestinely maintained Jewish belief and practice for centuries in their native village of Belmonte in Portugal.
On December 17, 1862, as the Civil War entered its second winter, General Ulysses S. Grant issued the most notorious anti-Jewish official order in American history: “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.”
The army is the epitome of the modern state’s drive to homogenize men, to render them uniform by clothing them in uniforms. From the late 18th through mid-20th centuries, literally millions of Jews served in diaspora armies.