Our first Shabbat at camp was restful and calming. On Friday night, the entire machaneh (camp) filed into the Bet Am (gym) for ReleSh (Ruach Lifnei Shabbat, or pre-Shabbat spirit), where we sang beautiful songs together, welcoming Shabbat and getting into the right mood for everyone’s favorite day at Yavneh. During ReleSh, it started to rain and, instead of our usual outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat location, we gathered in the Ben Zvi. Together, as a whole kehilah (community) we davened Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv. Our voices rose above the rain, becoming more powerful with the pitter patter of the drops against the roof.
In the chadar ochel (dining hall) we ate a delicious Shabbat dinner, then after Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals) we moved back into the Ben Zvi to sing Shabbat zemirot together. Kerem (the oldest aydah) led older camp in some higher-energy singing, and then Maalot departed to begin our first tisch. A tisch is a circle of story and song sharing that traditionally happens on the night of Shabbat. It was amazing! We sang together, shared vulnerabilities and bonded as an aydah (age group).
The next day, after morning davening, chanichim (campers) had time to hang out with their friends, play sports and read. In the afternoon, we had a sicha (learning session) with the visiting Rabbi Yonah Berman. He taught us about what the most important verses from the Torah are, and the importance of daily action and ritual in Judaism. After dinner, all of camp joined together to end Shabbat with Havdallah. We had a quick rekudei am (all camp dancing) and then headed back to the tzrifim (bunks).
On Sunday we initiated an all aydah game of assassin – an ongoing game where each person in the bunk has to try and get out another person by saying the words “Where, where, where is my goat” to them. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all plays out!
Helen and Josh