The first Shabbat of Session III is upon us, and I could not be more excited to celebrate with the 300 incredible campers who arrived just one week s ago. My hands are still doughy from braiding challah with the bunk of B-1, and the smells of Shabbat chicken are wafting from the kitchen. No doubt about it, Shabbat ruach, or ‘spirit’ is in the air.
As the Jewish Programmer at camp, part of my role includes spending on hour each week — Ruach Hour as we call it at camp — preparing the units for our very unique Kabbalat Shabbat service. The campers create Kabbalat Shabbat themselves by learning about and interpreting the Shabbat prayers together through original songs, skits, dance and/or storytelling. It can get very goofy, and more importantly, allows campers to internalize the values of Shabbat in a way that feels authentic and personal.
During Ruach Hour, we are also exploring this summer’s Jewish theme, Derech Eretz — a Hebrew phrase thaty translates to “Way of the Land.” In practice, the rabbis of the Talmud interpreted this phrase to mean being the best version of yourself you can be, by following the customs of the place where you are. In other words, be a mensch — Yiddish for being a person of integrity.
I can’t think of a more fitting motto for Tawonga — a place that imbues each and every camper with the sense that by doing good and challenging ourselves to grow in generosity and compassion, we feel good. We start from that baseline, understanding with every single activity we offer at Tawonga — from playing Ga-ga to to tikkunning the garden and caring for Tawonga’s growing home of farm animals.
We are learning to grow in community with each other and with the natural world by living Derech Eretz. Personally I am learning daily from campers what it means to be my best self and to show up for this community in a way that matters. I’m so grateful to be spending this summer here with our incredible Tawonga community, and want to wish everyone at home a Shabbat Shalom.
The Shablog series on The Pipeline blog is dedicated to Jewish content and shared on Shabbat. Some of you might remember that the Shablog used to be the name of Tawonga’s blog. Well, we didn’t want to let it go entirely, so are bringing it back on this special day set apart in the week.
Below are photos from Shabbat, Enjoy!