By: Eli Ziff (2015 Staff Member)
As Herzl turns 70, I took some time to reflect on all the people that have changed my life since I started coming as a taster in 2006. From Counselors, to friends, and to the campers who have taught me more than I ever could have imagined, I have been incredibly lucky to be influenced and brought up in such an amazing place during my summers. I then went on to think of all the countless other people whose lives have changed over the past 70 years all because they chose to spend their summers on the banks of Devil’s lake.
Some families have had three generations lucky enough to be touched and influenced, and it doesn’t stop there.
There have been some fairly famous alumni to come from Herzl, and have went on to influence the masses. People like Jewish composer Debbie Friedman, Comedian/Writer Jon Savitt, and movie moguls the Coen Brothers all called Herzl Camp home for some summers. They all went on to influence the world in their own ways, and I’m sure Herzl played a part in their inspiration and upbringing. Perhaps the most well known and most influential alum, however, was probably Robert Zimmerman, or better known as Bob Dylan.
Although he only came for one summer, Dylan was busy writing poems and playing his guitar. One story even goes that he would sit on top of the roof of the haks and play his guitar for everyone who would pass by. While the validity of this story is a bit uncertain, there is one idea that holds a good amount of validity: Bob Dylan and Herzl share many parallels. Both have been influenced by each other, and there are many comparisons to make between the two.
Compared to other artists, Bob Dylan’s voice is unique. Some might even criticize it for being raspy. Dylan did not let these criticisms halter his dream and he continued to do what he loved. He let his words speak for themselves and found success. At Herzl, everyone has their own special talents. Camp is the best place to share these talents, and appreciate the talents of others. Not everyone shares the same talents, but at camp it doesn’t matter. The only thing that is important at Herzl is that you do what makes you happy.
Bob Dylan also did something that everyone at Herzl achieves every day. The action that Dylan and Herzl people share is that we inspire change. For Dylan, it was with his anti-war, and equality inspired lyrics. At Herzl, change is inspired every day. Whether it is a counselor encouraging a shy camper to make friends, or a camper taking charge and leading an activity with other campers. So next time you listen to classics like “The Times They Are A’Changin,” or “Blowin’ in the Wind” think of all of the change inspired on the shores of Devil’s Lake over the past 70 years, and all the change that will be inspired over the next 70 years. I feel that in honor of Herzl growing older, the best way to end is with a Bob Dylan lyric from his song, “Forever Young.”
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young