by Rabbi Eric Cytryn, Rabbi-in-Residence

In the first weeks of the summer, the Yahadut (Jewish Studies) teachers engaged our campers in both text and experiential learning. Our goal in experiential education is to give campers stories and memories to support their learning; by learning and doing, they are following our most ancient of models, when our ancestors stood at Sinai and affirmed their acceptance of the Covenant with “We will do and we will learn.”

Some of our Shoafim campers learned about how we cherish and show our respect for God’s image, primarily in our ethical relationships with other human beings, yet also in how we treat God’s name when written out. A small group interviewed Rabbi Eric Cytryn about why and how we create a Geniza, a sacred space to either preserve pieces of parchment and paper that have God’s name printed or handwritten, or bury those pages and books that have been made sacred through God’s name.  Afterwards, Shoafim campers and their teachers went to the Geniza area in a wooded area of the camp property and participated in the burial, Memorial Prayer and Kaddish of four boxes of sacred documents.

Some of our Bogrim-Machon campers studied the Ramah anthem, Himnon Ramah, and interviewed Executive Director Jacob Cytryn.  Jacob shared his knowledge on the meaning of the words to the Himnon, and about its author, Rabbi Moshe Greenberg, of blessed memory. Campers were fascinated to learn about the profound messages in the song they sing at the conclusion of campwide events.

Our Yahadut teaching staff is engaging campers in a wide variety of topics for the first third of the summer: 

  • Garinim – stories about looking for/experiencing God
  • Halutzim – Brachot, Shabbat and our Jewish Calendar
  • Solelim – Jewish Media-Culture: Visual and Audio 
  • Shoafim – Jewish Ethics and Social Justice (Heschel’s teaching)
  • Bogrim-Machon – Electives including Mindfulness in Judaism, The Story of Modern Judaism, Torah in a Time of Plague, Issues in Jewish Medical Ethics, and Torah in Action, and At the Corner of Judaism.

Kol HaKavod to these wonderful educators and the inspirational work they are doing at camp:
Marci Dickman, Leah Nash, Samuel Vingron, Amalya Volz, Shira Forester and Tristan Newman.