Yom Kippur Camping In The Wilderness Caused Self-Reflection…Or, Something Like That
We promise ourselves many things when we’re kids. Like, we will never make our children eat green beans. Or, we will, one day, be an astronaut. While I made many promises as a kid, one of the only ones I stood by was, “I promise that I will never go camping.” That is, until this weekend.
The reasoning behind my opposition to camping was misguided at best (as my former girlfriend, now friend, likes to remind me). The only experience I had that was even remotely similar to camping was sleeping in my backyard in a tent with my brother and father. Each night outside always ended the same: my brother and father would fall into a somewhat blissful sleep and I would be wide awake, counting down the minutes till morning. At about midnight, I gave up, went inside, and cuddled into my soft bed. I figured that if sleeping in the backyard was that bad, then sleeping in the wilderness would be a hundred times worse. As it turns out, I was wrong—to the endless glee of a certain hazel-eyed girl.
So, what caused me to go venturing out into frightful territory this weekend? I guess it was just the desire to try new things. Plus, if I really did hate camping, then I needed a terrible experience to go with it, one that I could tell all the granolas I hit on in Tel Aviv (yes, that was a shameless plug for A Wider Bridge’s Israel trip). Plus, I wanted to do Yom Kippur as right as I could this year: fasting, self-reflection, and minimal electronics (all I used was a flash light). So, I went on a Moishe House trip into Cleveland National Forest to get in touch with my inner granola—oh, I mean, uh, G-d.
So, there I was, stuck somewhere off highway 74 with seven other Jews, a $h!t ton of flies, and quite possibly several mountain lions (oh, and bees. Lots of bees. Did I mention I hate bees?). My fast from sunset to sunset actually did contain a lot of self-reflection. Mostly, I thought about the little girl I used to be, the one that would have had a panic attack at the thought of going into the wilderness for any length of time. Was I doing things that would have made her proud? How would she have reacted to me identifying as queer? Had I strayed from the path that the girl with coke bottle glasses had laid out so many years ago?
I’ll spare you the angsty details. Suffice to say the experience made me appreciate a lot. Namely, my family, my friends, and indoor plumbing. Oh, and food. And, yes, I do enjoy camping now.
(Special thanks to Nathan, Brandon, Orit, Nicole, David, Daniel, and Mayraav for putting up with my kvetching and fear of bees. Oh, and Moishe House OC for being awesome.)
Rebecca Levin is a writer and editor living in Orange County, California. She recently graduated with a degree in English from the University of California, Irvine. Rebecca is a participant on A Wider Bridge’s October 2014 Israel trip.