Session 3/3a has now spent a full week at Tawonga, enjoying creative programming, bunk bonding and moments of self reflection and exploration. A full week at Tawonga also means there is a Shabbat to attend!
Whether campers observe the Sabbath every week at home or Camp is their only Shabbat celebration of the year, one thing is certain – a Tawonga Shabbat is always one for the books! The magic of Shabbat festivities at Camp Tawonga, and why they are so special to our campers year after year, resonates with campers in a variety of ways.
For some, the jaunt from Ridge to River sides during the Shabbat Stroll is a favorite, while others may enjoy the Shabbobler (Shabbat cobbler), sleep-in bagel breakfast or Torah services more. The key to a stellar Shabbat, though, is having everyone at Camp to celebrate. That means all backpacking trips, day hikes and other off-property activities are put on pause so that our community can reunite for the sacred weekly tradition.
Friday evening, the atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement as campers, dressed in their finest attire, made their way to the beautifully decorated dining pavilion. The tables were adorned with white linens, shabbat candles and vibrant floral centerpieces from the garden. Songleaders greeted the campers with Shabbat music, creating a warm and welcoming ambiance that set the stage for the evening. The aromas wafting from the kitchen were irresistible, as our talented cooks worked tirelessly to prepare our classic dinner of freshly baked challah, Shabbat chicken, veggies and grains. This meal is a favorite of the week for a lot of Tawongans!
Together, we lit the Sabbath candles, blessed the grape juice and challah and sang the classic Fiddler on the Roof “Sabbath Prayer” in unison. “I love the Shabbat prayers because I feel like I don’t really do them much at home, so it’s a nice change,” G-11 camper Miranda shared. “I feel really connected to my Judaism here.”
Laughter and joy filled the air as campers sat with friends and shared stories from their week. The bonds forming among the campers, strengthened by the sense of belonging and shared experiences that Camp life fosters have started to become more pronounced as we approach the middle of the session.
Many of our Session 3/3a campers are in agreement that the best part of Friday night Shabbat programming is Freilach, a longer song session featuring classic Israeli folk dancing tunes, like Miriam’s Song where campers circle up to dance and laugh together. Plus, some pop songs from artists like Taylor Swift got the whole crowd singing along. A time for the community to join hands and let loose, Freilach is the culmination of Shabbat excitement!
“To have everyone come together as a group to sing songs, eat really good food and celebrate tradition is really special,” Sam J. from B-8 said.
As the evening drew to a close with the end of our Kabbalat Shabbat services, the campers bid each other farewell with smiles on their faces and hearts filled with gratitude. The spirit of Shabbat had ignited a sense of unity and joy in them.
On Saturday, the fun only continued with joyful Torah services at Makom Shalom (Place of Peace), followed by Shabbat floats and rotations. Each Shabbat, campers get a glimpse of how Tawonga works to embrace Jewish values, foster lifelong friendships and nurture personal growth. We’re already looking forward to our next Shabbat with Session 3!
Have a look at the “Tawonga Tidbit” for some more fun Camp facts from the day.
Enjoy photos from the past few days of Camp below!