Thursday July 28
Our second full day in camp began, like always, with our 3 minyanim (4, if you include Machal, out at their campsite!) We have one minyan for Eidot Kaytana, Aleph and Vav, another for Eidot Bet and Gimmel and a third for Eidah Daled. Each eidah has lots of camper participation, singing and fun explanations of tefillah and a halacha yomit put on by our Beit Midrash staff.
Shiur today was about The Golden Age of Spain. The chanichim learned about how on the one hand there was so much creativity, poetry and involvement in the society around them…while, on the other hand, the Jews were a lower class and suffered for that. The campers took the conversations to their own communities in galut and how it can be complicated sometimes in terms of the Jews’ involvement and, at the same time, feeling alienated or different. It was a great example of making Jewish history relevant and relatable. Kol haKavod to all the morim (ages 17 – 20) who are giving shiur daily this session. Each group has 6-10 campers, which is a manageable number for a young budding educator.
Everyone had 6 peulot, shower-time and some “hachanot erev” chill time before dinner (the “rest period” after mincha and lunch is around 25 minutes daily). At the pre-dinner mifkad, the whole camp learned the “shir machane” for this session, a song about our tochnit/period in Jewsih History this month. They sing that song each evening at mifkad before haTikvah. A few more times and it will sound great : )
The night tochnit (“night activity”) tonight was an experience that felt kind of like a mix between a panoply and a carnival. The chanichim went to Spain University, at which they went around and learned Math, Architecture, engineering, and language arts – but all in fun ways with hands-on activities and experiments: origami, baking soda volcanos, making boats that float on water, word puzzles to solve etc. At the end, each “graduate” received a diploma and a camp stone bracelet!! Aleph and Vav always have their night tochnit before dinner, so they can go to sleep right after dinner and maariv,
Eidah daled, as the oldest chanichim, have optional mishmar each Thursday night. Tonight, Rav Adi Krohn (last month’s Rosh Kollel and this month’s camp driver) taught them about the halachot of the bracha “mezonot” and cases where “mezonot foods” are actually “haMotzi” – then they had hot soft pretzels!! All of them came 🙂
This month’s Rosh Kollel is Rav Aviad Tabory. He addressed the tzevet tonight, at their meeting, about the halachot of the 9 days and how we observe them in camp. Running an educational program for children creates an environment where we do things differently than one might practice at home. For example, music is played over the ram-kol (intercom) during the days that are not in the week in which Tisha B’Av falls. We do not have meat meals – and do not make siyumim to create the opportunity – but we DO laundry for the campers. Any questions they asked were answered by Rav Aviad, and now everyone feels ready to enter this period leading up to Tisha B’Av next Sunday. As we say often here in machane, after learning a new halacha or fact (in a sing-song chant, , that is hard to relay in a blog…) “Nnnnooowwww we knoooooow”!
Kaytana learned about Yitzchak and Rivka this morning in their shiur time and then went to a mock wedding tonight before dinner! So many chanichim had never been to a wedding and this felt like a real one – a young newly married couple played the roles of Yitzchak and Rivka beautifully! They had a fun day of activities that included pool time (in our gorgeous new pool!!!!), time with the bunny rabbits, some basketball and football for the boys and gaga and jewelry-making for the girls. They are doing great making new friends, learning the layout of the camp and acclimating to the schedule. We are all so impressed and proud of them!
Machal went on a long (10 mile) hike we call the “gorge hike” where they follow a beautiful trail in water between two mountains. They actually delayed the start, this morning, due to a passing thunderstorm, so they had a chance to power-up with some ice cream on a fun spontaneous trip to the ice cream store!! They ended their hike at Lake Erie, had a chance to swim and then set up camp for their second night sleeping under the stars. Shout-out to our Machal roshim this month – Aliza Berkowitz, Yonatan Weiss and and Ari Eizen. They have a tough job and are supported by Yael Engelhart who oversees all logistics and helps them with their itinerary. Kol haKavod!
Something exciting to report: we have five very beloved members of yachad here with us at machane this month. They are a small independent division in camp run by Adira Lautman Botwinik and Nili Maimon (today’s Rivka for Kaytana), with the help of counselors who are job coaches. Each of the members has a job here at camp- helping with sports, photography, our Teva (nature) program, or the Village (we’ll get to that next week…) It is such an honor to have them here, and the chanichim learn sensitivity and develop a comfort with people who have special needs and cognitive impairment.
Tomorrow is our hike day – each eidah heads out on a little adventure with their bag lunches that the chanichim make after breakfast. Full report tomorrow before Shabbat! And of course, as I am sure you know, pictures will be posted for you to get a glimpse and a taste of what your children are experiencing and enjoying.