This is being written at 3:41 AM from our sleepless overnight at Hampshire Hills, a recreational fitness facility. We’ve been swimming, playing basketball, squash, tennis, playing a huge tournament, and eating lots and lots of snacks. We left Yavneh at around 9:30 PM and will return ready to finally go asleep at 5:30.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity for Maalot. On Monday night, Tisha B’av began. Tisha B’av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar and commemorates the destruction of the temple. Maalot was in charge of the opening tekes (program); we read texts from Eicha (the book of Lamentations), sang the songs Bilvavi Mishkan Evne and Ani Maamin, danced, and presented a shelet (sign) hand painted by Maalot chanichim (campers). Our tekes was centered on the theme of redemption and renewal, and that motif linked all of the individual parts of the program.
After our tekes, morim (teachers), tzevet (staff), and chanichim read the book of Eicha. The book is a first person account of the destruction of the temple written by Jeremiah, and is a long poem that uses an extended metaphor to compare the ransacked Jerusalem to a widow. The next day, we observed Tisha B’av. Many of us fasted and as a community we prayed, learned and mourned the destruction of the temple. In the afternoon, we had an interesting sicha (discussion) with Justin Cammy, a professor of Jewish Studies at Smith College, where he shared a digital archive of his grandmother’s personal possessions while she lived in a concentration camp. We ended the day with a closing tekes led by the mishlachat (counselors from Israel) and we broke our fast with salmon, rice, garlic bread, and cheesecake, everyone’s favorite dessert.
On Wednesday, the entire day seemed to lead up to our trip to Hampshire Hills. The chanichim were abuzz all day, excitedly waiting for the 9:00 bus to come and scoop them away to a land of indoor tennis courts and hot tubs. After experiencing the first five and a half hours of it, we can now say that it did not disappoint.
Josh and Helen