Campers and Councilors win mutual approval

In a light drizzle outside City Hall on Wednesday, more than 100 campers from the Shaloh House Jewish Day School camp of Brighton shouted 12 Hebrew sentences at the top of their lungs, much to the surprise of passers-by.

“People for blocks around could hear them,” camp counselor Sholom Ber Klein from Melbourne, Australia said. The children were saying 12 verses from the Torah selected by the Lubavitcher Rebbe for children to memorize. The verses, when said by children, add holiness to the environment, according to Jewish thought.

“It was very cute and lively, and you could see how fired up the kids were. People were smiling when they saw them,” Klein said.

If the campers made an impression on City Hall, then City Hall also made an equally deep impression on the campers. They came to City Hall to attend a weekly session of the City Council at the invitation of Councilor Jerry McDermott. Rabbi Dan Rodkin, executive director of Shaloh House, gave the invocation at the meeting.

“It was definitely a bright spot not only for Councilor McDermott, but for all of his colleagues to see those kids’ faces,” McDermott chief legislative aide Kristin Langone said Thursday. “The councilor was also thrilled to have Rabbi Rodkin, who is Russian-born and represents thousands of Russian and American Jews in our district, come down and say the invocation. It was an honor for us.”

It was the first time in a long while a rabbi had been selected to give the invocation, Langone said.

Rabbi Rodkin focused his invocation on the importance of the Seven Noahide Laws, also known as the Seven Universal Laws, which were given to Noah and are Divine commandments for both Jew and non-Jew. The seventh of the laws is the command to set up courts of justice and establish laws to govern society.

The children may not have understood much of the technical discussion of the councilors, but they had lots of fun at the photo session with the councilors that followed. And they were even more impressed by the enormous scale-model of the city of Boston they saw at the Boston Redevelopment Authority on the 9th floor of City Hall, Langone said. 

In addition to the camp, Shaloh House runs a K-6 Jewish day school, a Russian-Jewish cultural center, an award-winning after-school program, holiday programs, and a daily synagogue. Nearly 150 children attend the camp this year, up nearly 50 percent from last year’s attendance.

Text of the invocation