The Blinking Game
OpinionShaindle’s Shpiel

The Blinking Game

Jewish summer camping was not wasted on me. Very soon I will be a certified social therapist — can’t get away from those precious children.

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

If I blink to the left, my little missive will be a Mother’s Day tribute. If I blink to the right, my missive will be a tribute to my years in summer camping.

Left, right, left, right — well, that was easy. Looks like summer camping won. Oh, no, the guilt has already begun to overwhelm me. Left, left, left! Oh, look, left won, so Mother’s Day won. Whew, that was too close for my comfort.

Mother’s Day honors the strong influence of mothers (by any definition) around the world. Way back in 1870, Mother’s Day began as a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May.

It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Father’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day.

Julia Howe created one of the first known Mother’s Day cards and implored all mothers to join together for world peace. I would suggest it’s time for a repeat performance.

My own mom (z”l), although less than 5 feet tall, would have been a giant in this movement for peace. Mom was a staunch Zionist, and she believed there must be peace for us to survive as a human race. My dad (z”l) always gave my sisters and me the responsibility of choosing a beautiful Mother’s Day card for his “little veibel” (wife), Paulinka. We loved that he asked this of us, that he trusted us to choose just the right card.

My little mommy’s first language was not English. Yet, and you may find this hard to believe, my mom could help me with my school papers. Of all the reasons my heart was crushed when she died, the fact that I could never live up to who she was and all she knew was the toughest.

Mom was insightful enough to realize, as a first-generation American and the oldest daughter, I would benefit from the summer camping community and all the experiences and activities to which I would be introduced.

Hmm, now that I think back, I could have been shipped off to summer camp, if you catch my meaning. Mothers are so clever. I toast all the mommies.

Camp KinderVelt (Children’s World) in Highland Mills, up in the New York mountains, took a little girl who was not aware at the time of her search for her true self.

I’m curious as to what you thought I was going to say.

My summer camp was created to offer campers and staff Jewish culture, spirituality, songs, music, dance, art, foods, theater, playing, journaling and so much that was unobservable. There is a direct line to be drawn from my love of Judaism to Camp KinderVelt and the rest of my life.

The warmth and safety of community would carry me from one summer to the next. The staff clearly understood the immense responsibility of being role models for the campers. Of all the places on Earth for children to develop a sense of self, how to apply makeup and how to shave our legs, overnight summer camping can’t be beat.

I never had the insight to know what I wanted to be when I grew up. My inner self knew I would surround myself with children, whom I would keep safe and happy. I am not counting the years I spent working toward the dream of becoming an actress — oh, please! What nice Jewish girl from the Bronx actually believes this?

I was an educator of third-grade children of itinerant workers in a public school. Sears, Roebuck generously gave us enough catalogs, one for each child in my class, to teach reading, drawing, math, etc. You guessed it: no books. Oh, and no shoes.

I am a Jewish educator of preschool-age children. I have the honor of sharing my love for Judaism — its culture, spirituality, songs, music, dance, art, foods, theater, playing and so much that is unobservable. Sound familiar? It should.

Jewish summer camping was not wasted on me. Very soon I will be a certified social therapist — can’t get away from those precious children.

Best of all, I am a mom of four beauties, who made me a savta (grandma) to 10 blessings and brought four sons-in-love into my life.

A belated happy Mother’s Day to me, to my girls and to all of you.

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