One of the closing prayers of the morning service is the Aleynu, which includes the words:
לתקן עולם במלכות שדי
“perfecting the world by G-d’s sovereignty”
This summer it became clear to me that Shoafim 2013, our entering 8th graders, lived out this statement in their daily interactions with one another and through their involvement with the Jewish Teen Funders Network tzedakah project.
We spent the summer focusing on how we can do something to “perfect the world” by donating both our time and our money.  To raise tzedakah funds, campers sold Shabbat-o-grams (greeting cards written on Friday afternoons and delivered on Shabbat) and raffle tickets for front-row seats for the camp musicals.  Two campers came up with the lovely idea to sell cookies every week which we proudly named Shabbat-o-cookies.  Over the course of the summer our campers raised $1,800!   While all of these contributions on behalf of our campers were incredible, I believe the success stems beyond the money raised and really in the way that we were able to perfect the world in deciding what is important to us as individuals.

Towards the end of the summer, ten campers visited two local non-for profit organizations.  As our ambassadors, they took notes and made a presentation to the rest of the group on all they had learned.  In these presentations, the campers presented persuasive arguments to the peers.  As a result, the campers decided to distribute the grant from the Jewish Teen Funders Network evenly between Trees for Tomorrow and the Vilas County Food Pantry, understanding that both are valuable organizations.

Shoafim 2013 then focused on how to allocate the tzedakah funds they had raised themselves.  Campers made presentations on organizations they felt were important and relevant to them.  Watching the campers debate between themselves and make decisions of where to donate the money we had raised all summer, was an incredible process.  It truly showed me the way that 12 and 13-year-olds can make the world a better place.  Kol Hakavod Shoafim 2013!

Adina Allen, Rosh Shoafim