Shalom, Maalot Parents!
It’s been a jam-packed week for Maalot chanichim (campers)! Maccabiah (color war) broke out last Tuesday night — the evening featured a fake a cappella competition called Zimriyacapella, highlighted by two hilarious (if we do say so ourselves) Rosh performances which culminated in the breakout. As confetti and papers flew, the excitement was palpable as our chanichim split up into teams and had their first plugah (team) meetings. The team names are Nistar (hidden) and Nigleh (revealed). After plugah meetings, the camp broke up by ayda (age group) for the traditional game of L’mala L’mata (over under).
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday featured regular Maalot mornings consisting of kitah (class), chug (elective), and Maalot Peulah (Maalot Activity). Each year, Maalot is tasked with creating a Tisha B’Av Tekes (9th of Av ceremony) to usher in the day of mourning. We spent our Maalot Peulot this week focused on the tekes, with chanichim splitting up into four committees: song, dance, script, and artwork. A song was learned, along with a powerful dance and a beautiful art project.
Wednesday afternoon was quite rainy, so the day had to be adjusted last minute. Despite the last minute changes, it was one of the most fun afternoons of the summer!. Counselors and campers competed in a bunch of fun “horse race” activities like funny crab walks, performing swimming relays on the floor, and crazy hula hoop competitions. Everyone really got into it, and it was a great way to really kick off the Maccabiah excitement.
Wednesday night was Chidon (Jewish Quiz Show). One of our personal favorite nights in camp, chidon is a place where the chanichim get to show off all that they have learned in their kitot (classes) in a fun, interactive, and competitive game show hosted by Rosh Kerem and judged by the morim (teachers). It was a really great night filled with a little learning, a little goofiness, and a whole lot of ruach (spirit).
Thursday afternoon brought us the special masoret peulah (tradition activity), an activity that gets passed down to the next year’s Maalot. Maalot’s masoret peulah is Pillow Fort Building, and wow did we have fun! The chanichim channeled some of their inner playfulness, creating intricate fortresses built from pillows, blankets, string lights, hammocks, and much much more. It was so amazing to see how creative their end products ended up.
Friday night meant the start of the last Shabbat of the summer. 🙁 Although bittersweet, the day was ushered in by a beautiful ReliSh (pre-Shabbat pump-up), followed by a moving Kabbalat Shabbat. Maalot had our last tisch (Jewish singing) of the summer, which brought up a lot of emotions and a couple of tears. Shabbat day was filled with card games, swimming in the agam, Onegs (Shabbat parties with food!), interactive tefillot (prayers), and time to rest after a long week. We ended Shabbat and immediately moved into Tisha B’Av.
Maalot brought in the day with their opening Tekes that they had been working so hard on this past week. They really shined, helping the camp transition into a day of mourning and starting to get people into the right mindset. We are so proud of how much work they put in and with how inspirational and moving the final product was.
Many of our campers fasted for Tisha B’Av and the day was filled with different conversations and moments of learning. We spoke about baseless hatred, focusing a lot on how it manifests itself in our world today. We had serious conversations about the Holocaust, Israel, race, and disabilites, all aimed at furthering our understanding and pushing our chanichim to think ahout worlds outside of their own.
As we write this, Monday is coming to an end. Today was the conclusion of Maccabiah, which meant that this morning was HaMerutz HaNiflah (The Amazing Race). HaMerutz HaNifla is a all-camp relay where each chanich and madrich (counselor) is given a specific job to do around camp in a certain order. Our chanichim had a great time running around camp and completing various funny and random jobs like taking cold showers or filling up buckets of water. Tonight was Lechu Neranena, a night that consists of a Tekes, shelet (team plaque), and songs from each team. Both tonight and this entire week, our chanichim in Maalot showed so much manhigut (leadership). They got younger chanichim involved and excited but really giving it their all and just having fun with it. We are so proud of them!
This (sadly) is our final blog post for the summer. Thank you so much for your trust in us to take care of your children and share them with us for the summer. It is really such a fun and rewarding job that we are so lucky to have and it would not be the same without the aspiring Jewish leaders that we get to spend our summers with. Wishing everyone a great school year! Thanks for reading 🙂
Rachel and Aaron