What a summer! The weather, nature and food have all been great, and the fun and ruach (spirit) have been amazing. We have enjoyed using our new Torah, as well as all of our new equipment (like the peddle-go-carts!). The programming has been meaningful as always, especially this summer’s Israel and Jewish education programs. Schechter is unabashedly Jewish and Zionistic, and this year it was heart-warming to witness so many campers and staff connect to their heritage.
As wonderful as this summer was, we also recognize that this was a difficult time for Israel. It began with the kidnapping and murder of teenagers and then erupted into a conflict with significant and heart-wrenching casualties. Regarding Israel, our mission at camp has always been to educate, inform and use experiential teaching methods. Our commitment is evident through our involvement in educational initiatives, such as the Goodman and Chazon fellowships.
We have done a wide range of Israel education this summer for a variety of age groups. For Aleph/Bet session, our Israel education was focused on Israeli history and contemporary culture. We touched upon the political strife in the region in a program called Café Dilemma, where campers were free to explore their own thoughts on some of the more challenging and heartbreaking aspects of the situation. They also made pita from scratch, learned about the aliyah (immigration to Israel) movements and their affect on Israeli culture, and had a mock IDF boot camp. In Gimmel we went much deeper, talking about lost soldiers, Gaza, and the values of the IDF. They also listened to political Israeli pop music, graffitied their hopes for Israel, and played monit hakesef (Israeli history cash cab!). We ended our Yom Yisrael (Israel Day) with a Tel-Aviv-style dance club, café sheshbesh (backgammon) and a movie night.
As you can imagine, this summer was challenging at times for our Israeli staff and campers. While safe here at camp, their thoughts often turned to their families and friends back home. To help them cope with being far from home in a period of crisis, we focussed on understanding their emotions and giving them the extra attention and care that they needed. We deeply appreciate the commitment of our Israeli staff, whose dedication to our camp and our children has deeply enriched all of our lives. We are also greatly indebted to our phenomenal camp staff, parents, alumni and Board, whose dedication to the camp community continues to provide the support needed to ensure that our camp remains a safe and healthy environment.
Thank you for entrusting your children with us for the summer. While it’s our job to create a safe and nurturing place for them to flourish over the summer months, camp creates a community that extends well beyond the summer. You are part of that community. As your children return home, they are likely to encounter images of the conflict in Israel that are less contextualized than those that we have shown here at camp. In the spirit of our shared partnership in Jewish education and identity building, we’d like to share some resources that we have collected to help you talk to your children about the conflict:
We pray for peace in Israel and for people everywhere.