Jerusalem of the Midwest : An Ethnography on Jewish Summer Camp
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My senior individualized project is an embodied ethnography of camp counselors at OSRUI (Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute), a Reform Jewish summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. OSRUI (formerly “Union Institute”) was established in 1952 as the first Reform Jewish summer camp in the United States. Having attended OSRUI since I was eight, this project is also personal. I share the stories of camp counselors arguing about parody songs, my dad’s reflections on changing spaces, and my own memories of growing up here. I study the ways in which camp counselors enact sacred spaces, using spatial theories from David Chidester, Edward Linenthal, and Michel de Certeau. I propose that counselors at OSRUI enact the sacred through imagined maps to “home” and “Israel,” referential Jewish humor, and active negotiations with change. Through this project, I work to destabilize the “sacred” as something separate and untouchable, exploring the ways in which work and chaos can contribute to the process of sacralization.