The Canteen is a tribute to all things Jewish sleepaway camp. Hosted by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), this blog is written by campers, alumni, parents, and camp professionals and is a place to talk about parenting, camp fun, projects, crafts, recipes, and more – all tied back to Jewish holidays, traditions and, of course, camp!
PAUL & SHARI ISSERLES
When/how/where at camp did you meet?
The summer of 1994 was the first summer that we were both at Eisner at the same time. We had the chance to meet a few times prior to that summer through mutual friends from Eisner. One of my memories from the summer of 1994 was the first time I saw Shari that summer. It was when she was walking up the stairs to Pavilion, which was one of the buildings at camp. It was where my bunk was located that summer and she came to see our mutual friend, Brian. It was at that moment that I knew that we were going to start dating.
Was it love right away?
100%. There was something that just felt right. Our first “date” that summer was when Shari came to visit me when I was sitting “O.D.” in front of Pavilion. We spent hours sitting, talking and learning about each other. It was that night when both of knew that this connection was something special.
What happened between you when camp ended that summer?
I remember when Shari and I had “the talk”. It is that one when you are forced to make the decision at 18 years old (and 17 for Shari), to decide whether you see the relationship lasting past the summer. Both of knew that distance was not going to be an issue. Luckily both of us had parents who were very supportive of our addiction of talking to each other very often throughout the year. This was way before the time of unlimited calling. We made it a point to visit each other often, attend prom together and fraternity/sorority formals and make sure that prioritize the time together.
Do you find that your time at camp has influenced your relationship/marriage/family?
Absolutely. I believe that when you start a relationship at camp, it is so intensive that it makes you feel closer to that person. It is not common to begin dating someone and then seeing them for two months straight. We enjoy celebrating Jewish traditions together because it started when we were younger. When we are sitting in temple at services, it reminds us of our time sitting in the Outdoor Sanctuary at Eisner. When we celebrate Havdalah at home with our son, it brings us back to a time that was so special for us.
Did you have any camp themed thing at your wedding?
Our wedding day was very special for many reasons. One of the biggest ones for us was having Rabbi Sue Shankman be one of the clergy who officiated at the wedding. She was the Assistant Camp Director at Eisner in 1994 and both Shari and I had a close relationship with her at the time. She was one of the people who felt strongly that Shari and I were right for one another. She also drove Shari to me on the night of our first date to make sure that we were able to spend time together. In addition to Sue, it was so nice for Shari and I to be surrounded by so many friends who were there from the beginning.
Will you send your kids to camp?
Absolutely. Our seven-year-old son, Michael, will be starting K’tanim at Eisner this summer for three weeks. We have loved visiting camp with him, showing him some of the special places for us, including our plaque that still hangs in the Tzofim Beit Am. We cannot wait for him to experience the magic of camp and have the chance to meet his best friends (and possibly future partner).
Pronounced: hahv-DAHL-uh, Origin: Hebrew, From the root for “to separate,” the ceremony marking the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the week.