Sunday, August 8
Machal returned on Friday morning from their week-long adventure in Virginia. They spent five days hiking and paddling along the James River. Against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Machal chanichim and madrichim paddled together, and brought everything they needed for the five days with them in their canoes. Machal was split up into groups of ten; each group hiked and canoed together, made their camp, prepared meals, and built even stronger friendships and bonds. Machal proudly reported their total tally for the week was 59 miles of canoeing, along with 10 miles of hiking. And they had a blast! They re-joined Machane for Shabbat with great ruach and unity.
Shabbat was beautiful and uplifting! The entire Machane gathered together in the camp Beit Knesset for Kabbalat Shabbat. The experience was moving — after Kabbalat Shabbat outdoors for the previous two weeks, the VOLUME and intensity of the tefillah this week was higher — indoors. The voices of the entire Machane joined together, including for Lecha Dodi, as well as for the beautiful camp version of “tzadik ka-tamar.” Shabbat day saw each bunk engaging in study of the Parshat haShavua (the Torah portion of the week), as they do every week. Machal had a special session at midday with Rabbi Yehuda Sarna of NYU. The singing and dancing during Shabbat lunch was full of joy — and included an opportunity for each edah to lead a song or cheer. And then the dessert came out; ending each Shabbat lunch with watermelon is a long-time Camp Stone tradition!
Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) saw Machal face Edah Daled in their annual two big basketball games — both a boys’ game and a girls’ game took place simultaneously in Indoor World. While the Machal girls ran away with the win in their game, the boys’ game remained neck-and-neck through the second half, when Edah Daled went ahead by 1 point in the closing seconds of the game.
This morning in shiur, the chanichim were introduced to the idea of “yarchei kallah” (months of assembly) in the time of the Talmud. This idea of creating a month devoted to a large gathering for Torah learning, when more people could join in the study of Torah, led to a broadening of Torah learning in an expanding Jewish world. The chanichim were invited to attend their own yarchei kallah study sessions at Shekem time, as special sessions, led by Tzevet, were offered along with the usual menu of chocolate, candy, and ice cream treats!
Another “you gotta see it to believe it” thing happening here at camp is… Quidditch!! The game that we all learned from Harry Potter is being played here in Sugar Grove, PA. (No one is flying, but the rest of it feels pretty authentic). Look for it in the photos!
And lastly, this is a good time to mention something else you would not believe — every child here takes a turn being the bunk on Toranut for the day. That means they set the tables in the chadar ochel (dining hall), eat first before the rest of the camp eats, then serve everyone else doubles and triples of their favorite dishes, then clean up, take the garbage out, and sweep. We all take a turn being on Toranut, including the Tzevet (specialty staff) who do Toranut for two meals on Shabbat, as well as the adults/Mishpachot in camp who set up and serve seudah shlishit! This is an expression of one of our values — shivyon — which means equality. We are all contributing members of the klal — the community.