In Parashat Eikev we learn that there was a second set of tablets placed in a rebuilt ark, written by Moses’ hand from God’s words. The inscribed commandments on the tablets and Moses’ spoken message to the people formed his legacy and is the basis of the Judaism we practice today. We each leave our own legacy as we evolve and move through our lives as well. This made me think of Bobby Harris. Bobby has spent 30 years of his life (half his life) leading the Coleman community. If we do some quick and approximate math…800+ kids a summer + 200 staff x 30 years. It would not be crazy to say that you Bobby Harris impacted 30,000 youth and staff members in your tenure as director. And imagine the ripple effects from those 30,000. How many more people are connected to Judaism in ways they never would have been. One could argue hundreds of thousands of people.
The work that Bobby has done to lead us to this vibrant time for Coleman is extraordinary. With a clear vision of possibilities, Bobby has made things happen for our community over the years that few others would have been able to or motivated to do. He has been a leader in the Jewish camp industry as well…always the first to bring in a new, up and coming Jewish musicians, or an Israeli basketball pro and there are many more– anything and anyone to enrich our experiences here at camp. Bobby models for all of us what it means to lead a life through the 4 core values we ascribe to.
Bobby, although you will be stepping away from the helm, you will never really leave. Whether we are sitting in the Chadar Ochel (which you fought to get us) or sitting in the Hillman where you have told hundreds of stories on Shabbat, or next summer when lots of the campers here will perform in the new Bobby Harris Center for Performing Arts, you will be with us. When we skate in the roller hockey pavilion or play in the gaga pits, you will be with us. When we swing from the trees on the ropes course or next summer when we challenge ourselves on our newly built Warrior course, you will be with us. When we create a mezuzah out of glass in the Minsky Art Center or climb to the top of the slide on the lake, you will be with us. When we pray together on Shabbat in the renovated Hillman chapel with the eternal flame dedicated to the memory of your mother or when we sing our camp song, Shine (which you inspired) on the top of our lungs, you will be with us. When we walk under the arches that display our values on the hill in front of Mens 8, you will be with us, always surrounding us with your legacy. I know that we will be in your heart as well. And you’re not done…your next role with the Foundation for Jewish Camp will allow you to continue to impact our community and strengthen the seeds you have planted here.
As Moses left his legacy for the Jewish people, you, too, will leave your legacy here. We are a strong community that believes in social justice and a community that creates the space for all people to find themselves through a Jewish experience. This is your legacy.
Thank you to the Harris family (Ellen, Max and Sophie) for all they have given to camp through their support of Bobby and their love for this camp.
I leave you with these lyrics from Shine: Here at our home Camp Coleman, we cannot wait to show you everything we can be with our mind, body and soul. Just watch us grow.
We love you, Bobby!