Wednesday July 26 -Erev Tisha B’Av
Our bunk names this session reflect the period of Jewish history we are studying. We have some names, some cities and some books – Vilna Gaon, Rav Yosef Karo and Rav Hirsch; Venice, Krakow, Amsterdam and Tzfat; Bomberg Shas, Aruch haShulchan and Mesilat Yesharim. Each bunk will have a chance to present their name and its significance next week during Bunk Night.
First day of machane and it is…Erev Tisha B’Av. We had to balance, very delicately, the need to unpack and do some fun activities to get the chanichim “into things” with some bonding as a bunk AND the need to have the schedule reflect the fact that our fast day for the destruction of the Beit haMikdash is tonight and tomorrow. The morning was the usual routine of tefilah, breakfast, shiur, nikayon (clean up) and peulot (activities). Each bunk had some fun with sports, high ropes, horse back riding, ceramics etc. etc. Shiur today was about the invention of the printing press and how that spread Torah learning and made the sharing of ideas much easier. Some morim asked their chanichim to imagine their neighbothhod with one Torah to share – one Torah for thousands of Jews! At Mincha today, everyone began tefilah with posters of Ashrei (as if there were no siddurim) and then someone said “hey we just invented the printing press, now you can all have your own personal book for tefilah” – and the hadracha (all of the counselors) handed out siddurim! A taste of life back then and the huge change a printing press made. In the early afternoon, once again, it was machane as usual, with special shower time given to each eidah 😉
Kaytana learned more about Avraham Avinu today. This time they focused not on his rejection of idol worship but on his Hachnasat Orchim. They were given a huge tent to decorate with signs that said “welcome” and “Avraham’s tent” and gave out brownies to anyone who walked by. It was so yummy and, of course, felt so good to be met with a smile and some fresh food. The Kaytana activities for today included dodgeball and bracelet-making for the banot and soccer and time with our bunnies for the banim. Yes, we have bunnies…and goats…and chickens…We call it a refet here, a small fenced-in area of animals to watch, pet and feed.
Machal headed out today on a hike called Minister’s Creek. They had lunch back at machane, so they could rest and rehydrate before the fast. They had a sicha (discussion) about what Macha”l stands for and how to create a unified group. Our Macha”l program is very separate from the rest of machane. We see them on Shabbat at tefilah Friday night and at each of the 3 Shabbat meals. Otherwise, the goal is for them to create their own little world, “down the road, beyond the indoor beit knesset.”
Dinner, for everyone, was called for a little earlier than usual, after which each bunk was dismissed to eat their seudah haMafseket (bread and eggs) as a small group – as is the custom. The fast here started at 7:42 pm (“camp time”) and everyone met up at the outdoor beit knesset for maariv. From the outdoor Beit Knesset, we walked – in the light of torches and accompanied by singing – to the indoor Beit Knesset for Eicha. Some of our Roshim (divsion heads) were asked to give dramatic thought-provoking introductions to each chapter, followed by various Rabbis and Roshim laining the Eicha chapters out loud. (Kaytana Alef and Vav were dismissed after two chapters.)
Following Eicha, Machal went back to their bunks to have a Round Robin of discussions about the 5 chapters of Eicha, run by their hadracha. Eidot Bet, Gimmel and Daled walked around to three skits depicting exile, destruction, and conversion – the harsh reality unfolding in the era between 1492-1882. Tisha B’Av is a day to remember and mourn not only the destruction of the Beit haMikdash and our most recent churban, the Shoah, but also all Jewish communities, throughout our history, who encountered death and destruction.
We pray for peace and redemption. A full schedule for tomorrow is planned with meaningful tefilah (including Kinot), skits and more learning, some time to rest, some art activities in the later afternoon and a slow shira together to close the fast. More about that tomorrow…