Behind the Scenes in the Mercaz
by Jeremy Fineberg, Educational Consultant
Our Mercaz (Program Creation Lab) has 8 desktop computers, 10 spots for laptops, hundreds of books, and plenty of work space, but my favorite tools for helping our staff create innovative, educational, and fun programming are simple, round, white, tables. Well, maybe not so simple. These tables were recently updated by our talented maintenance staff to become whiteboard tables, making them a perfect surface for collaborating and creating. While sitting around the tables staff members are able to explore Jewish texts and current events, create maps for variations on capture-the-flag, or make plans for themed or costumed meals.
Most importantly, around these tables, our programming counselors work face-to-face to create powerful and positive experiences for their campers. Oftentimes these counselors are working as part of our traditional va'adot (programming committees) focusing on Shabbat programming, day-long experiences during Yom Meyuchad, Peulot Erev (evening activities), or creating meaning and connection through Tefilah. Whatever the project, our counselors start their work together facing each other, discussing their educational goals and programmatic visions. After that critical first step, they bring their work over to the computers so it can be edited, modified, printed, and archived on our google drive system. The process transitions from face-to-face, to digital, and back to face-to-face again when our counselors lead, teach, and execute these programs with their campers. No matter the project or program, our counselors are supported by the talented team of Jewish educators based in the Mercaz, who help them create fun and meaningful programs for their campers.