By Chaya Feldstein
It is now 9:13 Monday morning, January 7, 2019, and just twelve hours ago I sat next to my precious sister, Gitty, at the HASC Concert 32 in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall! Well, sat is not exactly accurate. If you were at the show and you saw the small petite frame of a young woman holding a plastic microphone standing near the stage just below the huge black speaker boxes, you were watching my sister Gitty as additional entertainment! Such a phenomenon would never occur at any other concert in David Geffen Hall; that behavior would be considered outrageous at a New York Philharmonic Orchestra Concert and she would have been asked to leave.
It is only HASC that can bring out the best and uniqueness in each sacred spark of a Jew — especially the campers of Camp HASC. There is something about music that brings you to a place you never thought you could go. Personally, my heart is filled with prayer as the music filled the room. For my sister too, the music overtook her and she could not sit in her seat, no matter how much I tried. Only being there and watching her would help you understand more about what HASC is about. It was priceless to watch and there are no words accurate enough to describe it.
As soon as I walked through those doors, I felt that intense emotion that surfaces each time I walk into the HASC family, whether it is at David Geffen Hall or on the Camp HASC grounds in Parksville, N.Y. It didn’t take long for HASC to become family to me and my immediate family. At HASC, perfect strangers become sisters. Gitty’s counselors don’t just spend the summer with her and go home. They visit erev Shabbos, call often, Facetime, and take her for Shabbos too. Even at the concert, I was blown away by the sensitivities of the attendees who only saw her for a moment and felt connected. I felt like I am the sister of a celebrity!
I took her to the ladies room and immediately a woman offered if she could be of help. In the hall, another woman noticed me walking with Gitty and wanted to connect with a warm hello to her. Then, the family with lots of girls that we sat near spontaneously stood up and danced with Gitty during the show. I kept thanking them over and over again but they looked at me as if I’m the one they should thank for giving them the opportunity to have fun. They may have all been just ordinary attendees but then again, as quoted by Judge Daniel Butler, that the HASC summer counselors are trained to become the leaders of tomorrow. I’d like to suggest an extension to that of the amazing people who joined the concert in support of Camp HASC. They too are part of that group of people who are not only leaders of tomorrow but of today as well!
The all-star emcee Nachum Segal along with the incredulous music vocalists, Zusha, Pumpidisa, Mordechai Shapiro, Abie Rotenberg, Shlomo Simcha, Ohr Chodash Choir, Yishai Lapidot, Beri Weber, and Yaakov Shwekey rocked the night! It was a first-ever HASC show appearance by Yishai Lapidot and Beri Weber! The conductor Yoeli Dickman with EG Productions set the stage with instruments that shook the ceiling, sending the soul straight to the heavens with heartfelt connection. If you were there, you may have noticed that although there was no intermission and the program lasted for three hours which can be hard, the faces were aglow at the night’s end.
I got home close to 11 and wanted to write something up but instead I sang my way to sleep and woke up singing. The song I sang wasn’t only the incredible tunes of the most talented Jewish performers; it was also one of immense hakaras hatov for the most dedicated staff and director, Shmiel Kahn. The responsibility they feel toward Klal Yisrael’s holy neshamos is astounding!
HASC, a place where perfect strangers become family almost instantaneously! HASC is a place of achdus; these special children bring about a much needed togetherness and unity that Klal Yisrael truly craves but may have a hard time achieving. These holy neshamos have what it takes to unify the nation. If you haven’t yet visited the camp grounds in Parksville, NY, I suggest you make the time and mark your calendar, see the magic for yourself. Don’t take my word for it. Do it for yourself so that you could learn to appreciate that which you were gifted at birth and may take for granted as all of us tend to do with what we were handed. Do it before it’s too late, because Moshiach is standing at the entranceway and when he arrives, all who were ill will be healed. Oh, how I long for that day to arrive.
Camp HASC, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the “Lev,” as Jeremy Strauss coined so beautifully, the kindheartedness you project to every Jew, no matter what he or she may look like on the outside. You recognize what is truly valuable, the essence of the Tzelem Elokim. Tizku l’mitzvos u’lma’asim tovim!