Blue and White, All White, All Blue?
Shaindle recalls some of her favorite memories of growing up Jewish in New York.
Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.
When I look in the rear-view mirror at my childhood on Prospect Avenue in The Bronx, I become emotional and joyful. I don’t recall ever feeling unsafe and I never experienced direct antisemitism; our parents made us aware of this cultural hatred through discussions and warnings to my sisters and myself.
As children, we were students of, as well as contributors to, our Jewish culture. At home, we lived a life filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends showering us with love and insights. My sisters and I were blessed with a family who loved and practiced our beloved Jewish traditions, sharing stories of their past, and their journey to American citizenship.
My sisters, my cousins and I walked the couple of miles through Crotona Park to Boston Road where we attended Dovid Pinsky Yiddisheh Shule, Jewish school after public school, Monday through Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings. When we “graduated” Dovid Pinsky, we moved up to attend the Arbeter Ring Mittle Shule in Manhattan, attending on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings.
Complimenting my formal Jewish education was the very best and most powerful informal education. Beginning at the age of 6 or 7, I spent my summers at a Jewish overnight summer camp, Camp Kindervelt, or “children’s world,” in Highland Mills, N.Y. Spending my summers in a community filled with the beauty of the Jewish culture, the importance of our culture, learning of the impact our culture had and still has on our world at large, seeing staff living a Jewish life, filled our young minds and hearts with a roadmap for living a meaningful Jewish life.
Summer camp created Shaindle.
Did I mention I met my hubby in a summer camp? Camp Kindering, or “children’s circle,” in Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
By the way, I feel certain you would love to read about some of the shareable highlights of Mittle Shule and Camp Kindervelt.
At camp, I recall I had two major concerns. The first dealt with all blue, blue and white, all white.
Every Friday night, we would march to the dining room for Shabbat services and Shabbat dinner. Every Saturday, we marched to the dining hall for morning Shabbat service and breakfast. Every Saturday evening, we marched to the dining hall to say “shalom” to Shabbat.
A Shabbat decision had to be made. Every week, the same dilemma. What to wear? All blue, all white, blue and white? We would obsess over what we wore on which day last week. We were young teens…we obsessed over everything.
The second concern revolved around the ever-so-important Color Olympics. We spent the second half of the summer in constant conversations revolving around who would be chosen to lead the Blue and White teams in the weeklong Color Olympics? Who would hold the coveted position of general?
The summer of my 15th birthday, I finally became a C.I.T. (counselor in training). We worked hard to prove to the camp director we were worthy of obtaining our CIT status.
Who was it that coined the “curiosity killed the cat” expression? It’s true. My CIT cabin of 13 girls made two unforgivable mistakes. The first was confiding our great idea to the dozen or so 15-year-old CIT boys. They shared our secret mission with senior staff, who were waiting for the 13 CIT girls, (and here is our second mistake) whose secret mission it was to break into the camp office and find out who this summer’s generals would be.
We were sent home for this childish prank the very next day and were informed we could not return as staff, hence, I went to work as staff at Camp Kindering, where my bashert was head of the camp waterfront.
The rest, as they say, is history.