It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later!
In Jewish life, there many expressions of how we say goodbye. One tradition is a saying a specific prayer called the Haran Alakh when we finish learning a piece of text. Written in Aramaic, this prayer speaks of our commitment to eventually return to the text. In this way our goodbye is never final but is more of a “see you again soon.” It shows that after being entrenched in study, we become more familiar with the text and seem to have a better understanding of it, sort of like a friend, and therefore it is only natural to have a proper goodbye, where we don’t leave forever but state our intention to return in the near future.
When we recite the Hadran Alakah, we stress that while it may be a while before we meet again, the it is important to remember what was just said and hold onto that when you are not with one another. This prayer not only expresses an interest in seeing a text or person again, but a request to be reminded of them often.
As we enter the last Shabbat for camp this summer, I reflect on how I’m always struck by the number of tears shed at our last song session in preparation for inevitable goodbye, which really isn’t a goodbye but rather a see you next summer. For me this is concept is particularly personal and this ritual extremely relevant. After what will be 6 summers spent at Camp Chi, this chapter of my life is ending. In a week from today, I begin a new chapter of my life. So, while I am saying goodbye to the place that has become my second home, I know it is not forever and it is merely a goodbye for right now.
In preparing to stand in front of camp for the last time in just a few short days, I know I will see before me the faces of all campers and staff I have watched grow up. As I stand there, I know that a slideshow of cherished moments will be playing in my head. While these people and memories are separate from me, they have become a part of who I am.
Like the prayer Hardan Alakh, I write these words knowing that I will be returning to this place again as I begin my new role at Keshet and continue to make camp the most inclusive community can be. Instead of a goodbye fraught with discomfort and sadness, I say goodbye with my mind at ease and my heat full of fond memories of happy campers, impactful moments, ridiculously busy days (and nights), and a generation of incredible staff who understand the meaning of paying it forward. I am eternally grateful to have been welcomed with such opens arms and to have been a part of this community for the past 6 summers.
This is not goodbye. It is a see you later. And from the bottom of my heart, I can tell you all that I am so looking forward to coming home again soon.
For the last time as part of the full-time team, Shabbat Shalom Camp Chi!